Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

A Complete Guide to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Adventure

The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park covers an expansive area of 264 square kilometers, necessitating a four-day validity for tickets due to its vastness. With five ticket stations, careful tour planning is crucial for visitors.

The nomenclature of various scenic spots in Zhangjiajie, such as Zhangjiajie, Wulingyuan, Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, and Tianmen Mountain, can be confusing. To clarify, Zhangjiajie is the city name, with three primary scenic spots:

  • Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Wulingyuan Scenic Spot) in Wulingyuan District
  • Tianmenshan National Forest Park in Zhangjiajie City
  • Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Scenic Spot in Cili County

Although these spots are relatively close, with a 40-minute drive between Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Tianmen Mountain, and another 40-minute drive from Zhangjiajie National Forest Park to the Grand Canyon, visitors should plan accordingly. Within the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park scenic area, the main attractions are Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, and Huangshizhai—the four primary peaks, each with its unique attractions.

At the base of the mountain, two hiking destinations, namely Golden Whip Stream and Ten-mile Nature Gallery, provide additional exploration opportunities. Shuttle buses facilitate transportation between these scenic spots. However, it’s crucial to note that the shuttle bus routes on the mountain and at the mountain’s base operate independently. To ascend or descend the mountain, visitors have the option of using cable cars or elevators.

PS: Tickets for major scenic spots in Zhangjiajie involve staged entry for ascending the mountain. It is advisable to purchase tickets in advance, considering there is a capacity limit for park entry. Late purchases may result in a lack of availability for the desired time period.

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🌟Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Travel Planning Guide

Considering a last-minute trip to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park?

1.Full-Day Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Tour: Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie: Explore the picturesque Zhangjiajie National Forest Park on a full-day private tour, visiting iconic spots like First Bridge under Heaven and an ‘Avatar’ movie location, and descend 1100 feet in the glass Bailong Elevator.

2. 3 Days Private Tour to Zhangjiajie National Park&Glass Bridge&Tianmen Mountain: Experience the best attractions like Hallelujah Mountains and the world’s highest Glass Bridge, ride the longest cable car to Tianmen Mountain, and stay in a luxurious 5-star Pullman hotel.

🏨Where to Stay:

ZiShan Ecological Resort (⭐️ 4.9 luxury)
No. 5 Valley Inn (⭐️ 4.7 mid-range)
Shell Youth Holiday Hotel (⭐️ 4.9 budget-friendly)

🌐Make sure to install ExpressVPN in advance for unrestricted internet access during your stay in China!

🌏Where is Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Located

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is located in the Hunan Province of China. Specifically, it is situated in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, which is part of Zhangjiajie City. The park is known for its stunning sandstone pillars, lush forests, and scenic landscapes.

🛫How to Get to Downtown Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie is currently accessible by air, train, and coach from several major cities in China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guilin.

By Air: Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport is the sole airport in Zhangjiajie, situated approximately 10 km from the downtown area and 25 miles from Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Visitors can reach the city center by taking city bus no. 4.

By Train:

  • Zhangjiajie Railway Station: The primary railway station is located in Yongding District, around 12 kilometers (about 7 miles) from the city center. It provides connections to more than ten major cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Changsha. Bus No. 1, 2, 6, and 7 connect the Main Railway Station with the city center.
  • Zhangjiajie West Railway Station: This station operates both high-speed trains to Changsha and regular-speed trains to Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou. It is about 8.5 kilometers (5 miles) from downtown Zhangjiajie, with city bus lines 4, 6, 7, 16, and 17 available at the train station.

💡Note: Train journeys often have extended durations, taking at least 10 hours, and are generally not recommended due to the considerable travel time involved.

🚗How to Get to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park From Downtown City

Here are two travel options to reach Zhangjiajie National Forest Park:

Option 1: By Air and Coach

  • Take a flight to Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport.
  • From the airport, take city bus 402 or 4 to Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station.
  • At Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station, board a coach bound for Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
  • Alternatively, you can take a taxi from the Central Bus Station to the park, which may take nearly 1 hour and cost approximately CNY 120-200.

Option 2: By Train and Coach

  • Take a train to Zhangjiajie Railway Station.Upon arrival, walk to the nearby Zhangjiajie Central Coach Station.
  • Board a coach from Zhangjiajie Central Coach Station to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
  • The entire journey is expected to take between 50 to 90 minutes.

Option 3: Private Car or Tour

Opt for a private tour from downtown to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park for a personalized and convenient exploration, with the added benefit of hotel pickup and drop-off in Zhangjiajie downtown or the train station.

