Emei Shan

The mist-shrouded peaks, forested slopes, Buddhist temples, well-worn paths and winding stone stairs of Emei Shan (Éméi Shān, 峨眉山) or Mount Emei have drawn countless travelers over the centuries. Today, it is one of Sichuan's most popular tourist destinations.

Though huge crowds converge on Emei Shan during peak seasons, you can still find plenty of secluded spots on this vast mountain if you're willing to hike off from the main attractions. Whether you walk and climb all the way or take shortcuts via bus and cable car, Emei Shan offers splendid views of rugged mountains, classical Chinese temple architecture (with some Tibetan characteristics) and insight into Chinese religion and aesthetics.

Keep an eye out for the six-tusked elephant, a symbol of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra (Pǔxián Púsà, 普贤菩萨), the patron bodhisattva of Emei Shan's monasteries. Also watch out for pesky monkeys looking to snack on whatever food you might have on you—if held up at a monkey checkpoint, show your hands, palms up and empty, and don't let them intimidate you.

The mountain is huge—its long profile, seen from a distance, gives it its name, which translates to "Eyebrow Mountain" (one belonging to a beautiful woman, of course)—and you can easily spend two or three days trekking about, sleeping in temple guest houses and exploring both natural and man-made sites. Sunrise from Jinding, also known as the Golden Summit, can be exquisite. If you're lucky, you might catch sight of "Buddha's Aureole," (Fó Guāng, 佛光) a phenomonon in which your shadow, cast against clouds beneath the peak, takes on a rainbow aura. For more on individual Emei Shan attractions, from Baoguo Temple to Wanfo Ding (Ten Thousand Buddha Summit), visit our Emei Shan Attractions page.

Entrance to the mountain is RMB 150.

Sichuan Guide | Emei Shan guide | Emei Shan attractions
Emei Shan flights (Chengdu) | Emei Shan hotels
Chengdu tours & activities | Emei Shan on the China Travel Blog

One of the pleasures of a few days on Emei Shan should, ideally, be a night or two spent on the mountain sleeping in temple guest houses. And indeed it can be pleasant, but you should keep a few things in mind before setting out.

First, during the high season, which runs roughly from May into October with peaks during the May 1 holiday (although the May 1 "Golden Week" has long been done away with), the October 1 holiday (which retains its Golden Week status) and weekends from June through August, be sure you don't wait too late in the day to find a room. It's all too easy to find yourself on a trail an hour or so out from a temple toward sunset, only to find, once you straggle in, that there's nowhere to sleep—nowhere soft and dry, at least.

Conditions in guesthouses vary, from often-damp but cheap (RMB 15-40) dorm-style rooms to private rooms in non-temple guesthouses with varying degrees of privacy, heat, air and hot water (RMB 150-300). Many of these private guesthouses are to be found at Golden Peak, accessible to the non-trekking masses via the bus-cable car combo. Many of the mountain's temples also offer dorm-style accommodation with shared bathrooms (no showers). Some offer larger rooms with amenities like TVs and air conditioning.

If you are not the hiking type, you might opt to stay in a hotel at the foot of Emei Shan such as the Teddy Bear Hotel, Hongzhushan Hotel or Shuxiang Hotel in Baoguo Village (Bàoguó Cūn, 报国村) and make day trips from your hotel base. All these Emei Shan hotels provide relatively simple but comfortable and clean accommodation and good, up-to-date information on mountain conditions. Baguo Village is also the spot to catch buses to Jinshui, halfway up the mountain, and Jieyin Hall (Jiēyǐn Diàn, 接引殿), approaching the peak. Both spots are cable car terminals, allowing easy conveyance to Wannian Temple and Jinding Temple (Golden Peak Temple).

Sichuan Guide | Emei Shan guide | Emei Shan attractions
Emei Shan flights (Chengdu) | Emei Shan hotels
Chengdu tours & activities | Emei Shan on the China Travel Blog

Even if you're "roughing it" by hiking everywhere on Emei Shan, you won't have to worry about food. Numerous food stalls and tea houses can be found on the mountain and most temples offer simple Buddhist vegetarian fare. Nonetheless, it's a good idea, if you are hiking, to carry water and a bit of food, though you'll want to keep the food under wraps in case you're waylaid by Emei Shan's famous monkey bandits. If that happens, show them your empty hands, don't let them rattle you and just keep on keepin' on. Don't give in to the temptation, if you feel it, to feed them.

In Baoguo Village (Bàoguó Cūn, 报国村), you'll find a number of other small eateries and hotel restaurants serving decent Chinese food, particularly on Haochi Jie (Hǎochī Jiē, 好吃街). Western food (along with Chinese food) and an English menu are available at the Teddy Bear Café next to the Emei Shan Teddy Bear Hotel. On a related but separate subject, don't forget to bring your own toilet paper.

Sichuan Guide | Emei Shan guide | Emei Shan attractions
Emei Shan flights (Chengdu) | Emei Shan hotels
Chengdu tours & activities | Emei Shan on the China Travel Blog

Getting around Emei Shan

Many visitors come to Emei Shan to hike, and for those, placing one foot in front of the other is the best mode of transportation. Maps are easy to come by and you are encouraged to wander around the mountain, popping into the monasteries along the way. For the rest, a bus will take you about halfway up the mountain for around RMB 20 or pretty close to the top for RMB 40. A cable car will get you within a few steps of the summit.

