Mount Huashan
Mount Huashan
4.5
7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Monday
7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Tuesday
7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Wednesday
7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Thursday
7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday
7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturday
7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday
7:00 AM - 7:00 PM
About
Famous for its breathtaking cliffs and 12-kilometer-long winding path to its peak, this mountain features five peaks that resemble five petals of a flower.
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles1,277 reviews
Excellent
868
Very good
340
Average
42
Poor
8
Terrible
18

Zach K
3 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2021
Local government and people are still racist to foreigners. When I arrived at the train station it was the first time in years that the taxi driver tried to rip me off and not use the meter to get to my hotel. Dinner that evening was overpriced by about 20% and I was told that foreigners are not allowed up the mountain. The excuse given was that we do not have second generation ID cards. This is false, because if you go to the gate ticket office you can see Chinese people buying tickets without an ID card and they can climb up the mountain. I even when to the ticket management of HuaShan ticket office and spoke with the officials there and they informed me that it wasn't racist that foreigners can't climb but they can't justify it. All in all I have to say it was the worst place I've been in China.
Written May 16, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

guipavie171
Shanghai, China4 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2020 • Couples
This place is a real disgrace. I booked plane tickets, I rented a car, I paid the highway toll to start the climb around 11pm. And I have had my access refused because I am a foreigner.
I have not leave China for the last 6 months, I have a green Shaanxi QR code, I have my passport with me with my working visa and my last entry stamp and I was wearing a mask. The people I tried to negotiate with where stubborn and unyielding, only people with a Chinese ID card can enter.
After 2 hours of negotiation, I have to drove back to my hotel in Xi'an in the middle of the night.
I feel tired, sad and highly frustrated, it seems that no matter the effort you do to be accepted in China, you will always suffer from ridiculous discrimination.
Written September 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Natalie V
1 contribution
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2024 • Solo
Buying a ticket, the climb, the cable cars and all at the actual huashan park was easy. The views were stunning and despite it being a very popular area, even with many other people it was a manageable and enjoyable hike. That said, I only give it 3 stars because getting to the park and later back to the station were two of the worst experiences on my entire trip to China. I followed a female solo travellers itinerary dated 2023, so i assumed all would be fine however did not find a free shuttle bus anywhere. The taxi drivers are very rude when you come out of the station, i ordered a Didi since it is the only way i knew how to track where we were going, and the driver still attempted to hide the meter from me. luckily i had read about this and used the translation app to make him show me it was on.

on the way back I followed the clear signs for 'shuttle bus' but when i got there the staff didn't even answer me and just waved me towards the taxi drivers, as if there was no free shuttle. at this point i had hiked a very long time and just wanted to get to the station so agreed to a 20 Yuan taxi ride. but when i followed him to the car two other people ( a young chinese couple) got in and the driver and the guy who got me to agree (who spoke english) ushered me to get in too. I instantly had alarm bells ringing in my head, they seem to have expected me to just get in and then pay for all of us on my own, since the answer to ‘will we share the price?’ was laughing and a cheeky ‘they are translators’. I don’t understand Chinese beyond survival stuff but they were laughing and clearly not expecting me to walk away. I called another didi and was on my way 5 min later. Again tho, had to ask to see the meter as it was hidden behind a card.

My advice: make sure they turn on the meter and make them show you. Order a didi so you see the way they have to go and can make sure they don’t stray from it.
Written April 9, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

kk3n
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania15 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Couples
It was impressive mainly as an existence proof of how many humans per hour a rational tourist industry can cycle through a natural attraction without fatalities. Plus, there is a cultural thing: people plump down in the middle of the stairs (everything is stairs) and won't move, gridlocking the whole business. So anticipate molasses-slow waddling up and down stairs in swarming crowds and stifling heat with people sitting in the middle of the stairs the whole time. "Beam me up Scotty!"
Written July 12, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Never4inluvagain
Singapore, Singapore484 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019 • Solo
First ever walk and hike 8 hrs. 11am start from bottom Huashan, I reach West Peak already 6:30pm. Cable car ticket for sale until 7pm. Bcos of crowd, the queue for cable car 2hr+. Must come once of life time to enjoy the views. Mostly people take 3hrs to climb up. You also can go up and down by cable car.
Written February 21, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

pepca
slovenia164 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2012 • Couples
We got up at 6 am, took the first metro (6:05, 3Y per person) from the bell/drum tower to the north train station in Xian and boarded the 8:15 bullet train (first available: D1002 bound for ZhengZhou, 35Y pp), which took us to the North (new) railway station in HuaShan town.
There was a green bus waiting for passengers from the train (»special bus route«, buy tickets from a small office next to the bus), which took us to the park entrance for 10Y per person. Taxi drivers are also eager to do this route, which is quite short.