🎫Tickets for Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Admission FeeMar. – Nov: CNY 225
Dec. – Feb: CNY 115
Bailong Elevator (Single Trip)CNY 72
Huangshizhai Cable Car (Single Trip)CNY 65
Tianzi Mountain Cable Car (Single Trip)CNY 72
Yangjiajie Cable Car (Single Trip)CNY 76
Ten-mile Nature Gallery Tourist Train (Single Trip)CNY 38

🌷Tips: The admission fee includes Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve, Yangjiajie Scenic Area and the battery car.

🚶🏻‍♂️Recommended Tour Routes to Visit Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie Map

Peak Season Caution: The East Gate (Wulingyuan ticket station) and the South Gate (Zhangjiajie National Forest Park ticket station) attract the highest number of visitors each year, resulting in potentially longer waiting times, especially during peak seasons. Plan accordingly to manage wait times.

Huangshizhai Isolation: Among the scenic spots, Huangshizhai stands as a solitary peak not directly connected to the other three famous spots. Visitors to Huangshizhai may need to retrace their steps or opt for a cable car descent.

Interconnected Scenic Spots: Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, and Yangjiajie are seamlessly linked, allowing for easy exploration and ascent using shuttle buses within the mountain.

Tour Route Flexibility: The provided tour route reminders are intended to guide tourists in selecting the most convenient entry gate based on their preferences and needs. Tailor your park entry to match your specific requirements for a more personalized and efficient experience.

  • Start at East Gate (Wulingyuan ticket station).
  • Take the Tianzi Mountain Cable Car to reach Tianzi Mountain, visiting Helong Park, West Sea Stone Forest, Fairy Offering Flowers, and Imperial Writing Brush Peaks.
  • Proceed to Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, exploring Enchanting Platform, Hallelujah Mountains, and The First Natural Bridge under Heaven.
  • Descend the mountain by taking the Bailong Elevator.
  • Visit the Ten-mile Nature Gallery, including Longevity Man Greeting Visitors, Herb Collecting Old Man, and Three Sisters.
  • Exit at East Gate.

Tour Time: One day

Cost: Entrance Fee + Tianzi Mountain Cable Car (Single Trip) + Bailong Elevator (Single Trip) + Ten-mile Gallery Tourist Train (Single Trip)

💡Note: For this specific route, travelers have the option to take a shuttle bus directly to either the Bailong Elevator or Tianzi Mountain Cable Car. This enables a convenient ascent up the mountain without the need for walking. This streamlined route is particularly well-suited for individuals with time constraints who aim to experience the essential attractions directly.

  • Start at the South Gate (Zhangjiajie National Forest Park ticket station).
  • Take the Huangshizhai cable car to ascend the mountain.
  • Explore Huangshizhai, including Pavilion of Six Wonders, Star Picking Terrace, and Ruins of The Heaven Bridge.
  • Continue to Golden Whip Stream, visiting Mother and Child Peak, Golden Whip Rock, and Zicao Pool.
  • Proceed to the Ten-mile Nature Gallery, with highlights such as Longevity Man Greeting Visitors, Herb Collecting Old Man, and Three Sisters.
  • Exit at East Gate.

Tour Time: One day

Cost: Entrance Fee + Yellow Stone Village Cable Car (Round Trip) + Ten-mile Gallery Tourist Train (Single Trip)

💡Note: This route allows you to explore Huangshizhai and Golden Whip Stream, two spots that may be challenging to visit from other ticket stations. However, it’s important to note that ascending the hill can be demanding. This tour is ideal for those with ample time who wish to experience all the attractions, especially the unique features of Huangshizhai and the scenic beauty of Golden Whip Stream.

  • Start at the North Gate (Tianzi Mountain ticket station).
  • Take a shuttle bus to ascend the mountain.
  • Explore Tianzi Mountain, including Helong Park, West Sea Stone Forest, Fairy Offering Flowers, and Imperial Writing Brush Peaks.
  • Proceed to Yangjiajie Scenic Area, visiting Wulong Village and Air Corridor.
  • Continue to Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, exploring Enchanting Platform, Hallelujah Mountains, and The First Natural Bridge under Heaven.
  • Take a shuttle bus back to Tianzi Mountain.
  • Take another shuttle bus to descend the mountain.
  • Return to the North Gate.

Tour Time: One day

Cost: Entrance Fee

💡Note: The main advantage of opting for the Tianzi Mountain Ticket Station is the availability of a complimentary shuttle bus for ascending the mountain, eliminating the need for additional fees for cable cars or the Bailong Elevator, as well as avoiding the necessity of hiking. However, there are drawbacks, including relatively inconvenient traffic and a city bus to the Tianzi Mountain ticket station with only one departure per hour.

