South-central China : Hubei : Wudang Mountains
The Wudang mountain range is located in the northwestern corner of the Hubei province. It is UNESCO world heritage site and it‘s main access town is Wudangshan town. From there it is another 45 minutes drive to Nanyan up in the mountains. You can stay there overnight. As this place is the main tourist draw the following article will mainly focus on the area around Nanyan.
The region around the Wudangshan mountains is the birthplace of the Taichi martial art.
The whole Wudang mountain range consists of a few tens of peaks. The hightest mountain is Wudang Shan with an elevation of 1612m.
Flora and fauna
It can be surprisingly cool up in Nanyan so depending on the season bring some warm clothes along with you. During the winter there is even snow in this region.
The main access town with the official gate to the national park is Wudangshan town.
The Wudangshan train station is a bit out of town and from there to the gate of the national park is a 20 minute bus/car ride. There are supposed to be green shuttle busses running between the train station and the main gate. If you don't see a bus in front of the station you can try to flag down one of the local buses towards right when you get out of the train station. Furthermore, there will be people with small minibusses standing in front of the train station willing to give you a ride to Wudangshan town and maybe even to the main gate. However, you have to bargain for the price. It should be not more than 50 Yuan for two people and certainly this is already too much.
From Xi'an it's about a 4 hours bus ride and if you are lucky you can manage to get one of the rare direct busses (maybe only 1 or 2 busses a day). Otherwise, you might have to go to Shiyan (this is not Xi'An!, beware of the pronunciation!) first (about 3,5 hours) and then take another bus to Wudangshan town (about 1 hour).
There is a direct train from Wuhan going to Shiyan. Wudangshan town is the second to last stop on this route. From Xi'an you might have to go to Ankang first and then switch trains.
The entrance fee to the park is an astonishing 240 Yuan per person (August 2013). 140 Yuan is the actual entrance fee and 100 Yuan are kind of a public transport flatrate inside the national park. The ticket is valid for the entire duration of your stay and there is no time limitation.
Inside the park there is a superb shuttle bus transport system. You can get to all the major tourist spots by bus. The service is included in your national park ticket and you can use the buses from morning to evening as much as you like. Buses are very frequent and don't let you wait very long. Sometimes they even depart with just two people inside.
There are plenty of things to see in the area and you can occupy yourself easily for a couple of days. In Nanyan there is a tourist information, where you can get an English map with all the major tourist spots mentioned in it. Unfortunately, the staff speaks only very little English and you shouldn't count on the information you get. Apart from this there are sign posts all around and it's really hard to loose your way. Especially on weekends and public holidays you just have to follow the crowd. :-) Bear in mind that the English translation on the signposts is not very consistent. "Nanyan temple" can be the same as "South cliff temple" or "South face temple" or "Cliff temple" so some fuzzy logic is needed to get around. :-)
You don't want to miss climbing Wudang Shan - the highest peak in the region. It's a quite strenous 3-4 hour walk up to the peak and it is almost all stone steps. The path can be really crowded but the views from the top are superb. The so called "Golden Tempel" is an amazing piece of construction work.
There are a lot of martial arts schools in and around Nanyan which offer courses also to foreigners. Even if you just want to get a glimple of the technique it's possible to participate only for one day.
See also this section.
As the birthplace of Taichi and a center of martial arts almost every second shop in Nanyan sells swords and other kinds of weapons.
Wudang mountains are also famous for tea which is a popular tourist souvenir and widely available.
There are a couple of small "supermarkets". However, their variety is very limited and it would be wise to buy any special stuff already in Wudangshan town.
There are a lot of restaurants along the main road in Nanyan.
There are no bars as Nanyan is only a small village. However, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a beer in a supermarket.
There are a couple of bigger and smaller family run hotels along the main road in Nanyan. It shouldn't be too difficult to get a double room between 100 to 150 Yuan. Weekend prices tend to be a little bit higher. However, if you stay longer you can always bargain.
There are supposed to be two direct busses from the main gate of the park to Xi'an. However, it is really hard to get any precise information regarding the departure times. As of August 2013 there is supposed to be a bus at 8 am and 2.30 pm. If you miss any of these you can also catch one of the frequent buses from the main gate to Shiyan (about 1 hour). From the main bus terminal out of town you can then take another bus to Xi'an. Try to get to Shiyan by noon as buses to Xi'an tend to be booked quickly and you might have to wait for a couple of hours in Shiyan. Also note that the bus terminal in Shiyan is out of town and if you arrive from Wudangshan you might have to change buses in Shiyan in order to reach the bus terminal. Just show the bus driver "Xi'An" and he will drop you at the right place for switching busses.