I was terrified to do the Hua Shan plank walk in China. Not just that, I swore to not do it ever (#fail!). Let me explain to you what it is. Hua Shan is one of the five holy mountains close to Xian. At 2155m high you will find a wooden trail on the side off the mountain cliff. The trail leads to a teahouse where, back in the day, pilgrims, nuns and monks went to pray. Nowadays its possible to walk this trail along with many other visitors, and the scariest thing is that traffic goes both ways!
We all do the dangerous hike to visit this tea house.
Why the Hua Shan plank walk is so dangerous?
The Hua Shan plank walk is known for its fatal falls. For some mysterious reason, no one knows how many have fallen. But I assure you, having seen the trail with my own eyes I certainly understand why walking this trail could be the last thing you will ever do.
The Hua Shan plank walk is not very wide. One misstep and there you go. Complete focus is very important!
The most dangerous time to do this trail is when it rains or when it’s super crowded. It’s advisable to avoid week-ends and to rather ascend early in the morning. Of course, that’s not what I did! I went on a Sunday afternoon when it was extremely busy. You probably wonder why it’s dangerous when it’s crowded? The path to the teahouse goes both ways. That means it involves a lot of people passing each other in both directions on that tiny little plank!
Try before you die
I believe that you should overcome any fear you have. As terrified I was at first, as soon as I got passed that I actually enjoyed it! The adrenaline was rushing through my body while looking down and passing fellow hikers. Remarkably I had a lot of fun. And the feeling afterwards? The adrenaline keeps pumping through your vanes. You KNOW you’re alive!
Just passing some people on this little plank along the way.
What about safety on the Hua Shan plank walk
To be fair, you are given a little harness to wear with two hooks to attach to the chains. That helps! The danger comes in when passing someone as you need to unhook yourself and place the hooks behind the oncoming person. I had a moment or two when I was completely unhooked and one accident push or wrong step and you fall 2155m! As I said before, you might want to skip the crowds!
How to get to the Hua Shan plank walk
From the north station in Xian there is a direct, high-speed train to the Hua Shan north station (30-40 minutes). Skip all the taxi drivers and walk to the end of the parking lot where free green shuttle busses are ready to take you to the mountain ranges. Get out at the last stop at the East Gate Visitor Centre. If you go up by cable car buy your ticket here and go by transfer to the foot of the mountain. Make sure to get to the west peak where you follow the signs to the Hua Shan plank walk on the south side. If you’re hiking (6-7 hours) then get to Yuquan Yuan which is the starting point of the hike up.
The ‘I survived it smile at the end’.
What to bring to the Hua Shan plank walk?
The following tips will help you get through this scary but awesome day!
- Bring enough water.
- Wear proper hiking/sport shoes with a grip.
- Bring sunscreen.
- Most accidents nowadays are due to taking selfies, be aware!
Other than that, I will assure you it’s a challenge but a ‘must’ bucket list item you NEED to try before you die, enjoy!
Looking for more adventures travel inspiration? Read the blog about my two week trekking through the Himalayas!