Guangzhou is located on Guangdong's lower plain, as the Pearl River nears its end. This broad, flat region is interspersed with only a few low mountains, Guangzhou's Baiyun being one of the most famous. However, ringing Guangzhou in the north is the start of numerous mountain ranges, many of which are accessible in less than two hours. It's easy in the city to forget about climbing entirely, or to rely only on trips to the popular Baiyun as an escape. Here I've compiled a short list of climbing excursions inside and outside of the city, many of which have been admired by the Chinese for thousands of years. We start with the closest and move further away as the list goes on.
1. Lianhua (Lotus) Hill 莲花山
Lianhua in eastern Panyu, near the river, is actually a series of hills, the tallest one over 100 metres. Once used as a navigational mark and even as a quarry, Lianhua is not known so much for hours of hiking, as for its unique scenery. Lianhua's natural beauty includes stone towers, cliffs and, at the right time of year, an abundance of spring flowers. Its man-made sites include a golden bodisatva, a Ming Dynasty tower, and of course the quarries, which date back perhaps 2,000 years. A lotus festival and peach blossom festival are held here every year.
Directions: Take metro Line 2 to Shiqi station. Take Shiqiao-Lianhuashan bus to Lianhua's small terminal. The bus ride takes about 15 minutes.
Price: 40 RMB, children's tickets are half-price or free
2. Dafu Mountain 大夫山
Located in the outer reaches of Panyu, Dafu Mountain is part of Dafushan Forest Park, the largest green area within Guangzhou at 9,000 acres. Mostly covered in evergreens, and cut through with streams and lakes, the forest park includes several hills. Dafushan is the largest, at 226 metres. Among many man-made features, is the ancient tomb of Son Kongfu, a fiftieth-generation descendant of Confucius.
Directions: Take metro Line 3 and get off at Shiqiao, exit C. Walk five minutes to Baiyue Square bus stop and take the 16 bus. Get off at Dafushan Senlingongyuan (forest park) bus terminal. The bus ride takes around one hour.
3. Phoenix Mountain and Longyandong Forest Park 凤凰山、龙眼洞森林公园
Forming a semi-circle to the north of the Long Dong suburb, Phoenix Mountain is one of the easiest mountains to get to from Guangzhou centre, being one of the first hills you will see to the northeast. A narrow winding road, frequented by cars, cyclists and hikers runs through part of the mountain and passes by a small lake area before ascending. Most paths cutting through the forested hill are small and infrequently used, including one long one which runs along the top of the mountain. Views inward towards Long Dong are not spectacular, but to the east hikers can see rolling hills, ponds and lush greenery.
Phoenix Mountain is today part of Longyandong Forest Park, a park recently formed out of five independent ones and including many other hills and mountains as well as the Guangzhou Botanical Gardens. The highest peak in Longyandong Forest Park (Tiehezhang Peak) is 390 metres.
Directions: Phoenix Mountain is along the route of the 84A city bus. Take metro Line 3 to Tianhe Coach Terminal, use exit B, cross the street and take the 84A bus east. Shortly after the bus turns left off of the main expressway (about seven stops after the turn) exit at Yushatan by the drive leading into Phoenix Mountain. Depending the traffic, the bus ride takes between 15 and 25 minutes.
For Longyandong Forest Park proper, take the 30 bus at the southern gate of Guangzhou Zoo. Exit at Longyandong Forest Park stop. It will take an hour or more.
If you’re heading there by car, National Highway 324 runs to the south and through parts of the park.
4. Jinkeng Forest Park 金坑森林公园
Just a little further east from the Long Dong area is Jinkeng Forest Park, which covers five million square metres. Jinkeng Shanding Gongyuan, the area's main peak, reaches to 400 metres and at the foot of the mountain is a large reservoir popular for fishing. Throughout the park runs an ancient spring called Julongguan. It is said that whoever can find the spring will get top marks on their exams.
Directions: From Tianhe Coach terminal, take the 637 bus, Luochongwei-Zengcheng bus or Jiaokou-Zengcheng bus. Exit at Jinkeng stop.
By car, National Highway 324 runs just to the south of the park.
5. Maofengshan Forest Park 帽峰山森林公园
To the northeast of Jinkeng is the more rural Maofengshan Forest Park. Maofengshan includes the highest mountain within old Guangzhou's historical districts, with a main peak at 535 metres. The park covers 4,500 hectares and holds a famous temple (帽峰千年古庙Maofeng Qian Nian Gu Miao) on the northern foothill of the mountain.
