11 Days Free and Easy China Tour – Day 3 Tangkou Huangshan Jiulong Waterfall Park

Huachen Hotel to West Bus Station

This would be an exciting day as we prepared to move out of Hangzhou to Tangkou in Huangshan. We checked out at 6.30 am. The process was pretty quick. The staff from Huachen International Hotel were very efficient. They called two taxis for us to go to West Bus Station.

We could have checked out earlier and then crossed over a traffic junction to take bus 49 to West Bus Station.  Bus fare would cost only CNY 2 each. But with luggage to lug along and spending time to wait for the bus with an hour travelling time, we decided to take taxis to West Bus Station rather than incurring more stress so early in the morning. As we had already purchased our bus tickets for the 8 am ride so all we had to do was to show up on time.

The two taxis came shortly one after the other. We boarded the taxis and were on our way to West Bus Station. The taxis travelled along the perimeter road of Westlake. Road traffics were pretty light so early in the morning. We arrived around 7.20 am after about 40 minutes of taxi ride. We alighted near the main entrance not far from the McDonalds. So we conveniently went in to get breakfast. We bought some food to bring for the bus ride too. We also bought some rice dumplings on the second floor restaurant to bring along for the bus ride.

Bus from Hangzhou to Tangkou in Huangshan

Next we went through security to get our bags scanned and then entered the hall to wait for the departing bus for Tangkou. Not long after, we were allowed to board the bus near to 8 am. Surprisingly, the bus was so empty. Only our family with another couple as well as another woman made up all the passengers for the bus ride. The bus driver was a friendly chap. He told us we would be changing bus shortly because there were so few passengers during this off peak season.

When he had clearance to leave the bus station, we moved out and after a turn, he slowed down along the road where another bus was waiting just outside the bus station. We alighted and boarded this new bus together with a few more passengers. It was still less than half full on the bus as we moved off. The bus was clean and pretty comfortable as we sat in front enjoying the views as we pulled out of Hangzhou southward heading towards Huangshan.

We thought this was a direct bus trip to Tangkou in Huangshan but it turned out to be a bus taking on more passengers along the way at a few other stops. We even picked up a bunch of passengers from another bus along the road that seemed to have been broken down. By this time, the bus was rather noisy with a few passengers talking very loudly. Thankfully, they alighted at one of the towns we passed by. So passengers got dropped off along the way.

We also had a toilet break at one of the petrol kiosks. Fortunately, the bus ride was not too unpleasant and we arrived Tangkou before noon. We still recalled a horrible bus ride from Kunming to Dali some two years back where the travel time was so long due to having to make stops along the way to cater to different groups of passengers’ needs.

Check in and Lunch at Cheng Jin Hotel

We got down from the bus, collected our bags and walked down a very nice gate to town. What made us particularly glad was that Huangshan Cheng Jin Hotel was just right next to the gate on the left. It was so easy to get to the hotel walking less than two minutes after alighting from the bus.

Although the bus ride wasn’t a direct ride from Hangzhou to Huangshan, it was still pretty alright. The manageress from Cheng Jin Hotel actually came up to the bus to brief us before we alighted and she told us this wasn’t a direct bus ride due to the low season of the year. It was pretty understandable as it doesn’t make economic sense to ferry less than ten passengers on a big bus that could carry forty over passengers.

Checking in at Cheng Jin Hotel was a pleasure. The staff were so pleasant and helpful. We were given tour options and information on Huangshan. We were assured more details on hiking up to Huangshan would be provided after we had checked in and had lunch.

Shortly after, we were then given keys to our rooms. The rooms in this small little town near a mountain scenic area were very clean and modern as well. We liked the rooms with all the modern convenience and comfort. While the beds were a little hard, we didn’t find them very uncomfortable.

It was lunch time and we happily trod into the restaurant in the hotel. We were given some recommendations by the friendly manageress and so our order was made. Soon, all the dishes came. The food was great and tasted really good. There was also a 12% discount for hotel guests dining in the restaurant. It was a great lunch and we were very satisfied.

Plan for Huangshan Hike

Next was to discuss our plans for Huangshan. Originally, we were thinking of heading up Huangshan at one of the cable car stations to explore a little and then come back down from the same cable car station on the first day. We would then head up to Huangshan again the next morning via another cable car station to explore and return the same way.

However, the manageress explained that the usual way was to head up Huangshan from one cable station and descend from another cable car station. This would reduce cost as well as we could see more of Huangshan that way. Moreover, they don’t recommend back tracking on Huangshan during the hike. Our concerns were it might take too long and too much effort to hike Huangshan and we had only one day the next day before heading over to Tunxi for the night.

