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How to Plan a Day Trip to Zhangjiajie

Written by Kelly PangUpdated Oct. 9, 2023
Day trip to Zhangjiajie National Forest ParkZhangjiajie National Forest Park

Planning on spending just one day in Zhangjiajie? Sure, it's not long, but you'll be able to see the best of Zhangjiajie even in such a short space of time as long as you plan well in advance.

Here, we'll help you plan your perfect day in Zhangjiajie based on your interests.

Choose What to Do in Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie has three famous scenic areas: Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge.

As you only have one day, we recommend you visit Zhangjiajie National Forest Park or Tianmen Mountain.

Here is an overview of the two options for quick reference:

  Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Tianmen Mountain


40 minutes from downtown Zhangjiajie

Next to the city, close to Zhangjiajie's airport and train station


Avatar Mountain, the world's tallest glass elevator, a cable car

The world's longest cableway, glass skywalks, Tianmen Cave, 999 steps to Heaven's Gate


Amazing scenery of precipitous pillars

Mountain scenery, adventure

Now let's see what you can expect to find at each attraction in our detailed 1-day Zhangjiajie itineraries.

One-Day Trip to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie day trip to Zhangjiajie National Forest ParkZhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is huge and usually requires 2–3 days to see the majority of it. We recommend you visit the highlights of the park in your day: Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie, where the mountains that inspired Avatar's Hallelujah Mountains are located.

Both of them are usually crowded because of their fame so arrive as early as possible to avoid Chinese groups.

In the Early Morning: Yuanjiajie

You'd better arrive at Wulingyuan Entrance before 7:30 am. Take a public shuttle bus from Wulingyuan Entrance to Yuanjiajie Scenic Area. Then take the Bailong Elevator (72 yuan for a single trip) to the mountaintop. It is said to be the world's highest glass elevator built on the side of a cliff.

Bailong ElevatorBailong Elevator

It takes just 2 minutes to ascend the mountain but get ready to wait for 2 hours if you arrive late.

Walk along the path clinging to the edge of the cliff and see the Lost Souls Platform, the spectacular Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, and the First Bridge Under Heaven.

Around Noon

Have lunch at a local restaurant or at a KFC restaurant that is located on the mountain.

Due to limited options, the restaurants are often full of tourists. Your guide can help you to order dishes in advance and will know the best time to avoid the crowds.

In the Afternoon: Tianzi Mountain

Zhangjiajie day trip to tianzi mountainThe cable car up to Tianzi Mountain

Ride a public shuttle bus to Tianzi Mountain. Visit the highlights of the area: 'Nod-to-the-General Platform', where there are many tall rock pillars of different shapes, and 'The Emperor's Pens', which resemble calligraphy pens.

Afterward, take a cable car ride to descend the mountain. The 30-minute ride will take you through the towering formations and allow you to take great midair photos.

If you still have time, you can enjoy an easy walk alongside Golden Whip Stream at the bottom of the valley.

One-Day Trip to Tianmen Mountain

Zhangjiajie day tour to Tianmen Mountain

Tianmen Mountain is easily accessible. It is about 5 minutes from the train station and 20 minutes from the airport.

You can visit Tianmen Mountain directly upon arrival and leave your luggage at the cable car station.

There are two options to visit the mountain. One is taking a cable car ride up to the mountain and taking a shuttle bus back down, and the other one is the reverse of this.

We recommend you choose the first option if the waiting time for the cable car is acceptable.

On the mountain, there are two traveling lines: West Line and East Line. If your time is limited, travel along West Line. You will:

  • walk around the cliff-hanging walkways
  • experience the glass skywalks
  • take a chairlift to the summit and visit a Buddhist temple
  • take an escalator to descend to Tianmen Cave(Heaven's Gate Cave)
  • go down to the bottom of Tianmen Cave via the 999 steps or another escalator
  • take a shuttle bus back to downtown Zhangjiajie.


1. The queue for the cable car is often long. It is common to wait for 2 hours in the peak season so arrive as early as possible. If the queue is too long, you can choose to take a shuttle bus up to the mountain.

2. Booking a ticket through an agency in advance can help you save a lot of time instead of buying a ticket on the spot.

3. Prepare some food and water because they are expensive on the mountain.

4. If you suffer from car sickness, it would be better to take some pills in advance.

Where to Stay

Where to stay in zhangjiajie

Where to stay depends on where you spend your day. If you plan to take a 1-day trip to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, we recommend you stay in Wulingyuan, close to the entrance of the park.

Wulingyuan is 40 minutes from the city. Remember to get up early and book a transfer service in advance if you need to catch your flight or train early in the morning.

If you would like to spend your day on Tianmen Mountain, we recommend you stay in downtown Zhangjiajie.

Read more information about Zhangjiajie accommodation and recommended hotels.

Choose the Right Travel Style: a Private Guided Tour

As your time is limited, a private guided tour is the best travel style if you don't want to waste time on transportation, buying tickets, and finding your way on the mountains.

Our experienced guides know how to make the most of your time and we will create a flexible tour based on your interests and requirements.

Let us know your preferences and we will tailor-make a day tour for you to maximize your time in Zhangjiajie.

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