Five Peaks of Mount Hua, China—World's Deadliest Hike

Hiking Route, Fees, and Tips

After visiting Xi'an and seeing the always desired by me—Terracotta Army, I still had a couple of days before heading forward on my journey through China. Checking on "what to do around Xi'an," I discovered the magical Mount Hua.

Located in Huayin city, Mount Hua (also known as Mt. Huashan), is 120 kilometers (75 miles) away from famous Xian. It's famed for amazing views, slender paths, and an excessive mountain variety. Its five peaks are the representative attractions and every has its unique charms: East top is the best to see sunrise; South top is the highest one and best known for the world's deadliest plank walk; West peak is the biggest attraction and great spot for incredible sunsets; North summit is known as the Cloud Terrace because surrounding it clouds look like a flat terrace, and the Middle top called Jade Lady Peak.

Jade Spring Temple

Jade Spring Temple

Climbing Routes

Hiking on Huashan Mountain is an outstanding route for many tourists. There are three ways that you can start your experience with Mount Hua:

Hiking Routes

Guide Map of Huashan Mountain

1. Two-Hour Trek

Take the cable car at East Gate to the North Peak. There is an about eight kilometer (five mile) long concrete road leading up to Wamiaogou where you can take a cable car directly to the North Peak. The ride is 1,550 meters long. After the trek, you can choose to take a cable car down the mountain from either back from the North Peak or West Peak.

Chess Pavilion

Chess Pavilion 

View at the North Peak

2. One Day Trek

For this route, you can take the cable-car up to the North Peak. Later on walk to the East, Middle, and West Peak. There's an option of ascending to West Peak by cable car (4,211 meters in length and takes about 20 minutes) and do the hike in the opposite direction. From East Gate visitor's center, take a shuttle to the West cable car station. It is less difficult to get to South and East Peaks from West top as compared with North one. This trek should take about five hours, but that depends on how fit you are.

3. Two Days/One Night Trek (This is what I did.)

Take walking—ascending and the cable car—descending way for this trail. By taking this route, you can enjoy not only its venture but also the significant picturesque spots. Start at the foot of the West Gate, where you can visit Jade Spring Temple. After that, you can walk to the Memorial Archway in about 15 minutes, and then in five minutes, you'll get to Five Dragon Bridge, where you'll find the ticket office. Passing through it, you'll find spots like Five-mile pass, Thousand-Foot Precipice, Playing Chess Pavilion or Heavenward Ladder.

After a few hours trek, I got to the North Peak, as my first plan was only one day trek, I was almost about to take the cable car to descend and go back to Xi'an. Luckily, when I was "catching a breath," I saw there's a hotel. It kinda surprised me so, I googled some more info about the mountain and I found out about plank walk at South Peak. 'I HAVE TO DO IT,' I thought, and so a few seconds later I was trekking forward. It was really risky, as I didn't know if there will be any free spots at the hotel (despite the "World's dangerous trek," a lot of people is visiting the mountain).

Five Peaks of Mount Hua (Day 1)—Huashan, China

Black Dragon Ridge Pass

Black Dragon Ridge

After almost dying walking up those stairs, I finally got to the Middle Peak. Here I turned to the East, where I wanted to stay overnight and watch the sunrise the next day. Then, kaboom! I saw an amazing West Peak with its incredible sunset view. Ran there immediately, but didn't get on time. Anyways, the experience, the views or even people on the way, were incredible! Would repeat definitely.

Finally, I got to the hotel on the West Peak...luckily they had the spot for me. Nothing fancy. Just a bed in a dorm. Pretty expensive (15$/night), but I was so tired that I was happy having a bed.

Make a wish! The whole mountain was full of red ribbons with wishes behind.

View at My Hotel on West Peak

On the way to the West Peak & Hotel

Entrance to the Hotel...

My hotel at West Peak

Next day I failed to wake up early, and early I mean 4 AM! As the sunrise was starting at 4:30 AM. Well, it's fine. Later on, a western couple who stayed at the same hotel told me they went and didn't see anything cause of the cloudy weather. Lucky me! I had a good sleep and full of energy, I trekked to the South Peak to try the plank walk at 2120m.

Well, that's a view! Waking up to this...breathtaking!

Morning view from the West Peak

Closer Map of West, Middle, East and South Peaks

As you can see, the map shows all distances between places, so you can choose your route easier. Getting to the South peak and plank walk was a pain, so many stairs up and so early in the morning haha. Surprisingly, there were so many people already (9:30 AM). You need to wait for the people who walk the plank to leave. Then squeeze in between them to go down the stairs, and finally start the walk. There's no time limit to spend there, however, people go, take lots of pics, and leave quite fast. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to walk the plank and enjoy the adrenaline.

