Hunan Discovery Tour
7-Day Changsha, Zhangjiajie, Fenghuang Ancient Town Private Tour
Hunan — the birthplace of Chairman Mao — may be little known by many people outside of China but it is waiting to be explored and appreciated. This tour includes the highlights of Changsha, amazing Zhangjiajie, and the beautiful Fenghuang Ancient Town.
With direct flights operating between LA and Changsha, it is easier to explore this mysterious and attractive land.
- Step into the birthplace and the former residence of Mao Zedong and discover how he became the greatest man in modern China.
- Explore the highlights of the 'City of Snacks' — Changsha — and taste every snack yourself.
- Challenge yourself on the glass walkway that is situated 1,430 meters above the ground in Zhangjiajie.
- Experience the minority culture and taste the Tujia dishes in Fenghuang Ancient Town.
About China Highlights
Since 1998 we've guided everyone ranging from US presidents, Australian Geographic and retired backpackers. Our goal is to create unique trips that take you off-the-beaten path, helping you discover China in a more authentic way. Our motto: "Discovery Your Way!"
We did a private tour to Zhangjiajie with China Highlights in July and had a great time! It was hot, but our tour guide Chris was awesome at making sure we went to the best places at the best times to avoid the heat and lines. He obviously knows the area inside and out! We got to see some amazing (and completely empty) parts of the park that didn’t seem to be on any other tourists radar - and they weee STUNNING. We’re so glad we did this tour! Thanks Chris!! more
Sheraton Changsha Hotel (5-star)
After a flight to Changsha, you will meet your guide and private driver at the airport, and then be transferred directly to your hotel.
Discover Changsha snacks in the evening:
Changsha is one of the "Top Snacks Cities" in China, so when you are in Changsha make sure you never waste your free time! Local snacks are available everywhere, and you can also go to the Fire Palace (火宫殿) to fulfill your appetite. Stinky bean curd, Maren crispy duck, and Deyuan steamed buns are highly recommended!
Sheraton Changsha Hotel (5-star)
Mawangdui contains three ancient tombs belonging to the family of Marquis Dai from the early Western Han Dynasty. The three tombs were all in excellent condition when they were unearthed between 1972 and 1974. The tombs contain more than 3,000 pieces of cultural relics, including silk books, silk paintings, other articles made from silk, bamboo slips used for writing before paper was invented, lacquerware, and more.
Yuelu Academy was one of the four ancient Chinese academies in the Song Dynasty, established in the Northern Song Dynasty (in 976 AD), and has a reputation for being a millennium academy that has witnessed 1,000 years of reform of the education system. It represents part of the history of Chinese education.
The Loving Youth Pavilion was built in 1792 during the Qing Dynasty. The beauty of this spot, with its blossoming peach trees, graceful willows, and flowing streams, has attracted many poets and artists.
Crowne Plaza Zhangjiajie (5-star)
High speed train between Zhangjiajie and Changsha is on operation after Dec. 25th 2019. It takes about 3 hours. When arrive in Zhangjiajie West Station, your guide and driver will meet you and transfer to the Yellow Dragon Cavern first.
The Yellow Dragon Cave stretches a total length of 7.5 kilometers with four layers. It's home to an impressive collections of stalactites and stalagmites, illuminated in a variety of colored lights.
Prepare for early starts and time-saving adjustments:
To avoid waiting in long queues, your tour guide will suggest the best time to start the day, and might suggest you get up early or alter your attraction schedule. Please kindly understand and cooperate. You may want to take an early night's rest.
Crowne Plaza Zhangjiajie (5-star)
Breakfast in Zhangjiajie's hotels is very basic, so your guide will prepare bread, coffee, and fruit for you.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is located in Wulingyuan Scenic Area, about 40 minutes' drive from the city. Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie are the most classic and popular sites in Zhangjiajie.
To save your time and energy, we will arrange the cable car (or elevator) trips to take you up and down the mountain. Take the cable car up Tianzi Mountain, and look through the glass walkway to see large areas of spiky sandstone peaks below that are thrusting up from the ground.
Have a simple lunch on the mountain. If you prefer, we can arrange for you to have lunch at a McDonald's on the mountain, and have a break in the air-conditioned building.
The namesake and inspiration for the Hallelujah Mountain in Avatar is located in Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, which you will visit in the afternoon after taking a shuttle bus from Tianzi Mountain.
Evening free time recommendation:
The Xibu Ancient Streets are a Tujia minority culture and tourist area about 2 kilometers from the hotels. They contain a local snack street, a folk culture souvenir street, and a bar street. Street barbecues are very popular in Zhangjiajie, so you could try sitting down and enjoying a barbecue and some local beer like a local!
Crowne Plaza Zhangjiajie (5-star)
Baofeng Lake is in a basin created by the terrain in the middle of this mountainous area. A walk of about 20 minutes is needed before you reach the lake and take a wooden boat for a 30-minute boat ride. It is a leisurely experience as you float across the clear water, see the hills of various shapes, and enjoy entertainment by the local minority people as they sing their traditional songs.
