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Zhangjiajie, China - Your Complete Travel Guide

Written by Candice SongUpdated Nov. 22, 2023

Zhangjiajie is a city, region, and national park. It is located in Central China, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Hong Kong.

Zhangjiajie's Location in China Map

Are you impressed by the Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar? The real ones are in Zhangjiajie. There are 243 peaks and more than 3,000 pinnacles and spires in the national park. Scenes in Avatar come to mind when the peaks are caught in the right light or when the early morning mountain mist rolls in around them.

In 1982, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park became China's first national forest park.

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Why People Love to Visit Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie is not suited to everyone's taste, just as not everyone enjoys watching the movie Avatar. But for those who love nature, wish to seek adventure, and want to escape from the daily hustle and bustle, Zhangjiajie is a must for your travel itinerary.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
  • Get up close and personal with the mountains from Avatar. Don't just be impressed by videos and pictures. Travel to see the real ones - they are only a day's journey from you.
  • Escape from your busy routine to see the most beautiful scenery and rejuvenate your mind and body.
  • Enjoy the adventure of hiking in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon in dense forests and by stunning waterfalls and limpid streams.

Top Things to Do in Zhangjiajie

It would be a shame to travel halfway around the world to Zhangjiajie but then miss any of the highlights. Reviews are not always helpful for you to find the best things to do as people rate by personal expectations and preferences. We have given you the recommendations below according to the majority of our customers' feedback as well as our own 20+ years of traveling.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: If we were asked to recommend just one attraction, it would be this. All of the mountains and peaks parodied in the movie Avatar are concentrated in this national park.

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Heaven's Gate on Tianmen Mountain

Tianmen Mountain or Heaven's Gate Mountain: The 999 steps to Heaven's Door, the 70-degree inclines above deep valleys on the longest cable car ride... your mind may be flooded with imaginings reading about these, let alone the spectacular valley views and thrilling cliff path skywalks.

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge: If you love adventure, you won't want to miss a hiking trip in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon. There is a glass bridge over the canyon and you'll love this if you crave fun and exciting experiences.

Nearby Fenghuang Ancient Town can be a great option if you are interested in Chinese ancient towns. Explore this idea more on Trip to Changsha, Zhangjiajie, and Fenghuang.

Best Times to Visit - Spring and Fall

Zhangjiajie can be visited all year round but your experiences may vary according to the seasons.

Cliff-side skywalk on Tianmen Mountain Cliff-side skywalk on Tianmen Mountain

Weather conditions: The period from September to October is often considered the best time to visit because of the comfortable weather with bright sunny days. However, it is also a very crowded season. If you don't want to waste time queueing for hours, let our experienced local travel experts help you. Would you rather waste 2 hours in queues or spend an extra 2 hours at the attractions? The choice is yours.

Spring is a good time because of the vigorous forests and seas of clouds. It is more relaxing during this season, with fewer people around. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle, this may be the best season for you.

Winter is cold but that also means you can enjoy the rare snowy mountain scenery and better hotel rates. If you want to benefit from having less expense, this season is the best choice although please note it may be freezing in the mountains.

See detailed information on Zhangjiajie Weather.

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How to Get to Zhangjiajie by Air/Train

Zhangjiajie is a small city surrounded by mountains, with a small airport and no high-speed railway. The best way to get to Zhangjiajie is to take a plane straight from Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou. They have daily flights to Zhangjiajie and are international flight hubs.

Trains to Zhangjiajie are generally not recommended: There is no bullet train to Zhangjiajie yet. Direct train journeys from major tourist cities take at least 10 hours.

It's hard and exhausting to figure the transportation all out. When booking, you will find it even harder so let the people who are good at this help you, like China Highlights. We will save you a lot of time and, most importantly, we know the best options. Let us help you create your Zhangjiajie trip.

See more detailed information about How to Get to and around Zhangjiajie.

The Best Places to Stay

There are international hotel chains in Zhangjiajie, such as Pullman Zhangjiajie, but the hotels are generally of a lower quality compared with hotels of the same star rating in major Chinese tourist cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guilin. Except for 5-star hotels, the hotels generally don't provide a Western breakfast and spoken English is limited.

Most of the hotels in Zhangjiajie are concentrated in two areas: downtown Zhangjiajie and a small town adjacent to the national park, called Wulingyuan.

We suggest our customers stay close to the national forest park most of the time because it is convenient for sightseeing in the park and some of the best hotels in the region are there. For those who arrive late or depart early, we suggest you stay in Zhangjiajie city center as it is close to the airport and train station.

See more useful tips about where to stay.

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Zhangjiajie Food and Cuisine

The local cuisineis spicy and has strong flavors. Don't worry if you can't eat spicy food because there will be Western food choices available at your hotel. We still recommend that you be adventurous and try it - learn about the place through your stomach.

Spicy local food in Zhangjiajie Spicy local food

Food options inside the national park are very limited but our guide will find the best ones for you. You can find a few Western restaurants, such as McDonald's and KFC, inside the park.

There are no vegetarian restaurants in the city but we can also arrange that and any other special requirements by talking with the chefs.

Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaigou, Huangshan, or Guilin?

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge

A lot of travelers consider the differences between Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaigou, Huangshan, and Guilin, and try to figure out which is the best to visit. Our recommendations are as follows:

Accessibility: Zhangjiajie is harder to access than Guilin and Huangshan, but easier to access than Jiuzhaigou. (Due to the extensive damage from the August 8th, 2017 earthquake, Jiuzhaigou was closed until September 27th, 2019.)

Travel comfort: Guilin's best, Huangshan's second, Jiuzhaigou's third, and Zhangjiajie's fourth for quality of accommodation, facilities, and infrastructure.


  • Zhangjiajie features "gravity-defying" mesas. The huge forest park pillars seem to float in seas of clouds.
  • Jiuzhaigou has colorful Alpine lakes, snowy peaks, and waterfalls in deep glacial valleys.
  • Huangshan is known for its seas of clouds, peculiar-shaped rocks and pines, sunrises/sunsets, and ancient villages nearby.
  • Guilin features celebrated water (the Li River and tributaries) and karst landscapes (bizarrely-shaped limestone hills).
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Travel to Zhangjiajie with China Highlights

A trip to Zhangjiajie should be relaxing and enjoyable but the reality may not always seem like this. How does it feel to queue in a large crowd for over 2 hours? Your guide will help you to get where you want to go and to navigate around the crowds.

See our most popular customizable Zhangjiajie itineraries:

Or we can create a trip especially for you from your interests and requirements.

Or you can read more tips on how to plan your Zhangjiajie tour

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

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