The Wudang Mountains (or Wudang Shan) in China have been on my bucket list for a longggg time!
A fan of Chinese wuxia novelist Jin Yong since age 12, I have always dreamed of setting foot on those hallowed temples in Wudang. This area is where some of Jin Yong’s most beloved heroes showcase their martial art techniques amid the breathtaking mountainous landscape. Well, perhaps that’s why it’s not surprising that Wudang Mountains are, to me, more than just a beautiful place to visit. It’s a part of childhood that I’ve cherished and nurtured until now 🙂
Compared to other popular Chinese destinations’, there are currently very limited English travel tips on the internet for Wudang Mountains. Therefore, I’d love to share with you the highlights of my trip to Wudang Mountains plus all necessary information such as where to stay in Wudang, what to bring when visiting Wudang and how to get around Wudang.
Are you curious about the local religions and beliefs in Wudang Mountains? Wonder how people here balance modern life with traditional values? Plan a trip to Wudang now with my tips and information below!
Where are Wudang Mountains?
Located in the Hubei province of China, Wudang Mountains are hailed as the cradle of Taoism in China. The highest peak (at roughly 1612 meters) is called the Golden Summit. Most people who visit Wudang aim to set foot on this summit to pray for health and prosperity at the sacred Golden Palace.
Wudang Mountains are also famous for the creation of Tai Chi by Zhang Sanfeng, a 12th-century royal officer who left off his social status and belongings to become a hermit at Wudang. Inspired by a fight between a bird and a snake that he observed by chance, Zhang invented the “internal martial arts” style of Taoism. That style was later developed to be what is known today as Tai Chi.
How to get to Wudang Mountains
The nearest airport, located 19 km from Wudang Mountains, is Shiyan Wudangshan Airport. From here you can take a taxi directly to the entrance gate of Wudang Mountains.
You can take a direct train from Wuhan or Xiangfan to Wudangshan railway station. Our train from Wuchang railway station in Wuhan took 5 hours to arrive at Wudangshan station. We booked the tickets on trip.com at US$ 26.56 / person, including a $6 service fee.
From Shiyan or Xiangfan railway station, you can also take a bus to Wudangshan town. It’s cheaper than going by train but of course, the journey takes much longer. Besides, as the buses’ information in English is quite limited, taking a bus to Wudang Mountains can be a bit tricky for non-Mandarin speakers.
If you visit China for the first time, it might be a bit tricky to navigate through the country’s complex public transportation system. Check here for some apps to use in China that help make your trip easier.
The best time to visit Wudang Mountains
I know this may sound cliche, but the truth is, Wudang Mountains are worth visiting all year round.
The weather in Wudang Mountains is quite unpredictable though. We arrived in Wudang at the end of April when the last remnants of spring were still lingering. The cold weather with 8 – 9 degrees Celsius on our first day took us aback instantly. With no warm clothes in my luggage, having thought that the summer had already arrived, the chill was unbearable. We tried to run outside and jump and move our bodies as much as we could but still failed to abate the cold.
Yet when the second day came, the sun hit us hard on our faces and my whole body was already soaked in sweat by the time I had reached the Golden Summit.
Spring (March-May): Great time for visiting Wudang Mountains as the flowers start to bloom and the weather becomes less cold.
Summer (June – August): It’s always cooler in the mountains so Wudang becomes a nice get-away for those who want to escape the summer heat for a while. Remember to bring along insect repellents though!
Autumn (September – November): Who doesn’t love it when all the leaves turn golden and the whole mountain shines brightly under the sunlight?
Winter (December – February): While the weather becomes undoubtedly cold in the winter, the snow-covered mountains look no less picturesque. You can also benefit from the ticket discount for the cable car if you visit Wudang in the winter!
How to get around Wudang Mountains
Before planning a trip to Wudang Mountains, you have to get a basic idea of where everything there is located. Take a look at the map below (You can click on it and zoom in to see the attractions more clearly). Had we seen this map before our trip, we wouldn’t have had such a hard time navigating our ways around Wudang 🙁
Do you see the Entrance gate on the map? That’s where you’ll enter and find the ticket counter when you first come there. Once you have bought an entrance ticket, you can board any green bus from the ticket counter to get to other attractions in Wudang.
All green buses from the ticket counter head to the Transfer area first. That’s Taizi Slope (aka Prince Slope) on the map. From here, there are different buses that either head toward the eastern side of the western side of the mountain (see the map). The last stop on the eastern side is Nanyan and on the western side is Qiongtai (where the cable car station is).
