Making the most of my aunt and cousin being in Chengdu, especially with the good weather we had in June, I took them on a trip to Qingcheng Mountain, one of China’a famous Taoist mountains. There are two sides to the mountain, both supposedly offering a different experience – Qingcheng Front Mountain, and Qingcheng Back Mountain.
According to my research, the back mountain is more “natural”, a slightly longer hike and the less touristy of the two (despite entrance tickets costing only 20元!). My research told me that the front mountain, while costing 90元 to get in, was more touristy, easily done in a day and also had more temples to see. Being slightly time conscious, and also wanting to show my family the best that Chengdu has to offer (nature and temples), we opted for the front mountain. I will write a post comparing the two sides when I, eventually, make the trip to the back mountain!
Getting to Qingcheng Mountain
Getting to Qingcheng Mountain is also very easy. Although taking the train is the quickest way, we chose to take the bus (personally, I much prefer the ticket buying process at the bus station than at the train station). We got a bus (approximately 25元) from Chengdu Xinnanmen Bus station and, although the ticket said front mountain, when we neared the back mountain people were given the option to leave.
The bus actually dropped us off at the train station where we were all told to get off and take a second “local” bus to the main entrance. The bus driver must have taken pity on us “poor foreigners” because he came over to us while we were waiting and said he’d drop us off at the mountain car park for free. The ride from station to the car park wasn’t far at all but it was nice to save a bit of hassle and time.
Now, the car park is still about a 10 minute walk to the entrance itself and, as many tourist sites do, people were there trying to squeeze a bit more money out of us. We were given the option to take another vehicle (more like a big golf buggy) to the entrance for 10元 per person. But, as we’d gone to the mountain for a hike, we decided an extra few minute walk wouldn’t make much difference.
[TIP: Prices in the car park were inflated, but prices inside the mountain gates were even higher. I’d recommend coming prepared with some water an snacks, as buying them outside of the site is a lot cheaper.]
Some people may expect a mountain trek to be pretty rough, but Qingcheng Front Mountain has a mostly paved route with a lot of steps. There is also the option to take a cable car part way up or down the mountain (or both). Cable car tickets cost 35元 for one way or 60元 return. Although, if you do decide to walk, which we did, there are a few temples to see along the way (so plenty of opportunities to take a rest). I can’t remember exactly but it took us about 3-4 hours to hike up, and about 2-2.5 to hike down.
Depending on which route you take, there is also the option to take a 5元 boat ride across the lake. We hit this point on our way down and, even though the boat ride was only a couple of minutes long, it was nice to rest our feet for a moment.
Now, the top of Qingcheng Front Mountain maybe isn’t as impressive as, say Emei Mountain, but the mixed feeling of relief and achievement when you make it to the top is pretty great all the same. Also, looking out at trees upon trees is pretty refreshing when living in a big, bustling (and often polluted) city.
Getting Back to Chengdu
Getting back to Chengdu was equally as straight forward. When back at the car park, you could either take the small local bus to the train station where you can take a bus or train back to Chengdu, or, if available, you can wait around for a bus heading back to Chengdu straight from the car park. We did the latter (despite being harassed by and nearly giving into men trying to sell us a ride back in their vans). This bus took us back to Chadianzi station in Chengdu, where we got the subway back home.
[TIP: Chances are you will be pestered by people trying to sell you a ride home. If you don’t want to do this just very sternly say no, or use my one of my two most commonly used phrases here in China: “不要(bùyào)” – “don’t want” or “听不懂(tīngbudǒng)” – “I don’t understand”]
All in all, we had a good day. We left Chengdu in the morning and were back in time for a well deserved dinner.