Tianmen Mountain is regarded as the 'soul' of Zhangjiajie, being its highest mountain. The views include graceful ancient trees, karst hillocks, and long roads that are carved from the sides of the cliff. The cable car takes 30 minutes to get from the city center to the mountain top and is the longest cable car in the world.
Your heart will beat quickly at Tianmen Mountain on the world's longest cable car, the suspended glass walkway that is almost a mile (1,430 meters) above the ground, and the '99 Bends' mountain road.
Tianmen Cave (literally meaning 'Heaven's Gate Hole') is a 30-meter-high hole formed naturally in the mountain like a doorway. It is well-known for being glided through by a world-class stuntman in a wing suit. To reach the hole, you can climb for about half an hour up the 'Stairway to Heaven'.
Zhangjiajie is an amazing place for photography!
Using the photographic advice given by your professional tour guide, no matter who you are or what equipment you use, you can create a masterpiece.
Fenghuang Garden Hotel (5-star)
It takes about 5 hours to drive from Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang, so it is better to start the day early. Although it's a long journey, you won't be bored on the way!
On the way to the Fenghuang Ancient Town, you will visit the Red Stone Forest National Geopark. It is an area comprised of the Red Stone Forest
Karst Landform Scenic Area, Gorge Scenic Area, underground rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and cave scenic spot.
In the Red Stone Forest National Geopark, you will see many strangely-shaped rocks everywhere. They are in different poses and totally natural. In the past, these rocks were called cornerstones, also known as "pagoda stones" or "the Chinese cornerstones".
Different from other ancient towns in China, Fenghuang Ancient Town is a secluded and tranquil town located on the bank of the river and surrounded by mountains. It is a good idea to stroll in this ancient town and visit some interesting shops and homes, and discover some interesting nooks. The ethnic handicrafts are really delicate and special in this region. At night, the town becomes more quiet and peaceful. Sitting in a bar and appreciating the sunset is wonderful.
The night view of Fenghuang Ancient Town is beautiful and attracts many photographers. In your free time, it is recommended that you find a café beside the Tuo River, sit down, and enjoy the nighttime scenery!
Your tour guide will pick you up from your hotel, transfer you to Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport, and wave goodbye.
Onward Domestic Flights:
Zhangjiajie has direct flights to China's major cities, such as Changsha, Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, and Guangzhou. We have good relationships with the air companies, and can get competitive flight prices, so feel free to let us know your next destination for a quote!
Non-Stop Flights Between Los Angeles and Changsha:
Travelers from America will find it easier to get to Zhangjiajie than before as Hainan Airlines began non-stop flights on January 21st, 2016 between Los Angeles and Changsha.
Customizing the Tour — according to your needs
This tour is very flexible. You can alter the itinerary, extend or shorten it to suit your price, interest, and schedule.
You can extend it with an extra day to Fenghuang Ancient Town, where the daytime is picturesque and charming, and the night is lively; or with an extra day to the city of Changsha; or add one more day to discover more at the National Park (the entrance ticket is valid three days). If your time is limited, shortening by one day can also be arranged.
For a multi-city tour, we would recommend combining Zhangjiajie with Guilin (mountain and water scenery), Yangtze River cruise (relaxing cruise on the Yangtze River) or Guizhou (ethnic minority villages). Feel free to tell us your interest and idea.
Your personal tour guide will accompany you throughout the tour, providing guiding service and local knowledge. He/she is ready and willing to help you solve problems while on the tour.
Star-rated hotels in Zhangjiajie might not be up to the standard of those in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Most hotels in Zhangjiajie opened over 10 years ago and have not undergone renovation, so the facilities might not be very new. For example, 4-star hotels in Zhangjiajie might only compare to economy standard hotels in cities like Shanghai. The hotels we use in the tour are carefully selected based on criteria like hotel environment, location, service, and previous customer feedback. Breakfast at a 4-star hotel at Zhangjiajie is very basic, and 5-star hotels breakfast is usually Chinese style mixed with some western choices. We suggest you bring your own toiletries and towel, and if you meet any problems in your hotel, our tour guide will help you arrange with the hotel to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
If you have other hotel choices or wish to book hotels by yourself, feel free to tell us your idea.
Restaurant and cuisine choices are very limited in the national park. We will find the best available, but it is also suggested that you bring some snacks. Local villagers sell water and food like fruits and corn on the mountains, which are good to try while you climb the steps.
As for dinners (not included in the tour), you will have better and more choices while you are down the mountain. Feel free to ask your tour guide for recommendation of restaurants and dishes to try.
There are no vegetarian restaurants available in Zhangjiajie. For vegetarian travelers, please tell us your meal requirements in advance, so that we can make relevant arrangement for you.
How the Weather Affects the Scenery and What to Bring
It is foggy/rainy for over 200 days per year in Zhangjiajie, but the mists make Zhangjiajie mysterious. It might rain or be foggy (obscuring some of the view), but even then the scenery is beautiful.
A pair of comfortable walking shoes with good grip is a must.
Clothing: In summer, bring mosquito repellant, sunglasses, sun block and hat. Prepare an extra light coat for the cool early mornings and evenings. Bring warm clothes for winter, but you will get warmer climbing the mountains, so layers are recommended for flexibility.