Mount Wuyi (武夷山 Wǔyíshān) is a very popular scenic area in Nanping prefecture, Fujian Province, China.
Attractions include mountains much like those at Guilin, temples and other historic buildings, and raft rides down a sensational river canyon. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural environment and for its culture. It is also famous for tea.
Various court officials, poets and scholars have lived here. It was a famous retreat for such folk.
Ancient volcanic landscape that millions years of erosion has transformed into a maze of gorges, precipes and caves. Unearthly.
Flora and fauna
Lots of snakes, including many preserved in restaurants or pharmacies in town — snakes pickled in wine are a traditional Chinese medicine. You may notice that bird song is less common than in other places in China; this is mainly due to snakes. Going off the beaten path in forest areas without a guide is not recommended.
- 1 Wuyishan North Railway Station (武夷山北站). High-speed trains are available, with destinations covering Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Guiyang and more. This station is served by two bus routes to the resort area (e.g. bus 9, ¥4) and a bus route to central Wuyishan City. Many trains stop at East Station instead.
- 2 Wuyishan East Railway Station (武夷山东站). High-speed trains to a wide range of destinations. This station is served by express buses to the resort area (e.g. bus K1, ¥10, 40 minutes). Some trains stop at the East Station instead.
- 3 Wuyishan Station (武夷山站). This station serves low-speed trains, including trains overnight from Xiamen and several hours from Fuzhou. There is one train from Beijing, taking 15 hours, leaving Beijing in the afternoon and arriving at Wuyi Mountain early the next morning. From Shanghai to Wuyi Mountain it is 9 hours. Check a ticket website for schedules and costs. There are buses from the train station that only come when a train is arriving and will take you to the resort area. Else walk to the main road for 7 minutes and find a No.6 bus that will take you to the resort area. See "Get around" for more info on taking the bus.
- 4 Wuyishan Airport (武夷山机场, WUS IATA). Wuyi Mountain has a small airport with regular flights to major Chinese cities. A flight from Beijing takes a bit more than 2 hours and is available once a day. The airport is close to the resort area and a bus (No. 6 runs just outside the parking lot, towards the resort you want to be on the opposite side) is easy to find until late evening. The airport express bus is useless and the operator will try to tell you to take a taxi instead. Unless you are uncomfortable with taking a bus to your hotel you should avoid the taxis. They will ask ¥30-40 for a 10-min ride.
Fees and permits
To get into the main body of the park, it costs ¥140 for 1 day, ¥150 for 2 days and ¥160 for 3 days. You must purchase tickets for the bus along with the entry tickets: ¥70, ¥85, or ¥95 for 1, 2, or 3 days, respectively. You can purchase the rafting separately for ¥130 per person and pick a time. There are only 8 times to go rafting and on weekends it can be very busy. A package deal for 2 days of tour and rafting is ¥365 per person. There are student tickets available if you bring a valid student ID (although validity is not checked thoroughly), bringing the price for the 3-day ticket (including bus, excluding rafting) down to &y;145. You can do everything in one day if you rush, but two days is more relaxed and enjoyable.
There is a ticket counter near the (closed) middle entrance, in downtown Wuyi. This is operated by a tour operator, and they charge ¥25 extra for tickets. You get a voucher that you need to change into an ordinary ticket at the south (main) entrance, so this does not avoid any trouble there. The extra hassle and cost is worth it only if you need to be absolutely sure to get a ticket for rafting the next day, which might be useful during the peak season.
You can also buy tickets online from the official Wuyi Mountain taobao shop; however, it only works if you have a Chinese ID card. Another method is using the Dazhongdianpin app (大众点评) that might even offer discounts.
The area is split into 3 parts: Park Area (South and North) in the western part, Resort (like a city with lots of tea shops, not the actual city!) in the eastern part, and the City to the north of the resorts.
You can buy tickets and switch to the shuttle bus network at the 5 North Gate or the busier 6 South Gate, or conceivably also the 7 West Gate at the start of the rafting. Public transit buses run through parts of the park (e.g. past Wuyi Palace), so it is possible to find yourself at a tourist bus stop without the required ticket. You will be directed to the nearest park entrance to buy it, and they'll generally let you ride the shuttle to get there.
The local tourist agency can provide a guide and driver for a fee. You will get to see much more than just hiking on your own if you do know where to go and would only stop at the bus stops but you can also organize this yourself.
