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The Yellow Mountains
The Yellow Mountains is one of the most famous and beautiful mountainous areas in China. It was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990. Its spectacular natural scenery includes oddly-shaped pines and rocks, and mystical seas of cloud.
Chinese: 黄山 Huángshān /hwung-shan/ huang means 'yellow' and shan means 'mountain(s)'
Things to do: Enjoy hot springs, photography, and hiking
Must sees: peculiar pines and rocks, seas of cloud, hot springs, sunrises and sunsets
Suggested visit: 2 days
Location: Huangshan Prefecture, Anhui Province, Eastern China, about 300 km (200 miles) west of Hangzhou and 500 km (300 miles) southwest of Shanghai. The scenic area is about 50 km (30 miles) north of Huangshan City.
The Yellow Mountains are not so called because the mountains are yellow, but because the area was renamed after the legendary Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) in 747 AD. After that Huangshan began its ascent to fame. Many Buddhist temples have been built there and, more recently, it has become a major tourist attraction, because of its scenic qualities.
It is said that the Yellow Mountains is the place where the Yellow Emperor, the mythical ancestor of the Chinese, lived, refined precious medicines and became a supernatural being. Xu Xiake, a noted Chinese geologist in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), who visited the Yellow Mountains twice, left his praise in this quote:
You don't need to see any more mountains after seeing 'the Five Mountains', and you don't need to see the other four mountains after seeing Huangshan .
Seas of Cloud
The seas of cloud have contributed much to the ethereal atmosphere of the Yellow Mountains, making peaks look like islands in the sky. The best time to appreciate this phenomenon is from November to May, especially after rainy/snowy days, at sunrise or sunset.
There are hundreds of peaks and thousands of ravines in the Yellow Mountains, but five seas of cloud are named: North Sea, South Sea, East Sea, West Sea, and the Heavenly Sea (in the middle). Celestial Capital Peak (1,800m/5,900ft), Lotus Peak (1,873m/6,145ft), and Bright Top (1,841m/6,040ft) are the three tallest peaks, and best locations to see the stunning seas of cloud.
Appreciate the Yellow Mountain Sunrise
Watching the sunrise over Huangshan is a very popular and highly recommended activity. The glow of the sunrise and sunset draws the crowds to popular viewing spots. Many people make the early morning trek up to Bright Top.
The following are approximate average sunrise times at the Yellow Mountains. Observed sunrise will vary depending on your height with respect to surrounding mountains. On cloudy days the sun may appear above the cloud line somewhat later, and dawn may be less colorful.
Getting Up the Yellow Mountains
There are an estimated 60,000 steps along with paved/concrete paths leading to all the main points of interest (a common feature on China's popular mountains).
There are three cable cars (cableways with enclosed cars) to take the time and effort out of the middle part of the climb to the summits, and minibuses that will take you as far as the cable car stations from the gates. The prices for the 3 cableways (Yungu, Yuping, and Taiping) are the same. The one way price is: 105 yuan per person one way. Every year during the low season from November till January of the next year, the three cable cars will take turn to stop operation for annual maintenance.
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