Zhejiang Province, on the coast, 80km (116 miles) N of Wenzhou, 378km (233 miles) SW of Hangzhou, 470km (292 miles) S of Shanghai

Although most Chinese have heard of these famous religious peaks, very few have actually been here. Subsequently, although as impressive as their counterparts, they are far less commercialized than the Five Sacred Mountains, with lower ticket prices and better-value hotels. Yandang Mountain was named a World Geopark by UNESCO in 2005.

Named after the flocks of wild geese that gather in the marshes around the lake at the top of the mountain (or perhaps the white rock outcrops that certainly resemble geese from a distance), the Yandang mountains are situated in the southeast of Zhejiang Province, cover an area of 450 sq. km (176 sq. miles), and consist of seven scenic areas. The mountain range was formed 120 million years ago and belongs to a volcanic belt dating from the Cretaceous Period, older than both the Andes and the western United States.

Master Xu Xiake, the renowned monk/geographer, visited Yandangshan twice and it became widely known during the Song dynasty (960-1279). He wrote that "to fully appreciate the beauty of Yandangshan, you would have to be a flying spirit!"

Unfortunately tourism has not been kind to this beautiful area. The mountains used to be truly serene with many natural brooks but excessive extraction of groundwater has now drained most of these. The unbridled greed that made nearby Wenzhou so famous has arrived at the resort in spades, and can also be thanked for the fast growing red light area and the sprawl of tacky new construction. Even the protected areas are getting in on the act. We saw at least two new temples under construction in the Spiritual Peaks area. It remains to be seen whether Yandangshan's downward spiral will change our mind about including it in the next edition. My advice is to see it now before it is completely ravaged by domestic tourism.