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Emeishan National Park

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Mount Emei (峨嵋山 or 峨眉山; Éméishān) is a sacred Buddhist mountain in the southern part of Sichuan, China.

Understand[edit]

The Guangfu pavilion

Mt. Emei stands at 3099 meters (10,167 feet), and is associated with Puxian Bodhisattva (Samantabhadra) - a representation of 'Great Practice' and 'Great Virtue'. Ever since Buddhism arrived in China, it has been an important center of refuge, and the mountain contains more than one hundred temples and monasteries. The mountain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Get in[edit]

Mt. Emei is 150 kilometers south of Chengdu, 130 kilometers from the Shuangliu International Airport and 28 kilometers from Leshan city. There are regular overnight trains between Emei Shan and Kunming as well as trains and buses to/from Chengdu (Xinnanmen Bus Station, ¥48, every 20 min from 07:20-19:20) and Le Shan.

With the completion of the train stations in Chengdu, regular trains go from Chengdu South, Chengdu East, Shuangliu International Aiport to Emei Shan via Le Shan. (Note that the Le Shan station is actually 30km outside the town of Le Shan so it is not a quick side trip and you might as well take the bus directly!)

High-speed trains leave from Chengdu South and Chengdu East. They will take an hour to get to Emeishan High-Speed train station. Within the station is a tourist information desk, which have English maps for both Emeishan and Leshan for ¥5, and a ticket desk for entrance into the mountain (¥185 for 3 days). Keep the ticket as you will need it for scanning at "checkpoints" within the park.

From the train station, walk around to the left to the local bus station. All bus routes will have pinyin on them; bus 11 will take you to Baoguo Station; a short walk away is Baoguo Temple, which is well signposted. Other temples are very well signposted from Baoguo.

Get around[edit]

Maps are available at the mountain, and visitors are free to travel around and enter the monasteries. The mountain is big. To comfortably see the whole mountain, you'll need at least three days, though you can reach the summit in a day. The more interesting spots are the secluded ones away from the tourist areas and on the lower third of the mountain, away from the summit. Hiking the whole mountain can be a strenuous endeavor; although there are paved step paths to the summit, the trails are very steep in places, and hiking from Wannian Monastery to the Golden summit is about 30 km. Distances between accommodations can be large, so be sure that you'll be near one at sundown. Snow covers much of the top 18 km well into spring, so invest in a bamboo hiking pole and some crampons.

There are buses that will take you halfway up the mountain (¥40) or to near the top (¥50). From the top bus station, you can also take a cable car (¥60 up, ¥55 down) the rest of the way to the summit. If you want to go down by bus (after hiking up), ticket from Leidong Terrace to Baoguo temple cost ¥50. Restaurants are located at convenient intervals so there is little need to carry food.

To get back to Emeishan High-Speed train station from the bus station at Wuxiangang parking lot, buy a minibus ticket from the bus station (¥20) back to the high speed station. The staff will write you bus number on your ticket; please note that the bus number is spray painted on the rear of the bus.  The driver might try to be cheeky and stop at the town bus station. If this happens kick up a fuss as your ticket is for the high speed rail station a further 1.5km along the main road.

Be aware that the last two high-speed trains from Emeishan to Chengdu East/South are at 1830 and 2100.

See[edit]

  • Golden Summit - With a towering, multi-face statue of Samantabhadra and vertigo-inducing views of the cloud sea around the mountain, the peak makes a perfect reward for the thigh-shattering climb from Baoguo.
  • Wan-nian Monastery - A large monastery with a fantastic statue of Puxian Bodhisattva, who is depicted as riding a white elephant with six tusks. The monks there are great, and they add a good deal to the ambience of the mountain. A part of the temple is a modern re-construction.
  • Leiyin Monastery - This temple, and some of the others temples tucked away in the seams of the mountain, are worthy of exploring, although many are cheaply-made, modern constructions.
  • Baoguo Temple - Contains a massive bronze bell, said to be heard from 10 miles away when rung. Y8 entrance fee.
  • Jin Ding Temple - Near the summit, there is a terrace with a fine view
  • Jiu Lao Cave - Close to the Xianfen Temple. Deep Taoist cave. Lots of pilgrims go there to burn incences. It does not seem advised to take this path in winter unless well prepared. Entrance fee : ¥2.
  • Pinnacle Lingyan (灵岩叠翠). Emei Mountain lies seven kilometers southwest of Emeishan City and is one of the four mountain ranges in China that Buddhists consider sacred. It was included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1996. The mountain stretches more than 200 kilometers from south to north. Its main peak, Wanfo Top, is 3,099 meters above sea level. Since ancient times Emei Mountain has been described as “Beauty Under Heaven”.
  • Bailongdong (白龙洞). White Dragon Cave, the Ming Jiajing when Jackson was built at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty biography, reconstruction, Qing emperor Kangxi had given United to the temple, Confucian classics. The existing before and after the two hall, before the three Temple, for Amitabha, mahasthamaprapta, a Buddhism godness Guanyin Bodhisattva Buddhism; after the main hall, for Shakya Muni, Manjusri, Samantabhadra Sam kegon.

