Huang Shan (黄山 in Chinese) is not easy to reach, but well worth the effort. Picture Avatar (the movie). Do you remember Jake Sully riding a dragon and flying among clouds in Pandora, over high peaks where little bits of vegetation clung precariously to vertical cliffs? This is what Huang Shan looks like, so if you want to feel like Jake Sully in Avatar, this is the place to go. Trust me. Okay, there are a few differences. First Huang Shan is not in another galaxy, but in China, in the Anhui Province, south-west of Shanghai. To get there, you need to reach Hangzhou (45 minutes fast train from Shanghai, although with recent train accidents in China, you may want to reconsider this option), then make your way to the West Bus Station. From there it’s still a three hour bus ride to Huang Shan City/Tunxi, the departure point for this fabulous place. There is actually an airport in Huang Shan, but it is tiny and only services a few domestic flights at certain times of the year. Once in Tunxi, you need to reach Tangkou (by bus or taxi), from which a local minibus service takes you to the bottom of the mountain. For the less adventurer, and 99.9% of Chinese tourists, there is a cable car up the mountain. If you want to do this, avoid weekends and Chinese holidays, or you’ll have to wait for two hours to get on. There are two other cable cars at separate entry points. A fourth is under construction. We did hike up, and it was great…. not many people around, and you have time to enjoy the scenery. Beware, it’s only steps though, which can be hard on your legs when you climb up to 1,800 metres. Most people prefer to take the cable car up and walk down. I would advise you to do the opposite and you’ll avoid the masses. The cliffs are amazing and you often find yourself walking over a narrow ledge overlooking a bottomless gorge… Phew! What makes the area special are the clouds, which envelop the mountain and keep changing pattern all the time. It’s truly magic. The other feature of interest is the pines that grow there, the Huangshan pine (Pinus huangshanensis). I can’t help wondering where they find enough substance to survive. I am sure you have seen old Chinese drawings of peaks with pine trees holding onto them – this is Huang Shan. I’ve been told that winter is a great time to go, with snow and ice offering a wonderful contrast to the valley below, but I’d be worried about the cold. There are four hotels or so at the top, most of them pretty good, and staying overnight gives you the opportunity to enjoy the place without masses of tourists. It is very special. You can enjoy the sunset and sunrise, and get up early to walk on narrow ledges overlooking an ocean of clouds, with just the sound of birds and cicadas (very loud ones) filling the air. You’ll come back changed forever. Did I mention that Huang Shan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? It is.