The attractive Huang Shan Mountain resort region, 80 mi/125 km south of Nanjing, is about a day's drive from both Hangzhou and Shanghai in Anhui province. It is not one of China's nine sacred mountains, but it may be the country's most beautiful peak nonetheless.
There are three routes to the top: the eastern stairs (most popular), the western stairs (long and steep) and a cable car (15 minutes). If you walk, it can take from four to 10 hours to climb to the top to view the sea of clouds stretching in all directions. The ascent is not like alpine climbing: Some 9,000 steps have been carved into the mountain, so it's like walking up the most stunning stairwell on Earth. (There are often three or four horizontal paces between steps up.)
You can descend the same day, but most people stay at a lodge near the top to watch the sunrise the next morning. A resort at the base of the 6,000-ft/1,800-m mountain offers hot-spring baths.
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