Bus

There is no direct bus route from Emei Town to the park entrance in Baoguo. Most visitors opt to catch a taxi (a trip of approximately RMB 20). If you insist on public transportation, try to find the No. 1 bus at the long-distance bus station. Ride the No. 1 for one stop and transfer to the No. 5, which will get you to Baoguo. There are buses returning to Emei Town from the gate at Baoguo.

To and from Emei Shan

Most likely you'll start out on your trip to Emei Shan from the town of Emei, located 6.5 km (4 mi) from the mountain's entrance at Baoguo Village (Bàoguó Cūn, 报国村). Trips to Emei Town are usually made by train or bus from Chengdu, the transportation hub of Sichuan and most convenient airport (two to three hours).

Bus

Buses to and from Chengdu, Leshan and Chongqing go through Emei Shan Jiuzhu Central Bus Station [Éméi Shān Shì Jiǔzhū Kèyùn Zhōngxīn, 峨眉山市九珠客运中心 (86 833) 553 6498]. Buses leave the Emei Shan station for Chengdu frequently from 6am to 6pm. Three buses head for Chongqing at 7:20am, 9am and 11:30am.

Train

Train travel exists between Emei Town and Chengdu, Kunming and Wushihe. The train station is 3.5 km (2.2 mi) from town, but the No. 4 bus or a cab will get you there no problem.

Sichuan Guide | Emei Shan guide | Emei Shan attractions
Emei Shan flights (Chengdu) | Emei Shan hotels
Chengdu tours & activities | Emei Shan on the China Travel Blog

Tea and herbal medicines are the local specialties. Tea shops selling locally-grown green bamboo tea (zhúyèqīng, 竹叶青) can be found on the mountain and at the foot of the mountain. If you're shopping for fresh tea, taste it before you buy. Emei Shan is also home to many herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine. Be careful when buying herbs, as some may have toxic effects if taken improperly or in quantity.

Sichuan Guide | Emei Shan guide | Emei Shan attractions
Emei Shan flights (Chengdu) | Emei Shan hotels
Chengdu tours & activities | Emei Shan on the China Travel Blog

Emei Shan's sublime beauty makes it rather apparent why it's sacred to Buddhists. It's not just Buddhists, either—before the Bodhisattva Puxian arrived on his trusty six-tusked elephant in the sixth century, the mountain was primarily a Taoist retreat.

Many claim that China's first Buddhist temple was built on the mountain in the first century BC. It remained a spiritual sanctuary for both religions until, during the Ming Dynasty, the mountain experienced a temple-building boom along with the conversion of almost all religious sites to Buddhism.

Given its remoteness and rugged landscape, Emei Shan remained relatively unchanged through the nineteenth century. By the mid-twentieth century, however, fires, the war against the Japanese and the destructive excesses of the Cultural Revolution left many of the temples and monasteries worse for the wear. However, many have been renovated or rebuilt in recent years.

Temples & religious sites

Besides the beautiful scenery and amazing vistas, Buddhist temples are Emei Shan's main draw. At the base of the mountain, Baoguo Temple (Baoguo Si) is one of the area's larger temples and its Shengji Bell is rung on special occasions. For many travelers, this is the start of their trek up. Other might first take the cable car up to Wannian Temple, the oldest structure on the mountain.

Either way, the Golden Peak Temple will be the goal for many. This bronze hall is located near to where the optical phenomenon known as the "Buddha's Aureole" occurs—under the right conditions, you can look out from the viewing terrace and see your shadow cast in the distance surrounded by a circle of light in the seven colors of the spectrum. Between whatever point hikers start from and the mountain peaks, a number of temples, nunneries, halls and other religious structures can be found.

Sichuan Guide | Emei Shan guide | Emei Shan attractions
Emei Shan flights (Chengdu) | Emei Shan hotels
Chengdu tours & activities | Emei Shan on the China Travel Blog

Emei Shan attractions

Wannian Temple (Wànnián Sì, 万年寺), Long Life Temple in English, greets visitors who ascend the northern cable car from the road near the village of Jingshui (Jìngshuǐ, 净水). If you're hiking, you'll approach it from the direction of either Bailongdong (Báilóngdòng, 白龙洞) to the east or Chu Temple (Chū Diàn, 初殿) to the southwest. Wannian sits at the northern tip of the circuit trail..

Situated at the foot of Emei Shan, Baoguo Temple  (Bàoguó Sì, 报国寺) is the largest and most..

Golden Peak Temple (Jīndǐng Sì, 金顶寺), is situated about 20 m (66 ft) below the summit. This building is a..

Related articles

Rebekah Pothaar, Apr 1st
admin, Apr 4th
China Travel, Dec 9th
Susan Cheng, Oct 29th
admin, Apr 4th

© 2014 BambooCompass. All right reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced without our written permission.

This website is owned by Ctrip International, which is a department of Ctrip.Sitemap