Hua shan (Flower mountain) lies about 80 km from Xi’an city. This mountain is very popular in China because it’s one of the sacred Chinese mountains which means that everyone should climb at least once in his/her life. But especially famous is for its reputations of being the most dangerous hike in the world. I wanted to hike Hua shan for long time but I was a bit nervous. All the pictures of the mountain I saw on the internet looked really challenging. But anyway you never know until you try it by yourself.
CLIMB THE HUA SHAN
There are two ways how to climb the mountain. Start at the east gate and finish at the south gate or vice versa. As the first option is recommended so we chose that one. After purchase a tickets we were led to the buses which take you to the east or the south gate according to your choice. I guess it’s possible to avoid bus ride and walk but it’s quite far away.
- You can also avoid the cable car and climb it from the foot hill. Then you will need two days on Hua shan. Accommodation is provided on the East peak. If you will get up very early you can watch the sun rise here
The east cable car lift you to the North peak. It’s not too long. We were up within ten minutes. Apparently we chose the right time for visiting Hua shan, because all the wild cherry trees were in blossom. The mountain has five peaks but navigation system is traditionally little bit confusing. But never mind. If you don’t know which way to go just follow the other people.
- When I searched for information about Hua shan all people who have already been there recommended to take enough food and drinks as up in the mountain is not many chances to buy. Weird I thought. As I know Chinese national parks and as I know Chinese people there will be food vendors every 5 meters. And I was right. If you don’t want to carry bottles with drinks and snacks in your backpack don’t worry. Up there is million places to buy. It’s just little bit more expensive
From the North peak you should be able to see all the other peaks. But you will have to climb ”a few” stairs to get there. If you are brave enough you can climb the Heavenly ladders – a small shortcuts on the way to the East peak. Massive iron chains will help you to cope vertical steps curved into the rock. North peak, except another amazing view,also provides another tourist attraction – you can jump over the fence and sit (or stay or lie or jump or do anything you want) on the mountain overhang and photographer will take a picture of you for 20 yuan.
South peak is the tallest of all the peaks. And here is the major attraction of Hua shan. The most dangerous, most terrifying and deadliest part of the mountain – The plank road. It’s rather path than a road. Only 0.3m wide and 4 meters long path without rail placed on the mountain side hundreds of meters above the ground. Trouble is that there is a two way traffic. You go one way, reach a small temple at the end of the path and then you must go back where you started. There is a very tiny path towards the plank road and hundred thousand people trying to get there fighting another hundred thousand people trying to get out. The same situation is on the plank road itself. It takes at least 30 minutes to get to the starting point of the plank road and another hour to walk the plank road there and back. It’s just stupid tourist attraction and Chinese people are willing to do absolutely anything to get there just to take a selfie! It’s quite sad that some people come here just to walk this path.
I wanted to do it but I gave up after ten minutes in the queue when I saw I will spent my youth there. But I was thinking where all the photos where people are absolutely alone on the path come from. And that’s the secret which I haven’t found on any website. Do you want to know? Wait for it;-)
REAL STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
After the exhausting trial to get to the bloody plank road we continued to the last two peaks the West peak and Middle peak. From my opinion this is the most beautiful part of the mountain. West peak provides beautiful view over the wild mountain tops around and to the stairway leading over the mountain top toward the middle peak. From afar it looks like stairway to heaven. Well and that’s it. That was the last peak and we had to do was going down.
The way down by the cable car was cool experience. I’ve take many cable cars in my life but no one was so steep and long. Despite the amazing views from the cabin I was happy to be down…Of course (as it is a good Chinese habit) after getting of the cable car you must go through small shopping area to exit the building. Usually we pass through as fast as we can but this time we made an exception and bought some local really yummy sweets
SECRET OF THE PLANK ROAD
Finally. You know I saw hundreds of photos from Hua shan’s plank road. But I don’t believe that so many people have such amazing pictures of being on the plank road absolutely alone. Of course there is a real evidence that some of those people were lucky and it wasn’t so crowded so they could have taken good photos. But if you want to climb Hua shan and if you want to take cool pictures on the plank road but, as same as me, you are not so lucky and the place is so crowded that is totally hopeless to take any decent picture, you still have a chance to have one!
There is a photographers who make a photo of you with special green background behind you. They even give you the safety harness (which you must have on the plank road) for authenticity. Then they easily change the green background for real mountain background and voilá, here you are! You can balance on one leg, do handstand or do push ups. Whatever you want. For small fee you will be a hero of travel blogs 🙂
- You can climb the mountain also from the opposite direction but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s more downhill than uphill and i think going down steps for at least four hours is much worse than going up
Overall Hua shan is definitely memorable place. It’s just a little shame that it gained its fame thanks to few meters long plank walk. As it is a sacred mountain we should take the climb as something special not as a sensation or just another place to take selfies…
Here are total costs per person:
Entrance ticket 180 yuan
Transport by bus to the east cable car 20 yuan
East cable car (to the North peak) 80 yuan
West cable car 140 yuan
Transport bus back to the main office hall 40 yuan