Putuoshan is only 297 meters above sea level and is located 5km east of Zhoushan island in Zhejiang province. The mountain is dedicated to Guanyin, often known in English as the Goddess of Mercy or the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
This is by far the lowest and among the most accessible of the four sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism (the others being Emeishan, Wutaishan, and Jiuhuashan), and because it’s a small, forested island, the space available for visitors is somewhat constrained. This can make it quite crowded and far from tranquil, especially around the most famous temples. However, the island still retains a special atmosphere and natural surroundings, and seems more laid-back than many similar tourist destinations. With roughly 80 temples on the island, of which only about three are famous, it’s easy to find more-obscure, less-crowded options.
There is an accommodation bureau at the port. The staff are extremely helpful, and provide reliable information on hotels and guest houses on the island. During national holidays, it is advisable to make prior room reservations, but this is not generally necessary at other periods.
Another tourist office is located on the main square near Puji temple, and this is a good place to pick up free English-language guides and maps.
Whether you arrive from Ningbo, from Zhoushan or direct from Shanghai, it costs ¥160 (July 2010) to land on Putuoshan as the whole island is a National Park (for ¥5 more you can buy a “Digital CD-ROM entry ticket” for the island which includes a CD with a video about the island). This is collected in a large hall as you leave the 1 ferry dock.
Due to new bridges, it’s now possible to travel to 1 Shenjiamen (from which it is only about a 15 minute 1 ferry ride to Putuoshan) entirely by bus from Shanghai and Ningbo. Shanghai has several departures daily from Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center, Shanghai Nanpu Bridge Bus Center and Shanghai South Long Distance Bus Station (138rmb/4-5 hours).
Ningbo has regular buses from both the Ningbo South and Ningbo North bus stations (¥57 or 52, respectively, 2-3 hours)
The 15 minute boat ride from Shenjiamen costs ¥14 (slow ferry, 25 minutes) or ¥30 (fast ferry, 10 minutes, every 20 minutes). You will need to show ID to get a ticket.
Combined bus+ferry tickets are available to (and presumably also from) Ningbo South bus station, for ¥100. This includes the ¥30 fast ferry to 1 Zhujiajian. These tickets are sold just to the left of the main ticket office at the Putuoshan ferry terminal, and can save some time and hassle, but the ferry is significantly less frequent.
- 1 Zhoushan Putuoshan Airport (舟山普陀山机场, HSN IATA). On Zhujiajian island immediately south of Putuoshan, this small airport has domestic flights to several major cities. The Zhujiajian ferry terminal for Putuoshan is just north of the airport.
(updated Jul 2018)
The following bus/ferry combinations are still available but the bus services which now utilise the new bridge connections are faster and more comfortable.
The journey from Ningbo to Putuoshan costs ¥70 and consists of an about 1 hour bus ride from the Ningbo Ferry Wharf to the port in Daxie and a 1 hour boat ride from Daxie to Putuoshan. The Ningbo Ferry Wharf is located just north of LaoWaiTan in 288 Zhongma Road (中马路). If you have a hotel booking you may be met at the wharf by a hotel minibus. Look out for placards in the bus park. There is an information/hotel booking desk at the Wharf, otherwise it is a short walk to the Puji Temple central area, where there is another information centre.
There are two boats departing from Shanghai. The cheapest leaves in the evening and takes around 12 hours, and costs around ¥90-340 (one way). For approximately ¥260 (one way), you can buy a ticket which includes a bus trip to Luchao Wharf from the city centre (taking up to two hours, depending on traffic conditions) and a boat onwards to Putuoshan (taking between two and three hours).
From Hangzhou, there are buses from the south bus station (407 qiutaolu 秋涛路407) to the bus station on Zhoushan (shenjiamen 沈家门). Buses depart approximately once per hour, take 3-4 hours, and cost ¥70. The bus journey no longer involves a vehicular ferry from the mainland to Zhoushan because a new bridge has been competed.