As the old adage goes, there’s no need to see any other mountains after you’ve been to Huangshan (Yellow Mountain). Named Yellow in homage to the Emperor, for whom that color was solely designated, several journeys are possible along this extraordinary multi-mountain range. Located in eastern China’s Anhui Province—famous for its breath-taking sweeping landscapes and misty peaks—the Yellow Mountain offers extraordinary scenes and views from what can look like the edge of the world. Whether you opt to wake up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise (and lack of cloud coverage permitting, see your aura in the burnt-orange distance) or not, you’re sure to blend into the throng of Chinese tourists gawking at oddly-shaped pine trees and rock formations.
We recommend taking the gondola to the top, as there are still plenty of uphill climbs to ascend from there to whichever hotel you settle upon for your stay. It’s best to conserve as much energy as possible and pace yourself over the days (three is a good amount of time), as your legs will no doubt be feeling the tens of thousands of stairs carved into these mountains that you’ll be traversing. Should your legs truly fail you, get on one of the sedan chairs and be carried to your destination; and then once back at the hotel get a leg and back-pounding massage.
Huangshan is accessible from Shanghai by overnight train, a five-hour bus ride or one hour by air. Expect expensive accommodation and food in the mountains (everything is transported up the mountain by man-power: witness tough workers carrying live chickens or flats of coke cans in buckets hanging from wooden beams over their shoulders, and still making it up the mountain faster than you!). There are two UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites near Huangshan, Xidi and Hongcun, both worth a visit in a day trip.