EXTRA: Road to Wutai Shan, Shanxi

(This article was published in the Shenzhen Daily on February 2, 2015.)

This gateway (牌楼) leads to an ancient castle (古堡​) off the road to Wutai Shan, Shanxi (山西, 五台山).

August 24, 2012 - Wutai Mountain is one of China's "Four Buddhist Mountains," and the third that I have visited. From Datong, the road led south, causing me to retrace some of my steps from two days prior. I actually saw the Wooden Pagoda from the bus window! We then sped across a plain and started climbing, with views of even more remnant towers from (one of) the Great Wall(s).

A young English-speaking tour guide from the mountain was making the trip with us after a visit home, and explained some of the sights to me. As we passed through a place called Shahe in Fanshi County, he told me that the people there were "very rich." It seems gold mining is one of the primary industries there!

A boisterous group of bus passengers all got off together before we had entered the north gate to the mountain (and bought pricey tickets for entry and the mountain's shuttles buses). They explained that they planned to hike to each of the five "terraces" for which Wutai (Five Terrace) Mountain is named, starting with the North Terrace which we were passing. Using a long lens (at the young guide's instruction) I looked toward the North Terrace and saw what appeared to be a rather large fort which he said had been built in the Qing Dynasty.

Finally arriving in the center of tiny Taihuai Town, I checked into my small hotel on "Ming & Qing Dynasty Ancient Street," not far from Shuxiang Temple. The hotel (surprisingly!) had an English-speaking concierge who was quite knowledgeable about the mountain, and would be a great help over the next four days.

GPS Info:
  • 39.09057, 113.6452


(Regarding problems with this map, please see the CHINA section on this page.)


More pictures can be found here.

Remnants of watchtowers on the road to Wutai Mountain

A gateway marks the road to Wutai's North Terrace

Hikers prepare to approach the North Terrace

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