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The Five Great Mountains in China

Speaking of long Chinese history, religious culture and distinctive natural scenery, the Five Great Mountains (Wu Yue) are the best destinations to discovery once for all. Despite the lower height than those high mountains like Mount Emei (3099m) and Mount Wutai (3058m), the five in different directions are known far and wide as the great figure of Chinese nation, through the combination of worshipping tradition of ancient mount gods, theory of five Taoist elements (Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Soil) and mountain apotheosis from emperors. As the popular saying goes, trips to China's five great mountains belittle trips to other mountains unnecessary(五岳归来不看山). Moreover, the starring five famous mountains in China are still major ashram of Chinese Taoism, where each own typical characteristics with both scenic and cultural significance.

Five Great Mountains in China

1. Mount Tai (泰山 - Eastern Yue) in Shandong - Top of China’s Five Great Mountains

TripAdvisor Impression: Great Cultural Experience & Nice Hike, Impressive, China Highlights, Breathtaking with Good View

Type: Mountains, Nature & Parks

Recommended Rating:

Elevation: 1545m (5069ft)

Location: Taian City, Shandong Province; about 80km to north Jinan City and 85km to south Qufu City(hometown of Confucius).

Best Travel Time: May ~ November (Spring, Summer & Autumn)

Ticket: 127RMB in High Season (February ~ November) & 102RMB in Off Season (December ~ January); 3RMB of Insurance; 30RMB for Dai Temple; cableways and tour bus are excluded.

Recommended Visiting: one ~ three days

Well-known as the epitome of Chinese Civilization and symbol of Chinese Ethos, Mount Tai ranks first among the five great mountains in China with credit of World Natural & Cultural Heritage and World Geopark. Even, image of Mount Tai is printed on back of 5 Yuan RMB note. Long before, Taoism and Buddhism recognized it a sacred mountain of Buddha and bequeathed lots of historical relics, architectures like temples, stone tablets and inscription. The ancients worshiped Mount Tai for its notion as the heaven straight to throne, so that more than a dozen of ancient emperors from Qin Dynasty to Qing Dynasty once visited it personally for apotheosis or sacrifice ceremony.

Located in middle Shandong Province, Mount Tai is called Mount Daishan, Daizong, Eastern Mountain and Dai Mountain. There are six scenic areas in Moun Tai, including areas of tranquil(幽区), spacious(旷区), mysterious(奥区), exquisite(妙区), beautiful (丽区)and elegant areas(秀区). The sunrise, sunset, the sea of clouds and golden belt of Yellow River are four natural spectacles on Mount Tai.

Visitors can tour Mount Tai via four routes, the classic middle Red Gate Route is the highly Recommended way to experience the most cultural and natural landscape in Mount Tai. With more than 7000 winding paths of 9.5km, the Red Gate Tour Route is the main course from ancient to nowadays. It is called scenic area to heaven where many emperors, literates and civilians started their mountaineering from, as well as Tranquil Area for the secluded scenery along the way. You will begin from Dai Temple (岱庙 - a sacred Taoist temple built in Han Dynasty to hold worship ceremonies and kept most cultural relics of Mount Tai) to Red Gate Palace, then get to Wanxian Tower (万仙楼 - ticket office to start Mount Tai journey), and the terminal Jade Emperor Summit (玉皇顶 - highest point on main peak of Mount Tai) for about 4~6 hours’ hiking. Along the climbing paths, you will drop by scenic spots like Daizong Archway, Doumu Palace, Hutian Pavilion, Southern Heavenly Gate (南天门), Confucius Temple, lots of stellai and burringes on cliff.

The second southwest Tianwai Village Route starts from World Plaza in Tianwai Village (天外村),later to the 15km away Middle Heavenly Gate (中天门) via taking 30 mins’ tour bus, during which tourists can enjoy great views of historical sites including Wuxian Memorial Temple (五贤祠 - ancient temple to honor five solons once studied here), Sanyang Temple, Puzhao Temple, etc. and nice natural landscape in this Spacious Area. Cableways are available for journey from Middle Heaven Gate to South Heaven Gate apart from walking. Peach Blossom Valley Route in northwest is the third way to Jade Emperor Peak, departing from Peach Blossom valley and Peach Garden, then Southern Gate (1460m - end of 18 Twisting Road), which earn reputation of “Forest Museum on Mount Tai” with gorgeous natural beauty. Tourists can also visit cultural relics such as Bifeng Temple (碧峰寺), and then take cableways or walking to summit from Peach Garden.

