Mount Emei: Sacred Spaces of Sichuan

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I was there at Emei Shan (Mount Emei), yet another sacred spot, after Yubeng and Lugu Hu (Lugu Lake), two outwardly contrasting locales that had a comparable significance as a sacred place for Buddhism in southern China. China.

Emei Shan is one of the four holy Buddhist mountains situated in China. Situated a few hours by bus from the huge city of Chengdu, it is a little city of tremendous significance for individuals of the Buddhist faith, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For me, there was another mountain to overcome.

Owing of its prominence and popularity, the Emei Shan hike has been paved with stairs, as is usual with many prominent Chinese sites. One may even avoid the climb completely and take a bus to the top and a mixture of cable cars and buses to the bottom. Seemed ridiculous, so I elected to use my feet, having read that the bottom portion of the trek is much more lovely than what can be viewed at the summit.

I disagree with this assertion, though. Not even a little. No way.

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I’m sure the layered mountains and magnificent trees are a gorgeous sight, if so, you can truly see them. However, the pollution, I guess from Chengdu, is so terrible that I could hardly make out what I was seeing:

I started at Wannian Temple which is a 20 minute bus journey from Baoguo. This is a fantastic starting place as it takes off the first 20km or so and yet leaves you with a steep 30km trek to the summit, making it achievable in a day.

Mount Emei Sacred Spaces of Sichuan

The track is quite straightforward to figure out, passing various temples along the way up the apparently endless steps

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve done so many hikes since then, or if this hike was truly one of the most brutal and grueling hikes possible, but within 20 miles I’ve still feel like Mount Kinabalu in Borneo is the hardest hike I’ve done, and it took me even longer than Emei Shan which was 10km longer.

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A pair of eager snack merchants at the top asked me to sit down and rest while telling me how fantastic the weather was that day. Really? Even with all that smog?

While I had heard prior tales of reaching the peak and not being able to see much owing to thick fog, made worse by the bothersome monkeys, I did not meet either the one nor the other.

Which is excellent, since I don’t like fog and I definitely don’t like monkeys!

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Perhaps I was lucky, since after climbing the last cold stairs (lost my balance more many time, knowing there was a railing to grab on to), I eventually ascended to the- above the smog line and was rewarded at the 3,099 meter (10,167 ft) high peak:

I was lucky and ended up meeting a fellow American (and a Californian at that!) along the route who I was able to share a room with that night, as most hotels dear ones charge a minimum of 300 RMB (50 USD) per room! I wanted to watch the famed dawn, though, and it appeared like there was no alternative but to pay for it.

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In the end, I was delighted I paid, since even if the monastery 10 kilometers down cost a lot less, I would never have seen this:

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Do it yourself:

  • Getting there: Buses travel routinely to Emei town from Xinnanmen bus station in Chengdu, or from Leshan, where another renowned gigantic Buddha monument is located. The travel takes roughly 3 hours, with the first bus leaving at 6:30am. There is also a railroad station in town
  • Arriving reaching the Emei city bus station, it is relatively simple to cross the street and wait for the local green bus number 8. It is difficult to take it the wrong way because the bus line starts at the bus station and finishes at Emei Shan gate, so you truly can’t go wrong. The local bus costs 2 RMB and a cab will be closer to 20 RMB.
  • Stay: I slept at the Teddy Bear Hotel which offers great accommodations, good pricing, and will enable you to leave your stuff there while hiking. They are also located immediately adjacent to the bus station which serves the Emei Shan bus route. Even better, they include a very informative map of the Emei Shan climb (which is NOT included in the admission or ticket fee for Emei Shan!)
  • Hike: Please carry food and snacks for the trek since they are offered at outrageous costs towards the summit
  • Bamboo walking sticks are sold at the start of the journey. It’s a good idea to get one to aid with the climb and to frighten away the monkeys
  • There are various trail gates where you can buy tickets for 185 RMB or 90 for students (however if you appear like you are of student age, attempt to pass any ID like ID) (although if you look like you are of student age, try to pass any ID like ID). student and it will probably work. I did it with my driver’s license). I started at the Wannian temple which is 30km from the peak. From there it is feasible to do a day walk to the peak if you start early enough and are in excellent shape. Go to Wannian by obtaining an RMB 40 return bus ticket from the station close to Teddy Bear Hostel
  • If you end up spending the night on the mountain, which you’ll have to do if you walk all the way, keep in mind that the monasteries are the cheapest but you won’t be able to stay at the top, where the least expensive rooms expensive ones cost more than 300 RMB per night (without heating or even running water) (without heating or even running water). Nevertheless, if you’re hiking in the winter, going to the summit in the dark for sunrise can be treacherous and very slippery in snow and ice, and the gondola doesn’t start in time to carry you up to sunrise. sun, thus it might be worth the investment. In the summer I stayed a bit further from the summit and ascended to the top with a headlamp before the sun came up
  • Travel back down by foot, via gondola or by bus

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I have been living in Southeast Asia for over five years and I love to share my experiences on this blog. You will find stories about my daily life, as well as my travels around the world. From exotic tastes to stunning views and funny encounters from across the globe, join me on my amazing journey at

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