Remember to ask the drivers clearly which direction their buses are going. If you get on the wrong bus, it can take hours to get off, wave another bus to return to the Transfer area, and then get on the right bus to head to your destination.
Since the roads are quite zigzag, you might want to take some pills to prevent nausea. Besides, the distance between most attractions is quite far. For most of the time, only locals whose houses are unreachable by bus walk their way up and down the mountains.
Just like in ancient China, you can also get around by sedan chairs carried by local people. I’m not sure of the prices but since this is really hard work, I’ll certainly be willing to pay them extra.
Hotels in Wudang Mountains
When it comes to booking hotels in Wudang Mountains, the problem with using apps like Booking.com or Agoda is that the address (and even the map) often doesn’t show the hotel’s exact location. You hardly know for sure whether the hotel is close to the summit, in the middle of nowhere, or right in the foothills.
If you plan to take the cable car to the Golden Summit, it’s better to choose a hotel on the western side of the mountain where the cable car station is located. Some hotels with good ratings here are:
- Qiongtai Hotel (right next to the cable car station)
- Wudangshan Qiongtai Dianli Hotel
You can also book on trip.com if you can’t find them listed on booking.com or Agoda.
Tai Chi Hotel in Wudang Mountains
We stayed at Tai Chi Hotel, located at Nanyan – the last bus stop on the eastern side of the mountain. It takes 45 minutes for the bus to drive from the Transfer area to this place. Since the hotel is located closer to the Golden Summit than others, it is more convenient for those who want to trek to the summit rather than take the cable car.
The rate that we booked was 365 CNY / night for a Modern Twin room with free wifi and breakfast. Only one hotel staff at the reception could speak English (albeit just a little). International credit cards are not accepted.
Our room was not too large but still comfy enough. A hot shower was available, which really saved me on my first day there.
Breakfast at Tai Chi Hotel was mediocre with plain porridge, some beans, stir-fried noodles, and vegetables. The dining room was super chilly as it’s located in the basement with no heater.
Overall, the eastern side of the mountain seemed more tranquil as most big tour groups would choose to stay on the western side. With many stores selling souvenirs as well as small eateries offering local cuisine along the road, Nanyan is also suitable for travellers who want to stay in Wudang for more than 2 days.
Apart from Tai Chi Hotel, there are also some other options if you want to stay on the eastern side:
- Top Zero Hotel – Great reviews on hotel booking sites
- You Jian Inn – They provide pickup service from the foot of the mountain. From You Jian Inn, it takes around 2 hours to trek to the Golden Summit.
There are some big hotels in the foothills as well.
- Wudangshan Yinjie Holiday Hotel
- Wudangshan Tianbao Jiuru Inn
- Wudangshan International Youth Hostel
You can also choose to stay near the Transfer Area (around Prince Slope / Taizi Slope) for ease of traveling to both sides of the mountain.
Where to eat in Wudang Mountains
We stayed at Nanyan and there are quite a few local eateries around the area. As the weather was kinda chill, we mostly ordered hot bowls of noodles for 10 – 13 RMB each. Most of these eateries were empty and thus also desperate for customers. There are several “convenient stores” as well in Nanyan where you can buy instant noodles, water, snacks, and personal stuff.
The cable car station on the western side of the mountain is also the gathering point of a few eateries and restaurants. I have not tried them yet but they seem to be more crowded with customers from tour groups.
Reaching the Golden Summit of Wudang Mountains
There are two ways to reach the Golden Summit: taking the cable car or trekking. According to locals, it takes an average person around 4 hours to trek to the Golden Summit. For those who opt for the cable car, the ride takes around 15 minutes and then you have to climb for around 20 more minutes to reach the Golden Summit.
Cable car ticket price to the Golden Summit (for adults)
February – October: Up 90 CNY, down 80 CNY
November – January: Up 70 CNY, down 60 CNY
Should I trek to the Golden Summit or take a cable car?
Most visitors to Wudang Mountains make it their biggest goal to reach the Golden Summit. However, I personally don’t recommend getting there. Here’s the reason why.
Once a remote area where people commune with nature and lead a simple lifestyle, Wudang Mountains have become more and more commercialized nowadays.
While this is inevitable, the Golden Summit, which used to be reachable only by physically and mentally strong people, is now easily accessible for everyone via cable car. “If everyone else can make it there after 15 minutes in the cable car, why do I have to bother climbing it?”, said so many I had heard.
