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Huangshan Travel Tips

3.0 stars

Insider advice for your Huangshan vacation


andromeda
The Orient descends on Huangshan 3 stars
It seemed as if half of the Oriental people had descended on Huangshan that day. At first I was aghast at the number of people that crammed the narrow pathways, and everyone had something to say. It was like a circus had come to town almost 1000ft above sea level. But eventually, I accepted it and enjoyed the trek down.
There were some parts which very precipitous – you could get vertigo just looking down the long flight of stairs. If there hadn’t been so many people, coming down this path might even have been eerie in a perilous, nice way, since the mountains and valleys provide an expansive view.
That aside, there were some interesting halts on the way down. At one point, I looked over a railing on the side of a cliff and an enormous gush of tunneled wind came right at me from the valley with incredible force and speed and I was almost thrown backwards. That was spooky.


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andromeda
The next morning madness 3 stars
Having rightly woken up lazily the next morning, I stepped out of the hotel only to see more tourists - hoards of them. The weekend had been the wrong time to get there. Damn.
Large tourist groups of camera wielding Koreans and Japanese led by guides blaring into loud speakers infested what had been a relatively quiet mountain landscape the evening before.
I took a deep breath and trudged on to soak in the sights and found an artist expertly painting the nine-dragon peak (I think it was) in traditional style. Further up, the natural setting and sights were prettier and even more disrupted by the cacophonous tourists. By midday, I was about ready to start the downward trek.


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andromeda
Staying the night at Huangshan 3 stars
It took me about 5-6 hours, but I finally made it to the top where signs of civilization and a growing population of noisy tourists wasn’t so welcoming.
There are a few hotels strewn about and it’s best to pre-book accommodation. From there various organized trails are marked out to paths and points from where one can catch the best views (of ‘Lion Peak’ or ‘A monkey gaping at the sea’ peak or other such vividly described natural heritage).
But it was recommended that I make it back to better lit quarters before dark, and I was a hungry monkey anyway. So it was a warm Chinese dinner a good night’s rest before having to wake up with aching tendons the next morning.


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andromeda
Labouring up Huangshan 3 stars
What’s amazing is that the trekking route at Huangshan is actually steps carved or laid all the way to the top. Fortunately, there wasn’t too much human traffic, except for a good lot of labor running up and down carrying provisions (food, water, linen, kerosene etc.) for the accommodation facilities at the top. This was the only mode of transporting goods and it was exhausting just to watch the weather-worn men balancing heavy loads and lithely striding up the hillside with their incredible leg muscles bulging mockingly into our flabby forms.
There was even a lady being carried down in a palanquin by two brave escorts.
It wasn’t long before I had to take my first break by retiring near a stream and chomping through sandwiches.


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andromeda
Up and Up the Huangshan mountains 3 stars
At first sight, the mountains were towering and unlike any landscape I had seen before except that they were exactly reminiscent of some traditional Chinese paintings I had seen.
The mountains are outlandishly smooth, vertical rocky cliffs, some of them standing almost like pillars with tufts of green patches, and a range of green hills just around.
The journey uphill seemed never ending and was a real, imposed cardio-vascular workout, but the mountain air was clean and fresh and the nippy breeze made it much easier.
There are cable car rides (called Telpher) that cover some distance(s) between the climb, but I was going to brave it. Various rest points make it better and it’s fun to make shapes out of the mountains. There are over 70 peaks and most of them have interesting names as marked on the map (mostly based on what they resemble, by imagination).


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andromeda
Going Into Huangshan 3 stars
The drive from Huangshan airport to the mountains is pleasant, meandering through green Chinese countryside and tiny villages with traditional huts, until finally the climb begins to reach the starting point of what is going to be a long trek up Huangshan.
There are a couple of points of entry into Huangshan depending on which route one has chosen to plod to the top (where one has to book accommodation since there’s no way you’ll make it down on the same day).
The more direct paths to the top tend to be steeper; and there are the less steep but longer paths. Using quick logic, I decided to go up the long way and come down the steep way (which was a smart idea).
It was a little past 10am and I had quite a climb carved out for me.


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andromeda
Shanghai to Huangshan 3 stars
While in China, Shanghai was my base, where I bunked with some relatives in shiny new Pudong. About a week into my visit, I was quite ready for some quiet mountain air; Huangshan was an obvious next on the list to explore. The best way to get there would be by air.
Thus, kin and I awoke at an ungodly early morning hour and caught a flight from Shanghai to the sparkling new Huangshan Airport, which is about 7km from Huangshan City centre. It’s about a 45-minute drive from there to one of the entries into the Huangshan Mountain site.
Funnily, the rather barren airport had hardly any public transport in sight. There were a few shuttle vans to the city, but they were going to wait a while until they had more passengers. After stalking about a bit, we finally found a taxi that was willing to drive us to the Huangshan checkpoint.


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andromeda
Huangshan; a work of art 4 stars
Huangshan, located in the Anhui Province, literally translates to Yellow Mountain and is known to have inspired much of the traditional Chinese painting and literature. It wasn't until I got there and actually soaked in the unique mountain line that I realized why so.
Most of the Chinese landscape art I have seen has the typical touch of the picturesque rocky, pillar-like mountains, and sparse peaks floating above the clouds. They just can’t be mistaken.
Owing to the fact that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is a well-visited tourist destination. But then, I’m not sure if such popularity is a good thing or not.


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