Capturing Huangshan’s Magic: A Short Trip Guide

Capturing Huangshan or “Experience the Beauty of Huangshan: A Guide to a Short Trip”

A red gate surrounded by tall green bamboo trees against the stunning backdrop of Huangshan mountain range.
Pass through this inviting red gate, surrounded by lush green bamboo, and embark on an adventure into the breathtaking beauty of Huangshan (@16mm on APS-C)

Introduction

Located in the southern Anhui Province of China, Huangshan (黄山), literally meaning the Yellow Mountain(s), is a breathtaking mountain range that attracts millions of tourists every year. The majestic peaks, scenic hot springs, and serene forests are some of the reasons why this mountain range is so popular. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, nature lover, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Huangshan has something to offer for everyone.

Get ready capturing the breathtaking beauty of Huangshan with my tips and tricks! I’ll show you how to take stunning shots of the landscape during the day and give you invaluable advice on capturing the captivating sunset and sunrise. With my guidance, you’ll be able to make the most of your time at Huangshan and capture amazing photos that showcase the natural beauty of the scenery.

The branches of a tree frame the stunning Huangshan mountain range in the background.
Witness the magnificence of nature’s artistry, as a tree’s branches frame the breathtaking Huangshan mountain range (@16mm on APS-C)
Towering trees perched on rocky heights in Huangshan against a beautiful natural background.
These towering trees perched on rocky heights in Huangshan create a stunning natural vista that captures the imagination (@70mm on APS-C)

The History and Beauty of Huangshan

Huangshan, also known as Yellow Mountain, has a rich history dating back over 1,200 years. The mountain range is famous for its stunning natural beauty, including its pine trees, hot springs, and sunrise and sunset views.

The mountain is also renowned for its unique rock formations, which have been the subject of many famous paintings and literary works throughout Chinese history. In 1990, Huangshan was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its exceptional natural beauty and cultural significance.

One of the most famous paintings of Huangshan is “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” (富春山居图) by Huang Gongwang. This painting is considered one of the Four Great Classics of Chinese landscape painting and is renowned for its depiction of the mountain’s stunning scenery and its use of light and color. “Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains” is considered a masterpiece of Chinese art and is highly valued by art collectors and enthusiasts around the world.

Elevation

In terms of elevation, Huangshan reaches a height of 1,864 meters (6,114 feet) at its highest peak, Lian Hua Feng. The mountain is known for its steep cliffs and scenic views from its many hiking trails, which offer visitors the chance to see the stunning scenery from different angles.

Whether you’re interested in history, or culture, or simply want to enjoy the breathtaking views, a trip to Huangshan is a must for anyone visiting eastern China. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable experience in one of China’s most beautiful mountain ranges.

What to See

During your trip, you can see the breathtaking views of the peaks, including Lotus Peak (莲花峰), which is the highest of all. Here are some famous peaks of Huangshan:

  • Lotus Peak (荷花峰 Héhuā Fēng) – This is one of the most famous peaks in Huangshan and is known for its unique shape, which resembles a blooming lotus flower.
  • Bright Summit Peak (明顶 Míng Dǐng) – This peak offers a panoramic view of the surrounding scenery and is the highest peak in Huangshan, standing at 1,841 meters above sea level.
  • Celestial Capital Peak (天都峰 Tiāndū Fēng) – This peak is named after a legend that says the capital of heaven is located at the top. The views from the top are breathtaking, and you can see the clouds and mist rolling in below you.
  • Flying Over Rock (飞来石 Fēi Lái Shí) – This peak is known for its unique rock formations and offers a view of the surrounding peaks and valleys.
  • A Monkey Watching the Sea (猴看海 Hóu Kàn Hǎi) – As the name suggests, this peak offers a view of the sea, and is a popular spot for tourists to watch the sunrise or sunset.

Huangshan Photography Tips

If you are a photography enthusiast, Huangshan is the perfect destination for you. The stunning landscapes, changing light, and unique rock formations make for some amazing photo opportunities. To make the most of your visit, it is best to plan your photography session around sunrise and sunset when the light is at its best. It is also recommended to carry a tripod to capture the best possible capture.

A solitary tree on the right with a majestic peak in the background in Huangshan.
The solitary tree and majestic peak in Huangshan create a stunning and dramatic natural vista that inspires awe and wonder (@33mm on APS-C)
A misty forest and majestic peaks below in Huangshan."
The foggy mist enveloping Huangshan’s majestic peaks and enchanting forests creates an ethereal and magical atmosphere (@28mm on APS-C)

Packing the Right Gear

When it comes to packing for a photography trip, it’s essential to bring the right gear. Huangshan, with its stunning landscapes and unique features, requires some careful consideration. In this section, we’ll discuss the essential gear you should pack to capture the magic of Huangshan.

