Attractions include mountains much like those at Guilin, temples and other historic buildings, and raft rides down a sensational river canyon. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site both for its natural environment and for its culture.
Various court officials, poets and scholars have lived here. It was a famous retreat for such folk.
Ancient volcanic landscape that millions years of erosion has transformed into a maze of gorges, precipes and caves. Unearthly.
Flora and fauna
Lots of snakes, including many preserved in restaurants or pharmacies in town — snakes pickled in wine are a traditional Chinese medicine. You may notice that bird song is less common than in other places in China; this is mainly due to snakes. Going off the beaten path in forest areas without a guide is not recommended.
There are trains overnight from Xiamen and several hours from Fuzhou. There is one train from Beijing, it takes 15 hours, leaving Beijing in the afternoon and arriving at Wuyi Mountain early the next morning. From Shanghai to Wuyi Mountain it is 9 hours. Check a ticket website for schedules and costs.
There are buses from the train station that only come when a train is arriving and will take you to the resort area. Else walk to the main road for 7 minutes and find a No.6 bus that will take you to the resort area. See "get around" for more info on taking the bus.
High-speed trains are available at Wuyishan North Railway Station, with destinations covering Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen, Guiyang and more. This station is served by two bus routes to the resort area and a bus route to central Wuyishan City.
Wuyi Mountain has an airport with regular flights to major Chinese cities. A flight from Beijing takes a bit more than 2 hours and is available once a day. The airport is close to the resort area and a bus (No.6 runs just outside the parking lot, towards the resort you want to be on the opposite side) is easy to find until late evening. The airport express bus is useless and the operator will try to tell you to take a taxi instead. Unless you are uncomfortable with taking a bus to your hotel you should avoid the taxis. They will ask ¥30-40 for a 10min ride.
To get into the main body of the park costs ¥140 for 1 day, ¥150 for 2 days and ¥160 for 3 days. You must purchase the bus along with the tickets. ¥85 for 1 day, slightly more for 2 days and so on. You can purchase the rafting separately for ¥135 per person and pick a time. Note that there are only 8 times to go rafting and on weekends it can be very busy. A package deal for 2-days tour + rafting is ¥365 per person. You can do everything in one day if you rush but two days is more relaxed and enjoyable and thus recommended.
There is a ticker counter near the (closed) middle entrance, in the downtown Wuyi. This is operated by a tour operator, and they charge ¥25 extra for tickets. You get a voucher that you need to change into an ordinary ticket at the south (main) entrance, so this does not avoid any trouble there. The extra hassle and cost is worth it only if you need to be absolutely sure to get a ticket for rafting the next day, which might be useful during the peak season.
You can also buy tickets online from the official Wuyi Mountain taobao shop but it only works if you have a Chinese ID card.
The area is split up into 3 parts: Park Area (South and North) in the western part, Resort (like a city with lots of tea shops, not the actual city!) in the eastern part, City to the north of the resorts.
The local tourist agency can provide a guide and driver for a fee. You will get to see much more than just hiking on your own if you do know where to go and would only stop at the bus stops but you can also organize this yourself.
Entrance tickets to the main attractions of the mountain include bus transportation within that area. As of time of writing the entrance tickets must be purchased together even though the English signs split up the costs. You are only sometimes asked to show the tickets for buses but you definitely need to show the tickets to the attractions.
Bus No.6 will take you to the bridge that leads to the park area in the center section, stops many times in the resort area, then continues by the airport, train station (7min walk from the bus stop) and even further. It costs ¥1-3 depending on your distance, e.g. resort to train station is ¥3. There are also signs for other buses such as No.5 but it runs very rarely. There are alternative buses that run along the same route as No.6 and pick you up for the same cost as long as you tell the driver or assistant where you are going.
Do not use the motorcycle or bicycles. They actually charge you per person and are not worth the trip and will try to bring you to restaurants for extra commission. Take the mountain transportation to Wuyi Palace (Wuyi Gong) and walk 10min to cross the bridge. Taxis are always going to rip you off for ¥30-40 without meter, avoid unless you are in a hurry.
