What are the Five Great Mountains in China?

Speaking of long Chinese history, religious culture and distinctive natural scenery, the Five Great Mountains (Wu Yue) are the best destinations to discovery once for all. Despite the lower height than those high mountains like Mount Emei (3099m) and Mount Wutai (3058m), the five in different directions are known far and wide as the great figure of Chinese nation, through the combination of worshipping tradition of ancient mount gods, theory of five Taoist elements (Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Soil) and mountain apotheosis from emperors. As the popular saying goes, trips to China's five great mountains belittle trips to other mountains unnecessary (五岳归来不看山). Moreover, the starring five famous mountains in China are still major ashram of Chinese Taoism, where each own typical characteristics with both scenic and cultural significance. Now, follow our The Five Great Mountains in China list to decide which one to visit in 2024.

1. Mount Tai (泰山 - Eastern Yue) in Shandong - Top of China’s Five Great Mountains

TripAdvisor Impression: Great Cultural Experience & Nice Hike, Impressive, China Highlights, Breathtaking with Good View, Cool Experience, etc.

Type: UNESCO Natural and Cultural Heritage, World Geopark

Elevation: 1545m (5069ft)

Difficulty Rating:

Highlights: Dai Temple, Red Gate Palace, Eighteen Mountain Bends, Jade Emperor Peak, Tianzhu Peak, Four Natural Spectacles, etc.

Ticket: CNY 115/pp

Location: Daiyue District, Taian City, Shandong Province

Transportation: about 80 km from Jinan City (Capital of Shandong) for 1 hour and 85 km to Qufu City (Hometown of Confucius) for 1 hour.

Well-known as the epitome of Chinese Civilization and symbol of Chinese Ethos, Mount Tai ranks first among the five great mountains in China with credit of World Natural & Cultural Heritage and World Geopark. Even, image of Mount Tai is printed on back of 5 Yuan RMB note. Long before, Taoism and Buddhism recognized it a sacred mountain of Buddha and bequeathed lots of historical relics, architectures like temples, stone tablets and inscription. The ancients worshiped Mount Tai for its notion as the heaven straight to throne, so that more than a dozen of ancient emperors from Qin Dynasty to Qing Dynasty once visited it personally for apotheosis or sacrifice ceremony.

Located in middle Shandong Province, Mount Tai is called Mount Daishan, Daizong, Eastern Mountain and Dai Mountain. There are six scenic areas in Moun Tai, including areas of tranquil (幽区), spacious (旷区), mysterious (奥区), exquisite (妙区), beautiful (丽区) and elegant areas (秀区). The sunrise, sunset, the sea of clouds and golden belt of Yellow River are four natural spectacles on Mount Tai. Visitors can tour Mount Tai via four routes, the classic middle Red Gate Route is the highly recommended way to experience the most cultural and natural landscape in Mount Tai. You will begin from Dai Temple (岱庙 - a sacred Taoist temple built in Han Dynasty to hold worship ceremonies and kept most cultural relics of Mount Tai) to Red Gate Palace, then get to Wanxian Tower (万仙楼 - ticket office to start Mount Tai journey), and the terminal Jade Emperor Summit (玉皇顶 - highest point on main peak of Mount Tai) for about 4 ~ 6 hours’ hiking. Check more about Mount Tai.

It is recommended to spend 2 full days exploring the best highlights of Mount Tai including the Daimiao Temple (Museum of Taian City) at the foot of Mount Tai. You can also visit Mount Tai in a single day by taking sightseeing bus to Zhongtianmen, then hiking to the summit and descending by cable car. Taking a high-speed train and spending 2 more days, you can extend your trip to the nearby “City of Spring” - Jinan. Also, about 85 km from Mount Tai is Qufu, the hometown of the greatest sage of China, Confucius, and you may understand the deep-rooted Chinese culture as you stepping into the Confucius Temple. Besides these cities near Mount Tai, Shandong greets you with not only the splendid culture but also the beautiful coastlines. The refreshing ocean air from Qingdao blows the fragrance from the old Beer factories; the colorful kites fly over the city Weifang and swans in pairs nestle in the havens of Weihai by the shimmering sea...all of these highlights of Shandong can be covered in about 8 days. Check more about How to Get to & around Mount Tai.