Adventures may be interested the most primitive trip from Tianzhu Peak (天烛峰 - on back Mount Tai) in northeast to Houshi Cove(后石坞), where natural splendor are most concentrated with little human excavation. This ten-mile gallery is the Mysterious Area filled with native wild interests and the best DIY tour with picturesque sightseeing of old pines, Wangtian Gate (ancient tower on city wall, best views of Big & Small Tianzhu Peaks). There are cableways connected Houshi Cove with Northern Heavenly Gate (北天门) near the summit.

>> Check More about Mount Tai!

Highlights: Dai Temple, Red Gate Palace, Eighteen Mountain Bends, Jade Emperor Peak, Tianzhu Peak, Four Natural Spectacles

Activity: Temple Fair

Nearby Attractions: Confucius Family Mansion, Confucius Temple and Cemetery of Confucius in Qufu of Jining City


1. Mount Tai are open through the day, and Dai Temple opens from 07:50 ~ 17:30.

2. Packing: better dress comfortable and warm in layers, and articles depend on when you plan to travel to Mount Tai, e.g. flashlights are essential for night mountaineering.

3. Accommodation: Taian City at foothill of Mount Tai offers various kinds of hotels and hostels.

4. Transportation: The nearest transportation center is Taishan Railway Station and Taishan High-Speed Train Station, the former one is more convenient within several public bus stops.

>> 2 Days Most Classic Mount Tai Hiking Tour
>> 3 Days Taishan & Qufu Tour from Beijing by Bullet Train

Mount Tai
Grand View of Mount Tai Mount Tai
Dai Temple on Southern Foothill Mount Tai
Red Gate Palace Mount Tai
18 Mountain Bends to Southern Heavenly Gate Mount Tai
Stone Inscriptions on Upright Cliff Mount Tai
JGorgeous Sunset Viewed from Mount Tai Mount Tai
Taishan Worship for Food & Health Performance Mount Tai
Four Tour Routes of Mount Tai (click to enlarge)

2. Mount Huashan in Shaanxi (华山 - Western Yue) - Most Adventurous Hiking Mountain

TripAdvisor Impression: Well Worth the Effort, Breathtaking, Awesome Hike, Astonishing Scenic Landscape & View

Type: Mountains, Nature & Parks

Recommended Rating:

Elevation: 2154.9m (7079ft)

Location: Huashan Town, Huayin City, Weinan City, Shaanxi Province; about 120km to west Xian City (2 hours’ driving).

Best Travel Time: Spetember ~ November (Autumn)

Ticket: 180RMB (March ~ November) & 100RMB (December ~ February); cableway fee is excluded.

Recommended Visiting: one ~ two days

Mount Huashan is one of the Five Famous Mountains in China and the root of the Chinese Nation for being cradle of Chinese Civilization. It is also the origin of name of China (Zhong Hua 中华 and Hua Xia 华夏). You can not only challenge the world's most dangerous hiking trail, but also enjoy Taoist cultural relics from Quanzhen Taoism with gorgeous natural sceneries in this National AAAAA Tourist Attraction and China’s Most Popular Tourist Attraction in 2017.

Located in northeast Xian City of Shaanxi and central China, Mount Huashan covers about 148sq km with five peaks standing in four directions and middle position. The North Peak (北峰 Yuntai Peak 云台峰 - 1614m) with platform is the best place to view other three peaks and Black Dragon Ridge (苍龙岭 - major risk of Mount Huashan located in south Jiukutai and down Wuyun Peak). The West Peak (西峰 Lotus Peak 莲花峰 - 2082.6m) sharped from a complete giant stone is a best viewpoint of sunset and it is full of natural landscapes with mysterious Chinese legends such as a yong boy named Chenxiang breaking open the mountain to rescue his mother.

The South Peak (南峰 - 2154.9m) is the highest peak of Mount Huashan as well as the highest among the five famous mountains in China. It is made up of Luoyan Peak in the west and Songhui Peak in the east and the most dangerous Changkong Plank Trail of hiking stands west of the South Peak. The East Peak (东峰 Chaoyang Peak 朝阳峰 - 2096.2m) consisting of four hills is known as best place to view sunrise. A giant hand print-like marbled stone is the famous Huayue Fairy Palm (华岳仙掌) on cliff of East Peak. The Middle Peak (中峰Peak of Daughter Yu 玉女峰 – 2037.8m) has many sites related to local folk story. Two days are recommended for a classic Mount Huashan tour to experience thrilling hiking and enjoy charming natural scenery on the five peaks.