Entrance tickets to the main attractions of the mountain include bus transportation within that area. The entrance tickets must be purchased together even though the English signs split up the costs. You are only sometimes asked to show the tickets for buses but you must show the tickets to the attractions.
Bus No.6 will take you to the bridge that leads to the park area in the center section, stops many times in the resort area, then continues by the airport, train station (7-min walk from the bus stop) and even further. It costs ¥1-3 depending on your distance, e.g. resort to train station is ¥3 (Oct 2014). There are also signs for other buses such as No.5 but it runs very rarely. There are alternative buses that run along the same route as No.6 and pick you up for the same cost as long as you tell the driver or assistant where you are going.
Do not use the motorcycle or bicycles. They charge you per person and are not worth the trip and will try to bring you to restaurants for extra commission. Take the mountain transportation to Wuyi Palace (Wuyi Gong) and walk 10 min to cross the bridge. Taxis are always going to rip you off for ¥30-40 without meter (Oct 2014), avoid unless you are in a hurry.
- 1 Nine-Bend River (九曲溪). There are really nice places along this river, most commonly viewed from a bamboo raft leaving from the West Entrance (takes 90-100 minutes, a few minor rapids that could splash your feet). Don't miss the lookout rock between Wuyi Palace and Shuiguangshi (the last area of the rafting), that is probably the best view in the area. It is also worth to climb some peaks for a good lookout to other bends so just doing the rafting tour is not enough to enjoy the entire area. A good trail follows the north bank between the West Entrance and Tianyou Peak (~4 km), but spends much of its time in the forest and doesn't offer the views that the raft does. A bit past Tianyou peak, the rafts pass a cliff with small caves that were used for burials in ancient times, and some wood and stone from that time are still visible. One of the raft drivers will try to sell a running commentary of jokes and a description of the sights in Chinese, for ¥20-30 per person. At the entrance, people will try to sell you snacks, fish feed, and plastic bags to cover your shoes.
- 2 Water Curtain Cave (水帘洞). A waterfall (not really any cave) with a small old shrine behind it and a massive rock. Reachable from its bus stop by walking 20-30 min on a road to the base and then 5-10 min up to the waterfall. You can walk a small loop and end up back at the main path to continue to the tea valleys (towards Da Hong Pao and Tianxin Yongle Temple) or just return to the bus station.
- 3 Eagle Beak Rock. Halfway between Water Curtain Cave and Da Hong Pao Valley. A nicely-shaped rock but you can only walk past it within the valleys and no climbing is possible.
- 4 Ancient Cliff Dwellings (武夷古崖居遗构). Ancient wooden buildings built into an inaccessible crack in the cliff, once accessed via a pulley system. Can be seen from the trail but not visited.
- 5 Da Hong Pao (大红袍, literally "Big Red Robe"). This magical and enchanted valley produces the best and most expensive tea on Wuyi Mountain and is a tranquil and beautiful place. The tourist stop is not the best place to see anything but walking from here to the Water Curtain Cave goes through tea valleys and past the Eagle Beak Mountain, through some of the best places to see in the northern area. The main area has a tea shop that has cheap tea in bowls, tea eggs, and very expensive tea for sale.
- 6 Tianyou Peak (天游峰, literally "Heavenly Tour Peak"). Big stone peak with breathtaking views on the nine-bend river and surrounding peaks. You can only climb one peak these days unless you want to climb over the "do no cross" signs like some tourists do (no-one will stop you), or look for small poorly-maintained trails running into the forest. The main peak can be really crowded and gets a little steep towards the end. You can have a little rest at the top (extortionately overpriced snacks and souvenirs) and return via an easier route at the back for 1.5 km. The Peach Blossom Cave and its temple are also 1.5 km away but unless you are prepared for a long hike you will have to return along the river to the same bus stop.
- 7 Horse Head Rock (马头岩). Great scenery, which includes tea fields, an old temple, rocks, and rural buildings. This spectacular area is almost completely omitted by domestic tourists because it is a long (>1 km) walk from the nearest bus stop. The north entrance to its trail is a stone stairway at the entrance to the Da Hong Pao parking lot, and in the south it emerges at the back of Tianyou Peak. The connection south to Tianyou Peak was commissioned by tea merchants in the 1700s, and passes through some narrow gaps between rocks, over old stone bridges, and through valleys filled with tea fields.