[info as of Oct 2014]
- Nine-bend river - There are really nice places along this river. Don't miss the lookout rock between Wuyi Palace and Shuiguangshi (the last area of the rafting), that is probably the best view in the area. It is also worth to climb some peak for lookout to other bends so just doing the rafting tour is not enough to enjoy the entire area.
- Water Curtain Cave - A waterfall (not really any cave) with a tiny shrine and a massive rock. Reachable via bus and then walking 20-30min to the base and then 5-10min up to the cave. You can walk a small tour and end up back at the main path to continue to the tea valleys (towards Da Hong Pao) or just return to the bus station.
- Eagle Beak Rock - Halfway between Water Curtain Cave and Da Hong Pao Valley. A nice rock shape but you can only walk past it within the valleys and no climbing is possible.
- Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe) - This magical and enchanted valley produces the best tea in WuYi Mountain and is a tranquil and beautiful place. The tourist stop is actually not the best to see anything but walking from here to the Water Curtain Cave goes through the tea valleys and past the Eagle Beak Mountain which is probably the best place to see in the northern area. The main area has a tea shop that has cheap tea in bowls as well as tea eggs but also very expensive tea for sale.
- Heavenly Tour Peak - Big stone peak with breathtaking views on the nine-bend river and surrounding peaks. You can only climb one peak these days unless you want to climb over the "do no cross" signs like some tourists do (no-one will stop you). The main peak can be really crowed and gets a little steep towards the end. From there you can have a little rest at the top (overpriced snacks and souvenirs) and return an easier route at the back for 1.5km. The Peach Blossom Cave is also 1.5km away but unless you are prepared for a long hike you will need to return the same way to the bus stops.
- Horse Head Rock - Great scenery, which includes tea fields, rocks and rural buildings. This spectacular area is almost completely omitted by local tourist because it is a far walk from the nearby bus stop. It could be closed off by the locals as this is not an official tourist destination.
- Tiger Roaring Rock - Great view on surrounding rocky area but now closed off to walk to the peak so actually you do not see so much from the "top". There are still really nice places to see and the path continues all the way to the Ray of Sky cave in the south.
- Ray of Sky - Two rocks leaning together and forming a thin long light shining down. There is one part to just take pictures and another one to walk through. The latter is not so recommended if there are lots of tourists because it gets really narrow (0.3m at one point) and people will go really slow, it's steep, the steps are tricky, dark and wet/slippery. Give this a miss if you are uncomfortable with crowds or spaces. When you reach the other side you are just going to walk down steps with little experience gained but crowding. The best part is just looking up to the gap from anyway. Also they placed the smoking area INSIDE the cave so this can get stuffy. You can reach this via bus or just walk from Tiger Roaring Rock.
- Spiral Cave - Not famous but just 200m from Ray of Sky. A rock is carved from the bottom which is an amazing structure. Go there for a photo if you are already nearby anyway.
- Jade Beauty Peak - You see this from the rafting and from the distance and can walk there from Tiger Roaring Rock but there is no much to see from close-up.
- Wuyi Palace - A temple with some display cases. This is included in the ticket prices and actually nobody checks tickets there because there is nothing to see. You can walk through it in 5 minutes and you will end up at this location for either the buses or the rafting trip so you might as well have a quick peak.
- Great King Peak - You can walk to this place from Wuyi Palace and even up to a nearby pavilion. Not done by most tourists as the rock can not be climbed and seen well from the resort, river, palace and event during the Impressions DaHongPao performance.
- Lotus Peak - Not much to see here and you have to hike here yourself from the north parking area.
- Wuyishan Museum. Small museum with 2 sections which is in a small tourist alley after you arrive from rafting and on the way to Wuyi Palace. One section explains the hanging coffins and another the local wildlife and scenery. As it is free you might have a quick break here because it is also cool. Displays have English and Chinese signs. Free.