Consequently, the original tranquil ambiance on the Golden Summit has been replaced by noisy crowds of tourists elbowing their way to the Golden Temple. There’s hardly any air left to breathe. If you trek for 4 hours straight and reach the mountain top just to find this scene, imagine how disappointed you’ll feel.
The best way to enjoy Wudang Mountains, I think, is not to strive for the Golden Summit, but rather to walk those carefree walks around the mountains like ancient people used to do.
Spend more time communing with nature, breathe in and out slowly to appreciate the clean air rarely felt in big cities, and then find a quiet place to sit down and meditate. Wudang is the perfect place for you to ponder over big questions in your life 😉
2 day itinerary in Wudang Mountains
Since travelling around Wudang Mountains takes plenty of time, it is of utmost importance to plan your itinerary beforehand, prioritize attractions you’d most like to visit, and time your bus journeys constantly. Below is my 2 day itinerary in Wudang Mountains for your reference.
5:30 am – 10:30 am: Take the train from Wuchang station in Wuhan city to Wudangshan station in Wudang
10:30 am: Arrive in Wudang and take a “taxi” to the entrance of Wudang Mountains for 50 CNY
Background story: As soon as we’d gotten out of the train station in Wudang, a strange man suddenly approached us and offered to take us to the entrance of Wudang Mountains in his car for 50 CNY. Needless to say, I immediately declined, having heard dozens of stories about women being kidnapped and sold in China.
However, my friend was quite interested in his deal and came inside the station to ask for the ticket seller’s opinion. With a face seemingly saying “Whatever, I don’t care…”, she agreed that we should have gone with the man as there was no other way to get to the mountains.
And so we did! I was so anxious that I checked our GPS on my phone the whole time while in the car. Luckily, the man dropped us at the right place after 20 minutes. What a ride!
11:00 am: Buy entrance tickets for 230 RMB / person. There’s no limit to the stay period as long as you don’t get out of this area.
11:00 am – 12:30 pm: Get on the green bus to head for the Transfer station and then to Nan Yan. From Nan Yan bus station, we had to walk 100 meters more to reach Tai Chi Hotel.
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: After lunch, we started trekking to popular attractions around Nan Yan.
While the cold weather and the steep steps seemed to put more weight on our legs, a Chinese woman ran past us and hurried us into jogging faster. It turned out she was a 50ish Beijing tourist who had visited Wudang Mountains many times before and thus was very familiar with all attractions here. Thanks to her push, our speed increased dramatically and so was the number of attractions we got to see before it turned dark.
Some attractions in Nan Yan:
- Dragon Head Incense: It is hailed as the oldest incense in the world!
- Lang Mei Ancestral Temple: Zhang San Feng is worshipped here
- Nan Yan Palace
- Thunder God Cave: Inside this cave lies a statue of the Thunder God, which was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. The cave is famous for being warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
- Temple of the God of Wealth (Shen Cai Temple)
- South Crag Palace: A huge palace with breathtaking views of the mountains.
Evening time: We went to bed early, dreaming of reaching the Golden Summit the next day.
6:00 am – 8:00 am: Leave the hotel and catch a bus to the Transfer Station, then another one to the western side of the hotel (Yes it took us 2 hours in total!)
8:30 am – 9 am: Get out of the cable car and start trekking up the mountain
9:30 am: Reach the Golden Summit and immediately head down again due to the noisy crowds up there.
9:45 am – 10:15 am: Buy souvenirs such as little statues of Wudang monks, Wudang tea, and local snacks at the foot of the cable car.
10:45 am – 12:30 pm: Get back to Tai Chi hotel for check out (Yes it was a helluva long journey!). We left our luggage at the hotel so that we could explore more attractions in the afternoon.
12:30 pm – 2:30 pm: Have lunch and then off to visit the other attractions around Nan Yan.
2:30 pm – 4 pm: Come back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. Then take the bus down the mountain.
4 pm – 5 pm: Visit some attractions near The Prince Slope. There’s also a luggage storage place near the entrance ticket counter.
5 pm – 5:30 pm: Take a taxi to Wudangshan Railway Station (~50 CNY). There’re lots of taxis around the entrance to Wudang Mountains.
Are you ready now to discover Wudang Mountains? I hope you are. At least you’re now much better informed about this area than we were when we started our trip.
If you have any more questions, do not hesitate to comment below. Oh and don’t forget to pin this post! Have fun travelling!
Pin this for future reference!
Pin this for future reference!