China’s Holy Mountains

Talking to a journalist recently. He asked me: I’m thinking of going to China in Sept. or Oct. to do a story on China’s holy mountains. Have you been to many of them? Any particular one worth profiling?

Here is my answer:
I am sure you’ve researched, two different definitions of China’s holy mountains:
Wuyue, Five sacred mountains:
1. Tai Shan, Taoist mountain of the east, Shandong
2. Heng Shan Bei, Taoist mountain of the north, Shanxi
3. Hua Shan, Taoist mountain of the west, Shaanxi
4. Heng Shan Nan, Taoist mountain of the south, Hunan
5. Song Shan, Taoist mountain of the center, Henan

Four Buddhist mountains:
1. Wutai Shan in Shanxi
2. Putuo Shan in Zhejiang
3. Ermei Shan in Sichuan
4. Jiuhua Shan in An’hui

Shame to say, I’ve only been to Er’mei, which is stunning. Most of these places are very crowded with tourist, but if you opt for hiking up the mountain the same way the monks did years ago, it’s still really beautiful. Jiuhua Shan is close to the Yellow Mountain. There are some lovely villages nearby that’s worth your visit – Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon was filmed there – all those bamboo forests.

If you include Tibet on the list, then I have been the holiest of all Mt. Kailash. I hiked around the mountain myself for 2 days. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.

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Don’t travel to China during Oct. 1 to 7th

Saw this email exchange between a client and my colleague, thought it’s really useful for anyone planning a trip to China in the fall.

Clients email: My husband and I are planning a trip to Asia in late September and are very interested in visiting Tibet and Lijiang.  We will arrive September 26th to Shanghai and will depart October 11th so we will have 14 days for touring.  We are very active and are open to cultural trekking, biking, etc.

My colleague’s answer covered a series of recommended activities and sites, but this is the most important message: Late September to early October is one of the best time to visit China as the weather then is mostly pleasant. However, during the week-long National Holiday ( Oct 1st – 8th ) or few days before/after, all places in China will see a lot of domestic tourists.  If your schedule is flexible, we would like to suggest we make the tour plan after Oct 15th , when the weather is cooler and you will be able to enjoy the local culture as well as the beautiful scenery.

Avoid China during Chinese New Year and Oct 1-7th golden week at all costs. Too many domestic travelers.

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Family get together in China with kids

A friend and I are considering bringing both of our families to China for a reunion next summer. My kids are 6 yr, 3 yr, and 9 month old. His 3 girls are 9, 7 and 3.  So here is his questions ” Should we take Josh’s Tangula express to Lhasa?   Or do we want WildChina to organize a princess tour of the wonders of China? Tibet?”

Here are my answers:

Tangula express would be cool, but not for kids. It’s too long a ride and kids get antsy. I know mine can’t handle it. I actually think it’s best to anchor kids at one place for 3 days, have lots of little fun stuff for them to venture from one base.  I would say, hang out somewhere near Guilin or Dali, go on short hikes, bike rides, fishing, crafts, etc.

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