Directions: Take Maofengshan bus line from Tianhe Coach Terminal and exit at Maifengshan. Buses usually leave every hour, though for parts of the day they run every thirty minutes. The trip should take about an hour.
If you’re driving, Maofengshan is accessible from a smaller road off of National Highway 105. The road branches off east shortly after Taihe and immediately before Wayaozhuang.
Price: 10 RMB
6. Luofu Mountain 罗浮山
Luofushan, one of China's ten famous Daoist mountains, is just beyond the eastern border of Guangzhou District in Boluo County. It's actually part of a larger range which includes hundreds of mountains and nearly a thousand waterfalls. Chongxu Temple, a Daoist temple originally from the fourth century AD, rests on its slopes. It is also a source of various herbal medicines. Luofushan's highest point is Feiyunding Peak, at 1,296 meters.
Directions: Take Guangzhou-Huizhou bus at Tianhe Coach Terminal or any other large terminal. At Huizhou Coach Terminal, change to the Luofushan tour bus. It should take a little over two hours.
By road, National Expressway 324 runs just south of Luofushan shortly after exiting the district.
Price: 30 RMB Monday-Friday, 35 RMB weekends and holidays (temples are extra)
7. Liuxihe Forest Park 流溪河森林公园
Liuxihe Forest Park in Conghua in the northeastern corner of Guangzhou District was one of the first forest parks and covers nearly 9,000 hectares. Liuxihe's famous lake, actually a reservoir, is ringed by mountains, the highest being Jizhen Mountain, at 1,146 metres. Six mountains of over 1,000 metres are located in the southeastern part of the park, with Sanyatang Glen at Wuzhi Mountain covered in subtropical rainforest and dotted with caves. The Congua area itself is quite famous for its food, such as river fish and tofu, and holds a plum blossom festival from December to January.
Directions: Take the 601 bus at Guangzhou Jiao Xian Bus Terminal which is just by Guangzhou Provincial Bus Terminal. Exit at Congua Bus Terminal and change to Jiekou-Senlingongyuan bus and get off at the gates of the park. It should take between 2 and 2.5 hours.
Or take Guangzhou-Congua Jiekou bus at Gongyuan, Dongpu or Yuexiunan bus terminals. Change at Conghua to the Jiekou-Senlingongyuan bus.
In a car or taxi, National Highway 105 runs by or through Liuxihe about 90 kilometers from the city center.
Price: 30 RMB
8. Furong Mountain 芙蓉山
Just outside of Huadu is Furong Mountain, named for its rocks shaped like hibiscus flowers (furong). Furong Mountain is also known for Xishan Pubu, a waterfall of over 90 meters which is Guangzhou District's largest. At the bottom of the falls is an enormous man-made swimming area, spacious enough for ten thousand people. Large parts of Furong Mountain are resort-like.
Directions: Take Guangzhou-Furongzhang bus at Guangzhou Coach Terminal. It takes about two hours.
Price: 130 RMB
9. Xiqiao Mountain 西樵山
Just past Foshan to the west of Guangzhou, lies an aged extinct volcano, part of seventy-two peaks that make up Xiqiao Mountain. Coursed through with cliffs, valleys, ravines, pools and waterfalls, the mountain also holds cultural sites full of relics from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is one of the most famous mountains in Guangdong Province.
Directions: Take Guangzhou-Xiqiaoshan bus at Guangzhou Coach Terminal or Fangcun Coach Terminal. It should take about 1.5 hours.
Price: 50 RMB
10. Danxia Mountain at Shaoguan 韶关丹霞山
Danxia Mountain at Shaoguan is considered by many to be Guangdong's most beautiful spot, easily comparable to the greatest in China. It is sometimes called a little Guilin. “Danxia” is now a Chinese term for a unique kind of geomorphology, of which Danxia Mountain is a prime example. Danxi's red, sandy rock erodes into fantastic forms, similar to limestone, leaving numerous towers, cliffs and surrealistic stone formations. The broad expanse of Danxia itself covers 290 square kilometers, with many more in the greater park area. Bazhai Peak, at 626 meters is its tallest. Hundreds of peaks in fact rise out of the mountain, whose enormous environs includes cliffs, pillars, streams, lakes and a broad variety of subtropical foliage. Several Buddhist temples and numerous stone bridges highlight and intersect this natural Chinese marvel.
Directions: Take the train at Guangzhou East Railway Station or Guangzhou Railway Station to Shaoguan. On arrival, change to Danxiashan tour bus at Shaoguan Train Station. The whole trip will be around five hours.
Price: 120 RMB
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