Away in Fujian’s northeast, 370km from Fuzhou and close to the Jiangxi border, the sixty-square-kilometre Wuyi Shan Scenic Area contains some of the most impressive scenery in southern China. It’s about the only part of inland Fujian regularly visted by tourists, and consists of two principal parts: the Jiuqu River, which meanders at the feet of the mountains; and the Thirty-Six Peaks, which rise up from the river, mostly to its north. The river runs its crooked course for some 8km eastwards between Xingcun village (腥村, xīng cūn), and the main village in the area, Wuyigong. The scenery is classic Chinese scroll-painting material and the park, dotted with small, attractive villages, can be a tremendous place to relax for a few days, offering clean mountain air and leisurely walks through a landscape of lush green vegetation, deep red sandstone mountains, soaring cliff faces, rock pools, waterfalls and caves. Despite the remoteness, Wuyi is surprisingly full of tourists – especially Taiwanese – in high summer, so a visit off-season might be preferable, when you’ll also see the mountaintops cloaked with snow.
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Rafting the Jiuqu
Rafting the Jiuqu
The traditional way to appreciate Wuyi Shan is to take a two-hour bamboo-raft trip along the Jiuqu River (¥100). At busy times the river becomes a noisy bamboo conveyor belt, but there’s stupendous gorge scenery all the way from the first crook in the meandering river right up to the ninth, and it’s well worth the ticket. Watch out for the odd, boat-shaped coffins in caves above the fourth crook, which are are said to be four thousand years old.
During the busy summer months or at weekends and holidays, it’s essential to book tickets in advance at the tourist ticket office in Wuyi Shan. Rafts leave year-round (daily 6.40am–4.30pm) from the small village of Xingcun, accessible on public bus #6 from Wuyishan Shi and Wuyigong (daily 8am–9pm; every 15min; ¥2.5). The wharves themselves are in the hamlet of Jiuquxi (九曲溪, jiǔqū xī), down a side lane just off the main road 1km before town, so tell the bus driver when you get on and it’ll save you the trek from the station.