At a height of 2,160 meters above sea level and about 120km/3hours east of Xi'an, Huashan, literally translated as Flower Mountain, is a sight for sore eyes. The mountain has for centuries been deemed as one of China's five sacred mountains (Wu ye), along with one Hengshan to the northeast, Songshan and Taishan to the east and another Hengshan to the southeast.
Huashan, also known as the Western Mountain (Xi yue) due to its geographical location in relation to the others, is famed as the most precipitous of the five. Along the 12km path leading from the foot of the mountain, where it starts at the Jade Fountain Temple (Yuchuan si), to its five peaks, you will get the chance to see some impressive scenes, including the strangely shaped granite peaks and the twisted pines, that make up this, one of the lesser visited of the holy mountains.
The peaks from above are said to resemble the petals of a huge plant, with the middle peak as the corolla, hence the mountain's name. Of the five peaks it is the southern peak (2,100 meters) that is the largest, closely followed by those in the east and west. The ascent provides not only natural scenery, but also a number of man-made constructions that, for better or worse, are now a part of the mountain's tourist culture. The route to conquer the peaks passes by temples, shrines, pavilions, terraces, carvings, statues, food stalls and hawkers, that appear interspersed between the stark granite paths and forested margins. Along the Green Dragon Ridge (Bilong ji), which connects the northern peak with the remaining peaks, the way is cut along a narrow rock ridge with steep cliffs on either side. Some of this route can be a little dangerous, despite the iron chains that are linked on the more precipitous sections.
don't take the black taxis....
when you arrive in Xi'an.... as you walk straight out of arrivals hall, you will only see black taxis....
these want to charge you between 150-170 rmb.... if you can afford it fine.
If not, don't bother... instead of walking straight, as soon as you go out the glass doors, make a left and walk 250-400 meters... out in the boondocks... you shall see the green taxis who will charge between 90-100rmb (well bargained).....
it is obvious the airport owners or someone own the black taxis and the airport shuttle (which charges 25rmb ... more than in Beijing!!!)....
and that is called MAFIA... price tampering and not giving customers the opportunity to choose from different prices...
*the same goes with taxi drivers in the city.... for short/easy rides... the take the longer route and claim the road is under construction, etc....
Walk on top of the City Wall
Xi-an is one of the few Chinese cities were ancient city walls are still visible. The original Tang dynasty walls are long gone, however a rectangular circumference of 14kms of Ming walls surround the city.
Bikes can be hired at the South Gate and you can access the wall from the South Gate (Nanmen) for around Y30.
Walking the entire city wall takes around 2 hours but you get to see a side of Xi'an that's not visable from the ground so give it a go!!
Visit the Great Mosque
Xi’an’s Great Mosque is perhaps the most interesting of the historical sites located within the walled city. Established in 742, rebuilt during the Qing Dynasty, and heavily restored since, the mosque is still an active house of worship. Integrating Arabic features into Chinese architecture, the mosque is unique and well worth the Y25 entry fee that allows you access to the courtyard.
The spectacular wall - Explore by bike.
Anne and I were in Xian on the most spectacular sunny day so we decided to hire a bicycle. There are tandem bicycles available but we opted for a standard bicycle each.
There are conflicting reports about the entire circumference of the wall. Some tourist guides advise that it is 13.5 km’s, other books advise that it is 14 km’s and a painted distance marker, with an arrow, on top of the wall shows that it is 16 km’s.