Rising to over 3000m (10,000ft), Wutai is the highest peak in northern China and one of the country’s most sacred sites. Streams of locals make the ascent to the summit every day, pausing en route to worship at some of the 53 monasteries that cling to the sides of the thickly forested massif, which Buddhists regard as the home of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjusri. Dating from the 8th and 9th century, these shrines include the oldest surviving wood-built temple in China and are exquisitely decorated. Take a cable car to the top, then walk down, settling on a bench every now and again to soak up the devotional atmosphere, as monks light braziers of juniper and incense in ancient bronze urns – scenes little changed since the time of the Tang dynasty.

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