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Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie Travel Guide

Zhangjiajie is located in central China, northwest Hunan Province, over 1,000 kilometers from both Shanghai and Beijing. Zhangjiajie is famous for its precarious peaks, limpid streams, dense forests, and large karst caves.

Zhangjiajie was thrust into foreigner travelers' eyes after the movie Avatar. The Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar were inspired by Heavenly Pillar in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

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

Top Reasons to Go

  • Get up close and personal with the "Avatar" Mountains.
  • Enjoy the spectacular scenery in China's first national forest park.
  • Have a walk on the world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge, suspended between two mountains.
  • Take the world's longest cable car up to the mountain top.
Zhangjiajie National Forest ParkThe Hallelujah Mountains in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

What to See

The three must-see attractions in Zhangjiajie are the National Park, Tianmen Mountain, and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is large and needs at least two days to explore. It draws a large number of visitors with its awesome towering geology and rich wildlife.

Tianmen Mountain is quite different from the national park, featuring mountain peak vistas, cliff path walking, and a cable car with fantastic views. .

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is the world's longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge, with a total length of 430 meters and a height of 300 meters.

If you have a couple of extra days, you can opt to take a boat ride on Baofeng Lake and explore China’s largest karst cave — Yellow Dragon Cave. Nearby Fenghuang Ancient Town can be a great option if you are interested in Chinese ancient towns.

Know What's What in Zhangjiajie — Avoid Place Name Confusion

Wulingyuan Scenic Area ≠ Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Tianzi MountainTianzi Mountain

Strictly speaking, Wulingyuan Scenic Area consists of four parts: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, Suoxi Valley Natural Resource Reserve, and Yangjiajie Scenic Area. It covers a total area of 369 square kilometers (142 square miles).

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, part of Wulingyuan Scenic Area, contains Yuanjiajie, Golden Whip Stream, Yellow Stone Village, etc. It covers a total area of 48 square km (19 square miles).

When it comes to touring Zhangjiajie, for ticketing etc., Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is often regarded as the same area as Wulingyuan Scenic Area.

You can buy one ticket (248 yuan in 2017) to visit the four parts of Wulingyuan Scenic Area through any of the five entrance gates.

Yangjiajie ≠ Yuanjiajie

Both Yangjiajie and Yuanjiajie are inside the national forest park. Yuanjiajie is the most-visited area because of Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.

Yangjiajie, a newly discovered area, is the least-crowded area, with spectacular scenery, and challenging hiking.

Tianzi Mountain ≠ Tianmen Mountian

Tianzi Mountain is in the north of Wulingyuan Scenic Area, close to Hallelujah Mountain.

Tianmen Mountain is a large scenic mountain with many attractions, adjacent to Zhangjiajie City. It is about 35 miles between Tianzi Mountain and Tianmen Mountain.

Glass Bridge ≠ Glass Skywalks ≠ Glass Elevator

The Glass Bridge spans two cliffs in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.

The glass skywalks are built along the edges of the summit of Tianmen Mountain, which is in Zhangjiajie city proper.

Bailong Glass Elevator is inside Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Built onto the side of a huge cliff, it provides an easy way to ascend to the top of a towering mountain.

A map will help you to visualize the locations of the above attractions.

Best Times to Visit — Spring and Fall

The periods from April to June and September to October are often considered the best times to visit, for comfortable temperatures.

However, each season in Zhangjiajie offers visitors plenty of reasons to visit. Spring and summer are good times for the vigorous forests and seas of clouds.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in WinterZhangjiajie National Forest Park in winter

Fall offers crisp breezes, bright sun, comfortable temperatures and fabulous autumn hues. Winter is cold, but that also means rare snowy mountain scenery and better hotel rates. 

See detailed information about Zhangjiajie weather

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 (though there are bullet trains to Changsha, 320 km south, and connecting 5-hour trains).

There are a limited number of direct trains and flights from China's major tourist cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Xi'an to Zhangjiajie. If there is no direct flight or train from your city, you can consider taking a connecting flight at Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Changsha.

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

Where to Stay

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

We suggest our customers stay at Wulingyuan most of the time, because it is convenient for sightseeing in the forest park, and some of the best hotels in the region are there, such as Zhangjiajie Pullman Hotel. Zhangjiajie city hotels are convenient for the day of arrival/departure.

Hotels in Zhangjiajie are relatively lower quality than hotels of the same star rating in other Chinese cities such Beijing, Shanghai, and Guilin. Except for 5-star hotels, hotels generally don't provide a Western breakfast and English is limited. 

See more useful tips about where to stay.

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass BridgeZhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge

Dining

Food in Zhangjiajie is spicy and strong-flavored Hunan cuisine. Food options inside the National Park are very limited. You can find a few "Western" restaurants — a McDonald's and a KFC — and local villagers selling fruits and corn, on the mountains.

Food in Wulingyuan is better than in the park, but still limited. There are no vegetarian and Western restaurants in the town.

Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaigou, Huangshan, or Guilin?

A lot of travelers consider the differences between Zhangjiajie, Jiuzhaigou, Huangshan, and Guilin, and try to figure out which is the best to visit. Considering accessibility, travel comfort, and scenery…

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 still remains closed. [Dec. 2017])

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

Scenery

  • 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 (the Yellow Mountains) 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).

For more of a comparison read China's Top National Parks.

Travel to Zhangjiajie with China Highlights

Touring Zhangjiajie with usTouring Zhangjiajie with us

A private guide and car is recommended for Zhangjiajie. The national park is quite large, confusing, and crowded in key places most of the time. Our guide will be helpful to get you where you want to go and to navigate round the crowds.

See our most popular customizable Zhangjiajie itineraries:

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