At the park entrance (last decent toilets) we bought park entry (180Y pp) and buses tickets (return 40Y pp) and were transferred to the cable car station (20 min) via the other (west) park entrance.
A one hour wait for the cable car (return 150Y pp) and we were at the top station at 11:00.

I guess this is the earliest possible time to get there from Xian by public transport (which saves you quite some time queuing for the cable car because you get there first of all the other public transport passangers). There are other slow trains (start later, take longer) and even a bus from the main station (supposedly starts 7:30-8:00 and takes 2h, but likely less reliable.

The hike was awesome, we managed to get to all peaks except the West one (which is a 10 min hike from the descent from the South peak). Orientation on the mountain is easy, signs everywhere (there's really just one way up the mountain).
We did not take the »adrenaline« route from the East peak to the pavillion, but we did take the adrenaline boardwalk below the South peak.

The two of us drank 5l of water and we ended up on the North peak somewhat thirsty at 17:00. The queue for the cable car descent was a bit shorter (45 min).
We reversed our morning route and came to the HuaShan North railway station at 18:50, boarding the 19:24 bullet train to Xian.

The public bus for Xian was waiting at the West park entrance, we could have taken it, but were unsure when it left (only a few passengers were on it), so we opted for the bullet train, which got us to Xian North at 20:10. After the half hour metro ride (line 2, 10 stations, 3Y) we had dinner and finally a well-deserved (and needed) shower at 10 pm.

Our tip: Take plenty of water (3 liters per person), sunscreen, hat and toilet paper.
There are many Chinese tourists along the way. We were happy that we didn't spend the night in one of the ho(s)tels on the mountain (expensive, basic). An overnight ascent from the base to catch the sunrise, however, might be fun.

See the GPS track at:
http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=1692365
Written July 28, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Girllovespink
Singapore34 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2014 • Friends
Hello. Most Huashan reviews on TripAdvisor will tell you the mountain is totally worth visiting so I'll dispense with all that. I think it is more important I share survival tips with those who are not Stairmaster heros.

I visited Huashan under these circumstances:
- Peak of Chinese summer in Xi'an (47 degree Celsius or 116 degree Fahrenheit)
- Second full day having arrived in Xi'an from Singapore (i.e. no jetlag + I'm used to tropical heat and humidity)
- Average fitness level (I practise a mix of hatha and vinyasa yoga -- that is all the exercise I do besides general walking about town)
- I carried 1 pack of plain nuts, some pastries, and 3 bottles of water after reading about the exorbitant F&B offerings up the mountain

My journey from Xi'an city to Mount Huashan:
- took MRT* Line No. 2 to its northern-most stop (Beikezhan or Xian North Railway Station)
- exited the MRT station and found the dedicated ticketing hall for the high speed train to Huashan Beizhan (Beizhan means North Stop). Note that the ticketing machines only accept local credit cards so if you plan to pay by cash you have to queue up.
- high speed train journey is about 25 minutes and it doesn't stop along the way. Each ticket is RMB55.
You will need to estimate how much time you will take at Mount Hua in order to buy your return train ticket. It is best to buy it at the same time rather than buy it only at the end of the day. This is because Xi'an North stop is the last stop and the trains passing through Mount Hua would have come from places like Beijing and they are very packed. For me, I bought the 10 plus in the morning to Mount Hua and the return was for 5 plus in the evening.

