Huashan Mountain, one of China’s most beautiful mountains and one of the five sacred mountains, is known as “the most dangerous mountain in the world”. It is famed for its breathtaking natural vista of precipitous cliffs, narrow and steep paths, and towering peaks. Somewhat unexpectedly, it’s a holy land of Taoism with lots of Taoist temples. According to historical records, more than 100 emperors once visited Mt. Huashan to worship the deities, which makes the mountain more sacred.
The mountain is located in Huayin County, which is only about 120 km (74.5 miles) east of Xi’an. Given its easy accessibility, many tourists choose to extend their Xi’an trip to Mount Hua after the historical and cultural exploration in the city area, to marvel at the stunning natural scenery and challenge the thrilling hiking experience.
Quick Facts about Mt. Huashan
- Address: Huayin City, Weinan City, Shaanxi Province, China
- Best Time to Visit: April to October
- Altitude: 2,154.9 meters (about 7,070 ft)
- Highlights: enjoy gorgeous sunrise, sunset, sea of clouds, mountain scenery; challenge thrilling Plank Road and Hawk’s Turn on the cliffs.
- Scenic Area: the mountain is open all-day
- Ticket Time: 8:00-15:00 (The ticket is valid for two days)
- Cable Car Stations:West Peak Cable Car: 07:30-19:00 from Mar. to Nov.; 8:30-17:00 from Dec. to Feb.; North Peak Cable Car: 07:00-19:00 from Mar to Nov; 9:00-17:00 from Dec to Feb
–Entrance Fee: CNY 160 from Mar to Nov; CNY 100 from Dec. to Feb.
–Cable Car Service:
- West Peak Cable Car:
Mar – Nov: CNY 280 for a round trip; CNY 140 for a one-way trip
Dec. – Feb.: CNY 240 for a round trip; CNY 120 for a one-way trip
- North Peak Cable Car:
Mar – Nov: CNY 150 for a round trip; CNY 80 for a one-way trip
Dec. – Feb.: CNY 80 for a round trip; CNY 45 for a one-way trip
Five Peaks of Huashan Mountain
Made of a huge granite that formed 121 million years ago, Huashan Mountain boasts five imposing peaks with steep precipices and overhanging rocks.
- The east one, called Sunrise Peak, literally is the best location to watch the sunrise.
- The north one, Cloud Terrace Peak, is the lowest among the 5 main peaks and stands independently from the others, and it is famous for vertical cliffs on four sides.
- The west one with the lovely name of Lotus Flower Peak has the most beautiful scenery and is perfect for viewing the sunset.
- The south one, Wild Goose-resting Peak is the highest peak.
- The central one, Jade Maiden Peak, links the east peak, west peak, and south peak. Each of them presents a unique scenic beauty, surrounded by over 36 minor peaks.
Details about Five Peaks of Huashan Mountain
The north peak, in the north part of Mount Hua, looks like a flat terrace in the clouds, so it is called name, Cloud Terrace Peak. Standing on the peak, one can enjoy the beauty of the other three peaks and Canglongling in the south. It’s a good place of resting when climbing. In 1996, the cable car to the peak went into operation.
The Changchun Stone Room and Zhenwu Hall are the two main attractions on the North Peak.
The south peak is the highest peak on Huashan Mountain, with a height of 2154.9 meters (about 7,070 ft). It was given the name “Wild Goose-resting Peak” because there are always geese resting on the top of the peak.
Climbing to the summit of the South Peak is undoubtedly something to be proud of. Looking around from there, you’ll feel the meandering rivers and the bottomless valleys so small. “Touching the sky” seems to be a simple thing. At the South Peak, a plank with a width of only 30 cm (0.33 yards) built on the edge of a vertical cliff is one of the most challenging things to do in the world. If you are adventurous, go for it!
The west peak is 2082.5 m (6,832 ft) above sea level, which is also called Lotus Flower Peak as the huge stone in the peak is in the shape of a lotus. The ridge connecting with the South Peak is 300 meters (328 yards) in length, with the shape of a Chinese dragon, contributing another name to it, Canglongling. It is considered to be one of the dangerous roads on Mount Hua. West Peak offers a perfect point to see the sunset view of afterglow tinting the clouds gold and red.