A Part of Plank Walk

That's Me Chillin' There...

That's how it looks like from above!

Sorry for bad quality—pic taken from: TravelChina.com

After some morning adrenaline, I went back to the West Peak and took a cable-car down to the foot of Mount Hua. I was at the lower cable station a bit past eleven in the morning. At the bottom of the cable station, there's free buses taking you to the city center (around 20-30 minutes if I'm not wrong).

Five Peaks of Mount Hua (Day 2)—Plank Walk

The second day was much shorter so the video is not so cool anymore, but I hope you will enjoy it anyways...

Tips, Tips, Tips

How to Reach Hua Shan from Xian

  • There are high-speed trains running from Xian North Railway Station to Huashan North Station, taking 30 - 40 minutes. After arrival, take the Minibus Huayin 1/ Huayin 2 out of the station to Shengtai Guangchang, which is likewise the tourist center. A normal train from Xian Railway Station to Hua Shan Station takes one and a half to two hours. On arrival, take bus 608 to Bao Lian Deng Square, a.k.a Hua Shan Shengtai Square, located near the entrance of the mountain.
  • Take metro line 1 to Fangzhicheng, after you go away from the station, you'll see Fangzhicheng Bus Station. Take a bus to Huashan. The bus runs between 07:45 AM and 07:30 PM. It costs around CNY 37.50 and a one-way ride takes about two hours.
  • Take a regular tourist bus from the east square of Xian Railway Station to the Jade Spring Temple at the foot of the Huashan Mountain. It operates between 06:30 Am and 07:00 PM. If I'm not wrong the one-way ticket cost CNY 40 and journey takes one and a half hours or so.

I took a regular tourist bus in the morning from the east square of Xian Railway Station to the foot of Hua Shan Mountain. I walked to the Jade Spring Temple, where there's a ticket office. I bought the entrance tickets here, and then trekked the mountain.

If you decide to take a cable car to the North Peak, then you need to take a bus to East Gate of Hua Shan, which is the tourist info and a ticket office.

When planning your way back, keep in mind that the last bus back to Xian leaves at 7 PM, so be sure you’re back in the village if you want to return to Xi'an without taking an expensive taxi.

Overnight at Hua Shan Mountain

I really do not remember the name of the hotel where I stayed (I THINK it was Jintian Mountain House Huashan West Peak). I guess you can book the room from almost any hotel web. There are quite a few hotels in Huayin, but that's at the foot of the mountain. Another thing is to sleep up there, above the clouds. My hotel was "ok," by price and the dorm, only because it was late, dark, and I was tired. Normally, I would say that the hotels are overrated and overpriced. As well as food and drinks, they have cosmic prices. 

North Peak hotel

Some Other Hotels I Found on the Internet, That You May Find Useful:

  1. Golden Sky Mountain Villa (Jintian Shanzhuang). Located at the Golden Lock Pass, comfortable rooms, and other necessities. The villa is near the Fairy Palm Rock, Jade Maiden Cave, Plank Road and some other scenic spots.
  2. Five-Cloud Peak Hotel. The hotel, located at about 400 m under the Golden Lock Pass, is the must pass for climbing. Also, it is only about a 20 minute walking distance from the East Peak.
  3. Yuntai Mountain Villa. The hotel is located at the junction of “a traditional way to Mt. Huashan," the way near the cable car station.

Other Tips

  • Sports shoes with soft and flat soles are the best for climbing.
  • It is a good idea to take along a pair of nylon gloves to grasp the iron chains (they sell them along the way but they're expensive).
  • Take enough food and water. Two to three bottles of water are enough. Take some high-calorie food, but not dry food that might make your thirsty.
  • You can buy water and food at the stalls along the route, but it is more expensive. Not surprisingly, the higher you climb, the more the food and water cost.
  • The food price on the mountain: a bottle of water, CNY 10-15; a bowl of instant noodles, CNY 20-25.

The approximate time for the sunrise:

Spring: 05:00 – 06:00, Summer: 04:30 – 05:20, Autumn: 05:00 – 05:20, Winter: 05:30 – 06:00

The Cost

  • Entrance ticket: 180 yuan
  • Bus to/from West cable car station: 40 yuan
  • West cable car: 140 yuan and/or [only if you're so lazy to go by cable car both ways;)]
  • North Cable car: 80 yuan
  • Bus to/from North cable car station: 20 yuan

Total: around 460 yuan (or about 75 USD) + food and hotel

Summary

I really hope that you enjoyed the article and you found it useful. As well I hope that it pushes you a bit to go there one day. To spend some time surrounded by nature, incredible views, a bit of adrenaline and fall asleep above the clouds...

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