The Nanling, literally "Southern Mountains", is a major mountain range in Southern China that separates the Pearl River Basin from the Yangtze Valley and serves as the dividing line between south and central subtropical zones. The Nanling mountains lie in Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong and Guangxi provinces and stretch 1,400 kilometers west to east. The range starts from Guilin, Guangxi in the west and ends in Ganzhou, Jiangxi in the east, while its north edge connects Shaoyang, Yongzhou and Chenzhou in Hunan and its south edge connects Hezhou in Guangxi, Qingyuan and Shaoguan of the northern Guangdong.
Among those mountains, Yuecheng Mountains, Dupang Mountains, Mengzhu Mountains, Qitian Mountains and Dayu Mountains are the most famous ones, as well as the five representative mountain ranges of the Nanling, which is the reason why Nanling is also known as the Wuling, literally "Five Mountains".
The mountains forming the range are generally of moderate altitude of around 1,000 meters, with the highest point being the summit of Miao’er Shan at 2,142 meters.
Nanling National Forest Park is located in Ruyuan County of Guangdong Province that borders Hunan Province, and it’s also in the core area of the Nanling mountain range. The park covers an area of 273 square kilometers, being the biggest national nature reserve in Guangdong. In the park there are Guangdong's best-protected primeval forest and more than 30 mountains at an elevation of over 1,000m, among which the most famous one is Shikengkong (1,902m), the first peak in Guangdong.
You may arrive in Guangzhou, the capital city of Guangdong Province. Take a train or bus from Guangzhou to Shaoguan that is about 73 kilometers away from the park. There is a bus to Nanling National Forest Park on the station square. It runs only three times a day at 7:45, 11:15 and 15:15; coming back at 7:30, 12:30, 15:30, on route through Ruyuan County. The bus ride will take about 2 hours. You can also reach the park by changing a bus in Ruyuan.
There are four scenic spots within the area:
Entrance fee: 80 RMB. Students get 50% off. Ticket is only valid for one day, but if you are staying in Orange House Hotel, it is then valid for two.
Weather: The weather is changeable, so bring adequate clothing. Wear good hiking shoes since the trails may be slippery. There may be a lot of bugs, so wear long-sleeves, long pants tucked in the boots, some head cover and don’t forget to bring a mosquito repellent.
Hiking Precautions: There are steep slopes and high cliffs. You’d better go with a companion. Some deep pools are very cold and unsafe to swim. Asking for advice from the office is highly recommended. You may encounter some snakes and stray dogs. Watch out!
Camping: There is a bomb shelter near the summit of Shikengkong where camping is allowed and paid, while camping anywhere else at the summit is free of charge.
Accommodation: There are some hotels and inns near to the park entrance in Nanling Town. You can book rooms of hotels online or decide to stay in an inn after you visit the site. There are few diners in the park so it’s suggested that you take enough water and food.
Car is allowed in the park and there are shuttle buses that can take you to some spots. You will receive a schedule of the shuttle buses from the ticket office. It’s very useful.
Guangdong Great Canyon lies in Dabu Town, Ruyuan County, Shaoguan City, Guangdong, and thus is also called Ruyuan Grand Canyon. With its length of 15 kilometers and its deepest point of more than 300 meters, this quartz sandstone landforms area is quite a scenic place. The formation of it traces back to the Himalayan orogeny 13 million years ago. Resulting from the movement of the Earth's crust, the fault, fluviation and weathering erosion, the Grand Canyon area has rich rock stratification, which shapes the distinct scenery of the canyon characterized as spectacular, unique, dangerous, precipitous, and beautiful.
The top of the canyon is plain while the view at the bottom is a feast for the visitors! The most beautiful part is of course at the bottom of the canyon from Juxiantai to the rest platform, and the hardest part is from Tenglongtan Pond to the canyon entrance, where you will climb up nearly vertically and continuously. You can also choose to go back to the top of the canyon via Tongtian Ladder (literally meaning “the ladder to the sky” in Chinese, 1386 stairs), which is also the choice of most visitors. You will be given a map of the Grand Canyon scenic area with detailed descriptions of the recommended trails. Elder visitors should consider the difficulty of the trails and ask the scenic spot office for advice to choose a trail.
You can take a local motorcycle or a car to the Grand Canyon in Dabu Town after you spend your time in Nanling National Forest Park in Nanling Town.
