Mount Lu National Park - The Lu Mountains
This scenic mountain range is famous in China for its scenery and beauty and for its its history. It was a famed religious mountain in the past, and in modern times it is famous for its historical role in the lives of China's leaders. Now it is an excellent place to hike and sightsee in southeast China.
Mount Lu has been listed since 1996 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is dotted with old temples and structures. A major plus for most tourists is that the park isn't yet as built up as other national parks in China, so you can enjoy some rugged scenery and hiking with less crowds.
- Chinese 庐山 Lúshān 'Hut Mountain(s)'
- Key features: Poorly maintained paths wind amid many small waterfalls, hundreds of peaks, sheer drops, scattered religious sites and historic places.
- Highest peak: Dahanyang Peak (大汉阳峰) is 1,474 meters above sea level.
- Location: northern Jiangxi Province, about 100 kilometers from the capital Nanchang, and roughly 20 kilometers south of Jiujiang City.
- Size: 25 by 10 kilometers
- Recommended stay: half a day to two days depending on what you want to see or do
- Activities: nature hiking and seeing historical sites. The locally produced tea is a good buy.
- Suitable for: hikers who want some solitude on weekdays or people wanting to sightsee around the local region. It isn't one of China's best natural parks.
Inspiring scenery: Numerous writers, poets, artists and calligraphers visited the mountains for inspiration. Over 900 cliff inscriptions and more than 300 tablets or steles with poems and couplets are testimonies to it's special place in ancient scholars' hearts. Mount Lu is therefore renowned as a cradle of Chinese landscape painting and literature.
Religious center: This was an important religious mountain in the dynastic eras. It also became a retreat center for foreign Christian missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries who built buildings that are still used.
Academic center: Bailudong Academy (White Deer Cave Academy) is located on its slopes. It is one of the four most famous ancient academies in China. It was built in 940.
The Wulao ('Five Old') Peaks at the southeast side of Mount Lu are famous. They rise to 1,436 meters. The peak is named after the fact that the summit of the peak, cut across by a mountain pass, is split into five separate peaks. Seen from the base of the mountain, the five peaks look like five old men sitting on the ground. The Wulao Peaks are the best venue on Mount Lu to watch the sunrise and sunset.
The five peaks have a different countenance when seen from different points of view. Some angles find fishermen fishing, while from others, they look like old monks sitting cross-legged. Of the five peaks, the second peak stands out the most because of its oddly-shaped rocks. The third peak is the most dangerous. The fourth peak is the most beautiful, and the fifth is open and relatively expansive.
At the foot of the Wulao Peaks lies the most famous sight on Mount Lu called the Three Step Waterfall. The waterfall spills over three natural terraces formed by glaciers en route to the pool below. It has a drop of 155 meters. It is considered one of the highlights of the mountain as is evidenced by the local saying that any visit to Mount Lu is incomplete without seeing the Three Step Waterfall.
Donglin Temple, located at the west foot of the mountain, was built by a monk called Hunyuan who founded the Jingtuzong sect of Buddhism during the Eastern Jin Dynasty. It is one of the oldest temples on the mountain with a history of over 1,600 years.
All the buildings of Donglin Temple follow a vertical center axis. Along the axis are the Temple Gate, the main hall, the Maitreya Hall and the Shenyun Hall. Flanking the main hall are halls for 500 Buddist arhats. Behind Sanxiao Hall is the Scripture Tower and Congming Spring. Viewed from a distance, the temple buildings in their green shades look majestic.
- Best months to visit: Summer is the best season to visit Mount Lu as the weather is very comfortable and the scenery at its best. It is known as a summer retreat area during sweltering weather. In April, the flowers and gardens are blooming, and the leaves turn color in October. The scenery is beautiful all year round though.
- Pricey: In addition to 180 RMB general entrance fee, there are entrance tickets for individual scenic places inside. For example, the Three Tier Waterfall area costs an additional 65 or 70 RMB (about 10 or 11 USD). On top of that, there are charges for cable rides, and the food inside is high priced.
- Avoid the shops: There are shops that sell overly priced and factory produced souvenir goods. Other than the tea, there isn't much to shop for.
- Avoid the crowds: To avoid the crowds, don't go on weekends and holidays. The crowding can get unpleasant and even dangerous on those days, but at other times, you can find yourself alone in beautiful places.
- Watch your step: Some of the sections of the trail have no guardrails. It is especially dangerous to be near a sheer drop amid a jostling crowd.
- Weather and scenery: It is foggy for much of the year with around 192 days of fog on the mountain. Often, the fog impedes the view. Temperatures vary greatly between the base and peak.
- Dampness: The rainy climate and fogginess makes the rocks slick and the hotel rooms feel damp. Wear shoes with good traction for the paths.
- General admission tickets: April 1 to November 31 is 180 RMB (28 USD). From December 1 to March 31, it is 130 RMB.
- Free entry for seniors and kids: Adults over 70 years of age and children under 1.4 meters get in free.
- Hours: 6 am to 6 pm.
- Transport to park: A bus leaves the Long-distance Bus Station of Jiujiang City to Mount Lu every 30 minutes. It takes about an hour, and the cost is 9 RMB (1.40 USD). The last bus leaves about 3 PM.
Tour China's Most Beautiful Mountains with China Highlights
- Our 7-Day China Fairyland Tour combines Jiuzhaigou with Mount Emei, two of China's most popular mountainous areas. Ask us, and we can add Mount Lu.