There are so many myths about the peak, in which a legend is the most famous. The protagonists in the tale are a fairy and a man. They fall in love with each other, but it is forbidden by the rule of heaven. So the fairy is imprisoned under Mount Hua after giving birth to a baby. When the baby grows up, he tries his best to save her mother and finally cuts through the mountain.
With a height of 2096.2 meters (6,877 ft), the east peak is the best peak to see the sunrise. The peak consists of 4 summits, one of which with Sun-facing Terrace is the highest one.
In the past, the road to East Peak is so abrupt that it is difficult to climb to the summit. But now the steps are built for safe climbing. As for the scenic spot, the most famous is Immortal’s Palm Peak, one of the eight wonders of central Shaanxi plain. It’s in the shape of a left hand and one can see it from very far, but only on sunny days. It is said that the palm was left when a celestial being separate two mountains. And a hotel was built at the relics of Bajing Palace in 1953 in the East Peak.
The Middle Peak, aka Jade Maiden Peak, sits in the circle surrounded by the East Peak, the West Peak, and the South Peak, creating a rather serene environment with lush trees and exotic wildflowers. It is actually a relatively little peak that leans to the west side of the East Peak. So it was regarded as a part of the East Peak in ancient times. Nowadays it is listed as one of the five main peaks of Mt. Huashan.
Looking afar, you will find the Middle Peak looks like a bird head. To the top of the peak exists a huge rocky beam taking the shape of a turtle. The later generations built a memorial temple on East Peak top in memory of Jade Maiden. In front of the temple, there are five stone basins, which are said to be the hair-bathing basins of Jade Maiden. Next to the stone basins stands a stone horse, the incarnation of the horse ridden by Jade Maiden. Behind the temple is a memorial site set by modern people according to the legend.
Popular Scenic Spots on Mt. Hua
Huashan Mountain is quite dangerous, so few people climbed it before the Tang Dynasty (618-907). All the emperors offered sacrifices in the Xiyue Temple at the foot of the mountain. Covering an area of 120,000 square meters (29.7 acres), the temple was built in the Han Dynasty (202BC – 220 AD) with a history of over 2,000 years. It was repaired and expanded many times through ages, and during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), it was renovated by imitating the Forbidden City. Thus, it enjoys the reputation of the “Forbidden City of Shaanxi Province”.
Golden Lock Pass
It is a tower-like stone arch at Sanfengkou, which is considered as the main road to the east peak, west peak, and south peak from Five-cloud Peak. Visitors usually buy a golden lock and lock it to the iron chains on both sides of the pass to pray for happiness and health.
Mount Huashan Plank Walk
The Cliff-side plank walk is the most dangerous place on Huashan Mountain. The over 700-year-old plank road was initially built by a master Taoist from the Yuan Dynasty (1271 – 1368) who stayed away from the hectic world and tried to cultivate himself to become an immortal. Beneath the approximately 30-cm-wide wooden rafters is the bottomless abyss. You can grab the iron chains to help you move forward. Every visitor needs to rent a safety harness to ensure safety.
Sparrow Hawk’s Cliff
At first sight, Sparrow Hawk’s Cliff seems less difficult than Cliff-side Plank Walk, but it’s very challenging. The first reason is that the stairs tilts inwards, making people hard to see the steps when climbing down. This requires coordinated action of your hands, eyes, feet, and knees. The second reason is that the iron chains are too loose and tend to swing to the left and to the right. You should carefully feel the way with your toes. For a few steps, you need to turn your body like a sparrow hawk to pass. That’s how it gets the name. Safety harness is also a must here.
Mount Huashan Heavenly Stairs
The Heavenly Stairs is a section of the trail leading to the East Peak of the mountain which is widely considered as one of the most thrilling sections of a Huashan hike. With the steep and narrow stairs carved into a nearly 90-degree incline, the Heavenly Stairs looks like a ladder being dropped from the sky, hence its name. Its total length is about 300 meters, and climbers need to use two iron chains to ascend this section, so it is not recommended for people with heart conditions or a fear of heights.