☛ 2 Days Most Classic Mount Tai Hiking with Sunrise Tour

☛ 2 Days Mount Tai Qufu Tour from Beijing by Bullet Train

☛ 9 Days Shandong Panorama Tour with Cultural & Natural Exploration

>> Check more about Mount Tai Tours & China Taishan Mountain Trips

Mount Tai Four Tour Routes of Mount Tai (click to enlarge) Mount Tai Our Guest Hiking on the Mount Tai Mount Tai Our Guests at Dai Temple Mount Tai Our Guests Take a Photo with Confucius

2. Mount Huashan (华山 - Western Yue) in Shaanxi - Most Adventurous Hiking Mountain

TripAdvisor Impression: Well Worth the Effort, Breathtaking, Awesome Hike, Astonishing Scenic Landscape & View, Stunning Mountain, etc.

Type: National AAAAA Tourist Attraction, Historical & Cultural Site

Elevation: 2154.9m (7079ft)

Difficulty Rating:

Highlights: North Peak, South Peak, East Peak, West and Middle Peak; Western Mountain Temple, Changkong Plank Trail, Black Dragon Ridge, Thousand Feet Zhuang Path, Golden Locks Pass, Chess Playing Pavilion, Yuquan Temple, etc.

Ticket: CNY 160/pp (Mar ~ Nov); CNY 100/pp (Dec ~ Feb)

Location: Huashan Town, Huayin City, Weinan City, Shaanxi Province

Transportation: about 120 km from Xian City for 2 hours and about 65 km from Weinan City for 1 hour.

Mount Huashan is one of the Five Famous Mountains in China and the root of the Chinese Nation for being cradle of Chinese Civilization. It is also the origin of name of China (Zhong Hua 中华 and Hua Xia 华夏). You can not only challenge the world's most dangerous hiking trail, but also enjoy Taoist cultural relics from Quanzhen Taoism with gorgeous natural sceneries in this National AAAAA Tourist Attraction and China’s Most Popular Tourist Attraction in 2017.

Located in northeast Xian City of Shaanxi and central China, Mount Huashan covers about 148sq km with five peaks standing in four directions and middle position. The North Peak (北峰 Yuntai Peak 云台峰 - 1614m) with platform is the best place to view other three peaks and Black Dragon Ridge (苍龙岭 - major risk of Mount Huashan located in south Jiukutai and down Wuyun Peak). The West Peak (西峰 Lotus Peak 莲花峰 - 2082.6m) sharped from a complete giant stone is a best viewpoint of sunset and it is full of natural landscapes with mysterious Chinese legends such as a yong boy named Chenxiang breaking open the mountain to rescue his mother. The South Peak (南峰 - 2154.9m) is the highest peak of Mount Huashan as well as the highest among the five famous mountains in China. It is made up of Luoyan Peak in the west and Songhui Peak in the east and the most dangerous Changkong Plank Trail of hiking stands west of the South Peak. The East Peak (东峰 Chaoyang Peak 朝阳峰 - 2096.2m) consisting of four hills is known as best place to view sunrise. A giant hand print-like marbled stone is the famous Huayue Fairy Palm (华岳仙掌) on cliff of East Peak. The Middle Peak (中峰 Peak of Daughter Yu 玉女峰 – 2037.8m) has many sites related to local folk story. Check More about Mount Huashan.

Two days are recommended for a classic Mount Huashan tour to experience thrilling hiking and enjoy charming natural scenery on the five peaks. With the help of cable cars, you can also finish Huashan hiking in a single day. Xian is only about 123 km away from Mount Hua and people are able to transfer in just 40 minutes by high speed trains. Visitors usually spend 2 ~ 4 days visiting Xian and Huashan. When you are in Xian, the Terracotta Warriors and Horses buried for more than 2000 years is definitely a must-see. And it would be a pleasant experience to take a stroll or rent a bike on the Ancient City Wall, the largest and best-preserved ancient city wall in China. Apart from that, the Buddhist culture demonstrator Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, symbol of Xian the Bell Tower and Drum Tower, the snack street Muslim Quarter, bright pearl in ancient capital Shaanxi History Museum, etc. are also worth to go. Check more about How to Get from Xian to Mount Hua.

☛ 2 Days Terracotta Warriors Tour with Mount Hua Hiking

☛ 3 Days Xian Mount Huashan Leisure Tour (Best for Families and Seniors)

☛ 4 Days Xian Highlights Tour with Mount Huashan Hiking (Most Recommended)

>> Check more about Mount Huashan Tours | Xian Huashan Tours

Mount Huashan Tourist Map of Mount Huashan (click to enlarge) Mount Huashan Beautiful Scenery of Mount Huashan Mount Huashan Our Guest Hiking on the Mount Huashan Terracotta Warriors and Horses Terracotta Warriors and Horses

3. Mount Hengshan (衡山 - Southern Yue) in Hunan - World Natural & Cultural Heritage

TripAdvisor Impression: Buddhism & Taoism Culture, Great Mountain & Great View, Excellent View & Little Tired Climbing, Misty, Fresh Air, etc.