This is how the highspeed train looks like. It is nice and comfortable. ;-)

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.notesfromxian.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2011%2F02%2FXian-High-Speed-Train-Notes-From-Xian-121.jpg&imgrefurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.notesfromxian.com%2F2011%2F02%2F11743%2F&h=662&w=962&tbnid=73JsS_P4vQ7MzM%3A&zoom=1&docid=iiR59mZj1f5BTM&ei=qKXYU6eeEpLIuASz4IHoDQ&tbm=isch&ved=0CB8QMygBMAE&iact=rc&uact=3&dur=6585&page=1&start=0&ndsp=26

- When you arrive at Huashan Beizhan, you are still far from Mount Hua. There will be many transport touts waving at you at the exit of the train station by the ticket slots. You will see a very prominent LED panel with Chinese text as you exit (above the ticket slots) telling you there is a free bus to take you to the Mount Hua Visitor Centre. It is a big bus that takes about 80 people and it will be very packed. If you choose to follow one of the touts (which i did), you will be offered the following:

1) a taxi ride for RMB10 whether it is for 1 person or 2 (they will not tell you it is a shared cab; we ended up being asked to get into a cab arranged by the tout with 2 other people who were not even going to Mount Hua but were stopped at some residential place enroute); you pay the cab driver when you alight -- not to the tout

2) they will walk you to the Mount Hua ticketing office to buy your entrance fee + bus fee (more on that later) + cable car ride tickets (if you know you want to go up via cable car -- again more on that later).
It will be VERY WISE to buy the tickets with the tout next to you AT the window of the ticketing office because the queue at the visitor centre when you finally get there is very long. Basically the same people who opt for the free bus will be the ones queuing for the tickets at that end. The officer behind the counter will explain to you what the tickets are for so you don't need to worry the touts are fleecing you. You will no doubt feel they may be because the tickets are expensive: :-(

a) Mount Hua entrance fee RMB180

b) Single way bus from visitor centre to foot of Mount Hua RMB40 - note that you can only buy the first leg of the bus at this visitor centre; you can only buy the return ticket (that means you need to standby another RMB40) when you are ready to leave at the end of your visit at the foot of the mountain

c) West peak cable car ride RMB140 each way - this is the part I can't stress enough if you know you are no Stairmaster Hero.
I decided to be modest in my attempt and go UP AND DOWN via the same west route. That means I bought the cable car ride for west peak both ways = RMB280 right at the start of the journey. I was very glad I made that decision by the time I completed the excursion. (Depending on the weather when you visit, the relentless stairs can be torturous.) It was scorching at 47 degree Celsius and I witnessed many people struggling. Some sat down and couldn't move. Others had to half-dragged/carried by their companions to move on.

So the RMB10 taxi will take you close but not quite right by the visitor centre. You will still have to walk about 600 metres. The same goes for the free bus, by the way, so don't be upset. You will know you have arrived and it is time to get out of the RMB10 taxi when you see a big "lotus flower tower". You will know what I mean when you see it.

After you walk that 600m to the visitor centre, go through the hall to the 'back' of the building where the RMB40 buses are waiting for you. (You will feel very pleased that you already have your tickets and need not queue!) The bus is comfortable and sits about 20 pax. The bus ride takes about 40 minutes before you get to the bottom of Mount Hua.

Now, this is where you start to regret if you think you can easily handle stairs.

There are many nicely decorated sweeping stairs starting from the bottom of Mount Hua to the west peak cable car station. I don't know what the walking route entails if you are headed to the north peak cable car (a much shorter cable car ride because north peak route is for those who are fit and really want to work out). I can only imagine it will be a lot harder since the west peak route is already the 'easiest'.

The cable car ride up the west peak is gorgeous. If you are lucky to be with fellow travellers who are quiet in the cable car (each car takes 6 adults), it will be really nice admiring the amazing scenery while chinese orchestra music is playing softly in the background inside the cable car. We rode with children who were screaming and yelling and the sounds were amplified in that small space with all that glass. After 10 minutes, I gently asked that they please tone it down and then it was all right. ;-)

Once you get out of the cable car ride, you can decide how many other peaks you would like to 'conquer'. The various walking routes are clearly marked out. My goal was to reach South Peak (Louis Cha/Jin Yong fans will understand) and also to attempt the Cliffside Plank Path 长空栈道. The latter was why I needed to conserve energy as I wasn't sure if I could handle the seemingly challenging route.

There are about 6 stops along the ascent to South Peak which is the highest peak of Mount Hua. There are fantastic photo opportunities up there. From there to the plank walk is another 400 metres.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You don't have to do the plank walk if you don't want to. But if you do, read on:

There are quite many sections of steps to climb before one gets to the Cliffside Plank Path. We learnt that there are still hermits leaving in Mount Hua and this plank path was created by hermits a long time ago. The steel ropes and reinforcements for tourists were added in recent years.