The manageress then assured us that it was doable just to head up to hike Huangshan early morning. There were different trails to take. She showed us on a map which trail we should take that would not take too long and too much effort. We might need just about five hours and then return for lunch before heading over to Tunxi. So we took her advice having seen the trail on the map of Huangshan for the next morning’s hike.

Cheng Jin Hotel to Jiulong Waterfall Park

After this, she recommended we spent the afternoon to visit Jiulong Waterfall Scenic Area not very far away. Entrance fee was CNY 65. We found out later that entrance fee was CNY 85 had we made our own purchase at the entrance. So Cheng Jin Hotel saved us CNY 20 each. Transport cost for a van for our family was CNY 150.

So we left Cheng Jin Hotel around 1.45 pm. It was just a 20 minutes ride away and we arrived at the entrance of Jiulong Waterfall Park. The friendly driver helped us buy entrance tickets. We arranged with him to pick us up in about 90 minutes. Outside the park is a giant sign board with information on the scenic spots and its hiking trails. With tickets given to us, we entered the park.

Hike up to Jiulong Waterfall Park

Just after the entrance, we came to a pond with a lot of koi. Not very far from this pond, a small waterfall was already visible. The water was crystal clear and the place was so beautiful. Our excitement to explore this scenic park was triggered. This entrance area was already very nice and peaceful. It was so calm here and on this winter day, the weather was very good. It wasn’t cold at all as we made our way further into the park on an upward hike.

Part of the mountains of Huangshan could be seen. Walking further into the park wasn’t very tiring yet as the stairs were quite gradual in a park like environment. The whole area was very clean and well kept with nice shelters and resting places along the way. Signage was sufficient and clear that showed different parts of the waterfall park as we made our way up.

Not long after, we came to a very nice stone bridge that spanned across the waterfall stream which was quite dry during this time. It wasn’t raining season now so the waterfalls weren’t that impressive. But water streams could still be seen. The railings along this bridge were wrapped with red clothes and papers as though this bridge was a gift wrapped with plenty of wrappers as a welcome gift for arriving visitors. This place was pretty too, a good spot to stop a little while to take in the sight.

Midway at Jiulong Waterfall Park

Near the bridge is a temple. There are stone seats and tables for visitors to rest and perhaps have a picnic during the hike up the waterfall park. This was another very serene spot just to rest and relax. The air was so fresh and the place was very quiet where we were the few visitors enjoying ourselves there.

After a short pause, we moved on upwards. As we hiked on, the area took a change in landscape. There were plenty of bamboos along both sides of the walking path. The very nice gradual stone paths turned upwards into stairs and a small waterfall came into sight. Moving upwards, the water stream became more interesting and pretty. The rocks along the stream were quite unique with names given to them. More small waterfalls were seen on the way.

More stairs with steeper gradient greeted us into this more secluded part of the waterfall park. We were getting a little tired by now as we trod on upward. Signage along the way showed the way forward with indicative distances between the scenic spots. It was more encouraging to know how much more we needed to walk and how we should pace ourselves.

Near Top of Jiulong Waterfall

Eventually, we reached a spot that was already quite elevated from where we started at the entrance. We had reached the ninth waterfall. After crossing a wooden bridge across the waterfall stream, we arrived at the base of a huge waterfall on the top part of the waterfall park. There wasn’t much water coming down from the top of the rocks during this time of the year. The spot here was nevertheless another great place to park ourselves to enjoy this scenic area with tranquility that so often eluded us city dwellers so accustomed to running hither and thither in a fast pace life.

The best part of this hike was we were the only visitors up here. We had the whole scenic spot to ourselves to indulge in some stress relieving therapy just to do nothing but to absorb the peaceful ambiance before us. The fresh air here did us good while further north of the country surrounding Beijing and further up were shrouded with dangerous smog where flights were diverted or delayed due to poor visibility. We were definitely thankful to be here rather than wearing N95 masks shopping in the haze choking cities.

This spot wasn’t the top end of Jiulong Waterfall Scenic Park yet. There is another 150 m to ascend to the top to the Dragon Pavilion. Looking up to the top of the waterfall from this base told us it wasn’t worth the trouble to hike up to a height close to the height of Bukit Timah Hill in Singapore. It was so steep to head up and those stairs upward certainly didn’t look very encouraging. We would rather conserve energy for the real hike of Huangshan the next morning. Huangshan was our primary objective so there was no point killing ourselves now with fatigue.

Descending Jiulong Waterfall Park

After spending sufficient time up here on the ninth waterfall, we descended back towards the entrance of the park. It was the same scenes all over again as we made our way down which was a lot less tiring.

So we passed the beautiful streams where the waters were running upon rocks where part of the exposed lengthy rugged rocks resembled the back of a dragon. It was interesting and nice too. We crossed a covered bridge and saw some more small waterfalls along the way and eventually reached the base of the park.

