Emeishan has turned out to be the most frustrating stage of the journey so far. For the Giant Buddha(in neighbouring Leshan), we wasted a lot of time due to logistics (book your train tickets in advance so you don’t waste time waiting as they don’t allow you to buy train tickets for journeys that depart within the next 55 minutes). For mount Emei, it seems to be an odyssey.
The mountain itself is huge, with several clusters of temples along the way to the golden summit. However, getting any clear information is painful. At the tourist info of the train station, we tried to ask how long the entrance ticket (¥185) is valid for but nobody seemed to understand us and they kept pointing at different people for us to ask. Nobody speaks English, nobody wants to make a little effort and communicate with us through Baidu, gestures, anything.
We decided to try at the bus station and buy our tickets for tomorrow. At 6:30pm, there’s nobody to be found on the ticket counter anymore. We headed to the tourist information desk. After waiting for a while for the people in front of us to finish, the two ladies behind the counter stare at us blankly. A few seconds pass and they only reply “no English” when we say “nihao”. There’s no bus timetable / information to be found anywhere either.
A lack of English and lack of willingness to help like we haven’t seen anywhere else. Luckily, the staff at our hotel were very nice and finally we found out that the first bus is at 7am and the last one back at 5pm.
Prices for Mount Emei (per person):
- Entrance ¥185
- Bus round trip ¥90
- Cable car up ¥65
- Cable car down ¥55
- Baugou temple ¥8
- Fuhu temple ¥6
- Wannian temple ¥10
On the day of the visit, we set off at 8:15am from the bus station. The bus to Leidong parking lot will make two stops on the way in quick succession, the first to fill up its water tank and the second to check the tickets to the mountain. When the bus stops the second time, you’ll see everyone getting off. Just follow them, you’ll go through a ticket check or to buy the ticket if you don’t have it yet and you’ll board the bus again.
When you reach the parking lot, you’ll see a sign for a temple going up some stairs. Follow it for a kilometre and it will take you to the cable car.
At the drop-off for the bus nobody speaks a word of English, again. We ask for the cable car a couple of times only to be dismissed with a shake of the head and a hand gesture. When we arrive to the ticket office, the man was not in any mood to help. After several gestures explaining we wanted a ticket to go up and down, he kept repeating something to us in Chinese and looking at us blankly. It turned out it was the price. Why he didn’t type it on the calculator he had next to his hand is beyond me. He called two other men and they joined the staring fest. Finally one fourth man appeared who spoke English. All of this while a couple were trying to push in front of us on the ticket booth and putting their hands with the money through the window hole.
The cable car ride is short and fast but quite cool. It’s really misty so it looks like we’re floating in the clouds.
Once you get to the top is easy to follow the path to the golden summit. The statue itself is very impressive but unfortunately the day is super cloudy and we can’t see the mountains that surround it.
There’s loads of stands that sells snacks and a couple of hotels and restaurants. Food is not very impressive and it’s more expensive than in the village, as expected.
On the way back down, we take the bus to Wannian temple. From the parking lot, it’s 3 kilometres walk to the temple through forest and little villages. There’s quite a few steps but not very steep until you reach the bottom of the temple. Wannian is, in our opinion, the most beautiful of the temples we’ve seen.
There are supposed to be monkeys in different spots of the way but I’m guessing that they didn’t like the weather much either as they didn’t come out to say hi.
From the village, you can visit two temples without having to pay the ¥185 mountain fee: Baoguo and Fuhu (but you still pay entrance – see above prices). Baoguo is just 20 minutes walk away from the village and Fuhu is a bit further up. You can either walk to them or take the bus number 12. For Fuhu, take the number 12 to the last stop and then walk for around 10 minutes.
All in all, is a very pleasant visit although you feel a bit frustrated and ripped off at points. Some people like to hike parts of the mountain but personally I don’t see the appeal of it as it’s all a paved road that goes through tourist villages, hotels, etc, and the scenery, although beautiful, doesn’t change much.
You also get to walk quite a bit even if you take the bus, should you wish. Maybe we’re a little spoilt after coming straight from the stunning Tiger Leaping Gorge!