Mount Wutai or Wutaishan is not only the spiritual heaven for tourist pilgrims, but also an ideal vacation destination for Chinese culture exploration, summer retreat and hiking that has only been explored partly by foreign tourists due to lack of advertising and useful travel guide. It’s time to leave for this UNESCO World Heritage Site to explore the time-honored Buddhist temples, architecture masterpieces of different dynasties, picturesque plateau landscape, etc.
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Records show that there are 47 Buddhist temples sitting in Mount Wutai, including 39 Zen Buddhist temples and 8 Tibetan Buddhist temples, most of which were established with founds from royal families in different dynasties, and have been preserved well. Below are some temples you must visit:
Tayuan Temple (塔院寺) - famous for the Great White Pagoda, the symbol of Mount Wutai. It was built in Northern Wei Dynasty ( AD 386~534) and designed by a Nepalese architect.
Shuxiang Temple (殊像寺) - this temple houses the biggest statue of Manjusri Bodhisattva which is nearly 10 meters high. It was constructed in East Jin Dynasty (AD 317~420). The hanging sculptures are unique and worth visiting.
Xiantong Temple (显通寺) - the largest temples among all Mount Wutai temples. The best highlight is the Brozen Hall made of 50,000 kg bronze. It is frequently used as the site to hold Buddhist ceremonies.
Wuye Temple (五爷庙) - popular among Asian travelers. The best place to make wishes for health, fortune and good luck.
Pusa Ding Temple (菩萨顶) - the largest Tibetan monastery in Mount Wutai with grand royal-style halls and temples. It used to be the exclusive temporary imperial palace of the ancient emperors in Ming and Qing Dynasties. Monks here usually wear red robes and yellow hats.
Dailuo Ding Temple (黛螺顶) - is the highest-altitude temple in Taihuai Town. If you are a Buddhist, you shouldn’t miss it out because it houses all the five clones of Manjusri Bodhisattva.
Above temples are all located in Taihuai Town and not far-away from each other. You can explore them all in a brief day.
▶ Learn more about: Mount Wutai Attractions
The Five Terraces was the very reason why the mountain was named as Wutaishan, which literally meaning “the mountain of five terraces”. They are the five highest peaks of Mount Wutai, namely East Terrace, South Terrace, West Terrace, North Terrace and Central Terrace. There is a temple on the summit of each terrace for pilgrims to worship the Manjusri Bodhisattva. The Five Terraces offers opportunities to enjoy some leisure hiking which combines strong Buddhist culture with picturesque plateau scenery. It usually needs 2 days to hike all the five terraces.
East Terrace (2795m) - East Terrace is usually the starting point of Mount Wutai hiking. It is the best location for sunrise observing. You can get there by tourist bus or hiking from Hongmenyan (鸿门岩).
North Terrace (3061m) - North Terrace is the highest peak of Mount Wutai with a wide view of surrounding. It is usually hiked after East Terrace. You can also get there by tourist bus.
Central Terrace (2894m) – the Central Terrace is known for Yamjiao Temple on its summit. This temple was the sacred site where the master Manjusri Bodhisattva used to teach Buddhism. It can be reached by tourist bus too, and usually hiked after North Terrace.
West Terrace (2773m) – the North Terrace is the best location to enjoy sunset and ful moon. There are white stupas and payer flags on the West terrace, which create a strong sense of Tibetan culture. There are tourist buses available. You can also get there by walking from Central Terrace.
South Terrace (2489m) – the South Terrace is featured in prosperous vegetation and herd. It is usually the last stop of Mount Wutai hiking.
• Popular Mount Wutai Tour including Five Terraces: ✔ 3 Days Mount Wutai Trekking Tour
Tang Dynasty(AD 618~907) is one of the most glorious eras in Chinese history, but few of its architecture survived due to constant wars and natural disasters. Mount Wutai area proudly has some of the masterpieces of Tang Dynasty architectures that survived, such as Foguang Temple, Nanchan Temple, etc.
Foguang Temple (佛光寺) - Foguang Temple is usually forgotten by large tourist groups. Its Eastern Hall is one of three survived wooden architecture of Tang Dynasty (AD 618~907) in China, and best preserved of its kind. One has to drive about 50km to get there from Taihuai Town. The reward is that you can enjoy a much peaceful visit without disturbance from tourist groups.
Nanchan Temple(南禅寺) – Nanchan Temple is the oldest wooden architecture that survived currently. Its main hall was constructed during Tang Dynasty with exquisite sculptures. It is also not crowded with tourists.
• Popular Mount Wutai Tour including Foguang Temple: ✔ 3 Days Mount Wutai Buddhism Tour
Mount Wutai itineraries are flexible from 1 day to 4 days, according to your preferred pace and interests. A classic Mount Wutai tour usually needs 2 days including arrival, sightseeing and departure. You can plan a day for getting to Mount Wutai and exploring Taihuai Town, and another day for exploring essential temples and departing. If you want to travel Mount Wutai with other popular places in the region, such as Pingyao, Datong, Hukou Waterfalls, you need to plan at least 4 or more days.