On the way down, we ran into some visitors coming into the park. We were glad we came earlier to enjoy this nice scenic area with much peace and calm. We then exited Jiulong Waterfall Scenic Park to look for our driver. He was already there waiting for us. So we boarded the vehicle and made our way back to Tangkou.

Shop at Bakery Returning to Tangkou

Along the way, we chatted with this very friendly driver who told us many things about this area and tourists he met during these many years in the tourism industry. It was an interesting insight into this area and behaviour of tourists from different parts of the world. He mentioned he could tell by the dress sense and behaviour of visitors which countries they were coming from. Thankfully, visitors from Singapore left quite a good impression to the locals here.

We then asked if he could stop us at a bakery so we could buy some food. He happily obliged and brought us to a very nice bakery quite a distance away from Cheng Jin Hotel. He told us we could hardly get good bread and cakes from those small bakeries near the hotel because this was a mountainous area and we couldn’t tell how many days those stuff had been left on the shelves. The cakes and bread might not be fresh.

So he brought us to a branded bakery where there are many franchises in the country. At least, this was a reputable bakery with higher turnover of their bread and cakes and freshness of their products would not be compromised. It was really nice and kind of him.

So we gladly entered this nice bakery. The bakery had very nice range of bakery products. One of the staff was recommending us to buy some cream puffs she said was very good. We trusted her and bought some together with bread and some other pastries. We also bought our friendly driver some nice bakery stuff. He mentioned they don’t usually eat such stuff but accepted them anyway.

Photo Taking of Huangshan Mountains

On the way back, he dropped us at an open area near a grand gate entrance with Huangshan mountains as a background for us to take some nice pictures before returning to Cheng Jin Hotel. The views of the mountains from this open area were fantastic. We couldn’t have come here on our own. So we had this opportunity to take some nice family pictures at this very nice spot.

We did it rather quickly as he had to stop his vehicle illegally. Once done, we quickly returned to the vehicle and after another few minutes on the road, we were back to Cheng Jin Hotel. It was only 4.15 pm when we reached the hotel. We spent about 90 minutes at Jiulong Waterfall Scenic Park which was really enjoyable, a very good warm up for our next day’s hike.

Explore and Shop at Tangkou Town

After freshening up, we explored the small little town just outside Cheng Jin Hotel. This small little town was quite interesting as well. Just across from the hotel, there was a man making noodles. A lady carrying a young child, probably his wife, was helping out. They were cooking the noodles outside their restaurant. Further away at the small parking area were more hawkers selling food stuff. A man was selling sugarcanes on his small truck. There were also small stalls along the street selling tea leaves and snacks.

There were restaurants in the area and shops selling many daily essentials. A 361 Sports shop was around the corner as well. Across the main road were more shops and restaurants that we didn’t go over to check out. The unmistakable sign of KFC was visible from across the road. This small town was really clean and tidy.

We spent quite some time inside a shop just opposite Cheng Jin Hotel. The owners of this shop happened to be relatives of the friendly and helpful manageress from Cheng Jin Hotel. Her niece was attending to us in the shop. We bought some tea leaves as well as different types of mushrooms from this shop. We were given good discounts too.

Dinner at Cheng Jin Hotel

It was getting dark and we were getting hungry as well. It was getting chilly too. So we returned to the restaurant in Cheng Jin Hotel where we had a nice experience during lunch. On top of the usual dishes, we ordered a nice bowl of chicken soup that was boiled with the different types of mushrooms from the mountain.

The dinner was very sumptuous and good. With 12% discount for hotel guests, we didn’t even consider venturing out to nearby restaurants for our meals. It started raining while we were having dinner. We were glad we were back in the hotel enjoying a nice meal.

The rained had stopped by the time we finished dinner. So it was time to venture out to town again to check out the vibes of this small interesting town. The ground was wet but the whole area was lit up nicely. After a quick walk around, we returned to Cheng Jin Hotel for the night.

Retire in Cheng Jin Hotel

It was time to shower and make ourselves comfortable for the evening. Watching TV and surfing the internet were part of our evening activities. The hotel’s wifi was pretty good and air-conditioning was fine. We had all the creature comfort in our clean and comfortable rooms. Although the beds were a little hard, it was bearable. These modern and clean rooms in a small town below a mountain scenic area were already a treat.

Soon it was coffee and tea time. Those snacks we bought at Super Bakery earlier were really good. It was a nice supper before heading to bed. We would need to get up very early to have breakfast and then take a bus to Huangshan Scenic Area for the cable car ride up the mountains. Sleeping late wasn’t an option. Greater excitement was coming in a couple of hours time.

Continue to Day 4

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