You need to walk around a narrow 'corner' (about 30 metres) before you get to the start of the plank walk. I concluded that part was meant to eliminate people who may not be handle the plank walk itself. There will be a man selling the harness (RMB30) who will first ask you to "take a look downwards" as another chance for one to self-eliminate from the plank walk. I doubt anyone will attempt to walk the plank path without renting the harness.

The route itself is not difficult. The problem only starts if you have many people trying to get up while you are getting down as it is a one-pax space with traffic going in two directions.

Just take it slow, help each other along, and you will be fine.

When you get to the middle of the plank section, there will be a man offering to take your picture with a Nikon DSLR for RMB30. It is totally worth it because he climbs to a higher spot to take your photo and your companion will not be able to get you from that same angle. He will print your photo and laminate it ready for you when you make your way back to the harness man.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After completing the plank walk, I made my descent (thank goodness!) to the South/Centre Peak intersection and then I basically cut 'across' horizontally (this part is easy -- i literally stopped to smell the flowers! Spotted little bees between the petals!) back to the West Peak cable car station and then I made my descent in style via the same cable car route. Yay!

You can see the people walking down as you descent in the cable car. If you are anything like me, you will be really grateful you chose to ride the cable car instead of walking because the steps downwards are narrow and steep (with no handrails) unlike those you would have encountered earlier if you followed my route. Perhaps it would be much easier if it was not so hot but ahem... as a responsible tripadvisor, I would not dare to recommend another route because I did not try it myself!

One last thing -- the bathroom at the base of the cable car station (where you get off/on the RMB40 bus) is nice and clean. The water running from the tap is some super spring water. Really cool and refreshing. Something like 5 degrees Celsius, according to the guard!

Remember you now need to pay another RMB40 to buy the return bus ticket back to the visitor centre. Thereafter you will need to walk BEYOND the flower lotus tower to look for this bus stop and queue for the free bus back to the Huashan North high speed train station. There will not be many touts offering you taxi rides back to the train station (I thought that was odd but what to do) so we ended up hailing a sort-of open air moped for RMB10 back to the station.

Once you get back to Xi'an city, reward yourself with a foot bath and enjoy the rest of your evening.

###

*Please note that if you are new to Xi'an and you study the city map, you will see a very comprehensive 6-line MRT map. As of July 2014, only LINES 1 and 2 are functioning. When you select your hotel, please take note. The local buses ply many routes but they end their runs early and the traffic gets heavy and a 3-stop journey on the MRT translates to a one-hour journey by bus.
Written July 30, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Laura H
Boulder, CO5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jun 2018 • Solo
After reading a ton of reviews of Huashan (thank you, Trip Advisor contributors!), I decided to take a solo day trip out to the mountain to see it for myself. I had a difficult time figuring out how long it would take and choosing a route, so I kept track of my timing for the day so that I could share it, in case it helps a fellow traveler. I should note that I am a female who doesn't speak Chinese (apart from the basics) and was able to navigate the trip without too much confusion.

6:20am - Left my hotel and took a taxi to the North Xi'an Train Station (metro wasn't open yet)
7:00am - Arrived at train station. Went inside, not realizing you buy tickets on the outside, but I ended up finding a ticket exchange booth inside with no line and was able to buy a ticket there (saved me some precious time, I later learned).
7:38am - Bullet train to North Huashan Station
8:08am - Arrived and got in line for the free shuttle bus to the tourist center (the green #1 bus - you'll see the line of people). The crowded bus seemed to stop every 100 ft, despite the fact that we had no room for more people. Took forever to go about 6 miles, but it was free so I guess I can't complain.
8:45am - Finally arrived at the Tourist Center. Bought my ticket for the park and the shuttle bus to the North cable car (they wouldn't let me buy any cable car tickets there).
9:00am - Got on a shuttle for the North cable car.
9:30am - Bought a ticket and got on a cable car (no line!). 8 minute ride up the mountain.
9:45am - Climbed to North peak (not far from the cable car station). The next section of the hike was a loooong climb up a ton of stairs to get to the area with the rest of the peaks. It was stunning, though, and not too crowded. I really enjoyed the hike.
11:30am - Arrived at East Peak
11:45am - Central Peak
12:15pm - Got to the plank walk line. 3 hour wait. Decided to pass.
12:45pm - South Peak
1:10pm - West Peak. I rested a bit here and bought the most expensive cup of tea of my life (around $7) but it tasted delicious!
1:50pm - Boarded a cable car down the West side. 20-30 minute ride. Stunning views!!
2:30pm - Got a bus from the West cable car area to the Tourist Center. Longer ride than I would have thought.
3:25pm - Got on a yellow shuttle #1 (free again!) to the train station
3:40pm - Arrived at the station and bought a ticket for the next bullet train ride to Xi'an.
3:55pm - Bullet train to Xi'an
4:30pm - Got on a metro back to the area near my hotel
5:45pm - Back at the hotel

