When in Baihe, the first thing to do is to check the weather forecast. The Changbai Mountain area is cooler than the town and if it’s raining or too windy, the road to the Heavenly lake will be closed, and you don’t want that to happen because it’s quite pricy to get in.
Okay, getting to the Changbai Mountain is not too hard if you’re willing to pay a little bit more. First, we wanted to take the local bus but they aren’t running every day so instead tell the hotel that you want to go to the mountain (The Northern Gate) and they’ll find a taxi for you. The price is 60 RMB/ one way so if they want more, find another one.
We found a local guy on the side of the road and he drove us there in his taxi. We paid him 60 RMB and then we were put off at the entrance. He had told us all about the town’s history, the North Korean refugees and the mountain.
The story about the mountain is quite interesting. The mountain is split between the Chinese and North Korean because one North Korean Chairman gave away half of the mountain as a friendship border present to China. Thereafter, China chose to use it as a tourist destination. The taxi guy told us that he felt bad when the poor North Korean people were showering naked in the lake while Chinese tourists were just standing dumbfounded on the other side. He said that because they were so poor, they didn’t seem to care about anything else than the fact that the lake was now warm enough to take a shower.
Anyway, the mountain area is pretty confusing to understand but let’s try to explain it in a simple way. What you should do when arriving:
- Go to the big building which is the entrance and stand in line. You have to buy two tickets. One for the entrance and one for the bus taking you to the mountain (The area is crazy big and tourists aren’t allowed to walk).
Entrance fee: 125 (Bring student card to get 50% off)
Bus fee: 85 (Keep the ticket so you can go back from the mountain on the same ticket
- After buying the ticket, stand in line with the other tourists and wait until you can get onto a bus
- We took the bus to the end station which was a mistake. Before departure from the main entrance, ask for the bus station where you can change to the bus to the Heavenly lake (This is another fee of 85 RMB which you’ll have to buy at the big bus station at the mountain)
- Okay, I hope you’re still following. After buying the ticket to 天池 (Heavenly Lake), it’s time to get in line again. No signs are in English so get ready to exercise your Mandarin. Get onto the small bus running towards the lake (It’s the highest point in North East China, get ready for some driving up up up)
- Walk the path towards the platform A and B
- Take the same small bus down again
- Change to another bus to the other smaller sights inside the mountain area
- When you think you’re done, get in line for the big green bus going down to the exit again
- Call the taxi driver who took you there and he’ll take you back (Make a deal with him before getting out of the taxi at the entrance)
Our taxi driver had told all the other drivers who we were so everyone was happily welcoming us when we came back from the mountain. He was patiently sitting at the foot of the mountain waiting for us. When taking us back to town he told us where to find a big supermarket so we could get out oatmeal and then we thanked him and paid the last 60 RMB for the trip.
I’ll recommend you to NOT go through peak season (July). We did and there were SO many tourists. It’s better to do it later or earlier in the spring/summer season. You can also go when there’s snow in early spring or late autumn but be prepared because it’ll be freezing and also remember that they’ll close the road if there’s too much snow but then open again after they’ve removed the snow. The weather conditions are important to know beforehand.
I hope you’ll enjoy your trip there!