>> Check More about Mount Huashan

Highlights: Western Mountain Temple, Changkong Plank Trail, Black Dragon Ridge, Thousand Feet Zhuang Path, Golden Locks Pass, Chess Playing Pavilion, Yuquan Temple; North Peak, South Peak, East Peak, West and Middle Peak.

Activity: Temple Fair and Activity

Nearby Attractions: Terra-Cotta Warriors, Xian Ancient City Wall, Giant Wilde Goose Pagoda and Muslim Quarter in Xian.


1. The ticket is valid for two days, and includes fees of Xiyue Temple & Fairy Valley & transport expenses from tourist center to scenic spots.

2. The total length of Mount Huashan hiking is 12.5km within 9567 steps.

3. Pack some food which is small, light, filling, higher in calories like chocolates, compressed biscuit and 2~3 bottles of water drunk in snipping. Otherwise, you need to buy supplies at higher price sold on some pedlars. And head torch is useful for night hiking and gloves for chain passing. Comfortable hiking shoes, warm clothing and rain gear are essential anytime.

>> 2 Days Classic Mount Huashan Hiking Tour
>> 2 Days Terracotta Warriors Tour with Mount Huashan Hiking

Mount Huashan
Steep and Mist-shrouded Mount Huashan Mount Huashan
Thrilling Hiking on Changkong Plank Trail Mount Huashan
Chess Playing Pavilion near East Peak Mount Huashan
Abrupt Quling 屈岭 on West Peak Mount Huashan
Caer Cliff on North Peak Mount Huashan
Tourist Map of Mount Huashan (click to enlarge)

3. Mount Hengshan (衡山 - Southern Yue) in Hunan - World Natural & Cultural Heritage

TripAdvisor Impression: Excellent View & Little Tired Climbing, Misty, Fresh Air

Type: Mountains, Nature & Parks

Recommended Rating:

Elevation:1300.2m (4266ft)

Location: Jinsha Rd, Nanyue Town, Nanyue District, Hengyang City, Hunan Province; about 170km to north Changsha City(Capital of Hunan), near the Hengshan West Railway Station

Best Travel Time: April ~ October

Ticket: 30RMB for Water Curtain Cave; 80RMB for Center Mount Heng; 40RMB for Nanyue Grand Temple; 3RMB Insurance Fee.

Recommended Visiting: one ~ three days

Situated in middle Hunan Province, Mount Hengshan is a National Nature Reserve and holy land of Chinese Taoism and Buddhism with more than 200 temples. It is said two of the Sarira of Shakyamuni Buddha are reserved in the stupa of Nantai Temple on Mount Hengshan.

Covering an area of 640sq km, Mount Hengshan has 72 peaks with length of 38km and width of 17km. The Zhurong Peak (祝融峰 - 1300.2m) is the highest peak among all peaks and the main one where Zhurong Temple (祝融庙 - ancient Taoist temple to commemorate merit of Zhurong- God of Fire) stands. The Huiyang Peak (回雁峰 - 96.8m) - the head of 72 peaks in south-north direction initiated the history of making pilgrimage in Southern Mountain. And the Yuelu Mountain (岳麓山 - 300.8m) - fishtail peak is famous for the Yuelu Academy (岳麓书院 - Top of China’s Four Ancient Schools) and Ancient Lushan Temple (古麓山寺 - origin and center of Hunan’s Buddhism) of over 1700 years’ history.

An essence Mount Hengshan tour within two days is the most popular route to deeply experience its beauty and Taoist culture. Tourist can visit Nanyue Temple (南岳大庙 - the biggest ancient architecture complex in southern China and among the five great montains), watch closelyChina’s Longevity Vessel (万寿大鼎 - recognized as the world’s biggest, most heavy, most worlds of longevity by Guinness), Water Curtain Cave (水帘洞 - 60 meters waterfall), Dashan Temple (大善寺 - sacared temple where great Buddist master making preach on Mount Hengshan) and Zhusheng Temple (ashram of first Buddhist of Southern Mountain) before arrival to tourist center.

For later journey, you can pass through the Buddhist Chanting Ancient Path(梵音古道) to Shengli Lane, and keep way up to Xuandu Temple (玄都观 - Taoist temple), where you can take charged but convenient cableway to South Heaven Gate or continue your mountaineering. Next, turn left to the Magu Fairyland (麻姑仙境), Lingchi Pond, Mojing Terrace, Fuyan Temple (福严寺 - famous ancient Buddist temple with nearly 1500 years history) and Nantai Temple (南台寺 - source of two Zen sects of Buddhism) . Nexy you walk the most fantastic trail from Tianzhu Peak, Cangjing Temple to Zhurong Peak (summit) and look down breathtaking views nearby. After satisfy your hiking appetite, tour bus near the summit will take you to tourist center down the hill within half an hour.

