Home China Guide Zhangjiajie How to Plan a Tour of Zhangjiajie

How to Plan a Tour of Zhangjiajie

The rock pillar landscapes of Zhangjiajie are renowned all over the world. The picturesque natural scenery and rich ethnic culture in Zhangjiajie is charming and well worth a trip. Generally speaking, threeorfour days are enough to see the main things in Zhangjiajie.

Choosing the Best Time to Go

Zhangjiajie Fall
Zhangjiajie in fall

It is possible to visit Zhangjiajie all year round, but, if impossible, we recommend you to go in September and October as the weather is comfortable, the scenery is cool, and it is quite.

If you don't mind the rains and humidity, April to Juneis also a good time to visit. The roads will be slippery and the mountains will be covered by extensive fog (cloud), which gives them an enchanting atmosphere.

Zhangjiajie’shigh travel season is from May to October. The rest of the year travel costs are lower.

Avoid China’s summer holiday season (July and August), and China’s holidays (Labor Day: May 1–3, National Day: October 1–7) as it is extremely crowded everywhere. Sometimes, you may need to wait for two hours for the cable car. 

Wedon't recommend our customers to travel from December to February; it may snow or become frozen. It is very cold in the mountains, with slippery roads. The park is closed for one week in February for routine maintenance.

Choosing What Sights to See

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Wulingyuan Scenic Area is the epitome of Zhangjiajie, and has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list, best shows the essence of Zhangjiajie's landscape.

Attraction

Type of Attraction

Hours  from Zhangjiajie

Time for a visit

(Entry) cost

Scenery*Activities

Recommended

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

National Park

40 minutes

One day to three days

 248 yuan

Precipitous Pillars
Hiking, phtography

Yes

Tianmen Mountain

Mountain

next to the city, close to the bus and train stations

One day

 258 yuan

vertical cliffs, cliff-hanging walkway
hiking, cable car riding, photography

Yes

Yellow Dragon Cave

Cave

1 hour

2 hours

80 yuan

Natural cave

No

Baofeng Lake

Lake

1 hour

2 hours

74 yuan

Boat ride

No

How Many Days to Stay?

Tianmen Mountain, 99 bends 99 bends on Tianmen Mountain

The best two attractions in Zhangjiajie are the National Forest Park, and Tianmen Mountain, which many skip, but we and other travelers who have been there recommend taking another day for.

We suggest our customers allow at least four days for Zhangjiajie: two days for the National Park, a day for Tianmen Mountain, and a day for settling in and travel.

A three day trip is possible, but your itinerary will be hectic, as the park is large, and you need at least a very busy day to cover the highlights. A two-day tour of the national park will allow you to travel at a more relaxed pace.

To visit nearby Fenghuang Ancient Town, allow two more days. 

Tell our travel advisor which sights you want to visit, and how many days you want to stay. They will suggest an itinerary to fit your schedule.

Recommendations on How to Get There

changsha to zhangjiajie transportation map Changsha is the main gateway city to Zhangjiajie

We suggest going via a city withdirect flights to Zhangjiajie, and international flights, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, or Guangzhou. If you are visiting other cities as well, then Chengdu and Xi'an are direct flight options.

Guilin and Hong Kong have no direct flights or trains to Zhangjiajie. We recommend traveling to an intermediate destination with direct flights.

Direct train journeys from major tourist cities are at least 10 hours and not recommended. The nearest major transit city to Zhangjiajie with bullet trains is Changsha, but it is far away (5 hours by train), and full of hassle to transit.

Choosing a Tour Style: Privately-Guided, in a Group, or On Your Own

Aprivateguide and car is recommended for Zhangjiajie. The park is quite large, confusing and crowded at most of the times. Our guide is helpful to get you where you want to go and negotiate the crowds.

Crowds, Zhangjiajie Tianmen Mountain Queues are normal in Tianmen Mountain and the Forest park, especially in July and August

Going with a tourgroupyou won't get lost and waste time, but you will never escape the crowds and have any flexibility.

On your own it is hard to find the right way even with a map. The buses and roads have no signage. It's a case of showing maps and asking enough people to get an average response, then showing the driver the map while you fight for a seat. Some drivers are helpful; others are stressed and just wave you away.

Find the Best Place to Stay

Travelers should consider carefully where to stay in Zhangjiajie. Most hotels in Zhangjiajie are concentrated in three areas: downtown Zhangjiajie, at Wulingyuan, or inside Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

We suggest our customers stay in Wulingyuan, just outside the national park, as it is convenient for visiting the park, and there are numerous hotels ranging from hostel to 5-star. Hotels under 5-star don’t provide Western breakfast. A 5-star hotel in Wulingyuan costs about 600 yuan (98 USD). We usually use Zhangjiajie Pullman Hotel, the best hotel in Wulingyuan.

Pandora Inn Zhangjiajie Pandora Inn is one of the best places to stay inside the park

If you care more about the scenery than the comfort, we suggest staying inside the park. There are only simple hostels inside the park with simple facilities, like basically furnished clean rooms and hot water. A standard room is around 200–300 yuan (33–49 USD). In the Forest Park you can enjoy the scenery peacefully and quietly when the large groups have thronged past for the day.

Hotels in Zhangjiajie city is good for tourists who arrive at Zhangjiajie on the first night, or who have finished their trip and going to catch a flight or train the following morning, or who only want to visit the sights around the city of Zhangjiajie, e.g. Tianmen Mountain. We arrange hotel in the Zhangjiajie city on the first day as most flights land at night, sometimes, very late.

Advice on Food

Let your travel advisor know your dietary requirements (including your tolerance for spicy food), and they will arrange your food according to your preference and requirements. If you travel on your own, write your food requirements down in Chinese and hand them to staff where you eat. See Gluten-Free Travel in China.

Spicy local food, ZhangjiajieSpicy local food

Food supplied in the national park is limited to the local spicy and strong flavor. Our guide will try his/her best to find the best restaurant available for our customers. If necessary our guide can arrange picnic food (take away food prepared by a hotel ). 

Bring some snacksin case you don't fancy the local food.

Packing List

See our China Travel Packing List for more detail. Below are the essentials and things specifically recommended for Zhangjiajie.

  • Travel documents (passports, visas)
  • Chinese money (at least 1,000 yuan / 164 USD) + credit card / ATM card
  • Camera
  • Suitable clothing for the season and hiking
  • Rain gear (especially in spring)
  • Sun-protection (especially in summer)
  • Anti-skid sport shoes or good walking shoes
  • Layered clothes in autumn and spring
  • Umbrella or sun hat
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Toiletries (carry your own toilet paper)
  • Any necessary medicine
  • Snacks

During the Tour

China Highlights aims to provide you with the best travel service possible. Contact us and will try our best to get over any difficulties you encounter during your time in Zhangjiajie.

Are you interested in making a tour of Zhangjiajie? Contact us to tailor-make a tour with a top tour guide. China Highlights specializes in making customized tours and tailor-making tours in China.