Ride a raft down the Nine Bend Stream (九曲溪). The "rafts" are long tied bamboo rafts with about six seats. Life jackets are provided although the water is very calm and this does not require any rafting experience or effort on the part of the riders. Your shoes might get wet if you do not pay attention, especially on the little downstream parts. The river is quite shallow and not very wide. Two drivers use long poles to steer the craft down the water. The landscape is sensational, with sheer cliffs and tall mountains. It might get very hot so make sure you bring a hat or umbrella and sunscreen yourself first. Look out for the caves with very old coffins in them on the sheer cliff at the fourth bend. A "cruise" down all nine bends takes one and a half hours and is highly recommended. The price of the raft ride is regulated at ¥135 and tickets are obtained at the official ticket offices at both gates (South/North) with the South gate being where the rafting actually starts. You do not need to pay the entrance fee for the other attractions to do this trip as it is separate. If you understand Chinese you can pay 10 each to listen to the explanation about the area by the drivers. Chinese like to do this but honestly there is not much to hear that you can see from a map (Chinese tourists are not so good with maps). You do want to book ahead because the trips are often sold out on weekends. If you are there for a weekend then buy the ticket on Saturday for Sunday probably makes sense. There are 8 trips per day starting from 6:40, with 4 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. Going at 12 or 1pm is obviously hotter.
Only some areas are marked for tourists because the rest are not that famous and do not have buses stopping. You can hike to anywhere else but might have to walk along the roads and it is maybe not so enjoyable.
You can see the area as split into 2 parts. North:
- Water Curtain Cave [Bus Stop]
- Eagle's Beak Rock (on the way from Water Curtain Cave to DaHongPao Valley)
- DaHongPao Valley [Bus Stop]
- Wuyi Palace [Bus Stop] (also end point for rafting)
- Heavenly Tour Peak [Bus Stop]
- Peach Blossom Cave (reached from Heavenly Tour Peak)
- Roaring Tiger Rock [Bus Stop]
- A Ray Of Sky [Bus Stop] (walking path from Roaring Tiger Rock)
- Rafting Wharf [Bus Stop]
You may need to change several buses to get from one end to the other or from one location to another. Ask the local station attendant which bus to take, or just point at it no the map.
- Impressions DaHongPao. A 60-minute show about tea. Recommended for night activity (starts 7:30pm). 100s Actors, Beautiful Lightshow, Audience turns 360 degrees for different views. Awesome Mountain-View in the Dark. Produced by 3 famous Chinese artists (Zhang Yimou) and a franchise of theater shows around China (Haikou, Lijiang, Hangzhou). Just south of the resort area within walking distance for most resorts. You can book tickets from the hotel and maybe even get a discount that way. from ¥168 to 600 (VIP, not worth it).
- Action Sports. Talk to a travel agent such as the one at the bridge between resort and park to do all sorts of paragliding and similar action sports. Touts will offer you this randomly too which is not so recommended.
The area is famous for tea. A small pack costs a few ¥ and comes in several containers. The tea is generally the same but is filled by the shop itself fresh so that is why you might see slight variations as well. The big gift packs cost more just for the nice design. The prices at the DaHongPao valley are high; buy it in the resort area for a decent price.
Prices for tea in China are rather like prices for wines in the West; there is plenty of reasonable stuff at decent prices, but something that is either top-quality or rare can be quite expensive, and a product that is both may cost a phenomenal amount. The record is held by some tea off a few bushes halfway up a cliff in the Da Hong Bao valley, bushes whose product was once reserved for the Emperor. It fetched over $1000 US a gram at an auction in Shanghai!
See China#Tea for a more general discussion.
If you play the game of Go (wei qi in Chinese), look in the shops downtown for wooden bowls to hold the go stones. These are under ¥50 a set and look more-or-less identical to bowls sold in the West for several hundred US dollars. Be careful, however, to get bowls that are large enough; some of the ones sold here will not hold a full set of stones.
Snakes are used for Chinese medicine and you can find them preserved or as medication directly. Very expensive. Some of the restaurants display them in glass jars, apparently pickled, and offer expensive specialty dishes using them as an ingredient.
