Cuiping Hill is a real jewel in Yangshuo. The mountain itself (also called Wuzhi Shan (五指山)) is unlike most karsts in the area. Typically, a karst is a steep-sided limestone mountain, but Cuiping Hill is a sprawling beast by comparison.
It’s five peaks stretch languidly. In between each is thick brush. Brambles and shrubs poke their way out of every crack in the limestone. What Cuiping Hill lacks in height, it makes up for in views. The spectacle from the man-made viewpoint is famous for a reason.
One of my favourite things about visiting Cuiping Hill is scootering through the town of Putao on approach to the mountain. The villagers are incredibly friendly - you’ll hear shouts of “Hello!” Over and over as you wind through the houses and rice paddies. They seem to live simple but happy lives here and it feels like you’re passing through a very special place in the world.
From the viewpoint at the top of the mountain, you can see a huge number of karsts. Layer after layer. They go on into the horizon. Like waves cresting on a great, green sea. Below, two rivers weave between the peaks. They unite and continue their winding passage around Cuiping Hill itself.
You may see villagers fishing on their rafts below or the feathers of white cranes sparkling in the sunlight. If you visit at sunset, you'll see the sun completing its descent and the world burn under a soft yellow glow.
If you're prepared to take the ride out of Yangshuo, I highly recommend Cuiping Hill. The pace of life here is one notch down from Yangshuo town and though similar, the smaller mountains have a cosy, welcoming feel to them. They don't want you to leave.
Or at least that's how they make me feel.
Words & Photography: Scott Norris (@radventuresofficial) // Summer 2019
The Cuiping Hill trailhead can be reached by two different routes. On scooters it takes around an hour to get there, so be prepared for an adventure if you try to bike it.
The first route is more straightforward. From Yangshuo, follow the expressway (G321) north for about 20km. There will be signs for Putao （葡萄镇） followed by some traffic lights in the town.
Take a left here. Follow the road for 1.5km. At the first crossroads, you come across turn left. From here on follow the blue signposts for 五指山（Wuzhi shan).
The second option is to follow the road east out of Yangshuo towards the Yulong River and then navigate north along the riverside. I recommend having mobile data and using Baidu Maps if you take this route.
From the entrance to Cuiping Hill (50元), the path to the top does not take long and it is very clear.