Highlights: Nanyue Temple, Zhurong Peak, Nanyue Ancient Town, Cangjing Temple, Longevity Vessel, Dashan Temple, Hengshan Gateway

Activity: Religious Activities

Nearby Attractions: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Fenghuan Ancient Town, Dongting Lake, Yueyang Tower


1. The ticket is valid for 8 days after sale.

2. Accommodation: There are many hotels and hostels in Nanyue Town or on hillside of Mount Hengshan for your choice.

Mount Hengshan
Zhurong Peak - Summit of Mount Hengshan Mount Hengshan
Mount Hengshan Archway Mount Hengshan
Spectacular View of Clouds Sea Mount Hengshan
Xuandu Temple at Hillside Mount Hengshan
Longevity Vessel on Jiahe Peak Mount Hengshan
Tourist Map of Mount Hengshan (click to enlarge)

4. Mount Songshan (嵩山- Center Yue) in Henan – Exploration of Shaolin Martial Arts

TripAdvisor Impression: Stunning Views, Great Walk, Hiking and Meditation Combined, Beautiful Breathtaking Scenery

Type: Mountains, Nature & Parks

Recommended Rating:

Elevation: 1512m (4961ft)

Location: Dengfeng City, Zhengzhou City, Henan Province; about 80km of southwest Zhengzhou City & 70km of southeast Luoyang City

Best Travel Time: March ~ May, September ~ November

Ticket: 100RMB for Shaolin Temple; 80RMB for ticket package of Songyang Scenic Area, Zhongyue Scenic Area respectively.

Recommended Visiting: one ~ three days

Mount Songshan in central China is the principal headstream of Chinese civilization and a World Geopark listed by UNESCO. History of Mount Songshan dates back to 3.6 billion year ago, thus it is renowned as the Natural Geologic Museum and ancestor of mountains. The attraction of Mount Songshan lies in the rare geological heritage, but also in the numerous cultural and historic relics left by frequent visit of ancient kings, literates, Buddhists.

Mount Songshan mainly includes three regions: Songyang Scenic Area - Taishi Mountain (location of main peak of Mount Songshan) and Shaolin Scenic Area - Shaoshi Mountain (seat of Shaolin Temple) and Zhongyue Scenic Area.

Western Shaoling Scenic Area (少林景区) on Shaoshi Mountain is a world-renowned tourist destination as the significant birthplace of Shaolin Martial Arts (Shaolin Kungfu) and dreamland of Chinese Kungfu fans in China. Departure from Shanhuangzhai (三皇寨 - a pristine mountain fastness at foothill) for your Shaolin tour, you will visit Shaolin Pagoda Forest (少林塔林 - the largest tower complex with the most ancient pagodas ) and the world-famous Shaolin Temple (少林寺 - cultural holy land of mysterious Zen and superb Shaolin Kungfu, which is located at 300m of east Pagoda Forest) where Shaolin Martial Arts originated , then you can visit Erzu Convent (二祖庵 - the tallest building on Shaoshi Mountain) by cableway or go to northwestern Chuzu Convent (初祖庵 - World Cultural Heritage as the oldest and most valuable wooden architecture in Henan Province ) and Dharma Cave (达摩洞 - stone cave where Bodhidharma thought Zen philosophy for nine years). Then you hike further to Yongtai Temple (永泰寺 - the first Buddhist nun temple). Shaoshi Towers and n Peak (连天峰 - the highest point of Mount Songshan) are on your way down the Shaoshi Mountain.

Middle Songyang Scenic Area (嵩阳景区) is about 10km from west Shaoshi Mountain with boundary of Shaolin River. Keep climbing up from tourist center, you come to Huishan Temple (会善寺 - one of the four great temples on Mount Songshan with Shaolin Temple, Fawang Temple and Songyue Temple) and Pagoda of Songyue Temple (嵩岳寺塔 - the oldest ancient brick tower and the only dodecagonal pagoda in China) on your way to Fawang Temple (法王寺 - one of the eariest Buddhist temple, built 3 years later than the first White Horse Temple in Luoyang & 424 years earlier than Shaolin Temple). During the return routes, Laomu Cave (老母洞 - stone cave enshrining statue of Avalokitesvara), Qimu Towergate and the Songyang Academy (嵩阳书院 - top of the four ancient great academies from North Song Dynasty) are attractions of good fame. Zhongyue Scenic Area in the easternmost covers spots including Zhongyue Temple (best reserved Taoist shrine), Taishi Towergate, Luya Waterfall and Star Watching Point.