As you can see, a pretty long day but totally doable as a day trip from Xi'an. I was more interested in hiking the mountain than doing the plank walk, which is why I made the decision to start at the North Peak. From North to all the other peaks, you climb up thousands of stairs. It's a great workout and, early in the morning on a weekday, there weren't too many people on that side of the mountain. If you want to do the plank walk above everything else, I would recommend taking the West cable car up, as it gets you to the side of the mountain with the plank. By the time I got to the plank walk area, the line was crazy long and I didn't feel like spending a few hours just standing in line.

I would have liked to have done the full hike up to North peak (no cable car) but I was worried about having enough time. As you can see, I left my house around 6am and didn't get back until almost 6pm so it was a full day as it was (and this was a day with no lines for anything except the plank walk). But, rest assured I got a good workout in - even without the hike up, I did plenty of climbing going from the North to East peak. All in all, I was on the mountain for about 4 hours, with only a few breaks here and there to eat the snacks I brought and to rest.

As others have mentioned, the trip isn't cheap, although it isn't crazy expensive either. I spent around 500 yuan for all my travel (about $76), which included 2 bullet train rides, a taxi ride, a metro ride, 2 cable car rides, and the park entry fee. I should note that I had a student pass but some of the discounts weren't that significant (10% off of the west cable car price, for instance). You definitely want to bring enough cash as I didn't see ATMs, especially if you plan to buy food or want to add anything extra (like the plank walk).

All in all, a fun day trip and some stunning views. I highly recommend it to all visitors to Xi'an!
Written June 21, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

limator
lima4 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2014 • Solo
I hiked up the mountain from the very bottom, starting from Yuquan temple in Huashan village. I can highly recommend the longer hike, especially if you do what I did and stay overnight on the top.
I took the number 1 bus from outside Xian North train station. There seemed to be a single departure, which I was told was at 8am. I got there at 7.10am and the bus left when full at 7.40am. There were 2 buses leaving together. It cost 22yuan one way and took 1hr 30mins. The bus went to the visitors centre which is where you get the north peak cable car from (after another bus journey). I bought a entrance ticket from the centre, then went back to the bus park and took the green free mini bus to the village, 5 mins away. This drops you at the temple. Walk all the way through the temple and under the train tracks to get to the start of the trail. From here it took me 3.5 hrs of hard climbing to get to north peak. Then you meet the hoards of tourists who took the easy way up. Don't be fooled your climbing is over- north peak is the lowest peak, so there's another hour of steps going up before you reach the fork to go either to south peak or to east peak. I went to east peak, about 15 mins more of easier walking. I stayed overnight in a dirty dorm room with just a padded board for a mattress, but it was comfortable apart from that! High prices, at 150¥ for bed and about 40-60¥ for a meal in the restaurant. Free hot water urn though, do bring some instant noodles.
From east peak sunrise platform, I also had an excellent view of sunset and south peak in silhouette. I scoped out a private place for sunrise the next morning, as I reckoned there would be loads of people on the viewing platform- I was not wrong!
I headed back down at about 8.30am the next day, and it was very pleasant walking back to north peak with hardly anyone on the trail. I walked down the same route, hundreds of steps, back to the village, where I took the free bus back to the visitors centre. It was about 12.20pm and one of the buses for Xian was half full. By 1pm, it was full and we left. Not sure what time the other bus was leaving to go back, but the North Huashan train station is only 2.5km away, so a train was going to be my back-up plan.
In all, this was a very easy trip and an excellent hike. I left my main bag at my hostel in Xian and just took what I needed. There are little stalls all the way up the mountain, more expensive once you meet north peak, but small bottles of water were about
10¥.
Written May 16, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

gregsf11
San Francisco, CA824 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2012 • Solo
Did it as a daytrip from Xi'an and happy I did.

