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If you have an extra day to spare during your visit to Xi’an, our Forbes Travel Guide editors suggest spending it with a side trip to Mt. Huashan. One of China’s Five Great Mountains and the “most precipitous under heaven,” dramatic Huashan is famous for its treacherous cliffs and steep canyons, and you’ll be treated to some truly stunning views of the area from any one of its five peaks. The mountain is also home to a number of religious temples.
The gateway to 7,000-foot tall Mt. Huashan is located at the North Peak, from which you can trek through Huashan village or take a cable car up to Jade Maiden Peak. If you venture up to Lotus Peak, you can take a gondola to the highest summit, Landing Wild Goose Peak, but be careful: Speckled with steep falls, precarious footholds, a narrow wooden plank and a vertical ladder, the trail is literally an obstacle course.
Located approximately two hours outside of Xi’an, the mountain is best reached either by Tourist Bus No. 1, which runs between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m., or by the Xi’an-Zhengzhou bullet train; if you choose the latter option, disembark at Huashan Bei and transfer to one of the green mini-buses. Depending on how much climbing you want to do at Mt. Huashan, you can see it in anywhere from a few hours to two days. If you want to do some climbing, one of the quickest — and safest — ways to do that is to hike up the East Peak, spend the night, and watch the sun rise in the morning.