Purple Mountain is known as the “lung of Nanjing” and for good reason. This massive, forested park area situated within Nanjing boasts fresh and cool air compared to the muggy, polluted city center.
There are loads of tourist attractions within Purple Mountain. Each of these destinations may be considered a go-to destination on its own. It is not possible to visit every last site on Purple Mountain in one day or even in a couple of days.
Most of the main tourist attractions are on the south side of the mountain. Hiking trails crisscross the mountain in every direction.
The mountain contains a huge network of paths. There are several entrances and from each entrance, paths converge and criss-cross all the way to the top of the mountain. Neither English nor Chinese maps encompass the entire network of paths on Purple Mountain. Signs along the paths on Purple Mountain are difficult to decipher even for people fluent in Chinese.
Taiping Road Entrance and the Tramline
The most popular spot to begin a hike is close to the entrance of the tramline. This route starts at the westernmost point of the mountain area and is a relatively easy hike.
There are many buses that stop at White Horse Park (白马公园) on Taiping Road (太平路) and Longpan Road (龙蟠路). Buses that stop at White Horse Park include numbers 125, 44, 79, 48, 308 and 315.
From the White Horse Park bus stop a 15 minute walk up the road takes you to the tramline station and marks the official beginning of the trail. Buses 20 and Y3 (游3) travel right past White Horse Park on Taiping Lu (太平路) and up to the tramline entrance.
The tramline runs from 9:00am-4:30pm Monday to Friday and 8:30am-5:30pm Saturday and Sunday. The ride takes about 30 minutes to reach the mountain top and about 15 minutes to reach the observatory. Tram tickets cost 25 yuan per adult and 15 yuan for children under 1.3 meters tall.
The tramline in the late afternoon.
Hiking from the Tramline Entrance Area to The Observatory and Mountain Top
Walking up the slowly ascending road to the observatory takes 45 minutes if you maintain a brisk pace and do not take any breaks. If you are not sure whether or not you want to hike all the way up the mountain, remember that you will have another opportunity to hop on the tramline from the observatory. If you want to continue hiking, follow the small, unkept path just to the left of the entrance to the observatory. This path leads to a 3-path intersection. Turn right and walk about 50 meters to get to the tramline. Keep going straight to head for the main peak of the mountain. From this point on, just keep heading upwards on the main path or on one of the several smaller trails. Hiking up the main path should take another 45 minutes without breaks. Another spot on the main path leads down towards the Ming Xiaoling Tomb.
Yingtuo Village Entrance
On the northwest side of Purple Mountain, the Yingtuo Village entrance leads to a steeper and more direct route to the peak. Thin stairways lead all the way to the top of the mountain. However, these stairs can become fairly busy when the weather is pleasant.
To find the Yingtuo Village entrance, follow Bancang Street (板仓街) to Yingtuo Cun, (Yingtuo Village, 樱驼村). The entrance is rather insignificant (see picture). If you don’t watch for the road you might think it’s just another alley.
There’s not much fanfare about
the Cherry Village Entrance.
The trails are busy when the weather is nice.
Linggu Pagoda to The Mountain Peak
A gently sloping cement and stone road leads all the way from the mountain peak to the Linggu Pagoda. It takes 1.5 hours to walk this route if you do not take breaks. Likely because there are no notable viewpoints along this route, it is very lightly travelled.
Mountaintop Park (山顶公园)
The park at the top contains a large Buddha statue and a small clearing. Tickets to this park cost 4 yuan. Tickets are free for children under 1 meter, adults over 70, and people with physical handicaps. Those seeking only the premiere, most worthwhile attractions can certainly skip this one.
For 120 yuan you can purchase a year card that allows you to access all of the attractions listed below except for Underwater World. This card is well worth the money even if you are only planning to visit these attractions once. The card can be purchased at the entrances to any of these areas, however you must bring a passport sized photo. If you do not have a photo you can pick up 8 photos for 20 yuan at a store near the ticket booth for Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum. You can also pick up photos at a booth which is in front of Underwater World and near one of the entrance gates to the Ming Xiaoling Scenic Area.
Water and other refreshments cost about twice as much on the mountain as they do nearer to the ground. For example, a bottle of water costs 2 yuan near the bottom but costs 3.5 yuan at the top.
Nanjing is almost always foggy and/or smoggy, but if you plan on staying in Nanjing for an extended period of time, try to wait for a clear day to hike up the mountain.
Most tourist attractions are on the south side of the mountain. Most can be reached by bus and some require a short hike as well.
Ming Xiaoling (明孝陵)
Plum Blossom Hill (梅花山)
Purple Cloud Lake (紫霞湖)
Sun Yat-sen Museum (孙中山纪念馆)
Music Stage (音乐台)
Linggu Temple and Linggu Pagoda (灵谷寺和灵谷塔)
Beamless Hall (无梁殿)
Tomb of Tan, Yankai (谭延闿墓)
Meiling Villa (美龄宫)
Purple Mountain Observatory (紫金山天文台)
Underwater World (海底世界)
Photos from Purple Mountain