Entrance Fee is 65 RMB (60 RMB + Acrobatic display 5 RMB). The opening hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There are no buses or cable cars in the Guangdong Great Canyon area. Temperature is lower at the bottom of the canyon so please remember to take enough clothing, as well as slip-proof shoes, some food and water.
Mangshan is a pearl embedded in the Nanling Mountain Range and definitely a place worth going. Located in Yizhang County, Hunan, the Mangshan National Forest Park has typical Danxia landform and well-protected primeval forests. Here grow more than 1700 kinds of plants, of which 5 kinds are the national first-class protected rare ones. Also, it is home to around 300 varieties of animals, of which snow leopard, yellow-bellied tragopan, spotted deer, golden cat and python are under the first-class state protection. Mangshan National Forest Park is a complete forest museum with abundant rainfall and rich natural resources. It is called "Natural Museum of Propagation" and "Gene Bank of Biology" by worldwide experts. It is a national reserve sanctified by State Council of China. Mangshan keeps a temperate climate throughout the year and is a good tourist attraction for its beautiful scenery.
Main scenic spots and trails:
Tiantai Mountain is one hour away from the park entrance by shuttle bus. To climb up the stairs, you’d better wear a pair of convenient and comfortable shoes. Most fit young men can finish the scenic spot in 2 hours and a half.
When you are approaching Wanshou Tower, don’t forget to wonder at the most beautiful scenery in Small Tiantai, where many beautiful promo pictures can be taken.
Guizizhai is one hour away from the park entrance by shuttle bus, and it may take around 3 hours to explore it thoroughly.
Houwangzhai (Monkey King Village) and a natural museum are 500 meters away from the entrance and take 10 minutes to walk there, featuring Protobothrops mangshanensis and waterfall group. It takes around 2 hours to view the whole spot.
Rafting is 5-kilometer long with 136-meter drop and the whole rafting activity takes 2 hours. The ticket is 168 RMB. The rafting route there has the biggest drop in China.
The entrance fee varies from 80 to 120 RMB based on the visiting time, and an extra fee of 40 RMB per person will be charged for shuttle buses. The opening hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Gaoyiling Mountain is located in Gaoyiling Village of west Qiaokou Town, Suxian District, Chenzhou, Hunan, and is the symbol and representative area of the beauty of Danxia landform in Chenzhou. It bas been growing more and more popular with hikers in recent years. There is no entrance fee for Gaoyiling Mountain and it’s a beautiful place suitable for most visitors as it is not difficult to climb. In order to get there you may take a train from Guangzhou to Chenzhou (1.5 hours), and then hire a car to get to Gaoyiilng Village (less than 20km), where you may have a lunch in a local villager’s home and start hiking.
Ruyuan County is about 73 kilometers away from Nanling National Forest Park. There's an ancient tower downtown, and you will see it from the bus.
Bibei Yao Village, Shaoguan is one of the few Yao villages that exist in Ruyuan County. You can see unique buildings and performances of Yao tribe in the village.
Shaoguan Ruyuan Ligong Hot Spring International Hotel provides many villas of various styles for you to enjoy the views of mountains and lakes. After hiking you will have a good rest in the hot springs in the hotel.
Dongjiang Lake Tourist Area is situated at Zixing City in Hunan Province, 28 kilometers from Chenzhou City. It combines mountains, lakes, dams and caves with canyons, islands, waterfalls and forests. The lake is the largest artificial lake in Hunan with an average depth of 51 meters and an area of 160 square kilometers. The main scenic spots include:
Apart from these main scenic spots, there is Longjing Canyon, Doushuai Cave, Huangcao Town, the Strange Stone Museum, the Photography Museum and the Hunan Culture Museum. The Strange Stone Museum mainly collects unusual stones from Hunan, but also has many rare stones from home and abroad. The Photography Museum displays photos from photographers worldwide. You can learn more about the culture and history of Hunan through the sculptures, paintings, writings and embroideries at the Hunan Culture Museum.
How to Get to Dongjiang Lake from Chenzhou: You can take a county bus 201 from Chenzhou Tianlong Bus station to Luowei Stop in Zixing City. Then take Zixing city bus 1, 2 or 3 to Dongjiang Lake Tourist Area. If you take a taxi from downtown Chenzhou to the lake, it costs about CNY 120 for a one-way trip. Don’t forget to taste the fresh and delicious Dongjiang Salmon!
Dongjiang Lake is near Gaoyiling Mountain, so you can put these two places together in your tour plan.