Huangshan Scenic Area, China
When we first booked Huangshan we did little more than book the trains. We guessed we would have a better idea of national parks after we had visited Zhangjiajie so waited before we booked our accommodation and activities.
As it was, what we didn’t realise was how tired we would feel after it! The summer heat was still taking it’s toll and we hadn’t had any real downtime yet during this leg of our journey. And so we decided, before we’d even arrived that we weren’t going to Yellow Mountain Scenic region or climb it!
It was such a shame as we’d read that Yellow Mountain Scenic area was so beautiful. A guy we met in the hostel who couldn’t get over that we weren’t going to climb the mountain! To be honest neither could we! Here’s what we got up to instead.
How to get there
We stuck to our favoured form of transport and travelled by train to Huangshan. The train station at Hangzhou was like another airport. Just head to your gate and board 15 minutes before departure.
After 3 hours we arrived at Huangshan North station. We then caught a local bus to our hostel which is conveniently located near the Huangshan long distance bus station. As you exit the train station the blue buses are located on your right hand side. Look for a bus that takes you to bus station (汽车站) – we just asked. It was only RMB 2 per person – make sure you have the right change.
We again used our offline app ‘osmand’ to track where we needed to get off. The bus doesn’t stop at the long distance bus station but it passes near to it on the main road.
Where to stay
We found a lovely hostel, Kunlun international hostel, outside of the main town area, but right next to the main bus station. We assumed we were closer to town than we were (about 35 min walk to the centre, rather than the edge of the city).
We soon realised it was much less hassle and much more fun if we just got a tuk-tuk. Read about ‘Getting around’ further down to hear about our tuk-tuk adventures!
The hostel was very welcoming and the lady who ran the hostel spoke very good English. There was a nice comfy seating area with bar and a pool table. It was a nice area to relax in. The only issue was the WiFi was a little slow which made planning a bit more difficult!
Our room was lovely and large and had separate bedrooms. The hostel owner was very helpful and keen for us to explore the area and kept suggesting ideas on where to go and what to see. I think she also thought we were mad for coming all this way and not seeing Yellow Mountain!
Places to eat
There were no eateries around our hostel, instead we ventured into Tunxi city each evening and stocked up on bakery items for breakfast or noodles for lunch.
It actually wasn’t easy to find eateries here. We did locate a number of small local restaurants on the right hand side of the old Tunxi ancient street. The food was good and reasonably priced.
The next couple of nights we found a small alleyway full of street food and mini restaurants (some only had a couple of tables but we found that most had an upstairs too!). The waiters adored the boys!
It was just near the ‘super bakery’ Xinan North Road. This was also where Jasper had his ‘falling down a manhole’ incident!
Getting around Huangshan
There are plenty of taxis around the area, but when the opportunity to take our first tuk-tuk came along – we jumped in!
Ahhh.. the memories (and remembering I could do with wearing a sports bra more often!). It’s not the smoothest of rides but you certainly feel part of the furniture. We jumped in several during our stay.
Some with doors, some were electric bikes, some were enough for 2 people. So we squeezed in! Ha ha.
The boys loved every journey, especially being close into the traffic. There was laughter all the way!
- A more conservative way to travel would be by bus, but for RMB 2 per person for every journey, it was the same cost to travel by taxi or tuk-tuk and much more fun!
Reasons we didn’t climb Yellow Mountain
- We had re-read the information before we arrived that it rained for around 200 days on the mountain. Therefore, most of the walkways were wet, making it a little trickier to get around.
- It was also known that walkways were narrow and we knew from Zhangjiajie that there’s a bit of shuffling and pushing. Having seen pictures of the steeper and less structured walkways around this mountain area it did worry me slightly.
- The best views on the mountain were the sunset and sunrise, but that meant staying on the mountain (of which there are a few choices) but that also meant paying a fortune for the pleasure. One guy we met in the hostel was just taking his hammock and hoping it didn’t rain (it did! bless him!). We continue to way up the cost vs experience.
- The cost was similar to Zhangjiajie (i.e RMB 230 valid for 2 days) and meant we needed to have the time and energy to explore for at least 2 days to make it worthwhile – we did not have any!
So in conclusion, much as it was on the ‘must-see’ list in China we decided to stay use the 4 days planning the remainder of our trip in China and also onto Borneo and Nepal. And also just to relax and not do a huge amount.
Things to do in Huangshan
Aside from Yellow Mountain Scenic Area (which I would recommend you either stay on the mountain or in the village at the bottom!) then there are other things to do in the area:
Tunxi Ancient Street – a long narrow street filled with tourist shops, cafes and restaurants. Suprisingly, there are not many food stalls around here and we struggled to located the few areas where restaurants were based (down side streets).
Ancient villages around the area – there are a number of ancient small villages you can visit. I think these are more of a novelty to chinese people as they are actually ‘small’. When you talk about a town in China, usually they house around 6 million people. Certainly not my description of a town but could be the reason these little villages draw in such a crowd!
The options are: Xidi village, Hongcun Village, Chengkan village and Huizhou ancient village . As we recently stayed at Zhouzhuang water town, we decided not to make the journey out. Again, these villages all have an entrance fee too.
Huashan Mysterious Grottoes – not the most advertised attraction, I stumbled on this when looking for activities. It mentioned a number of caves you can explore which are lit up with colourful lights. Plus there is a boat trip on a lake up to another small cave (extra payable – we didn’t pay). So we decided it would be nice for an afternoon.
In fact, we were pleasantly surprised. It was another hot day so stepping inside the caves was so refreshing. Plus we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. You first cross the suspension bridge and wander around the caves at your leisure.
The lights inside the caves weren’t too garish and were quite nice. The boys enjoyed exploring and seeing all the bats flying around! It only took a few hours and we go the much cheaper local bus option to and from the city so didn’t break the budget!
For more information, click here.
We stayed a little further out than I would have liked, but once booked it was manageable. The Tunxi old town catered well for food (once you found it), but was mainly a tourist area with lots of shops selling trinkets, tea and jade or wood. It lacked ambience in my view.
If planning a visit, to the yellow mountains then book well in advance for a hotel room on the mountain as they get costly! I did look at this but the costs put me off. An alternative is to stay at the base of the mountain, but you’ll miss the peak sunset and sunrise viewings (if the weather’s good).
Note: the weather is hit or miss so plan to stay a few days for yellow mountain and hopefully you’ll strikes lucky! Also, decide whether the walks are suitable to the kids. From what I’ve readr the walkways are narrow and paths can be slippy in wet weather. I decided that with tiredness it probably wasn’t the best time.
There is plenty around the area to keep you busy, and it was a nice enough area for us to relax in and catch up with ourselves.