- 8 Tiger Roaring Rock (虎啸岩). Great view over the surrounding rocky area, but the peak is closed off. There are still really nice places to see and the path continues to the Ray of Sky cave to the south or to Jade Beauty Peak to the north.
- 9 Thread of Sky (一线天). Two rocks leaning together, leaving a narrow strip of sky visible. There is one part to just take pictures and another one to walk through. The latter is not so recommended if there are lots of tourists because it gets really narrow (30 cm at one point) and people will go really slow, it's steep, the steps are tricky, dark, wet, and slippery. Give this a miss if you are uncomfortable with crowds or tight spaces. When you reach the other side you are just going to walk down steps with little experience gained but crowding. The point is just looking up to the gap from below anyway. Also they placed the smoking area inside the cave so this can get stuffy. You can reach this via bus or walk from Tiger Roaring Rock or Jade Beauty Peak.
- 10 Spiral Cave (螺丝洞). Not famous but 200 m from Ray of Sky. A rock is carved from the bottom which is an amazing structure. Go there for a photo if you are already nearby anyway. As of Nov 2019, it is not accessible due to track maintenance.
- 11 Jade Beauty Peak (玉女峰). You see this from the rafting and from a rocky beach at the side of the river. It's a lovely rock, but there is not so much else to see. You can walk there from Tiger Roaring Rock or Ray of Sky.
- 12 Wuyi Palace (武夷宫). A temple with some display cases. This is included in the ticket prices and actually nobody checks tickets there because there is nothing to see. You can walk through it in 5 minutes and you will end up at this location for either the buses or the rafting trip so you might as well have a quick peek.
- 13 Great King Peak (大王峰). You can walk to this place from Wuyi Palace and even up to a nearby pavilion. Not done by most tourists as the rock can not be climbed and is clearly visible from the resort, river, palace, and during the Impressions DaHongPao performance.
- 14 Lotus Peak (莲花峰). Not much to see here and you have to hike here from the north parking area.
- Wuyishan Museum. Small museum with 2 sections which is in a small tourist alley after you arrive from rafting and on the way to Wuyi Palace. One section explains the hanging coffins and another the local wildlife and scenery. As it is free you might have a quick break here because it is also cool. Displays have English and Chinese signs. Free.
- 15 Tianxin Yongle Temple (天心永乐禅寺) (From the Da Hong Pao bus stop walk up the stairs near the road. The road follows several sharp switch backs. At the top of the stairs is a bridge, across the bridge the temple is on the left.). 07:30-17:30. Tianxin Yongle Temple is a quiet and peaceful temple visit. From the main entry courtyard the left has a tea room which will serve tea to guests at no cost. Further in on the right is the dining hall. Eating with the monks is a fun experience. They have a donation box where you can put a few dollars. Lunch starts at 11:00. To eat grab a bowl and chopsticks off the rack in the back left corner. Take what you want and eat what you take. When finished go through the door in the same corner and turn right. There is an area to wash your bowls. Return the bowls to the rack to dry. From a large pagoda a few hundred metres past the temple, there is a trail through tea valleys that connects with the Da Hong Pao-Water Curtain Cave route.
Ride a raft down the Nine Bend Stream (九曲溪). The "rafts" are long tied bamboo (or PVC fake bamboo) rafts with six bamboo seats. Life jackets are provided although the water is very calm and this does not require any rafting experience or effort on the part of the riders. Your shoes might get wet if you do not pay attention, especially on the little downstream parts. Two drivers use long poles to steer the craft down the water. The landscape is sensational, with sheer cliffs and tall mountains. It might get very hot so make sure you bring a hat or umbrella and sunscreen yourself first. Look out for the caves with very old coffins in them on the sheer cliff at the fourth bend. A "cruise" down all nine bends takes one and a half hours and is highly recommended. The price of the raft ride is regulated at ¥135 and tickets are obtained at the official ticket offices at both gates (South/North) with the South gate being where buses depart for the rafting. You do not need to pay the entrance fee for the other attractions to do this trip as it is separate. If you understand Chinese you can pay ¥20 each to listen to an explanation about the area by the drivers. Chinese like to do this but honestly there is not much to hear that you can't see from a map (Chinese tourists are not so good with maps). You do want to book ahead because the trips are often sold out on weekends. If you are there for a weekend then buying the ticket on Saturday for Sunday probably makes sense. There are 8 trips per day starting from 06:40, with 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Going at noon or 13:00 is hotter.
