Some 160km southwest of Chengdu, Emei Shan’s thickly forested peaks and dozens of temples, all linked by exhausting flights of stone steps, have been pulling in pilgrims (and tourists) ever since the sixth-century visit of Bodhisattva Puxian and his six-tusked elephant, images of whom you’ll see everywhere. Religion aside, the pristine natural environment is a major draw, and changes markedly through the year – lush, green and wet in the summer; brilliant with reds and yellows in autumn; white, clear and very cold in winter.

You can see something of the mountain in a single day, but three would allow you to experience more of the forests, spend a night or two in a temple, and perhaps assault Emei’s sumit. It’s only worth climbing this high if the weather’s good, however: for a richer bag of views, temples, streams and vegetation, you won’t be disappointed with the lower paths.

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