  • Start at the West Gate (Yangjiajie ticket station).
  • Take the Yangjiajie cable car to ascend the mountain.
  • Explore Yangjiajie Scenic Area, including Wulong Village and the Air Corridor.
  • Proceed to Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, visiting Enchanting Platform, Hallelujah Mountains, and The First Natural Bridge under Heaven.
  • Continue to Tianzi Mountain, exploring Helong Park, West Sea Stone Forest, Fairy Offering Flowers, and Imperial Writing Brush Peaks.
  • Take the Yangjiajie cable car to descend the mountain.
  • Return to the West Gate.

Tour Time: One day

Cost: Entrance Fee + Yangjiajie Cable Car (Round Trip)

⛰️Yuanjiajie Scenic Area

Yuanjiajie Scenic Area is undeniably a must-see in Zhangjiajie tourism. Situated in the northern part of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, it proves to be an outstanding destination for witnessing world-class karst landscapes, particularly renowned for its captivating sandstone pillars. Notably, Yuanjiajie Scenic Area still hosts a population of the Tujia nationality, adding a unique cultural dimension.

This locale has earned the affectionate title of “the core of Zhangjiajie” from tourists both locally and internationally. Encompassing an expansive 1200 hectares, Yuanjiajie offers a captivating panorama. As you explore, the enchanting sight unfolds before your eyes—thousands of distinct mountains standing spectacularly with unique shapes and postures, all visible from the deep valley.

The Bailong Elevator stands as a crucial transportation and scenic facility within the core area of Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, extending its significance to the entirety of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Commencing operations in April 2002, this remarkable elevator boasts a vertical height difference of 335 meters. Experience the thrill of its impressive maximum speed of 5 m/s, completing the entire 326 meters ascent in a breathtaking 1 minute and 28 seconds. Recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest outdoor elevator, it exemplifies the seamless fusion of natural beauty and human ingenuity.

The introduction of the Bailong Elevator has effectively addressed the long-standing traffic bottleneck issues that plagued the scenic spot for years. Without the elevator, the arduous climb from the mountain’s base to Yuanjiajie would have taken five or six hours.

Upon reaching the entrance platform, one can’t help but notice the limited space, often crowded with visitors—given that most people’s first destination in Wulingyuan is the Bailong Elevator. Gazing upward, the imposing four Chinese characters of “百龙天梯” (Bailong Elevator) come into view. Adding to the lively atmosphere, some monkeys are present, and a tossed orange elicits a skilled display of peeling and feasting by one of these clever primates.

Bailong Elevator: My Past Encounter

Navigating through a lengthy indoor passage to reach the elevator, I found myself in a queue, surrounded by a crowd of people. With three elevators available, each featuring two floors capable of seating 62 people on each level, I opted for the second floor. As soon as the door opened, I hurried in and secured the prime viewing position in the front row.

The elevator initiated its ascent swiftly in the dimly lit space, accompanied by an audio explanation that allowed us to grasp insights into the Bailong Elevator and prepare for the upcoming spectacle. As the announcement reached the point of “please pay attention to the front of you,” everyone refrained from blinking, anticipating the moment. Suddenly, the elevator burst through the darkness, unveiling a vast expanse of stone peaks rising dramatically from the ground. This striking scene was a stark contrast to the view from the base of the mountain, prompting exclamations from everyone on board.

Despite the progressively widening panoramic view as the elevator continued its ascent, the entire journey lasted a mere 88 seconds, and we soon arrived at the station. The moment of emerging from the darkness was undeniably breathtaking, yet the cost of CNY 65 did seem quite steep.

Exiting the elevator, you find yourself on a relatively small observation deck, often crowded and offering a less-than-ideal view. Following the throng, you head towards the Enchanting Platform, a considerable distance away. Along the path, the mountain forest is adorned with numerous blooming pink azaleas.

The Enchanting Platform holds a prime position as one of Yuanjiajie’s natural viewing spots, offering an unparalleled panorama. From this elevated platform, Zhangjiajie’s myriad unique peaks sprawl before your eyes. Stone formations of various heights stand majestically in the valley, resembling pavilions, birds, beasts, and divine entities. Countless postures and scenes unfold, creating a captivating tapestry of natural beauty.

The scene transforms into a fairyland when a few drifting clouds add to the enchantment.

Hallelujah Mountains

The Southern Sky Pillar in Yuanjiajie is famed as the real-world inspiration for the “Hallelujah Mountains” depicted in the renowned film Avatar. On January 1, 2010, this pillar, also known as the Pillar between Heaven and Earth, was officially renamed the Hallelujah Mountains. Boasting an elevation of 1074 meters above sea level and a vertical height of approximately 150 meters, the pinnacle is adorned with lush vegetation at its summit.

