The Yellow Mountains

The best place to appreciate sunrise and sea of clouds
The Yellow Mountains

Since ancient times, Mt. Huangshan has been one of the most famous mountains in China, with strangely-shaped pines, grotesque rocks, a sea of clouds and a hot spring as its four wonders. Besides, the sight of frosty rime all over the forest trees, and a beautiful sunrise are also two must-see types of scenery. As an ancient saying goes, trips to China’s five great mountains render trips to other mountains unnecessary, and a trip to Huangshan renders trips to the five great mountains unnecessary.

Quick Facts
  • Chinese Name: 黄山 Huáng Shān
  • Duration: 2-3 days
  • Entrance fee: Busy season (from March to November): RMB 230 Slack season (from December to February): RMB 150
  • Opening hours: 06:30-16:30 on workdays and Sunday; 06:00-16:30 on Saturday
  • Address: Huangshan District, Huangshan City, Anhui Province
  • Best time to visit: All year round
  • Bus lines: There are many shuttle buses heading for Tangkou Town during 6:30-17:00 every day at the Huangshan Long-distance Bus Terminal. Then take Line Xinguo to the scenic spot.

Why is it called the Yellow Mountains?

Mount Huangshan is also called Yellow Mountains, because “Huang (黄)” in Chinese means the color of yellow, but actually the mountain is not yellow. The meaning of its name does not refer to color at all. In the past, Yellow Mountains were once named “Yi (黟)” Mountains, which literally means black mountain, because it is totally black when seen from a distance.

There was a legend about Huangdi, also known as the Yellow Emperor, who is considered to be the ancestor of all Chinese. As he was gradually getting old, he still wanted to do more for his people. He heard the Yi Mountains (present Yellow Mountains) was a perfect place to make an elixir. So he went to the mountain and hoped finally to be immortal. Emperor Xuanzong of Tang believed in the legend and ordered the Yi Mountains to be renamed as Yellow Mountains to commemorate Huangdi in 747 CE.

How high are the Yellow Mountains?

The three main peaks of Yellow Mountains are Heavenly Capital Peak, Lotus Flower Peak, and Bright Summit, which are over 1800m. The highest, Lotus Flower Peak, is up to 1864m.

How to Plan Trip on Huangshan Mountain

The easiest way to visit:

You can visit Huangshan Mountain within one day if your schedule is tight. Go up and go downhill from the rear range by taking cable cars, including just a little hiking on top of the mountains.

a map for the easiest way to climb yellow mountain

The moderate intensity visit:

Go up and downhill from the rear range by cable car and enjoy the Xihai Grand Canyon and Baiyun Scenic Area along the way with 2 options as follows:

1) The rear range – White Goose Peak – Xihai Grand Canyon – Baiyun Scenic Area – the rear range

a map for 2 days huangshan tour

2) The rear range – Beginning-to-Believe Peak – Xihai Grand Canyon – Baiyun Scenic Area – the rear range

a map for 2 days huangshan tour


You can also go up from the front range by cable car and go downhill from the rear range by the stairs. This is the recommended route for those who are fond of hiking.

Highlights of Mt. Huangshan:

Beihai Scenic Area

Watching the ‘cloud sea’ and the sunrise are the most popular experiences at the Beihai Scenic Area. The best viewing places for watching the sunrise include Qingliang Flat, Shizi Peak, Shixin Peak (known as ‘Beginning-to-Believe Peak’), Shizi Peak (known as ‘Lion Peak’), and Guang Ming Ding (known as ‘Bright Summit’). And the best locations for admiring the ‘cloud sea’ are Qingliang Flat, Bai’e Ling (known as ‘White Goose Mountain’) and Guang Ming Ding (or ‘Bright Summit’).

Xihai Scenic Area

This scenic area is the most recently explored. Here, the ‘Flying-over Stone’ appears almost magical and has become a symbol of Huangshan Mountain. You will also visit Qunfeng Peak, and the Cloud-dispelling Pavilion. A really exciting activity is to travel in the Xihai Cable Car, the convenient transport from the bottom of the canyon to the Bright Summit, which takes 8 minutes. This cable car can accommodate up to 60 passengers, but no seats are provided, and all of the passengers stand.

