In a nutshell
Huangshan City has established itself as the main tourist city for the area that includes the Yellow Mountain Scenic Area; it is located in Anhui province at its most southerly point.
Why You Should Visit Huangshan
The Yellow Mountain Scenic Area is what attracts most people to the area with over 140 attractions or scenic spots open to visitors. It is not just the mountain that attracts the tourists as you can also visit the ancient Huizhou style villages of Xidi and Hongcun or go and see Tunxi Ancient Street. The transfer by bus from Huangshan city to the base of the scenic area takes about one hour then you are free to explore the mountain with over 50 km of trails famous for its scenery, clouds, waterfalls and steep cliffs. There are hotels high up the mountain where you can stay overnight then you can easily be at the summit at the break of a new day along with crowds of other people.
When is the Best Time to Visit Huangshan?
The heaviest rainfall is from May until August, from April until June it is also misty and cloudy. In the summer it is still cool at the top of the mountain. During April with the flowers beginning to emerge after the winter it is a popular time despite the rain and temperatures around 10C. It can be spectacular after a summer rainstorm to be witnessing a world of water and rainbows when you are above the clouds.
During the autumn the temperature is on average around 13C, winter is the longest season due to the altitude but the winter climate also makes it the most spectacular; generally the winters are cold but not severely cold. Even on a summer’s day you are advised to bring a coat. Space can be a problem during Chinese holidays, on National Day (first week of October) and May Day it is extremely crowded and it is best to avoid travelling at those times.
Where to Stay in Huangshan
The majority of people will stay in Huangshan city and travel to the scenic area by public transport then return that same evening. There are plenty of hotel options for all budgets in Huangshan city.
If you wish to sleep on the mountain there are a few options, all on the expensive side. Some of the hotels have dormitory rooms where you will be sharing a room with other people, these cost from CNY200 per person each night. Private rooms in these hotels can cost up to CNY2000 per night. Many of the facilities in these hotels are basic. There are camping areas on the mountain, although you will be sleeping on concrete with a mattress and sleeping bag provided. Cleanliness is not important it would appear and you may be shocked at the condition of the sleeping bags. Sleeping on the concrete can leave you feeling cold and damp, and it will cost you CNY180, the dorms are a better option if you are on a budget.
Where and What to Eat in Huangshan
While you are on the mountain the food options are very limited, there are restaurants in the hotels but they are expensive. If you are an independent traveler it is almost impossible to find cheap food, the hotels are only interested in feeding tour groups. The only option is to buy snack foods from the small stores but these are overpriced. If you can, it is best to bring the food you need with you. Just outside the entrance to the scenic area in Tangkou town there are some reasonably priced restaurants.
You should try to carry as much water as you can, the higher up the mountain you go the more expensive the water gets. A bottle of water that costs CNY2 at the bottom of the mountain will cost CNY10 at the top, instant noodles will cost double the normal price at around CNY10 if you buy them at the top and meat skewers will cost more than CNY3 for each stick.
How to Get Around Huangshan
From Huangshan city use one of the minibuses that are sitting in front of the railway station (ignore the taxi drivers unless you want to pay in excess of CNY100), the minibuses leave when full, usually every few minutes. It will cost CNY20 and takes about one hour for you to arrive at the entrance to the scenic area.
The main entrance is at the southern gate close to Tangkou town. Once you have paid your entrance fee take the shuttle bus (costs CNY19), they leave about every 20 minutes and it takes about 20 minutes to get to the cable car, you could walk but it takes time out of your day by doing so. You can take a shuttle bus to the Mercy Light Temple for the Yuping Cable Car to go to the Jade Screen, or take the shuttle bus to the Yungu Cable Car for the Cloud Valley. The cable cars cost CNY80 each way, you may have a long wait to get on the cable car but it saves you the energy for walking later. From the top of the cable cars the peaks are accessible from either. It will take you 2 or 3 hours to walk to the peaks from this point and another 90 minutes to 2 hours to come back down. The Western Steps lead you to the Yuping Lou Hotel; from here you can complete a circular tour. The Eastern Steps will take you to the White Goose Ridge close to the Beihai Hotel. Another option is to take the Funicular (CNY100) saving you some climbing.
Our advice is to download a walking map of the area (preferably one in English) and plan your route before you go. Do not try to do too much, there is lots of climbing, that is why it is best to wait for the cable car than deciding to walk up the mountain. There are reported to be 60,000 steps across the mountain area. The paths are generally in a good condition, about two metres wide and with handrails at the steepest sections. There are several routes where you are faced with a sheer drop so care is needed. If you do not want to, or cannot walk any further you could hire a sedan chair and be carried up the mountain, prices for this service are negotiable.
Fees and Costs on the Yellow Mountain
The entry fee costs CNY230, in low season December and January it is CNY150. There is a 50% discount for students with student ID cards (including foreign students) and senior citizens.
The shuttle bus from the entrance to the Yungu cable car is CNY19 in each direction.
The cable car to the top costs CNY80 in each direction or CNY65 in the low season.
The funicular from the bottom of the the Grand Canyon to the Baiyun Hotel is CNY100.
Here is an example of a full day’s tour of the mountain with some walking including the entry fee, a bus to the cable car, the cable car then the funicular to the top. Walk down to the cable car then take the cable car and bus back to the entrance will cost CNY528 per person.
How to Get To and From Huangshan
Huangshan’s Tunxi International Airport is in reality a small regional airport located just outside Huangshan city. It has flights to around 20 cities across China and its only international destinations are Seoul in South Korea and Bangkok in Thailand. There is one flight each day to and from Beijing, it takes 2 hours and 10 minutes and costs from CNY1010.
Local bus numbers 18 and 19 operate from the airport to the city centre, they operate between 7am and 5.30pm. A taxi will cost around CNY15-20 from the airport to the city centre, although there have been some problems over taxis overcharging and not using meters, so negotiate your price carefully.
Huangshan city has two railway stations, Huangshan and Huangshan North. Ordinary trains go to Huangshan Raiway Station with services to cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Nanjing. The North Railway Station has high-speed trains to several cities including those above as well as Hefei, Hangzhou and Xiamen.
An ordinary train to Shanghai takes 12 hours or more and a hard sleeper costs CNY174, while a high-speed train takes just over 4 hours and a second class seat costs CNY304. A train to Beijing will take 20 hours at a cost of CNY325.50 for a hard sleeper, a high-speed train cuts the journey time to 5 hours 30 minutes and costs CNY548.50 for a second class seat.
There are two long distance bus stations in Huangshan, one is in the city and has bus services to and from Shanghai, Hangzhou, Hefei and Nanjing. The second bus station is at Tangkou town and close to the entrance to the scenic area with regular services from Hangzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan, Wenzhou and Hefei.
Is it Safe in Huangshan?
Huangshan is a safe place to be, the biggest danger to from personal injury whilst on the mountain, there are lots of steps to negotiate so care should be taken at all times and ensure you are wearing suitable footwear. Wear the correct clothing for the season and even in summer you should have a coat. Umbrellas are not allowed to be used on the mountain because the wind may catch the umbrella and thus cause injuries. Should you need medical attention there are centres for minor injuries on the mountain but for more serious cases you may need to be taken to Huangshan city or even Hefei.