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Huangshan (黄山), literally translated as Yellow Mountain, is a mountain range located about 6 hours west of Shanghai. Accessible by trains and busses, this UNESCO Heritage Site is famous for its granite peaks and breathtaking views of clouds floating above the mountain peaks. 

With over 140 sections of the mountain range being opened to visitors, Huangshan is one of the most popular Chinese destinations.  Getting up to the top of Huangshan is an adventure in itself. There are no taxis, busses, or any other methods of transportation on the mountains. You can take a cable car to the top, but once there, it’s just you and your two feet!  And since over 15 million visitors (mostly Chinese) visit Huangshan on a yearly basis, it’s not surprising that the wait for the cable car can sometimes be as long as 2 hours.

Crowds waiting in line for the cable car to the top of Huangshan

Crowds waiting in line for the cable car to the top of Huangshan

Alternatively, you can walk up thousands of stairs, a route that typically takes 2-3 hours to complete.

It's a tough climb up to Huangshan, but many Chinese still preferred it to waiting in the cable car line for 2 hours

It’s a tough climb up to Huangshan, but many Chinese still prefer it to waiting in the cable car line for 2 hours

But once you reach the top and go off the beaten tourist path (there are plenty of those!) you’ll find yourself surrounded by incredible views!

Beautiful views from the cable car

Beautiful views from the cable car

If you climb high enough, you'll be surrounded by this!

Once you climb high enough, you’ll be surrounded by this!

and this...

and this…

While most of the paths along the mountains are very safe and wide enough to accommodate large crowds, as you get off the tourist tracks, the trails become more and more narrow. And some, really make you question their safety…

This path doesn't look very safe

This path doesn’t look very safe

Although, it didn’t look like the local maintenance crew was concerned about their safety on the rocks at all.

Maintenance workers hanging out on top of the rocks at Huangshan

Maintenance workers hanging out on top of the rocks at Huangshan

One of the higher peaks on Huangshan

One of the higher peaks on Huangshan

There really isn’t anything else to do at Huangshan, but walk from one mountain peak to another mountain peak, admiring the scenery along the way.

Just another stunning view on Hunagshan

Just another stunning view on Hunagshan

Some views in Huangshan reminded me of the scenery in Avatar. And it’s no surprise! James Cameron admitted that Avatar’s floating “Hallelujah Mountains” in Pandora were in part inspired by the these exact views. 

VIews like these almost make it feel like you are walking through the scenery in Avatar

Views like these almost make it feel like you are walking through the scenery in Avatar

Exploring Huangshan is exhausting. Most people go up to Huangshan for a day and after a few hours of exploring, they take the cable car back down and enjoy a swim in some fresh hot springs in a Tunxi town, located at the bottom of Huangshan. But there is a real beauty in spending the night at the top of Huangshan. Not only can you try your luck at catching the sunrise, but you can avoid the crowds by starting your hike at the crack of dawn. After all, there are over 50 peaks to discover at Huangshan, a task that requires at least 2 days at the top!

I'm exhausted after 2 days of hiking in Huangshan

I’m exhausted after 2 days of hiking in Huangshan

To learn more about traveling in China, check out CHINA TRAVEL GUIDE or CHINA TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY or continue exploring other related articles

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