Mount Sanqingshan

Mount Sanqingshan
Photo by Els Slots.

Mount Sanqingshan National Park holds an outstanding scenery of granite peaks and pillars.

The area also has numerous waterfalls, valleys, lakes and springs. The massif is covered with temperate forest, home to rare and endangered plant species. Meteorological effects like bright halos on clouds and white rainbows enhance its visual impact.

Community Perspective: Zos had a memorable visit to this park, where visualizing rock formations into snakes or penguins seems to be the main thing. Els was less impressed.

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Els Slots

The Netherlands - 02-Jun-24 -

Mount Sanqingshan by Els Slots

Sanqingshan is another under-reviewed WHS in this part of Central-East China: the last report dates from a visit 7 years ago. I got there in May 2024 from the hub of Shangrao, where I took a private Didi taxi to take me in 70 minutes via a toll highway to the site’s Southern Cable Car station (a.k.a. Waishuangxi station). I visited on a Monday and there were no queues. After buying your ticket (entrance + cable car rides = 252 yuan in total) near the Hilton hotel, you have to walk up via a shopping/restaurant street to reach the lower cable car station.

The site is part of our Visual effects of Cloud, Fog and Mist connection and its OUV (one criterion only) relies on the granite peaks that are shaped by vegetation and continuously changed visually by meteorological effects. Although it was dry downhill, it had started raining when I arrived at the upper cable car station. It was bad enough that I needed to buy a bright yellow raincoat on site for 25 yuan, with which I blended in nicely with the Chinese visitors. Half an hour later it got dry uphill as well and I did not need the raincoat anymore for the rest of the morning.

There are signs with maps that show trails that you can hike, but all seem to involve a fair bit of step-climbing (I can testify that even in 2024 it is possible to hire 2 porters to carry you, see upper picture). I first hiked uphill for some 20 minutes to a large platform, with more restaurants and shops, but from where you have a good overview of the peaks in this area. The spectacle of clouds around peaks can already be seen here well too. At one moment, the sky was bright and all the peaks showed, but maybe 5 minutes later they were all hidden behind the clouds again. If you hear the Chinese tour groups cheering like a goal has just been scored, a peak has cleared up.

I walked a bit to the East from the main platform, in search of sights of Taoist fame (Sanqingshan is a sacred Taoist mountain). But except for the ubiquitous yin-yang signs, I did not find anything of note. I also did not want to climb too much, as this was the third sacred mountain site that I visited in 3 days already. For me, it was enough to just sit at a platform and watch the peaks and the clouds performing their show. I spent 3 hours there in total and managed to limit the hiking to 4.5 km. With other, more prolific Chinese mountain WHS already on the list based on granite peaks (Huangshan) and Taoism (Taishan), the additional inclusion of Sanqingshan does feel superfluous and I have not rated it too highly.

Read more from Els Slots here.

Zos M

Philippines/China - 30-Jun-20 -

Mount Sanqingshan by Zos M

[Visited, 16 Sep 2017]

Fresh from 2 day hike of Huangshan, a friend and I took the train from Huangshan North to Shangrao. We arrived past 5 PM so no more buses were available. A taxi to our guesthouse near Jinsha cableway, costed 150 RMB for over an hour drive.

Sanqingshan was one of my most memorable WHS visit. The adventure began upon arrival to our guesthouse. We inadvertently started a rift between two neighboring guesthouse owners. We mistakenly went to a wrong one but the owner did not care - it was shoulder season and he needed revenue. At 10 PM the correct guesthouse called asking where we were. We shared our Wechat location, baffled as we thought we already checked in. The correct guesthouse owner then proceeded to get us. An argument ensued between both owners, forced the wrong one to reimburse our payment and ended with us moving guesthouses in the middle of the night.

Dinner was also equally amusing. Restaurants were already closed when we arrived, and we mimed our way to asked a lady on the street where we can grab food. She abruptly left, so we assumed she did not understand. A few minutes later, she reappeared with a live chicken in tow. We tried telling her again that we needed food to eat and not a chicken to cook. The lady again suddenly walked away while we continued our search. Unsuccessful and famished, we begrudgingly walked back to our guesthouse.  To our surprise, the lady was waiting for us with two cooked chicken dishes. We were satiated at the expense of one poor chicken!

The following day we climbed the mountain. Having been to many mountains in China, I always wondered why locals climbed them down backwards. In Sanqingshan I found out the reason. My legs were already sore after exploring Huangshan. Climbing up and down around Sanqingshan was excruciating. Needless to say, I realised that the only way to lessen the agony was to climbed down the stairs backwards. As they say, when in Chinese mountain and in pain, do what locals do!

During the advisory body evaluation, it was recommended that Sanqingshan be combined with Huangshan. Upon visiting both sites on successive days, I can say Sanqingshan is at par with its more famous neighbour and deserved its place on the list.  Same, same OUV...but different.

Huangshan is inscribed as a mixed site under criterion ii for its literary and artistic influence to Chinese society. Sanqingshan does not fit this criterion but what it offers, although not inscribed, is an exceptional testimony of Taoist tradition as one of the main sacred mountains for Taoism. At the farthest end of the mountain loop are ancient and well preserved Taoist temples and reliefs carved on the granite - making even ICOMOS wondered why this place was not submitted as a mixed site. (This is also the area to pitch camp.)

Huangshan is inscribed under criterion x for its biodiversity. IUCN evaluated that Sanqingshan cannot match its neighbor but it can complement and strengthen the OUV representation of the biogeographic region.

Both Huangshan and Sanqingshan are inscribed under criterion vii for exceptional natural beauty. Although I did not see the infamous meteorological effects of Sanqingshan, the exceptional quality and diversity of rock formations makes Sanqingshan a worthy WHS. The walking path around Sanqingshan is over 5 km, winding up and down, snaking along the granite cliffs. The suspended walking trails offer scenic views of ravines with backdrop of forests. Whereas in other Chinese mountains you have to stretch your imagination to visualize rock formations that (might) look like something else, in Sanqingshan the formations are easily recognizable even at first glance. There is a pillar resembling a snake reaching up the sky. Another one like a goddess stretching her arms to bless the mountain. There are formations resembling a horse head, the monkey king, penguins, breasts, and many more.

Sanqingshan is worth a visit. I wouldn’t recommend to successively hike both Huangshan and Sanqingshan in the span of 3 days. Like me, you might be climbing down backwards too! Shangrao is close to Longhushan component of China Danxia WHS, another pretty mountain but more leisurely sightseeing. An ideal weeklong route is to start with Sanqingshan, go to Longhushan, then visit Huangshan and cap your holiday relaxing at Hongcun and Xidi Villages.


China - 02-Jan-14 -

I went to this WHS in the summer of 2102. I have been to most of WHS in China, and Mt Sanqingshan is one of the most beautiful one. It was easy to go form a famous ancient village Wuyuan in Jiangxi province. The mountain's high light is a huge stone which look like a cobra, and the plank road on the cliff is really worth to go.

Site Info

Full Name
Mount Sanqingshan National Park
Unesco ID
Natural landscape - Mountain

Site History

2008 Inscribed


The site has 1 locations

Mount Sanqingshan


The site has

Religion and Belief
WHS Hotspots
WHS on Other Lists
World Heritage Process