You can hike to anywhere in the park, but might have to walk along the roads which may not be so enjoyable. Longer trails will have fewer people and more snakes. The trails are generally very well signposted, but the distances indicated can in some cases be very inconsistent. There are trails from Water Curtain Cave to Dahongpao and Tianxin Yongle temple, from outside Dahongpao to the river just above Tianyou Peak, and along the north side of the river to Xingcun Zhen, the starting point of the rafting. Another trail connects A Thread of Sky, Roaring Tiger Rock, and the Jade Girl Rock viewpoint.
You can see the area as split into 2 parts. North:
- Water Curtain Cave [Bus Stop]
- Eagle's Beak Rock (on the way from Water Curtain Cave to DaHongPao Valley)
- DaHongPao Valley [Bus Stop]
- Wuyi Palace [Bus Stop] (also end point for rafting)
- Heavenly Tour Peak [Bus Stop]
- Peach Blossom Cave (reached from Heavenly Tour Peak)
- Roaring Tiger Rock [Bus Stop]
- A Ray Of Sky [Bus Stop] (walking path from Roaring Tiger Rock)
- Rafting Wharf [Bus Stop]
You may have to change several buses to get from one end to the other or from one location to another. Ask the local station attendant which bus to take, or point at it on the map.
- Impressions DaHongPao. A 60-minute show about tea. Recommended for night activity (starts 19:30). Hundreds of actors, beautiful lightshow, audience turns 360 degrees for different views. Awesome mountain-view in the dark. Produced by 3 famous Chinese artists (Zhang Yimou) and a franchise of theater shows around China (Haikou, Lijiang, Hangzhou). Just south of the resort area within walking distance for most resorts. You can book tickets from the hotel and maybe even get a discount that way. from ¥168 to 600 (VIP, not worth it).
- Action Sports. Talk to a travel agent such as the one at the bridge between resort and park to do all sorts of paragliding and similar action sports. Touts will offer you this randomly too which is not so recommended.
The area is famous for tea. A small pack costs a few yuan and comes in several containers. The tea is generally the same but is filled by the shop itself fresh so that is why you might see slight variations as well. The big gift packs cost more just for the nice design. The prices at the DaHongPao valley are high; buy it in the resort area for a decent price.
Prices for tea in China are rather like prices for wines in the West; there is plenty of reasonable stuff at decent prices, but something that is either top-quality or rare can be quite expensive, and a product that is both may cost a phenomenal amount. The record is held by some tea off a few bushes halfway up a cliff in the Da Hong Bao valley, bushes whose product was once reserved for the Emperor. It fetched over US$1000 a gram at an auction in Shanghai!
See the Chinese cuisine article for an in-depth discussion.
Snakes are used for Chinese medicine and you can find them preserved or as medication directly. Very expensive. Some of the restaurants display them in glass jars, apparently pickled, and offer expensive specialty dishes using them as an ingredient.
Lots of shops have wooden Buddha statues; they are almost the only thing to buy in the resort area aside from tea. It is a problematic purchase for overseas tourists since they are heavy and bulky.
If you play the game of Go (weiqi in Chinese), look in these shops for wooden bowls to hold the go stones. The plain ones are about ¥50 a set and look more-or-less identical to bowls sold in the West for $100 or more. More expensive ones (a few hundred yuan a pair) are carved from tree roots and have a lovely pattern of knots. Be careful, however, to get bowls that are large enough; some of the ones sold here will not hold a full set of stones.
- Tea eggs. These are eggs hardboiled in tea with a little hole to let the taste fill the egg white. Nice cheap snack found anywhere in China but particularly good at WuYi Mountain if good tea is used. The ones at DaHongPao valley rest stop, for example, are usually really good, but at the rafting area you might just find lousy ones. ¥3 for one or perhaps ¥10 for three. Careful as they might be hot. Good to have with a cup of tea on the side.
Lots of restaurants list the prices per pound which will add up to quite a lot! The menu is mixed for prices per dish and you might not notice when you order. This is true for pheasant, rabbit and other rarities including bear and the expensive fish. The pheasants are only killed for you and you are probably expected to eat the entire animal. The restaurants in the Wuyi Resort area are overpriced and very oily with the dishes not being particularly good. There is not much choice for local food but it is not recommended to seek out the "土家" restaurants. Some motorcycle touts are in cahoots with these restaurants and will drop you off expecting you to go there, playing innocent about "oh I thought you said you want to eat dinner".