Do[edit]

Hiking is one of the main attractions, with trails criss-crossing the park. If you are tired there you can take a sedan chair carried by people (but what you save in strain you'll spend in Yuan). Cable cars go to the summit and there is another one to the south to lessen the strenuous climbs. One of the most picturesque area is located between Niuxin Pavilion and Xianfeng Temple. The beginning of trail from Emeishan is through Leyin temple, cross concrete road, near Lin He restaurant/hotel/shop, between Fuhu temple (entrance fee ¥6) & Shanjue temple stairs.

During winter there is a skiing area, close to the summit.

A suggested one-day hike for the lower third of Emeishan[edit]

If you choose not to summit the mountain, there are many beautiful temples and beautiful views to explore around the lower third of the mountain. Whilst there are stairs, the hike around the lower third of mountain does not need any special equipment, and remains largely under 1000m above sea level. Keep your entry tickets as you will need to scan them at particular "checkpoints" easily identifiable by a gate and scanner. Most temples forbid photography within the inner parts of the temples, please be respectful of the signs indicating where you can take photos. Some temples have additional entrance fees.

This is a ~16km hike suggested by locals who advised avoiding the summit as the lower third of the mountain is more interesting. This can be easily done in one day (leave Chengdu at 9am, return at 7pm). There are some stairs, but the route is more gentle than the ones found in other comparable mountains, like in Huashan National Park.

As with all popular mountain hiking routes, you may wish to avoid the area if there is a national holiday due to severe crowding.

  1. Start by taking the bus from the high-speed rail station to Baoguo Temple bus stop. The temple is well signposted from the bus stop.
  2. From Baoguo Temple, follow the signs away from the main road to Fuhu Temple, which has a dramatic entrance over a river and a bridge.
  3. From Fuhu Temple, follow the signs and stairs to Leiyin Temple, easily identifiable by its construction on stilts. Admire the bamboo forests and locals going out for a stroll. It is here that you will meet a checkpoint. Use the entry ticket which you bought back at the high-speed train station to go through the mildly officious manned gate.
  4. From Leiyin Temple, follow the signs and stairs to Chunyung Palace. At this point you might want to consider having lunch at one of the many restaurants along the route. Expect to pay 8-10RMB for delicious home-made dumplings in chili oil. The restaurants will be happy to do takeaway.
  5. From Chunyang Palace, follow the signs and stairs to Shenshui Pavilion. Don't forget to look back at your route for some painterly views.
  6. From Shenshui Pavilion, follow the signs and stairs down (!) to Zhongfeng Temple, another less officious checkpoint to scan your entrance ticket, and then to Guangfu Temple.
  7. From Guangfu Temple walk to Niuxin Pavilion, and then to the Joking Monkey Zone; don't miss this. This is a route which cuts into the side of a deep and narrow gorge, with amazing hanging forested areas and the opportunity (if the river allows it) to do as the locals do and walk back along the river bank. Walk as far as you can as time allows, this is a to and back part of the route.
  8. From Niuxian Pavilion is a somewhat dull walk with occasional monkeys, and lots of souvenir stalls. This is a flat 45 minute walk to Wuxiangang parking lot, where you can pick up a bus to go back to the high-speed rail station.

