Huangshan [Yellow Mountain] is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is known for its sunrises, sea of clouds, peculiar-shaped peaks, yi kin pine trees, and sunsets.
My friend, Evrim, and I booked a tour with OKDeal Travel to hike Huangshan. The trip included transportation, most meals, an English guide, and accommodations at the top of the mountain.
Three days before we were set to leave, OKDeal Travel notified us they had overbooked our trip. We wouldn’t be able to stay at the accommodations at the top of the mountain.
So, what did this mean for us? No sunset, less hiking time, and no sunrise.
I considered canceling or booking through another company. However, I’m stubborn and my mind was set on going this weekend, so Evrim and I decided to set out on our own.
Now, the only problem…how the hell are we going to get to Huangshan?
I only had a mini anxiety attack after realizing everything we had to prepare in just 2 days.
The high-speed train times weren’t ideal to our schedule, all of the beds on the sleeper train were sold out, and after a simple search for ‘How to get to Huangshan,’ I wasn’t sure how we were actually going to get to the mountain.
The night before we left, I bought tickets for an overnight train from Shanghai Railway Station to Huangshan Railway Station with hard seats for $13. The rest we would just figure out along the way.
I arrived at Shanghai Railway Station super early to pick up our tickets. I’d been advised to arrive 2 hours prior because there’s a separate area across the street underground for foreigners to pick up their tickets.
Coming off the metro, I passed by the building clearly marked ticket pickup. I wandered around looking for a secret hidden foreigner ticket pickup spot.
I decided to take my chances and wander into the ticket pick up building looking for the shortest line. I was prepared for a few things to happen; they would A. point me in the right direction to get me out of their face B. feel sorry for me and just give me my tickets or C. blank stare at me until I slowly backed away from the counter.
Lucky for me, it was option D…it ended up being the correct place to pick up tickets for locals and foreigners. I handed over my passport and confirmation number and had my ticket within minutes.
I had no idea what to expect on this 10-hour train ride and while it might appear to look like a typical train, there were just a few unexpected surprises.
Smoking, fluorescent lights, and passengers chatting the entire night to name a few.
And, unlike the metro in Shanghai, the train stations are not announced in English so you really have to pay attention.
After a few stops, 2 Chinese girls boarded and sat in our section.
Fast-forward through our Chinglish conversation, Chinese shared snacks, and too many selfies to count, we found out our new friends were going to Huangshan as well. So, between Evrim and I, we planned to use them as an indicator of when to get off.
In the morning as the train came to a stop, we looked at the girls. They weren’t gathering their things in a rush to get off like the other passengers so we stayed put.
Before we knew it they grabbed their purses, waved and got off.
We had been sprawled out sleeping, looking at our route for the mountain, and eating breakfast.
Terrified the train would just take off, we were scrambling to get our shit together.
This was until we noticed everyone exiting.
Unbeknownst to us, the route was Shanghai to Huangshan and we were the last stop.
Once we put two and two together, we took our time and amused the staff with our train station photoshoot.
Exiting the train station, we were pulled into a swarm of people pushing forward and pulling in every direction to go with them. We opted for the taxi. Negotiating with the driver for the same price as the packed bus.
It was a beautiful drive, well, the parts I saw.
I woke up to Evrim and the taxi driver laughing at me. I was mouth open, head back passed out! Ooopss…guess I didn’t get enough sleep on the train.
Arriving at the Southern gate, we made our way into yet another line. This time, a bus. We had to take it to get to the base of the mountain.
Originally, I was against taking the lift up the mountain as I felt that it was cheating. However, after reading tips from fellow bloggers, it made the most sense for our weekend trip.
If you are an experienced hiker it will take at least 6 hours to hike up from the base where the bus drops you off to where the trails begin to access the various peaks.
Unless you’re planning to stay for more than 3 days, I suggest taking the cable car up. You’ll still get your full hiking experience from here, trust me.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering where the breathtaking sunset and mountain top pictures are, right?
Stay tuned, I couldn’t give you all the goodies at once.
For now, I’m enjoying this moment. I figured out how the hell to get to Huangshan on my own with just a few forms of transportation.
To be continued…
[This is me warning you not to book through OKDeal Travel!]