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Visiting Emei Shan, China's Buddhist Holy Mountain in the West



Pronounced “eh-may shan”, meaning delicate eyebrow mountain in Mandarin, Emei Shan is the Buddhist holy mountain in the west. The other Buddhist holy mountains are A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the temples here are dedicated to the Bodhisatva Puxian (Samantabhadra).


Emei Shan is about 90 miles (150km) southwest from the capital of Sichuan province, Chengdu, in western China.


Emei Shan has been a Buddhist sanctuary since the third century when disciples of the Puxian form of Buddhism came and built temples to the Bodhisatva. In the ninth century, further temples were built when a delegation sent by a Song Dynasty emperor returned from India and stopped at Emei Shan. The Ming Dynasty also saw restoration of many temples as well as conversion of ancient Taoist temples to Buddhism.

Features & Attractions:

  • Follow pilgrims hiking to the 3,099m peak (plan for at least two days, more is better).
  • Join pilgrims and hikers watching the sun rise or set over the clouds at the summit.
  • Explore over 30 beautiful temples and monasteries along the hiking paths.
  • Play with (or avoid) the hundreds of monkeys that look for tourist handouts.
  • A cable car is available for non-hikers, as are porter-carried chairs.

Getting There:

Trains and long-distance buses run from Chengdu to Emei town. The trip takes 2 to 3 hours. One then needs to take another bus or taxi from Emei town to the village of Baoguo at the base of Emei Shan. The trail to the summit begins at Baoguo Si (Baoguo Temple).

Staying There:

If you are hiking in Emei Shan, staying in the monasteries that dot the mountains is the way to go. You’ll find simple and affordable accommodations with the monks. There are also a few hotels at the summit. It’s probably best to bring your own sleeping bag or sleep-sack as beds may not be the cleanest or the warmest.

There are also several small hotels and inns in Emei town where you can spend the night to get up early to start your climb to the summit.

When to Go:

Peak season are summer months: June-September. It’s best to climb between May and October. The mountain is open in the winter months, but appropriate gear is essential. Expect cool temperatures all year long and dress/pack appropriately for the elevation. Heavy rainfall can occur at any time of year so be sure to have rain-gear and proper shoes.
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