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Zhangjiajie or Guilin: Which Should You Visit?

Zhangjiajie and Guilin are the two most beautiful places in China featuring natural scenery. Zhangjiajie or Guilin, which one is best to visit for you? or both? Spend 3 minutes to read our suggestions below to help you make the best decision. Don't want the hassle of reading and comparing? Just give us your ideas, and we will help you plan a trip according to your interests.

Zhangjiajie or Guilin: Summary

Which is better for you depends on you and your interests, though of course, you may decide to visit both Zhangjiajie and Guilin.

Zhangjiajie is best for exciting mountain experiences. If you particularly want to see the "Avatar mountains" then Zhangjiajie is for you.

Guilin is best for more varied and relaxing scenic options such as riverboats, rafting, and biking in the countryside. It is probably better for older people and for families with small children.

  Guilin Zhangjiajie
Recommended Days 3-5 Days 3-5 Days
Best Time to Visit March to June, September to November April to November
Activities River cruise/ bamboo rafting, countryside biking, terraced hill hiking Mountain hiking, record-breaking high-up experiences
Tour Cost 200 USD/day 230 USD/day
Travel Comfort Good Challenging at times
Suited to Whom Relaxing holiday seekers, photographers, hikers, all ages People who seek adventure, photographers, hikers
Definitely Not Suited To Not applicable Small children, people who have difficulty walking, people who can't endure queuing

Recommended Tours:

We Recommend These Travelers Choose Guilin:

River bamboo rafting, GuilinBamboo rafting, Yangshuo, Guilin
  • First-time travelers: we suggest you choose Guilin over Zhangjiajie, as it is a more popular and classic destination and less challenging. The countryside in Guilin is a masterpiece of traditional Chinese rural life.
  • Seniors or people who are not good at walking: Guilin generally doesn't require a lot of walking.
  • Families with young children
  • Those seeking relaxation and comfort: there are better facilities, hotels, etc. in Guilin. Tour activities are more relaxing.
  • Winter travelers: With no snow or icy roads, though often cold and overcast, Guilin can be visited in winter. It is not so chilly as in Zhangjiajie's mountains.
  • Those traveling via Hong Kong, there are fast bullet trains connecting Hong Kong with Guilin, as well as direct flights.

Decided to choose Guilin? See our most popular Guilin tours.

We Recommend These Travelers Choose Zhangjiajie:

Mountains in ZhangjiajieHallelujah Peak, named from Avatar, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
  • Adventure lovers: there are many steep drops, glass cliffside skywalks, and the longest cable car with a 70+degree incline in Zhangjiajie.
  • Avatar fans: If you were inspired by the mountains of Pandora in Avatar, this is the closest you'll find to them on Earth.
  • Serious mountain hikers: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has gorgeous steep hiking trails up and down mountains with or without steps.
  • Those who aren't easily traveling sick and don't suffer from vertigo: There are many winding roads and steep drops!

See the best Zhangjiajie itineraries for more inspiration.

Recommended Tours:

These Travelers May Consider Visiting Both:

  • Nature and adventure lovers
  • People who want to see the most beautiful places in China
  • Those whose travel time longer than 7 days
  • Photographers

See our most popular tour itinerary combing Guilin and Zhangjiajie.

Zhangjiajie vs Guilin: Detailed Comparison

If you still want more info we've compared Zhangjiajie and Guilin for 1. popularity, 2. things to do / activities, 3. weather / best time to visit, 4. travel comfort, 5. travel cost, 6. ease of getting there, 7. walking difficulty, and 8. food.

1. Popularity

Li RiverKarst hills along the Li River have made Guilin No. 1 for scenery in China.

Richard Nixon made Guilin famous during his Guilin river cruise in the 1970s. Zhangjiajie became internationally famous following Avatar in 2009, which Zhangjiajie's rock pinnacles inspired. Internationally, Guilin is still more popular than Zhangjiajie with its attractions ranking higher on major travel sites.

Zhangjiajie's increase in popularity with Chinese tourists in the last 4 years has led to long queues for the top Zhangjiajie attractions. It can feel like a theme park where you're always joining long lines for the big rides.

2. Things to Do / Activities

Both Zhangjiajie and Guilin offer natural wonders, but Guilin has more variety.

Cliff path, ZhangjiajieThe cliff-side glass skywalk, Tianmen Mountain, Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie's attractions focus on the extreme and adventurous, with "Pandora's peaks" in the National Forest Park and more steep drops at Tianmen Mountain and the Glass Bridge.

Guilin is more relaxing. Guilin offers river cruising, bamboo rafting, countryside cycling, and hiking among sweeping vistas of tiered paddy fields and old ethnic villages.

Recommended Tours:

3. Weather/Best Time to Visit

Zhangjiajie's weather is a bit colder and drier. Moreover, the altitude makes Zhangjiajie attractions more easily inclement, where icy paths and freezing temperatures preclude winter visits for most people.

Guilin's weather is pleasanter than Zhangjiajie's in winter but more uncomfortably hot in summer.

The best times to visit Guilin are March–June (the rainy time is good for hill mists) and September–November (dry and warm), though it can be visited all year round.

Zhangjiajie's visiting season is April–November.

4. Travel Comfort

Winding road in Tianmen Mountain, ZhangjaijieThe winding road up Tianmen Mountain (999 bends!), Zhangjiajie

The infrastructure for travel and tourism is much better in Guilin. You have to do a lot more walking around the concrete/stone steps and bussing around winding roads in Zhangjiajie.

Guilin also has better quality hotels, less spicy local food, and much more Western and other Chinese food options. Roads are generally better and straighter in Guilin.

5. Travel Costs

Costs are similarly low in the two destinations at around 200 USD/day for a full-service tour, not including getting there. Generally, Guilin offers better value for money on everything from hotels to transport, restaurants to sights, as it is more developed for tourism and frequented.

6. Ease of Getting There

Yangshuo countryside cyclingYangshuo countryside cycling

Guilin's international airport has many more flights than Zhangjiajie's. You can travel between Hong Kong and Guilin by bullet train in about 3½ hours. Zhangjiajie is more isolated. It won't have a bullet train line until at least 2020 and its regular train services are fewer.

Guilin also has a 72-hour visa-free transit policy that makes a quick visit easier than Zhangjiajie for citizens of many countries.

7. Walking Difficulty

Guilin's main attractions require less walking than Zhangjiajie's. Popular ways of seeing the scenery are Li River cruises, bamboo rafting, and biking.

8. Food

Eating Beijing food with China HighlightsWe can take you to authentic local restaurants or arrange food you find more palatable.

Zhangjiajie food features sour and spicy-hot flavors with some exotic ingredients not usually found in Chinese food.

Guilin cuisine is milder compared to Zhangjiajie's, though it does have its own exotic dishes. If you don't like heavy spice, you'll probably prefer it. There are also far more Western restaurants and other food options in Guilin.

Recommended Extended Tours:

We Can Help You Tour Zhangjiajie/Guilin or Both

Touring Zhangjiajie with usSee Zhangjiajie and/or Guilin with us.

Choosing the most suitable destinations doesn't always mean a better travel experience. You are still only on the very first step, 100+ steps away from an enjoyable China tour. We can take all the hassle of researching, comparing, and booking away, and turn your ideas into a unique tour itinerary. Just tell us your ideas and we can create a trip for you.

Get inspired by our most popular Guilin and Zhangjiajie itineraries:

For both Zhangjiajie and Guilin, we recommend our customizable China Natural Wonders Discovery: Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, Zhangjiajie, and Shanghai in 14 days.

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

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