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Hua Shan

Located 120 km (74.6 miles) from Xi'an, close to the Shaanxi's eastern provincial border, Hua Shan makes for a stunning day trip and pleasant respite from the bustle of dusty Xi'an. The scenic area encompasses 204 square kilometers (79 square miles), the majority of which is protected land featuring sheer granite cliffs, verdant valleys and five cragged peaks. 

Viewed from certain vantage points, the peaks are said to resemble the petal arrangement of a lotus flower, hence the name Hua Shan or "Flower Mountain." The southern peak is the highest, towering 2,160 meters (7086 ft) above the surrounding plains. You can either hike up—though the journey can be perilous in places with nothing but a chain between yourself and a sheer drop—or take in the dramatic views on the ten-minute cable car journey (weather permitting, of course), which will set you back RMB 110 round trip.


History records a multitude of battles fought for domination of the area surrounding this sacred Taoist mountain, once known as Xiyue (Western Mountain). For over two thousand years, the mountain has been a magnet for pilgrims and patriots.

Throughout the Warring States (770 - 221 BC), surrounding kingdoms warred over the mountainous region for centuries until finally it and the adjacent lands were unified by Qin Shihuang, China's first emperor and founder of the Qin Dynasty. It was Qin who designated Hua Shan an official Taoist sacrificial site, and many emperor's continued the tradition, making the journey to Hua Shan in hopes of bringing good fortune and prosperity to their reigns.

Hua Shan has been a Taoist refuge and place of learning for so long that it has developed its own unique sect, named, not surprisingly, the Hua Shan sect, which is a subordinate of the Quan Zhen sect. Mysteries and histories aside, Hua Shan is a beautiful destination.


Hua Shan has four distinct seasons. Summers are usually hot and humid with heavy rains, and winters tend to be cold and dry. Spring and fall are the most popular times to travel to Hua Shan, though the temperature is generally pleasant all year round.