This article refers to just one of countless scenic spots which can be viewed at leisure along your China travel experience. Roughly 80 kilometres from Beijing, Laoxiangfeng is a prime location for travellers to take a break from the busy city-life. Encompassing 4,000 hectares, Laoxiangfeng is certainly a playground for the outdoor-types. To get to this beautiful location, you can either consider  China tours or alternatively take bus number 5 to Laoxiangfeng (before taking the 918 bus from Dongzhimenwai-Guanzhuang Daokou). From the mountain gate, walkers will also need to pay an admission fee  (approx.20rmb)  and the mountain park stays open from 8am to 6:30pm.

According to Chinese legend, Laoxiangfeng Shan (‘Shan’ which means mountain) is where the goddess Bixia Yuanjun played an important role in local folklore. The story goes that the two gods, Bixia Yuanjun and Panshan Laozu were vying to ride the holy elephant. A dice was eventually thrown leaving Bixia Yuanjun as the winner. Thereafter, she would care for the elephant around the area which was given the name ‘Laoxiangfeng’ (‘Elder Elephant Peak’). Needless to say, by using your imaginative powers, you will be able to discern the peak into the shape of an elephant! Interestingly, the locality also incorporates the themes of friendship and loyalty. For example, Bixia Yuanjun, one day, protected the elephant by breaking the claw off the tiger which attacked it and that peak would later become ‘Tiger Claw Peak’ (also a good spot to view). Another tale mentions of a couple who wanted to learn from Bixia Yuanjun; yet because the goddess thought they were unready she gave them a test. The couple failed the test and they were tragically turned into stone.

On a practical level, walking up the mountain is made enjoyable for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the path is wide and flat for the majority of the distance so it is not especially strenuous on the knees. However, the path does get steeper when heading towards the peak and note that the path also acts as a road, although cars are relatively infrequent. Secondly, there are ample picnic areas and toilet facilities along the route (which in itself indicates the popularity of the area). Nearer the bottom of the route, there are gaping valleys which provide excellent opportunities to take pictures of the surroundings and have lunch under the canopied sitting areas.

As a little extra, the walk is made rather interesting by reading the many descriptions along the way. In particular, some of the indigenous flora takes precedence in the local legends of the mountain. One tale mentions, for example, how the fairy of the chrysanthemums left her garland in the ground with later transformed in the radiant flowers which can be seen today. Without doubt, the vegetation of Laoxiangfeng is special for locals and visitors alike. Locals, for one, can be seen collecting mushrooms on the wooded slopes of the mountain (which in turn can be bought in the store at the bottom of the peak). The nearest place to Laoxiangfeng is Xiaoyuzi Village; but if you are seeking China hotels, Dahuashan Town, in general, may have more choice.

Jack Li
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