Buy[edit]

Hawkers sell straw or bamboo poles and crampons to attach to boots, which will be necessary when paths are slippery in the winter and / or spring

Eat[edit]

The monasteries all offer delicious vegetarian fare for around ¥15 a person though breakfast options might be a disappointing bowl of rice with water and a steamed bun for ¥10 a person. If you want a meat based Chinese meal, there are restaurants close to the tourist temples. Cooked food at pit stops and the restaurants can be wildly expensive (¥40 for a plate of fried noodles), so check prices and consider pot-o-noodles if you're the budget-conscious type. You can also get snacks at several places along the trails.

Drink[edit]

Do not drink from the mountain streams. There are several shacks along the way that sell bottled water for ¥5. They are frequent enough that you don't need to worry about water when hiking. And there's boiled water in almost every temple.

Sleep[edit]

Cheapest places used to be staying at the monasteries. As of April, 2012 prices of ¥120 or more for a very basic twin room with no heating or electric blankets. Like Xianfeng Temple, Elephant Bathing Pool, Hongchun Ping, Huayan Peak, Jieyin Hall and Wannian Temple. You can find regular hotels close to the tourist spots that are more expensive. There are guesthouses along the mountain for around ¥60+ a person, though they offer frigid rooms and not much else. Baoguo Village is the closest place to the foot of the mountain. Here you'll find the popular Teddy Bear Cafe & Hotel. They will hold your luggage until you return. Note that accommodation at monasteries closest to tourist spots tends to be more expensive. Bathrooms tend to be primitive and not for the faint-hearted. Don't expect any wifi or power outlets in rooms.

Hotels prices at the top are around ¥200-500. Hotels can have electric blankets.

Note; if you've a room at the hotel at the top of the mountain and you are at the skiing area, check the departure time for the last bus leaving either up or down the mountain to avoid being stranded for a very cold stay at the mid-mountain hotels. They are pretty much not heated. The heat they do have is so little that it will be below zero in your room. During this time of the year much of the plumbing is also shut down so do not expect running water anywhere Including the toilets! Instead, toilet bowls are lined with plastic garbage bags which get carried off in the morning.

These hotels are at the BASE of the national park area, a good idea before you start your journey up or before you leave.

  • Emei Mountain Youth Hotel (in Baoguo Village, just off the main road),  +86 833 5591698. Check-out: 12. A great, atmospheric little place at the foot of Emei Mountain. 30 kuai for a dorm bed (before bargaining) and 50 for a double room (without ensuit). The staff speak a little English, and are very helpful. Restaurant is, unfortunately, as exorbitant as everywhere else in this tourist area. On the main road, look for a big sign to a big hotel. Underneath the hotel name it mentions a youth hostel. That's your place.
  • Teddy Bear HostelNo. 43 Baoguo Road, Baoguo Village +86 833-5590135. Check-out: 12. The original budget accommodation in Emei Shan. Located one block from Baoguo bus station. Dorms (¥30), single (¥80–100), double/twin (¥80–200 depending on amenities)and triples (¥150–200). All rooms come with a bathroom. They also offer free hiking information and free pickup from Emei Bus/Train station. Western breakfast available. Great crepes.

Stay safe[edit]

Aside from being careful at the top of the mountain, one main thing to remember are the aggressive monkeys who pester hikers for handouts, keep food packed away. These monkeys have been severely teased by many tourists so their behaviour is unpredictable. If you come across any monkeys outside of the temples, do not stop to take pictures or stare as they will bite if provoked. Just walk briskly away and talk in a soothing voice to calm the monkeys enough to leave you alone.

Pack rain gear and be vigilant with your step as the paths get slippery, especially from October to April. Locals will walk the route in trainers and regular shoes. Hawkers sell straw poles and crampons to attach to boots. Warm clothing is essential at the summit year round. Don't forget that even though it's touristy, it's still a mountain. Staircases can be tiring, and the distances are quite far (120 km in two tracks). It isn't Everest, but at 10,000 feet, it's at the lower limit of altitude sickness inducing heights. You're more prone to headaches and exhaustion, so drink water, pace yourself on the upper staircases, and stop ascending if you feel faint or nauseous.

Go next[edit]

  • Leshan Grand Buddha - A massive, 230 feet high buddha carved into the mountainside.
  • The city of Chongqing is a grand city on the Yangtze
  • The Yangtze River offers many scenic cruising options to the north
  • Chengdu is both historic and modern. Bus ticket costs ¥45 for ~3h trip.
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