Type: UNESCO Natural and Cultural Heritage, National Nature Reserve

Elevation: 1300.2m (4266ft)

Difficulty Rating:

Highlights: Nanyue Temple, Zhurong Peak, Nanyue Ancient Town, Cangjing Temple, Longevity Vessel, Dashan Temple, Hengshan Gateway, etc.

Ticket: CNY 80/pp

Location: Jinsha Road, Nanyue Town, Hengyang City, Hunan Province

Transportation: about 150 km from Changsha City (Capital of Hunan) for 2.5 ~ 3 hours and about 7 km from Hengshan West Railway Station for 10 minutes.

Situated in middle Hunan Province, Mount Hengshan is a National Nature Reserve and holy land of Chinese Taoism and Buddhism with more than 200 temples. It is said two of the Sarira of Shakyamuni Buddha are reserved in the stupa of Nantai Temple on Mount Hengshan.

Covering an area of 640sq km, Mount Hengshan has 72 peaks with length of 38km and width of 17km. The Zhurong Peak (祝融峰 - 1300.2m) is the highest peak among all peaks and the main one where Zhurong Temple (祝融庙 - ancient Taoist temple to commemorate merit of Zhurong - God of Fire) stands. The Huiyan Peak (回雁峰 - 96.8m) - the head of 72 peaks in south-north direction initiated the history of making pilgrimage in Southern Mountain. And the Yuelu Mountain (岳麓山 - 300.8m) - fishtail peak is famous for the Yuelu Academy (岳麓书院 - Top of China’s Four Ancient Schools) and Ancient Lushan Temple (古麓山寺 - origin and center of Hunan’s Buddhism) of over 1700 years’ history.

Mount Hengshan as the “ Elegant Mountain” among the five, Mount Hengshan has beautiful and elegant sightseeing for the nature admiration of visitors, such as flowers in spring, verdant pines and cypresses, mist and clouds in summer, sunrise and sunset in autumn, sea of clouds and rimes in winter, etc. An essence Mount Hengshan tour within two days is the most popular route to deeply experience its beauty and Taoist culture.

Furthermore, Hunan is a beautiful destination to discover more nature miracles, ethnic culture and history of China. Most visitors plan 4 ~ 5 days in Zhangjiajie to discover the top nature highlights without missing Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Wulingyuan, Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, Tianmen Mountain, etc. It is also quite popular to enjoy Zhangjiajie with Fenghuang Ancient Town (1 day) into about 5 days. Besides, Changsha as a traffic hub city is also popular to spend 1 ~ 2 days for its snacks and culture before / after discovering other places in Hunan. If you are interested in Chinese history and culture, you are also recommended to extend to Shaoshan (hometown of Chairman Mao) for 1 day, Yueyang (home of Yueyang Tower) for 1 day, and so forth to explore more natural and cultural beauty of Hunan. Check more about 12 Things to Do in Hunan.

☛ 4 Days Zhangjiajie Exciting Adventure with Glass Bridge

☛ 5 Days Amazing Zhangjiajie & Fenghuang Ancient Town Tour

☛ 7 Days Hunan Discovery Tour from Changsha

>> Check more about Hunan Tours & China Hunan Tour Packages

Mount Hengshan Tourist Map of Mount Hengshan (click to enlarge) Yuelu Mountain Yuelu Mountain Zhangjiajie Our Guest at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Fenghuang Ancient Town Amazing Night View of Fenghuang Ancient Town

4. Mount Songshan (嵩山 - Center Yue) in Henan - Exploration of Shaolin Martial Arts

TripAdvisor Impression: Stunning Views, Great Walk, Hiking and Meditation Combined, Beautiful Breathtaking Scenery, Definitely Worth It, etc.

Type: World Geopark, Natural Geologic Museum, Nature & Culture

Elevation: 1512m (4961ft)

Difficulty Rating:

Highlights: Shaolin Temple, Shaolin Pagoda Forest, Yongtai Temple, Songyang Academy, Zhongyue Temple, Junji Peak, Pagoda of Songyue Temple, Luya Waterfall, etc.

Ticket: Shaolin Temple Scenic Area: CNY 100/pp; Songyang Scenic Area: CNY 80/pp; Zhongyue Scenic Area: CNY 80/pp

Location: Dengfeng City, Zhengzhou City, Henan Province

Transportation: about 80 km from Zhengzhou City for 1 ~ 1.5 hours and about 70 km from Luoyang City for 1 hour.