By Cable Car
The cable car is a very useful transportation tool, allowing tourists of different ages and physical conditions to appreciate the beauty of the mountain. There are three common routes by cable car. Choose one of them according to your needs.
- Route A: West Up and Down
Take the cable car up and down from Mount Huashan West Peak. It’s the quickest and easiest way, suitable for those with tight schedule, but it costs higher than the other two and you cannot cover many scenic spots.
- Route B: North Up and Down
Take the cable car up and down from the North Peak. It’s the most cost-effective way, but you have to repeat some sections.
- Route C: West Up and North Down
Take the cable car up the West Peak and down from the North Peak. It’s the most recommended one with medium cost and you can explore plenty of spots.
Mount Huashan Hike Trail – Ascend On Foot
In the past, there was only one way to the top of the mountain. Now it has become the most classic hiking trail. You can have the fun of climbing, experience its danger, and enjoy amazing scenery.
The climbing route is: Jade Spring Temple – Five-mile Pass – Shaluo Terrace – Maonv Cave – Qingke Terrace – Mind-changing Stone – Thousand-foot Precipice – Hundred-foot Crevice – Laojun Valley – North Peak – Ear-touching Cliff – Black Dragon Ridge – Five-cloud Peak – Golden Lock Pass.
After reaching Golden Lock Pass, go on exploring the East Peak, South Peak, and West Peak if you still have good physical strength.
The above routes are some popular ones. You also can make your own routes by combining walking and cable car. BTW, there are many cute cats on the mountain. Some visitors share their food with them and take photos with them like they are stars. You may come across them at any corner while hiking. Little things in travel can bring people the greatest happiness.
Important Activities on Mt. Hua
Temple fair starts from the first day of the third lunar month every year, and March 15th is the most important day on which Xiyue Temple will hold a grand ceremony according to traditional rituals and other Taoist temples on the mountain like Jade Spring Temple will also have chanting and worshiping activities. Lots of believers come to pray for blessings. There will be a sea of people from morning to night and billowing clouds of smoke from incense offerings. If you want to feel the lively atmosphere of the fair, you can visit the mountain in this period; if you don’t like huge crowds, try to avoid this fair and other Chinese public holidays, especially May Day and National Day holidays.
Accommodation on Huashan Mountain
Now there are 5 hotels on the top of the mountain, respectively East Peak Hotel, West Peak Hotel, Five Cloud Mountain Inn, North Peak Hotel, and a capsule hotel. Don’t set your expectations too high. Because of the limited conditions on the mountain, you can’t take a bath. The prices are not cheap. Considering the East Peak is the best place to watch the sunrise, rooms in East Peak Hotel are in great demand. You need to reserve in advance, especially during holidays. West Peak Hotel is relatively cheap and is convenient for watching the sunset.
Food: dining on Huashan Mountain
Food on the top of Mt. Huashan is very expensive. The higher you climb, the higher the price. You’re suggested to bring a few bottles of water and some snacks like chocolate and sandwich to keep your energy up.
At the foot of the mountain, there are many restaurants on Jade Spring Road. The foods they provide seem cheap but they are not very tasty. If you want better food, you can go to Jin Tiangong Market at the east of Jade Spring Road. Local people often come here for nice noodles. You can give it a try.
Take the high-speed rail from Xi’an North Railway Station to Huashan North Station in 30-40 minutes. And then take the free bus No. 1 or 2 to the Huashan Tourist Center.
Or you can take Metro Line 1 to Fangzhicheng Bus Station. From there take regular tourist buses directly to Huashan Scenic Area. The single journey take around 2 hours and costs CNY 39 per person.
Tours including Mt. Huashan:
- One Day Mt. Huashan Small Group Tour
- Xian Mt. Huashan Adventure Day Tour
- 3 Days Xian & Mt. Huashan Tour
Also, you can get to our hand-picked Xian tours for more travel ideas.