Focal Lengths for Capturing the Magic of Huangshan

When it comes to capturing Huangshan or great content at Huangshan, a versatile zoom lens is your best bet. During my visit, I found that my 17-70mm lens on APS-C (which is roughly equivalent to 24-120mm on a full-frame camera) was very useful for a wide range of scenes, from sweeping vistas to intimate details.

That being said, I also found that ultra-wide-angle lenses were incredibly useful for capturing the dramatic landscapes of Huangshan. If you have one in your kit, be sure to bring it along! The 12mm and 16mm prime lenses I used on my first visit were great for this purpose.

On the other hand, I found that I used my telephoto zoom lens less frequently due to the distances involved and the high humidity at the mountain. However, if you’re interested in capturing details from afar or compressing the landscape, a telephoto lens can be a valuable addition to your kit.

Overall, I would recommend bringing a zoom lens with a versatile focal range, as well as an ultra-wide-angle lens if you have one. And if you’re a prime lens lover like I was on my first visit, consider packing a few wide-angle primes for those epic landscapes.

Huangshan at 12mm Huangshan at 16mm

Huangshan 12mm vs. 16mm on APS-C

Compare different focal lengths
Huangshan at 10mm Huangshan at 15.5mm

Huangshan 10mm vs. 16mm on APS-C

Compare different focal lengths

Camera Harness or Belt System: Keep Your Gear Close and Handy

Don’t miss any photo opportunities during your adventures! If you have a camera harness or belt system, bring it with you. It’ll keep your camera close and easily accessible, especially if you’re hiking or running up endless stairs like on Huangshan. So, make sure to pack it in your gear and be ready capturing all the unforgettable moments along the way at Huangshan.

Tips for Capturing Huangshan During the Day:

To capture stunning photos of Huangshan during the day, there are a few tips and tricks you can follow. Despite the harsh lights or fogginess, you may face during the day, you can still capture great shots. Try using ultra-wide-angle, wide-angle, and tele lenses to capture different perspectives of the scenery. Look for areas with interesting light and shadows, and try using flowers or greenery as a foreground to add depth to your shots. The mountains’ multiple layers also offer excellent opportunities for capturing depth in your photos. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings to create unique effects, and make sure to keep an eye on the weather for changes in light and atmosphere. By following these tips, you’ll be able to capture some stunning photos of Huangshan during the day.

Huangshan's majestic peak at the center framed by tree branches in foreground.
Nature’s beauty frames the majestic peak at the center of Huangshan’s stunning vista (@16mm on APS-C)
Layers of majestic mountains in Huangshan's landscape, with tree and greenery in foreground.
The layers of Huangshan’s majestic mountains create a breathtaking landscape, as captured in this stunning photograph (@56mm on APS-C)

Tips for Capturing Huangshan at Sunset:

To capture the beauty of Huangshan at sunset, preparation is key. Arrive early to scout out your location and set up your equipment. Look for areas with interesting foregrounds, such as trees or rocks, to create depth and interest in your photos. Use a wide-angle lens to capture as much of the scene as possible. A tripod and remote shutter release will help keep your camera steady and reduce blur. It’s also recommended to bring a light with you, so you can safely make your way back to your hotel after the sun sets. Finally, play around with different settings to capture the changing light and colours as the sun sets. By following these tips, you’ll be able to capture some stunning sunset photos of Huangshan.

A lone tree stands in the foreground, as the sun sets behind the clouds, casting a warm golden light over Huangshan mountains.
Watch as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a golden glow on the clouds, while a lone tree stands tall in the foreground, creating a mesmerizing scene in Huangshan (@10.5mm on APS-C)
A flower in the foreground with a stunning sunset over the Huangshan mountain range in the background.
As the sun sets over Huangshan, a delicate flower in the foreground adds to the peaceful ambiance, creating a truly serene moment (@15.5mm on APS-C)

Tips for Capturing Huangshan at Sunrise:

Capturing Huangshan during sunrise is a breathtaking experience, and with a few tips, you can capture some stunning photos. It’s best to prepare your camera the day before with the exact settings you want to use in the morning. This will save you time and ensure that you don’t miss the perfect shot due to incorrect settings. I missed the one or other shot, due to my dizziness in the very early morning hours. 

