One of China’s four Buddhist mountains, the five flat peaks of Wutai Shan – the name means “Five-terrace Mountain” – rise around 3000m in the northeastern corner of Shanxi province, near the border with Hebei. Its main base, the village of Taihuai, lies on a backroads route linking Datong and Taiyuan, and it’s possible to access the mountains from either of those cities. The long bus ride here is rewarded with fresh air, superb scenery, some fascinating temple architecture and a spiritual (if not always peaceful) tone. Though increasingly accessible, many of Wutai Shan’s forty temples have survived the centuries intact and remain functioning, full of resident clergy.

Despite a surprising number of ordinary Chinese people here as pilgrims – thumbing rosaries and prostrating themselves on their knees as they clamber up the temples’ steep staircases – it has to be said that intense summertime tourism at Wutai Shan can put paid to feelings of remoteness, and might make you regret the effort taken to reach here. Crowds fade away between October and April, though during this period you will have to come prepared for some low temperatures and possible blizzards. Note that all temples are open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: 10 Taiwanese street foods you need to try

Video: 10 Taiwanese street foods you need to try

Street food in Taiwan has a charm that restaurants just can't match. There's a distinct pleasure to be found in wandering through the labyrinthine stalls glo…

03 Aug 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
7 Chinese street foods you need to try

7 Chinese street foods you need to try

Thanks to China’s sheer enormity, travelling through the country is as much a tastebud odyssey as it is a history lesson. And eating your way around the stre…

27 Jul 2017 • Aimee White insert_drive_file Article
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
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