Strangely-Shaped Pines:

Mt. Huangshan has 10 famous pines. Among them, the most representative one is the guest-greeting pine, one of the landmarks of Mt. Huangshan. The pine grows near the Yuping Pavilion. If you meet the guest-greeting pine when climbing from the front range, it means that you have reached the top. The guest-greeting pine grows through the Stone of Crouching Lion. It is nearly 10 meters high and at least 800 years old. With its side branches gracefully extending from the stones, the pine seems like a host greeting guests with his arms stretching out.

Grotesque Rocks:

a monkey watching the seaA monkey watching the sea

Over 120 grotesque rocks with distinctive shapes have been given names on Mt. Huangshan. When seen from different locations or in different weathers, the rocks may present different appearances.

Nearly every peak on Mt. Huangshan has grotesque rocks, which were formed in the quaternary period of the glacial epoch nearly 1 million years ago. The strangely-shaped pines and grotesque rocks suggest many scenes, such as an upward writing brush in North Sea Area, an immortal giving directions, a monk gathering herbs, Suwu shepherding sheep, a flying stone, a monkey watching the sea, etc.

The Flying Rock:

flying rock

The stark Flying-Over Rock is one of the most symbolic rocks in the Yellow Mountains, tilting slightly on a flat rock platform at the top of a peak with a height of 12 meters and 2.5 meter width. It looks like a rock that has just fallen from the sky, hence its name. The coarse-grained granite mountain structure is quite weathered, after long period; this natural wonder is formed by the geologic process.

Sea of Clouds:

Since ancient times, Mt. Huangshan has been known as the home of clouds and mist for its sea of clouds. And the Sea of Clouds enjoys a great reputation for beautiful, magnificent, amazing and fantastic spectacles, which can be seen all year round, especially in winter. According to the distribution of the clouds, it is divided into East Sea, South Sea, West Sea, North Sea and Sky Sea. Huangshan is surrounded by clouds and mist over 200 days a year. And when moisture vapors or mist gather after raining, the Sea of Clouds will form. In Mt. Huangshan patches of red leaves floating on the Sea of Clouds is a rare spectacle seen only in the late autumn. Double Shear Peak in North Sea is another spectacle of Mt. Huangshan, with clouds pouring downward through the pressure from two sides of the Peak.

Hot Spring:

het springHot Spring

The Hot Spring (called Tang Spring in ancient times) is one of “the four wonders” of Mt. Huangshan. It originates from the Ziyun Peak with an elevation of 850 meters. The spring water mainly contains hydro-carbonate,suitable for drinking and bathing. The Hot Spring in Mt. Huangshan spouts from the foot of the Ziyun Peak, and is separated from the Taohua Peak by a river. It is the first stop when tourists enter Mt. Huangshan from the main entrance. The Hot Spring yields nearly 400 tons of water every day ceaselessly with its temperature maintaining nearly 42 degrees. It can help to treat diseases involving the digestive, neural, cardiovascular, metabolic and motor systems, and also especially skin diseases.

Yellow Mountains Travel Tips

You may appreciate the strangely-shaped pines and grotesque rocks of the Mt. Huangshan. And you may watch the changing sea of clouds on cloudy days; the flowing springs and plunging waterfall on rainy days; the jade-like trees and branches on snowy days; and listening to the soughing of the wind in pines on windy days. In spring (from March to May), various flowers bloom, pine branches turn green and wild birds twitter; in summer (from June to August), it is suitable for pine and mist appreciation as well as summer resort and rest; in autumn (from September to November), it is suitable for appreciating verdant pines, grey stones, red maple leaves and yellow chrysanthemum; in winter (from December to February), you can enjoy snow-covered landscape and rime; if confronting extremely cold weather, you can also see the spectacle of an icy waterfall.

By Shirley Li
Web Editor