Don't bother with guided tours. The awesomeness of the scenery is self-evident. You don't need anyone to explain it. And it's perfectly doable to arrange transport on your own. I'll explain how below.

Don't overpack. Price of a bottle of water on the top of the mountain: an exorbitant 10Y. Not having to carry a backpack up stairs all day: Priceless. I didn't know they sold food and water everywhere before I went, so I came (over)prepared. I wish I had just brought my camera and my wallet.

Don't believe all the stories you see on the internet about the danger. You'll be fine as long as you don't go when it's raining or snowing. And nobody has to "walk the plank" if they don't want to. Oh, but it's so much fun if you do. And then you can show people back home the pictures and perpetuate the stories of what a crazy dangerous adventure you just went on!

On the other hand, don't believe the Lonely Planet time estimates for the circuit. I don't know what planet Lonely Planet is living on, but there is no possible way you can do justice to all 4 peaks in 4 hours. Even if you skip middle peak as I did, it takes 6, and that's walking at a faster pace than most people. 6.5 if you "walk the plank."

To do it as a day trip, plan ahead. There are several ways to get to Hua Shan from Xi'an. The fastest is probably by train. The bullet train leaves from Xi'an Bei (North), not the main station. To get there, the best way is the new Xi'an metro. It takes 35 minutes from the Drum and Bell Tower. Last stop is Xi'an Bei, and the bullet train station is right above the metro station. Once on the bullet tran, get off at the second stop, Hua Shan Bei. The first train, D1002 leaves at 08:15 and gets to Hua Shan Bei at 08:56. Outside the station, ignore the taxi touts and make a beeline for the green minibusses which take you to the mountain.

There are 2 ways to walk up, and then there's the cable car to the North Peak. I recommend the latter, and then, if you have time, walk down the long way. You do miss at least one of the paths up, but for several reasons, I don't think you miss much:
1. The "Soldier's Path" is particularly brutal. Plus it mostly follows the cable car route up, so you don't miss much scenery by not taking it. In fact you can see the path below while on the cable car.
2. If you do walk up, you'll already be tired by the time you get up, and won't have as much energy for the peaks, a full circuit of which is taxing enough for one day, even if you're in good shape.
3. I chose to walk down the other, supposedly more scenic way. The scenery wasn't all that terrific compared to the peaks, it took longer than the guidebook estimated (about 3.5 hours to go DOWN -don't even think about trying to make it in 3.5 hours going UP), and all the steep stairs are hell on the knees, even if you don't have knee problems (if you do, then don't even think about doing this). My legs were sore for three days.

So I would actually recommend cable car up and cable car down, and maximize your time on the peaks. The peaks are amazing. I liked it better than Huang Shan. The Chinese don't do switchbacks. They just build a staircase up the spine of the mountain. Seeing the stairs before you do them, you think, "Are we really going up THERE???" And then you do.

There's no solitude to be had here, or rather very little. If you make a clockwise loop of the peaks, and always stay to your left, there will be parts of the East Peak that a lot of people miss and thus offer some opportunity for time away from the hordes. But the crowds of (99% Chinese) tourists take nothing away from the scenery.

Incidentally the famous plank walk is after the East Peak, on the way to the South Peak. A side trip that you can skip if you're afraid of heights, but for me, it alone was worth the price of admission. Again, though, I came overprepared. They now provide harnesses. Instinct kicks in though, and most people won't get to (or will have any desire to) test out their quality.

I figured I had time for the walk down before my 19:55 train back to Xi'an, so that's what I did. Barely made it, as it turns out. Make sure you have 4 hours allocated for the trip down to the Jade Spring Temple, plus time to get to the station. Plan on taking a taxi, since this isn't the same entrance as the one to the cable car. And once you start on the path, there's really no changing your mind. The steep stairs begin immediately on the descent, and after only a short distance, the last thing you'll want to do is go back up.
Written October 9, 2012
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