Lots of shops have wooden Buddha statues; they are almost the only thing to buy in the resort area aside from tea. Obviously a problematic purchase for overseas tourists since they are both heavy and bulky.
- Tea eggs. These are eggs hardboiled in tea with a little hole to let the taste fill the egg white. Nice cheap snack found anywhere in China but particularly good at WuYi Mountain if good tea is used. The ones at DaHongPao valley rest stop, for example, are usually really good, but at the rafting area you might just find lousy ones. ¥3 for one or perhaps ¥10 for three. Careful as they might be hot. Good to have with a cup of tea on the side.
Be careful that lots of restaurants list the prices per pound which will add up to quite a lot! The menu is mixed for prices per dish and you might not notice when you order. This is true for pheasant, rabbit and other rarities incl. bear and the expensive fish. The pheasants are only killed for you and you are probably expected to eat the entire animal. The restaurants in the Wuyi Resort area are overpriced and very oily with the dishes not being particularly good. Unfortunately there is not much choice for local food but it is not recommended to seek out the "土家" restaurants. Some motorcycle touts are in cahoots with these restaurants and will drop you off expecting you to go there, playing innocent about "oh I thought you said you want to eat dinner".
Ask the price before you order if you eat in any restaurants without menu given to you!
Go into real town in the evenings (8pm is good) when the local food stands make nice Fujian dishes for just a few ¥ although a little less sanitary than you might expect.
Although not very local there is a Dico's and KFC in the resort area. If you are avoiding the local restaurants (see above) then it might just be this or bread from the supermarkets/bakeries (which is also not very good).
- Tea. The area is famous for tea, in particular an oloong (lightly feremented as opposed to unferemented green tea or thoroughly fermented types with their stronger flavour) called DaHongPao. There are many tea shops and you can try it first before buying.
- Beer and Wine. There is local beer and wine but it is nothing special.
- Wuyi Mountain Water. Bottled water from the mountain (you could fill your bottles in the little rivers inside the park area for probably the same water). Do not drink the water from the larger rivers. ¥1 500ml.
- Home Inn (Wuyishan Dawangfeng), Beijing Villa, No.18 Yinpingfeng Road, Resort Area. Good location, simple but clean rooms. Restaurant inside. But no English menu. ¥150+.
- Dragon Resort. The staff is very friendly and the quality of the hotel is top! (A great) breakfast is included. ¥238 Double Bed Room.
- Andi Youth Hostel (安邸青年旅舍), Wuyishan jingqu sangu lan tang 16 （武夷山景区三菇兰汤16号）, ☎ +86 599 5231369. A small youth hostel located on the west side of the river opposite the resort area. Right at the foot of the mountains and within walking distance to the Wuyi Palace and Great King Peak. Very close to the Wuyi Villa Hotel. Dorm beds from 40rmb, twins from 88rmb and big doubles from 110rmb. The small bar serves beer, coffee, juice and tea. No food but a 5 minute walk across the bridge brings you back to the resort area where there are plenty of restaurants and a KFC. Very quiet and peaceful and the only place that doesn't have those annoying motorcycle touts. Also they have a small selection of decent bicycles for hire. As of 2014 their prices are now higher and the beds are rather hard.
Camping is not allowed in the park which does not mean that you can do it but if you get found someone might kick you out of the park area. As the area has snakes you might not want to consider doing this anyway.
The area of the park stretches further than the bus stop locations but the pretties part is within the rafting to the north gate.
The area is very safe. People are very friendly and touts are merely annoying. The staff of the park are helpful and emergency staff is available in case of accidents.
Do not hike outside the paths as the area has many snakes, some rather large too (rare as they would probably be caught for medicinal uses already).
There is an annual(?) bike race which will close the park partially, most likely the entire north side. You can probably still be in the park but the buses do not run at that time and the prices in town might be a little bit higher at the time. Not many tourists come to see this but the crew etc. will fill up more hotels.
Fly to another major city from here or take a train to Fuzhou, Xiamen. There are many tours through Fujian that include Wuyi Mountain mid-way through which might be the best way to tour through all Fujian has to offer (by tour bus) such as Tulou.