If you prefer a hiking, you need to have at least 3 full days.Here is recommended itinerary: Day 1 Arriving at Wutaishan, visiting the essential monasteries and getting prepared for hiking; Day 2 Hiking from Hongmenyan to West Terrace via North Terrace and Central Terrace; Day 3 Hiking from West Terrace to South Terrace and leaving Wutaishan. Here is the sample tour: ✔ 3 Days Mount Wutai Trekking Tour
If you want to take Pilgimage Chaotai, you need about 3~5 days. There are two Chaotai routes – Xiao Chaotai (Small Kora) and Da Chaotai (Big Kora) with different durations. If you are short on physical strengh or time, you can take the Xiao Chaotai which can be done in a brief day. You will also worship the essential temples in Taihuai Town and worship the five clones of Manjusri Bodhisattva in Dailuo Ding Temple. If your time and energy allow, you can take the Da Chaotai in which you will visit and pray in all the Buddhist temples of Mount Wutai and go to worship the five Manjusri Bodhisattvas on the five peaks of Mount Wutai – East Terrace, North Terrace, Central Terrace, West Terrace and South Terrace. You have to plan at least 3 days for the Da Chaotai Pilgrimage. Here is the sample tour: ✔ 3 Days Mount Wutai Buddhism Tour
Mount Wutai is located in the high mountains of northern Shanxi Province, with an altitude of more than 3000 meters. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of -14.4°C, and lowest temperature is -32.1°C. July is the warmest month, and the average temperature and highest temperatures are 13.5 °C and 26.3°C separately. The annual precipitation is 400 mm, mostly concentrated in summer (June to August).
The best time to visit Mount Wutai is from May to September for the comfortable temperature and diversity of plantation. Otherwise, it might be too cold in the mountain area. If you want to hike to the Five Terraces, you’d better come during June to August. If you only visit the temples in and around Taihuai Town, you can come to Mount Wutai all year around. No matter what time to visit Mount Wutai, remember to bring your extra layers and umbrella/raincoat always.
• Popular Mount Wutai Tour: ✔ 5 Days Datong & Wutaishan Discovery Tour
Mount Wutai is located in Taihuai Town, Xinzhou, central-north Shanxi Province, about 350 km from Beijing, 800 km from Xian, 200 km from Taiyuan and Datong and 300 km from Pingyao. It has an airport and a railway station, but both far away from Mount Wutai.
Currently, most of tourists travel to Mount Wutai from Datong, Taiyuan or Pingyao in Shanxi Province by driving. The most classic itinerary is to start the tour at Datong, then drive directly to Mount Wutai, next move on to Taiyuan and Pingyao, which usually needs about 6~7 days. If you want to start your tour at Mount Wutai directly, you can take a flight to Wutaishan Airport from Shanghai, Chengdu, Nanjing, Hangzhou, etc., or a fast train from Beijing. High speed train is not available yet.
If you only explore the temples in Taihuai Town, you can get around the area by walking. If you travel with an agency like us, we can escort you to the temples directly by our private cars. If you want to explore the Five Terrace which is far away from the town, you need to take a tourist bus operated by the scenic area. With the help of tourist bus, you can explore all five terraces in a day, or you will have to walk 2 days.
Travellers usually stay in Taihuai Town which is the main scenic area of Mount Wutai. Hotels of different classes are provided in the town, from luxury 5 stars hotels to economic 3 stars hotel and budget local guesthouses. Staying in Taihuai Town, you can also easily find shopping streets, restaurants, ATMs, tourist bus and other facilities. If you want to take hiking tours to the Five Terraces, you need to stay a night in the local guesthouse or temple dormitory on the mountain. If you don’t want to stay the night on the mountain, you can hike one or two of the terraces and return to the town to stay in a better hotel.
During the peak season, you have to book hotel in advance especially during Chinese holidays and school holidays.
▶ Learn more about: Where to Stay in Mount Wutai - Recommended Hotels
Mount Wutai is usually visited with other popular destinations in Shanxi Province, such as Pingyao, Datong, Taiyuan, Hukou Waterfall, etc. If you start your Shanxi tour from Mount Wutai, you can travel from Mount Wutai to Pingyao Ancient City first, then take a high speed train to Linfeng to witness the magnificent Hukou Waterfall. After that, take another high speed train to Datong where you can stay 2 days to exploring the World Heritage Site Yungang Grottoes, wonderful Hanging Temple, elegant Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, etc. You can also start your tour from Datong, and travel to Mount Wutai via Taiyuan and Pingyao.
Mount Wutai is located not far from some of the iconic destinations in China, such as Beijing, Xian, Luoyang, etc. You can travel between them conveniently by high speed trains. It is strongly recommended to spend more days in China so that you can visit Mount Wutai with the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Terracotta Warrios, Shaolin Temple, etc.
▶ Browse more tours at: Shanxi Tours
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Top 3 Mount Wutai tours chosen by most customers to explore Mount Wutai in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Datong / Wutaishan / Taiyuan / Pingyao
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