We arranged a 4-day, 3-night private tour of Huangshan for our group of 6 through Travel China Guide. This is just about the right amount of time if your goal is to explore both the front and back ranges and see as much of the mountain as you can. We started our tour exploring the Tunxi old street in Huangshan city, after being met at the train station by our tour guide, Alvin. Alvin spoke excellent English, was very knowledgeable about the area, and was patient and flexible with our group.
The next morning, Alvin arranged the transportation to the park, storage of our luggage at a local hotel in the village (you carry only backpacks with you on top of the mountain), and the cable car ride to the top of the mountain. We started on the front mountain side by catching the cable car at Mercy Light Pavilion. We then hiked a short distance to see the picturesque Greeting-guest Pine and had lunch at the Yuping Hotel. After lunch, we hiked another couple hours and saw Lotus Peak, went through the Narrow Cliff, and climbed Turtle Peak, before finally arriving to our hotel for the 1st night, Baiyun Hotel. This hotel is an older facility with limited dining choices, but adequate for our needs. After checking into the hotel and a brief rest, we hiked the 1 hour to the Fairy Walking Bridge. Definitely worth the effort with spectacular views of the canyon and surrounding peaks.
On the 2nd day on top of the mountain, we caught the funicular railway at Tian Hai Station to the bottom of West Sea Grand Canyon and then hiked backed up the other side of the canyon. At Alvin's suggestion, we hiked up the right side of the 2nd Ring and on the left side of the 1st ring to get spectacular views of both the canyon and surrounding mountains. The trails are very steep, so it took us about 3 hours to get back to the top. For a less physically-demanding experience, it's probably better to hike down and take the funicular back up the canyon.
The weather in Huangshan can be highly unpredictable. Just as we arrived to our 2nd hotel, Xihai Hotel, it started raining and got very foggy, which prevented us from doing anything else the rest of the afternoon. Fortunately, the Xihai Hotel is new and modern with comfortable rooms, so it was a nice place to spend the rest of the day. They have an excellent dinner buffet, which is highly recommended even if you don't stay at this hotel.
The next morning, the rain stopped and the fog lifted just in time for our descent down the mountain. We got fantastic pictures of the peaks surrounded by mist and low clouds. After exploring parts of the back mountain in the morning, we made our way to the White Goose station to take the cable car back down the mountain. After picking up our stored luggage at the local hotel in the village, Alvin arranged a delicious lunch at a restaurant close to the Huangshan north train station, so that we could take our high-speed train back to Shanghai afterwards.
All in all, our Huangshan tour was a memorable experience and one of the highlights of our trip to China. Definitely highly recommended and a must see for nature lovers. Using an experienced tour company like Travel China Guide to arrange all the trip details and guide us on our tour was also worth it.