My friends wanted to attempt a one-day full hike of Mount Emei. Led by my friend Michael Alexis, we set out at 7:30 am from the very bottom of the mountain.

It was an extremely long hike. I was unable to complete it all in one day, so I had to sleep in a monastery on the side of the hill. We ate some delicious food.

Emei Mountain

Lonely Planet calls Emei Mountain a “cool, misty retreat” and it appears on many top lists of things to do in China. It is also called “Mount Emei.”

Map of Mount Emei

Tourist Map of Mt Emei with many Chinese characters

This is a popular depiction of the mountain. Save it on your phone, or take a picture of one of the signs!

About Mountain Emei

Mt. Emei is 3,099m tall (10,167 feet) and is the highest of the Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Eimeishan City of Sichuan Province.

  • Fun Fact 1: The first Buddhist temple in China was built by a farmer in the 1st century at the Jīndǐng summit on Emei.
  • Fun Fact 2: Mt. Emei is known for its diverse vegetation. It has both subtropical evergreen forests and subalpine pine forests.

Michael, who planned the trip, wanted to create diverse opportunities for our group to connect with each other but also see all the awesome things China has to offer. This is one of the reasons he chose Mt. Emei. He had climbed it before so he knew it had beautiful sights and would be a great spiritual experience for the team.

My Friends

We are a group of seven traveling on an adventure through China.

Here’s our group taking a break during an Emei summit attempt, L to R: Michael, Justus (laying), Richard, Ethan, Tasia, and Kate. Not pictured: Jenny.

Me, Tasia, Michael, and Ethan. We all happen to work at Museum Hack, helping to make museums more awesome.

How to Hike to the Top of Mount Emei

Stairs going up Emei Mountain path.

The number of stairs is amazing. Thousands and thousands of stairs as you hike up the mountain. It is nicely paved and kept very clean.

Stairs looking down Mt Emei including a view from a clearing.

Great Views

Above the halfway point, the views start to get increasingly impressive. Here are a few pictures that I took during Day 2.

One of my favorites, this is the view from the courtyard at Huayan Peak monastery.

The clouds coming in. Nearing the Linding station.

Monastery Sleepover

Mt. Emei is home to more than 30 Buddhist temples. Many of them offer simple accommodation at a reasonable price.

My view upon waking up at the Chudian Palace monastery, looking out into the garden.

After 12 hours of non-stop hiking up the mountain, I decided to stop at a monastery. (My friends continued hiking for 5 more hours!)

My double-bed room (of which I was the only occupant) cost 80 RMB. There was a shared bathroom and shower.

Me at a monastery. I really liked this one. Yes I’m a nerd. I am happy.

Pro-tip: Some monasteries are nicer than others. Plan your route so you can stay at one of the nicer ones. The one that I stayed at – Chudian Palace – was pretty gross. The bedding was damp and there was no ventilation in the room. I wish I would have known to keep hiking and try my luck for a room at Huayan Peak monastery which seemed nicer and had much better views.

Part of the hiking trail cut directly through another monastery. This is a view from Huayan Peak.

Interior of a monastery that we passed through.

In the morning I washed up, made some tea, then hiked the last four hours to meet up with the rest of the group.

View from Huayan Peak, one of the monasteries on Emei.

Food on Mount Emei

We ate very well!

I’ve been impressed with “home style” Chinese food, and Emei did not disappoint. Here are pictures of my breakfast from the second day of our hike:

Breakfast (or early lunch?) that I ate at a mountain-top canteen. Pork, veggies, rice, garlic.

Closeup! Sichuan province is famous for spicy foods

Expect to pay a premium for food and water on the mountain. The above pork dish was 45 RMB.

A typical mountain path shop, like a bodega in NYC. They sell beverages and packaged snacks, as well as some fresh fruits and vegetables. Many will also cook hot food.

Wild Monkeys

There were signs everywhere warning us of the aggressive monkeys. This one pulled at my heartstrings.

There were signs EVERYWHERE warning us about monkeys. How they are aggressive, not to look them in the eyes, etc. We didn’t see many monkeys, but perhaps other routes or different seasons have more.

I didn’t get an actual picture of the monkeys, but I did get this nice pic of a statue of them.

Example of the types of monkeys you may see depending on your route and season. Photo by J. Kenji López-Alt.

More than monkeys, we saw a lot of butterflies.

Bonus Material

For good luck, I adopted a Chinese baby before hiking the mountain.

If you’re a Westerner, you might get asked to take pictures with other Chinese domestic tourists. This happened to us a lot. People were very friendly! Pictured here is Tasia, and Michael photo bombing.

My friends reached the summit around 6:15am for sunrise. Photo by Michael Alexis.

Our whole group, at lunch. I debated including this photo because my family has barred me from sharing any topless photos. My father said this “Looks like the beginning of a game of strip poker and you’re losing.”

 See more from my 2017 trip to China:

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