The Huangshan range, which towers over the south of Anhui province, is among China’s most beautiful mountains and ought to be on the itinerary of every visitor to China. In fact, in developed eastern China, countryside is a rare treat and the fresh air and stunning scenery makes the Yellow Mountains a highlight of many visitors’ trips to this part of the country. There are 72 peaks in all and the highest is only a little over 6,100 feet, but what the Yellow Mountains lack in stature they more than make up for in scenery. Lone pines perched on jutting crags mystically disappear and re-emerge from behind swirls of mist. The whole scene is fresh from a scroll painting. Huangshan is China as you dreamed it might be – images of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon spring to mind and it’s no surprise that parts of the movie were shot in the area. Although the top can be reached by cable car, the tough climb up adds to the sense of reward. It’s worth staying on the mountaintop to maximize your chances of some good weather and to enjoy Huangshan’s famed sunrise. There are also a host of other scenic spots in the vicinity and you can easily spend a few days here exploring the mountain, waterfalls and wildlife.
Huangshan’s accessible beauty has only one major drawback – it is one of the most visited spots in the country and on summer weekends, paths, hotels and restaurants are packed. So it’s best to visit during the week but, if that’s not possible, it’s worth making hotel reservations. Fortunately, the mountain itself is ringed by enough trails so you can always find a spot for yourself and, if you have the stamina and time for the longer western path, you’ll see few folks the whole way.
This part of Anhui is not only famous for its natural scenery – Shexian and Yixian counties are both within easy reach of either Tunxi or Tangkou and offer pretty, time-trapped (but touristy) villages worth visiting for their distinctive architecture.
As the nearest transport hub, Tunxi (aka Huangshan City) is the traditional base from which to explore the Huangshan and Huizhou (Shexian and Yixian) area. While the town lacks any major sights it has a couple of original examples of Huizhou architecture, along with a restored Ming dynasty street. When combined with its riverside setting and good hotels, this makes Tunxi a relaxing place to stay. The train station is in the north of town just a few minutes walk from the bus station to the east. From the train station, Qianyuan Bei Lu runs past a string of budget hotels to the junction with the city’s main street, Huangshan Xi Lu. Heading west along here, you’ll reach restored Lao Jie (Old Street), which is lined with tourist shops. It winds through the old town and down to the Xin’an River, where you’ll find a few better places to stay.
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