Ask the price before you order if you eat in any restaurants without menu given to you!
Go into real town in the evenings (20:00 is good) when the local food stands make nice Fujian dishes for just a few ¥ although a little less sanitary than you might expect.
Although not very local there is a Dico's and KFC in the resort area. If you are avoiding the local restaurants (see above) then it might just be this or bread from the supermarkets and bakeries (which are also not very good).
- 1 Zhou Mapo (周麻婆(三菇店)), 玉女峰路16-2号 (16-2 Yunufeng Road) (at the large junction in the resort area that leads to the bridge crossing the river), ☏ +86 136 95056212 (mobile). 11:00-21:00. Simple yet delicious Chinese food with a bit of a fast-food feel. Rice, fruits, small snacks and drinks are complimentary. Two specialty dishes (Mapo Tofu and Red Braised Meat) are very cheap at just ¥2 per plate, other dishes vary between ¥18-50. This place gets very crowded with Chinese tourists at dinner time. About ¥40 per person.
- Tea. The area is famous for tea, in particular an oloong (lightly feremented as opposed to unferemented green tea or thoroughly fermented types with their stronger flavour) called DaHongPao. There are many tea shops and you can try it first before buying.
- Beer and wine. There is local beer and wine but it is nothing special.
- Wuyi Mountain Water. Bottled water from the mountain (you could fill your bottles in the little rivers inside the park area for probably the same water). Do not drink the water from the larger rivers. ¥1 for 500 ml.
There is an occasional bike race which will close the park partially, most likely the entire north side. You can probably still be in the park but the buses do not run at that time and the prices in town might be a little bit higher at the time. Not many tourists come to see this but the crew will fill up more hotels.
- 1 Andi Youth Hostel (安邸青年旅舍), Wuyishan jingqu sangu lan tang 16 (武夷山景区三菇兰汤16号), ☏ +86 599 5231369. A small youth hostel on the west side of the river opposite the resort area, right at the foot of the mountains. The small bar serves beer, coffee, juice and tea but no food. Very quiet and peaceful and the only place that doesn't have those annoying motorcycle touts. Also they have a small selection of decent bicycles for hire. Their beds are rather hard. Dorm beds from ¥40, twins from ¥88 and big doubles from ¥110.
- Dragon Resort. The staff is very friendly and the quality of the hotel is good. A great breakfast is included. ¥238 for a double room.
- 2 Wuyishan Da Wang Peak Youth Hostel (武夷山大王峰青年旅舍), Wuyishan Lan Tang Cun No.46 (大王峰脚下兰汤村46号) (Just north of the bridge crossing the river into the park area from the resort area), ☏ +86 599 5209518. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Provides free tea drinking gathering. Staff is energetic and very friendly, and can give you clear instructions and tips on tourist attractions around Mt Wuyi. Each bed is about ¥45, and rooms start at ¥150.
- 3 Blue Sky Youth Hostel (武夷山蓝色天空青年旅舍) (30 meters north of Ziyang Ancient City (紫阳古城北侧30米)), ☏ +86 189 50663809 (mobile). Simple youth hostel in the resort area. The friendly owner speaks English well and may even offer you a cup of tea if it's not too busy. Very detailed instructions on how to get there by bus from any train station and airport were provided by e-mail prior to arrival. Dorms from ¥50.
Camping is not allowed in the park. If you get found someone might kick you out of the park area. As the area has snakes you might not want to consider doing this anyway.
The area of the park stretches further than the bus stop locations but the pretties part is within the rafting to the north gate.
Do not hike outside the paths as the area has many snakes, some rather large too (rare, as they would probably be caught for medicinal uses already), and cliffs.
The area is otherwise very safe. People are very friendly and touts are merely annoying. The staff of the park are helpful and emergency staff is available in case of accidents.
Fly to another major city from here or take a train to Fuzhou, Xiamen. There are many tours through Fujian that include Wuyi Mountain mid-way through which might be the best way to tour through all Fujian has to offer (by tour bus) such as Fujian Tulou. The high-speed train line continues north to Shangrao, with access to Sanqingshan, then onward to Huangshan, if you haven't had your fill of spectacular rocks.