Following our first day in Luoyang where we drove to the town of Dengfeng to take in the fabled Shaolin Temple, our second day involved a little less kung fu and a lot more hiking.
After a day of exploration and despite only seeing a fraction of Yuntai Mountain (云台山)'s 13 main sights, I came away from the day understanding why China rates it a AAAAA (highest rating) scenic area. You typically don't think that China has any national parks (usually called geo parks here) but in fact there is some incredible beauty to be taken in. From picturesque lush green covered peaks to dramatic stone gorges and pounding waterfalls, Yuntai Mountain's various scenic points make it a worthy addition to your exploration of the Xi'an and Luoyang region of China.
Our guide Lisa, told us that she's surprised we even knew about this place as most foreigners never inqurie about Yuntai Shan (Shan in Chinese is Mountain). While that doesn't mean the crowds will be any thinner, it's nice to go off the beaten path a little when it comes to exploring the country and see some of China's natural beauty.
A Day at Yuntai Shan in Photos
Lost in Translation
I always have a good chuckle when I see translations gone wrong or just things that you'd never see anywhere outside of China. Here's are three that I spotted at Yuntai Mountain.
Know Before You Go
- 云台山 in Chinese
- Entrance to the park during high season (Mar-Nov) – 150 RMB
- Entrance during low season (Dec – Feb) – 75 RMB
- Bus transportation – 60 RMB
- My guide was not able to get student pricing with my student card
- Hours: 8AM – 6:30PM
- The pass is good for 2 consecutive days
- Like anywhere else in China, avoid coming here on major Chinese holidays and if possible try coming here during the weekday.
- If you're looking to maximize on your time here, think about staying at one of the hotels in the park (expensive) or guest houses run by locals (cheap but most likely poor conditions)
- Toilet conditions: The park is actually quite well set up and so you'll find toilet facilities at the main entrance and entrances to the main sights. There's usually one handicap toilet if you prefer not to squat so look out for those. And as always, make sure you bring your own pack of tissues or toilet paper.
- Food options: There are a few villages set up for tourists to buy souvenirs and food. If you're tight on time like we were, you can find food options at the entrance to Tanpu Gorge (Xiaozhai Valley). Food isn't the greatest but you can have your pick of buffet, family run restaurants (more like diners), and a fast food restaurant Dicos (China's copy of KFC).
- Hotel check in: In China, both a passport needs to be shown at check-in and a deposit paid for the room. The deposit for one room at the Aviation e-Home Inn was 200 RMB so make sure you have enough for that as well.
- Early morning departure from Dengfeng
- Not many breakfast options in the city so we grabbed some snacks at a highway pitstop
- 2.5 hour drive to Yuntai Mountain
- Red Stone Gorge hike
- Xiaozhai Valley for a quick lunch
- (Tanpu Gorge) Xiaozhai Valley hike
- 3 hour drive to Luoyang
- Dinner at a local pot-sticker restaurant
- Accommodations: Aviation e-Home Inn
For more on the rest of this trip throughout China where I start in Shanghai and work my way up to Xi'an see the full itinerary as I journey to see the Terracotta Warriors.