The five peaks of Hua Shan provide some of the best mountain scenery in China – crowded though their trails may be, they make for thoroughly enjoyable hiking nonetheless. They rise in a series of rugged, occasionally tree-dappled granite crags from the plains 120km east of Xi’an; here you can choose your desired level of energy expenditure, from low (cable car) to medium (a hike up the North Peak), to hard (a terrifying hike along the “Danger Trail”). Though the summits aren’t that high, the gaunt rocky cliffs, twisted pines and rugged slopes certainly look like genuine mountains as they swim in and out of the misty trails.

Hua Shan was originally known as Xiyue (Western Mountain), because this is the westernmost of the five sacred Taoist mountains. It’s always been a popular place for pilgrimage, though these days people puffing up the steep, narrow paths or enjoying the dramatic views from the peaks are more likely to be tourists – or the astonishingly hardy porters who shuttle up and down the mountain, often several times a day, to deliver supplies.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

Hong Kong floats between old China and the west; its futuristic harbour has become one of Asia's most famous views but you'll also find pockets of traditiona…

28 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

Even 20 years ago China was not a conventional tourist destination. Despite the allure of its beautiful landscapes and history-filled cities, politics, poverty,…

13 Jan 2017 • Simon Frank insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month