Huangshan Photography Tours

Huangshan photography tours should be on your photo bucket list! Huangshan is an amazing place for photography, in any season.

Huangshan is also called ‘The Yellow Mountains’ in English and is now linked by a bullet train from Shanghai. As of 2018 December, the train takes 4 hours we except this to cut in half this year, as the route changes and a new more direct line opens.

Huangshan photography tours focus on the mountainscapes, those iconic landscapes you’ve probably seen in Chinese art and ink paintings. However, Huangshan is not just about the mountains; there are also some interesting ancient stone villages such as Xidi and Hongcun, both famous for their Hui architecture (white stone houses) and listed with UNESCO as a world heritage site. Those places can be beautiful for photography as well as drone photography.

What makes Huangshan worth photographing is the wind-carved pine trees jetting out form cracks in breathtaking rocky peaks. Huangshan has all the ingredients for taking some award-winning photos, layers, rays, mist, the sea-of-cloud, light casting through cracks in the peaks, and strange trees hanging out of the rocky cracks.

Huangshan Photography Tours – 3 Downsides to Know

  1. The mountains are at cloud-base, so cloud and mist often envelop Huangshan, especially pre-dawn and for many mornings, although it often clears by lunchtime. It is breathtaking but can be frustrating when it clears well-after sunrise or continues to cover the mountains for most of the morning, which it often can.
  2. The hotels are not good value; you are paying a lot for the location and poor service.
  3. There’s a sea of cloud and a sea of Chinese tourists. There’s nothing mega about a megaphone.

Best Photography Locations on Huangshan

Best Places for Sunrise/Sunset

  • Sunrise Locations
    1. Purple Cloud Peak
    2. Bright Summit
    3. Lion Peak
  • Sunset Locations
    Dispelling Cloud Pavilion

Best Place to Photography the Sea of Cloud

  • Sea of Clouds Potential Locations
    The sea of cloud depends on the cloud height, wind direction, and specific traits of each seasons conditions. The team we’ve developed are on the mountain from 150-200 days a year, so if photographing with us, my photo guides will direct you to the spot with the most potential for that days particular weather conditions. However, if you are self-propelled and looking for a list of locations, just about all these locations will work, due to their height, aspect, or the way the wind can come around the peaks or flow up the ridges. In order or my preference:
  • Jade Screen Pavilion
  • Refreshing Terrace
  • Purple Cloud Peak
  • Bright Summit
  • White Goose Ridge

Other Photography Spots

  • Most Crowded
    Bright Peak (Remember, it is also called Bright Top)
  • Smallest Amount of Space
    The jetty like concrete outcrop at Refreshing Terrace, unless you go up and stand on the rocks and tree areas.
  • Best Wind Carved Pines
    Welcoming-guests Pine (the east side of Jade Screen Peak), Seeing Out Guest Pine (close to Jade Screen Peak), Company-guest Pine (close to Jade Screen Peak), Double Dragon Pine (in West Cloud Sea), Phoenix Pine (Sea Heart Pavilion), Leading Pine (Begin-to-believe Peak), and Black Tiger Pine
  • The Highest Location
    Lotus Peak is the highest location
  • Precarious Locations
    Celestial Capital Peak
  • Most Spacious Sunrise/Sunset Location
    Bright Summit

Planning Huangshan Photography Tours

Mia and I run a China photography tour company (Gatsby) and serve photographers from all over the world. Over our years of experience, arranging thousands of trips in China, we recommend you spend 2 nights on the mountain. Currently, on private photography tours, we arrange about 75% of photographers spend two nights on the mountain. This gives you time on the Yellow Mountains for sunrise and sunset photography, and still one full day for ancient villages. However, that would still be a rush if you wanted to explore the villages. Four days is ideal because you’ll be able to photograph the dramatic landscape of Huangshan, do some hiking, and visit the ancient villages. Of course, the more time you spend on the mountain, the better your chance of amazing photos. However, weather is the weather… and nobody controls that. You’ll also have to put up with high hotel costs, poor choice of food, and way too many domestic tourists. Honestly, wing suiting down that mountain looks more appealing than taking the cable car down in rush-hour.

How Long Do You Need to Photography Huangshan?

Here’s what you can realistically (packing it in) photography within two days, three days and four days:

2 Day Photo Tour Suggestion

  • 1 Night on Mountain (Sunset & Following Sunrise) – Hongcun Ancient village on arrival or departure transfer

3 Days Photo Tour Suggestion

  • 2 Nights on Mountain (Sunset x3 Sunrise x2) – Hongcun – Plus one other village. We don’t recommend Xidi.

4 Days Photo Tour Suggestion

  • 2 Nights on Mountain (Sunset x3 Sunrise x2) more time on last mountain day before coming down. You’ll have time to explore the traditional villages of Hongcun and a collection of other hidden homes, family visits or interesting gems we’ve found over the years.

Huangshan Photo Guides

We’ve spent a long time building and training our photography guides. They have guided hundreds of photographers, and tourists, in all seasons, all weather and photographers from across the world. The world’s top photographers trust us to manage their workshops and guide them on their private trips. Before our photo guides coming onboard with us, some were top guides for travel firms like AK, and others have a background in TV and film. What’s common is, these guys spend up to 200 days on Huangshan and exploring ancient villages each year.  We’ve trained and empowered our team to deliver a flexible itinerary photographers like us need. They understand light, conditions, and how plans need to change. They know that for us, photography comes first!

But, it’s not just the mountain the photo guides know… like the back of their hand. They understand photography and the specific needs of a photog, as they have all been trained by us. They understand the type of homes and people opportunities us photographers love!  They’ve developed relationships with interesting locals in photogenic homes, often in villages tourists miss. If you create a Huangshan Photo Tour with us, you’re sure to come home with beautiful shots from homes you’d never find or access without us, not to mention not get lost in a sea of tourists on the mountain 😉