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Qingcheng Back Mountain

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Mark Hiew (more chengdu)
M ost people who’ve been in Chengdu for more than a few weeks have probably made the two hour trip out to Qingcheng (Azure City) Mountain, the scenic, easily hike-able Taoist mountain that makes for an ideal, if often crowded escape from the chaos of the city. However, not as many visit the lesser-travelled Back (“hou”) Mountain, which is about 15 km or so from the main mountain’s entrance. But if you’re looking for something more natural and challenging, as well as for a way to escape the tour groups of the main mountain, Qingcheng Back Mountain makes for a more scenic and significantly more tranquil experience.

After getting off the bus at the front of the mountain, listen out for hawkers looking to take you to the Back Mountain by private car. (10-15RMB each person) Be careful, though: make sure you agree on a price beforehand, and don’t let them waver. Halfway to the mountain, our sneaky driver stopped and tried to increase the price on us.

Once there, it can be slightly confusing knowing which way to go, but don’t worry, just ask the locals. There are actually several routes over the 20 km of trails, some recommend Five Dragon Gorge (Wulong Gou), but all of them offer plenty of scenery along the way. Cable cars are available along the way as well. The routes suffered quite a lot of damage from the Wenchuan quake, so be prepared to step over fallen paths. It may be challenging for some, but those of reasonable fitness should be able to still complete the trek without problems. It’s about a six-hour round-trip to the 2128m peak of Yinghua Mountain, but make sure to get an early start.

Until something more regulated comes along, it can be frustrating getting back to Chengdu. Be back at the main bus lot before 6:00 pm, and be prepared for long waits on the sometimes crowded buses. Just make sure they’re taking you to “Xinnanmen” station, and not “Chadianzi,” unless you want to be dropped off outside the 3rd ring road.

Getting there: Buses to Qingcheng Shan leave from Xinnanmen bus station regularly (7:40am-2:00pm; 2hrs; 22RMB). From the main station you’ll have to take another private car to the rear mountain (10-15RMB each).
Food and accommodation: There are many monasteries to stay at within the front mountain, the back mountain has little available. There are several restaurants at the base of it, but for accommodation, you should try Tai’an, a nearby township.

Qingcheng Back Mountain
Qingcheng Back Mountain