Capture flawless sunrise shots every time with the help of a tripod. 🙂

Concentrate on the clouds and scattering light of the sunrise, or if you have a “cloud of sea,” check if a long-time exposure would be an option. 

If possible, go to the spot for the sunrise the day before to think about different compositions and focal lengths to use. 

You can also use an app like Sunnytrack to see the exact position of the sunrise or use the tools recommended in my guide. By following these tips, you’ll be able to capture some stunning photos of the sunrise at Huangshan.

Panoramic view of Huangshan mountain at sunrise, displaying a breathtaking blend of colors and natural beauty.
Witness the beauty of nature at its finest. (2-shot panorama with 17mm lens on APS-C)

Weather on Huangshan in All Four Seasons 

Huangshan experiences distinct changes in weather and temperature throughout the year, making it a unique and interesting place to visit at any time of the year and will give you a variety of options for capturing Huangshan. 

Here is an overview of the weather in each season:

Spring:

Spring weather on Huangshan is mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 10-20°C (50-68°F). The mountains are lush and green during this time, with the first blooms of the year appearing on the trees and shrubs. This is a great time to visit if you’re looking for a peaceful, less crowded experience.

Summer:

Summer is the peak tourist season on Huangshan, and visitors can expect warm to hot temperatures during their visit. Average temperatures in the summer months of June, July, and August range from 20-30°C (68-86°F), with the occasional heat wave bringing temperatures above 30°C (86°F). Summer is also the rainy season on Huangshan, so visitors can expect frequent showers and thunderstorms, particularly in the afternoon and evening.

Autumn:

Autumn is considered the best time to visit Huangshan, with mild temperatures and clear skies. Average temperatures during this time of year range from 10-20°C (50-68°F) and the mountains are painted with brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow as the leaves change colour. This is a popular time to visit, so expect crowds and high prices for accommodations.

Winter:

Winter on Huangshan can be cold, with temperatures ranging from -5 to 5°C (23-41°F). Snow is common on the mountain during this time, making it a popular destination for winter sports enthusiasts. Despite the colder temperatures, the views of the snow-covered peaks and the serene, frozen landscape make it a unique and memorable experience for visitors.

Regardless of the season, the stunning scenery and natural beauty of the mountain make it a must-see destination for anyone visiting eastern China.

However, the mountains are famous for their unpredictable weather, so it’s a good idea to check the mountain weather forecast before you go. You can find the latest weather information at this link.

A green mountain with bright leaves framing the view
Nature’s vibrant beauty captured in a frame of leaves (@46mm on APS-C)
Scenic view of Huangshan mountain range with sunstar shining in the sky
Witness the breathtaking beauty of Huangshan mountain range and its majestic sunstar (@16mm on APS-C)

Avoiding Crowds at Huangshan

While Huangshan is a popular destination for tourists, it can become quite crowded during weekends and public holidays. Here you can see what was reported during the Chinese New Year 2023. To avoid the crowds and make the most of your trip, it’s best to visit the mountain during weekdays. Not only will you be able to enjoy the stunning views in peace, but you’ll also be able to take your time and truly immerse yourself in the beauty of the mountain. Anyway, you will for sure not be the only one capturing Huangshan 🙂

By visiting Huangshan during weekdays, you’ll also be able to avoid long lines at the ticket counter and cable car, allowing you to make the most of your time on the mountain. So, if you’re looking for a more relaxed and peaceful trip to Huangshan, plan your visit during the week.

How to get there 

The nearest train station to Huangshan is Tunxi Railway Station (屯溪火车站), which is located approximately 30 km from the mountain range. From the station, you can take a taxi (around 150 RMB) or the bus to the entrance of the mountains (New National Line Huangshan Scenic Area – Bus Station (新国线黄山风景区-汽车站)).

Where to Start Your Journey to Huangshan 

Your first stop upon arriving in the small town in front of Huangshan should be the New National Line Huangshan Scenic Area – Bus Station (新国线黄山风景区-汽车站) (Baidu location & Google location). Here, you can purchase a ticket for one of the two bus destinations within the Huangshan Scenic Area: Yungu Cableway (云谷索道) or Yuping Cableway (玉屏索道).

Once you arrive at your chosen destination, you will then have the option to take the cable car up the mountain or hike up the steps. Regardless of which option you choose, you will need to purchase an entrance ticket to the Huangshan Scenic Area.