Mount Songshan in central China is the principal headstream of Chinese civilization and a World Geopark listed by UNESCO. History of Mount Songshan dates back to 3.6 billion years ago, thus it is renowned as the Natural Geologic Museum and ancestor of mountains. The attraction of Mount Songshan lies in the rare geological heritage, but also in the numerous cultural and historic relics left by frequent visit of ancient kings, literates, Buddhists.

Mount Songshan mainly includes three regions: Songyang Scenic Area - Taishi Mountain (location of main peak of Mount Songshan) and Shaolin Scenic Area - Shaoshi Mountain (seat of Shaolin Temple) and Zhongyue Scenic Area. Western Shaoling Scenic Area (少林景区) on Shaoshi Mountain is a world-renowned tourist destination as the significant birthplace of Shaolin Martial Arts (Shaolin Kungfu) and dreamland of Chinese Kungfu fans in China. Departure from Shanhuangzhai (三皇寨 - a pristine mountain fastness at foothill) for your Shaolin tour, you will visit Shaolin Pagoda Forest (少林塔林 - the largest tower complex with the most ancient pagodas) and the world-famous Shaolin Temple (少林寺 - cultural holy land of mysterious Zen and superb Shaolin Kungfu, which is located at 300m of east Pagoda Forest) where Shaolin Martial Arts originated, then you can visit Erzu Convent (二祖庵 - the tallest building on Shaoshi Mountain) by cableway or go to northwestern Chuzu Convent (初祖庵 - World Cultural Heritage as the oldest and most valuable wooden architecture in Henan Province) and Dharma Cave (达摩洞 - stone cave where Bodhidharma thought Zen philosophy for nine years). Then you hike further to Yongtai Temple (永泰寺 - the first Buddhist nun temple). Shaoshi Towers and liantian Peak (连天峰 - the highest point of Mount Songshan) are on your way down the Shaoshi Mountain. Check more about Mount Songshan.

Mount Songshan is divided into Shaoshi Mountain and Taishi Mountain, with Shaolin Temple on the Shaoshi Mountain. If you have only 1 day, then it's suggested to visit Shaolin Temple and other classic attractions in Shaoshi Mountain. After visiting Shaolin Temple, tourists can visit all halls in the temple and watch the Kung Fu Performance, then visit Pagoda Forest in the temple. After that, take a cable car from the cable station behind Shaolin Temple to Sanhuang Village. If you have 2 days, you can almost visit all highlights of Mount Songshan. If you have one more day and are quite interested in ancient Chinese culture, Luoyang is another must-visit destination in Henan. The awesome Longmen Grottoes stretching by the riverside and China’s first Buddhist temple - White Horse Temple are iconic sites for your Luoyang tour. Still, there are many remarkable cultural and natural sights in Henan worthy your exploration, including the spectacular Yuntai Mountain, mysterious Guoliang Village, interesting Yin Ruins of Anyang, ancient capital Kaifeng, etc. Check more about Top Henan Tourist Attractions.

☛ 3 Days Luoyang Shaolin Temple Mount Song Hiking Tour

☛ 3 Days Shaolin Kung Fu Tour including Luoyang Highlights

☛ 6 Days Henan Highlights Tour with Anyang and Kaifeng

>> Check more about Shaolin Temple Tours & Best Shaolin Kung Fu Tours

Mount Songshan Tourist Map of Mount Songshan (click to enlarge) Mount Songshan Amazing View of Mount Songshan Mount Songshan Our Guests at Shaolin Pagoda Forest Mount Songshan Wonderful Shaolin Kung Fu Show Longmen Grottoes Exquisite Buddhist Statues in Longmen Grottoes Mount Songshan White Horse Temple - the First Temple of China

5. Mount Heng (恒山 - North Yue) in Shanxi - Mark of Chinese Geography

TripAdvisor Impression: Sacred Taoist Mountain, Nice Hike, Nice Views, Lots of Steps, Incredible View from the Peak, etc.

Type: National Scenic Spot, Mountains, Nature & Parks

Elevation: 2016.1m (6615ft)

Difficulty Rating:

Highlights: Hanging Temple, Beiyue Temple, Golden Dragon Gorge, 18 Sights of Mount Heng, Peach Blossom in Spring (April ~ May), etc.

Ticket: CNY 45/pp

Location: Hunyuan County, Datong City, Shanxi Province

Transportation: about 10 km from Hunyuan County for 15 minutes, about 80 km from Datong City for 1 ~ 1.5 hours and about 60 km from Datong Airport for 1 hour.

Located in the northernmost in China among the Five Great Mountains, Mount Heng is a national scenic spot, an important ancient fortress and the only historic battlefield among the five great mountains. Besides the massive folk legends about it, Mount Heng is respected as holy site for Taoism with long history. Scenic spots mainly concentrate on Tianling Peak & Cuiping Peak in Mount Heng, which covers about 147.51sq km with an ambient conservation area of 359.62sq km.