>> Chech More about Mount Songshan

Highlights: Shaolin Temple, Shaolin Pagoda Forest, Yongtai Temple, Songyang Academy, Zhongyue Temple, Junji Peak, Pagoda of Songyue Temple, Luya Waterfall

Activity: Shaolin Kungfu Performance & Buddhist Festival

Nearby Attractions: Longmen Grottoes & White Horse Temple in Luoyang City, Yuntai Mountain Geopark in Jiaozuo


1. The ticket of three scenic areas is valid for five days after sale, and it includes visiting of cultural and natural sites mentioned in the introduction.

2. Transportation: Flight passengers can take shuttle bus or taxi to Mount Songshan within 2 hours for about 130km distance.

3. Accommodation: There are few upscale hotels and lots of comfortable hostels down Mount Songshan you can choose from.

Mount Songshan
World-famousShaolin Kungfu in Shaolin Temple Mount Songshan
Shaolin Pagoda Forest Mount Songshan
Songyang Academy Mount Songshan
Yongtai Temple on Mount Songshan Mount Songshan
Fawang Temple in Snowy Winter Mount Songshan
Tourist Map of Mount Songshan (click to enlarge)

5. Mount Heng (恒山 - North Yue) in Shanxi - Mark of Chinese Geography

TripAdvisor Impression: Nice Hike, Nice Views, Lots of Steps

Type: Mountains, Nature &Parks

Recommended Rating:

Elevation: 2016.1m (6615ft)

Location: Hunyuan County, Datong City, Shanxi Province; about 10km to Hunyuan County and 80km to north Datong City, 60km to Datong Airport.

Best Travel Time: April ~ October

Ticket: 125RMB in High Season (April 1 ~ October 31) & 117RMB in Off Season (November 1 ~ March 31) including 100RMB for Hanging Temple and entrance fee of Mount Heng; cableway fee is excluded.

Recommended Visiting: one ~ two days

Located in the northernmost in China among the Five Great Mountains, Mount Heng is a national scenic spot, an important ancient fortress and the only historic battlefield among the five great mountains. Besides the massive folk legends about it, Mount Heng is respected as holy site for Taoism with long history. Scenis spots mainly concentrate on Tianling Peak & Cuiping Peak in Mount Heng, which covers about 147.51sq km with an ambient conservation area of 359.62 sq km.

Hanging Temple (悬空寺 - top spectacle of Mount Heng for its position of 50m from the ground & the only temple where Buddhist, Taoism and Confucianism coexist) at foothill and Beiyue Temple (北岳庙 - the grandest temple on Mount Heng) at hillside of south Tianling Peak are the most favorited attractions you can’t miss. A two day classic Mount Heng tour including excellent natural views and cultural visit is highly suggested. The first day tour is comfortable and relax when you visit Group of Temples of Mount Heng (恒山庙群) in an adaptive pace. The next day tour leads you to Hanging Temple and back Mount Heng in the morning, Yongan Temple, Yuanjue Temple and Liyumei Tomb in the afternoon. Apart from those Taoist temples, you will enjoy various kinds of natural sightseeing of Golden Dragon Gorge(金龙峡- middle of Tianfeng Peak and Cuiping Peak with the most narrow path less than 10m), ancient odd-shaped pines, Peach Cave and so on.

Highlights: Hanging Temple, Beiyue Temple, Golden Dragon Gorge, 18 Sights of Mount Heng, Peach Blossom in Spring (April ~ May)

Activity: Buddhist Festival

Nearby Attractions: Yungang Grottoes (82km), Pingyao Ancient City, Mount Wutai(140km), Huayan Temple


1. Transportation: Travelers who want to get to Mount Heng by train or flight have to transfer in Datong South Bus Station in Datong City of Shanxi Province. And the coach from bus station to Mount Heng takes about 2hrs only.

2. Accommodation: Since barely lodging in temples, tourists are suggested to live in Datong City or nearby Hunyuan County, which is quite close to the Hanging Temple and Mount Heng.

Mount Heng
The Hanging Temple Mount Heng
Beiyue Temple Mount Heng
Group Temples of Mount Heng Yungang Grottoes
Yungang Grottoes Mount Heng
Tourist Map of Mount Heng

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If you have more questions about famous mountains in China, please feel free to contact us and our professional travel consultants are here ready to help!

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