It’s important to note that as a foreigner, you will need to buy the ticket on-site and it cannot be purchased online.

Taking the cable car is a convenient option for those who may not be able to handle the strenuous hike, but for those who are up for a challenge, the hike is a great way to experience the beauty of the mountain up close.

Remember to bring enough water and snacks, as well as comfortable footwear, as the hike can take several hours. Whatever your preferred mode of transportation, be prepared to be amazed by the stunning views of the mountain and its surroundings.

Use the Cable Car or Not 

There are two cable car options to get to the top of the mountain, the Yungu cable car (云谷索道) and the Taiping cable car (太平索道). Taking the cable car can save you a lot of time and energy, but it also eliminates the opportunity to explore scenic trails. If you are an experienced hiker, it is recommended to hike up the mountain and take the cable car down, but if you prefer a more relaxed experience, taking the cable car up and down is a good option. Especially walking down after spending a long day at Hunagshan can be very exhausting.

What to Pack 

When visiting Huangshan, it’s important to pack appropriately. Make sure to bring warm clothing for the cooler temperatures, especially in the early morning and evening. A waterproof jacket and a hat are also recommended, as well as comfortable walking shoes for exploring scenic “trails”, mainly stairs. Additionally, insect repellent can be helpful to ward off mosquitoes and other bugs that can be found in the area. It’s also a good idea to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a water bottle to stay hydrated during your hikes. Finally, don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking views.

Accommodations at the Foot of Huangshan

The 0517 Boutique Hotel is a top-notch affordable accommodation option for those visiting Huangshan. This charming hotel is located in a small town in front of the mountain and offers its guests comfortable and well-appointed rooms at a reasonable price. The hotel has a stylish and contemporary design and features a range of amenities to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. The friendly and knowledgeable staff can help with transportation arrangements and provide recommendations for your time in the area. Overall, the 0517 Boutique Hotel is an excellent choice for those seeking a comfortable, affordable, and stylish stay near Huangshan.

  1. Hongcun Village: This traditional Chinese village is located in the southern part of Huangshan and is known for its well-preserved architecture, narrow lanes and canals, and beautiful landscapes. It has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  2. Xidi Village: Similar to Hongcun, Xidi is a traditional village in the southern part of Huangshan and is also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is famous for its well-preserved ancient residences and traditional architecture.
  3. Tunxi Ancient Street: This historical street in the city of Huangshan is lined with traditional buildings and shops selling local products, souvenirs, and traditional snacks.
  4. Chengkan Village: This ancient village is located in the western part of Huangshan and is famous for its well-preserved ancient houses, traditional architecture, and beautiful scenery.
  5. Jiuhao Temple: This Buddhist temple is located near Huangshan and is famous for its beautiful and peaceful environment, as well as its rich cultural and historical heritage.

These are just a few of the many other tourist attractions near Huangshan, and visitors to the area are sure to find plenty of other interesting and exciting things to see and do during their visit.

A monkey-shaped rock overlooking the sea covered in fog.
A rock resembling a monkey stands watch over the misty sea (@29mm on APS-C)
A towering peak covered in clouds and mist in Huangshan.
Majestic mountain peak rising high above the clouds in Huangshan (@30mm on APS-C)

Conclusion 

As I visited Huangshan twice, I can wholeheartedly recommend this destination to anyone seeking a breathtaking escape from city life. My first trip to Huangshan was a one-day hike experience, where I took the cable car up and hiked nearly all the peaks, before going down the mountain for several hours. While the views were stunning, I was left with painful legs for nearly a week. On my second visit, I decided to stay overnight and it was a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience. Staying overnight allowed me to fully immerse myself in the beauty of the mountain range and witness both the sunset and sunrise. So, if you’re planning a trip to Huangshan, I highly recommend spending at least one night in the mountains to fully experience its beauty.

Join me on Instagram and share your experiences of capturing Huangshan or feel free to ask me any questions!

Check out more travel ideas on my homepage in this section!

If you’re interested in using a hiking backpack as a camera bag, check out my post on the topic here: Maximize Your Hiking Experience.

If you’re looking additionally for tips or information on ultra-wide-angle lenses for your photography or vlogging, I just published a guide to Ultra-Wide Angle Lenses for Sony APS-C.

Frederic Konkel

My name is Frederic B. Konkel and to capture landscapes and cityscapes is a big passion of mine. I'm currently based in Nanjing, China. I love to explore new places and I'm using my cameras to document these moments. On F.B.K. Photography I showcase a few impressions of my captured moments from around the world.