Hanging Temple (悬空寺 - top spectacle of Mount Heng for its position of 50m from the ground & the only temple where Buddhist, Taoism and Confucianism coexist) at foothill and Beiyue Temple (北岳庙 - the grandest temple on Mount Heng) at hillside of south Tianling Peak are the most favorited attractions that you can’t miss. A two days classic Mount Heng tour including excellent natural views and cultural visit is highly suggested. The first day tour is comfortable and relax when you visit Group of Temples of Mount Heng (恒山庙群) in an adaptive pace. The next day tour leads you to Hanging Temple and back Mount Heng in the morning, Yongan Temple, Yuanjue Temple and Liyumei Tomb in the afternoon. Apart from those Taoist temples, you will enjoy various kinds of natural sightseeing of Golden Dragon Gorge (金龙峡 - middle of Tianfeng Peak and Cuiping Peak with the most narrow path less than 10m), ancient odd-shaped pines, Peach Cave and so on.

Datong is a historical city located in northern Shanxi province. For travel enthusiasts, it is a fascinating and attractive destination offering unique experience, especially cultural discovery - exploring world-famous cultural treasures, taking a pilgrimage to the holy Buddhist sites, being immersed in the antique flavor of the ancient city and so on. A classic Datong tour takes 2 days usually. On the first day, you are suggested to spend one day touring Hanging Temple which is about 70km away from Datong City. On your way back to Datong, you can take a short visit to Yingxian Wooden Pagoda, about 1 hour's drive from Hanging Temple. On the second day, you can visit Yungang Grottoes in the morning. After the sightseeing, you can visit the top attractions in the city area before you leave. If your time allows, it is highly recommended to extend your trip to Pingyao Ancient City and Mount Wutaishan, which are both listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Sites. Check more about Datong Trip Planner.

☛ 3 Days Datong Highlights Tour with Mount Heng

☛ 3 Days Datong Culture Tour with Hanging Temple

☛ 4 Days Essence of Datong & Pingyao Tour with Yungang Grottoes

>> Check more about Datong Tours & China Datong Trips

Mount Heng Tourist Map of Mount Heng (click to enlarge) Mount Heng Mount Heng - North Yue Mount Heng The Hanging Temple Yingxian Wooden Pagoda Yingxian Wooden Pagoda Yungang Grottoes Yungang Grottoes

More Famous Mountains in China To Explore

Not only the Five Great Mountains, but there are many famous mountains in China that are worth to explore, such as the Highest Mountain in the World - Mount Everest, the Most Beautiful Mountain in China - Yellow Mountain, the UNESCO World Heritage Epic Site - Mount Fanjing, the World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site - Mount Emei, one of the 10 Most Famous Mountains in China - Changbai Mountain, etc. If you are interested in Chinese Buddhism and Taoism, you can also visit Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains in China and Four Famous Taoist Mountains in China. For more details and travel tips, please feel free to contact us.

China Famous Mountains

Explore More Famous Mountains in China


1. Seasons: The best time to visit mountains in China are Spring and Autumn when it is usually warm and sunny so that you can see the views of mountain clearly. You can also visit in summer as well as in winter, but you need to be prepared for sun protection and skidproof.

2. Travel Plan: Usually you need 1 ~ 2 days to visit. As most scenic spots have ropeways, if you only have one day, you can choose to take the cable car up and down the mountain, which is a good choice to save your time and energy. If your time allows, you can arrange a 2 ~ 3 days itinerary to fully appreciate the magnificent mountains in China at a leisurely pace.

3. Packing: Since the temperature in the mountains varies greatly, it is recommended to prepare a coat in advance. And you better dress in layers so you are prepared for whatever weather dishes out. Remember to wear comfortable hiking shoes for there are many stairs up and down and bring a light daypack, so that you could put some food, drink and other your necessary stuff in it and just take it when you hike.

4. Accommodation: Generally speaking, there are accommodations around the scenic spots, but the conditions are relatively average. It is highly recommended to go to the urban area around the scenic area for accommodation, there are many hotels and hostels for your choice. When you arrive, you could store baggage suitcases and travel bags in your hotels when touring around at the destination and take a light hiking backpack.

Travel with China Discovery

If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you could travel with China Discovery. Our private tour packages cover sightseeing, dining, accommodation, transfer, etc. And our local tour guide and driver will escort you to any destinations with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing. For more details about private tour with China Discovery, you could contact our professional Travel Consultant who would help tailor make your tour best suitable for your needs and budget.

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