It possesses a distinctive form, tapering both upwards and downwards while maintaining a thicker middle section. This unique formation gives the impression of a mountain suspended in the air when the lower portion is veiled by mist

In December 2008, Hollywood photographer Hansen conducted a four-day photoshoot in Zhangjiajie. The captivating landscape images captured during this period served as the inspiration for various elements of the fictional world of “Pandora” in the American science fiction blockbuster “Avatar.” Notably, the depiction of the “Southern Sky Pillar” became the visual prototype for the iconic “Hallelujah Mountain” in the film.

The First Natural Bridge under Heaven, recognized as one of the top ten superb sceneries in Zhangjiajie, spans between two towering mountains, securing its place as the world’s largest natural stone bridge with the most significant vertical height difference discovered to date.

This remarkable bridge measures about 3 meters in width, extending over 20 meters in length, with a relative height of nearly 400 meters. The tree on the bridge stands tall, vines cascade along its sides, and the space beneath remains mysterious and deep.

Viewed from a distance, the bridge appears majestic and steep, yet as you walk upon it, the experience is akin to traversing an ordinary road.

This natural stone bridge originated between two mountains that were once a single entity. However, due to the middle stone’s relatively fragile nature, succumbed to the effects of weathering, collapse, and the erosive forces of sun, rain, and mountain floods over time. The culmination of these natural processes has given rise to the extraordinary wonder that stands today.

Opposite the Back Garden lies Goat Village, nestled against a towering mountain adorned with ancient trees that stretch towards the heavens, casting shadows that blanket the sky and sun. The forest is often frequented by wild goats, and the nocturnal air is filled with the distant “bleating” of these creatures, earning the place its name, “Goat Village.”

In the era of the Republic of China, this area fell under the control of bandits. Even today, remnants of gates, castles, moats, wells, and mills from that time can still be discovered.

From the mountain’s summit, a breathtaking panoramic view unfolds, revealing the meandering Golden Whip Stream as it peacefully flows through a landscape dotted with hundreds of stone formations. The scene exudes a sense of tranquility and harmony.

Tianzi Mountain can be aptly described as “untouched natural splendor.” Its landscapes and attractions are entirely shaped by nature, devoid of any artificial alterations. This enchanting destination boasts not only extraordinary mountains and rivers but also embraces authentic local customs and distinctive national cuisine for visitors to experience. Renowned for its four captivating phenomena—the Sea of Clouds, the Radiance of the Moonlight, Rays of Sunshine, and Winter Snow—Tianzi Mountain truly embodies the unspoiled beauty of original scenery.

The Tianzi Mountain Cable Car, acclaimed as one of “China’s Top Ten Tourist Cable Cars,” spans a total length of 2,084 meters and covers a remarkable height difference of 692 meters.

With a swift single trip duration of just six minutes and twenty-two seconds, it provides an awe-inspiring journey through captivating scenery. Following the Huangshizhai Cable Car, it stands as Zhangjiajie’s second scenic cable car and serves as the primary mode of transportation for visitors entering the Tianzi Mountain Scenic Area. For a single trip, the ticket price is CNY 72.

At the forefront is Helong Park, where a monumental bronze statue positioned atop a stone pedestal seamlessly merges with the surrounding natural environment. This statue represents the largest bronze sculpture erected in China within the last century.

Shentang Gulf stands as an enigmatic celestial realm—a verdant labyrinth unspoiled by human presence. Nestled within a deep concave valley, it is encircled by sleek cliffs, perpetually veiled in mist and rain. The bottom of the valley, shrouded in mystery, is aptly named the “mysterious kingdom of heaven,” with its depths remaining unfathomable.

Upon traversing Shentang Gulf, you’ll find yourself in a magical valley where an army of peculiar peaks rises from the ground, forming the “West Sea Stone Forest.” These peaks boast various shapes, from a turtle gazing into the distance up close to a distant warship setting sail, creating an enchanting and diverse landscape.

As you move ahead, the western side of Tianzi Pavilion reveals two distinct scenes: “Fairy Offering Flowers” and “Imperial Writing Brush Peaks.”

After gazing at the distant mountain for an extended period without perceiving its charm, you may eventually recognize that the focal point is a small stone. If you capture the moment through your lens and zoom in, you’ll witness the emergence of an image – a fairy adorned with flowers on her head, featuring a high nose and pointed chin, and wearing a faint smile. The trees on the lower stone rock resembled flower baskets in her hands, as if she were joyously dispersing a bouquet of flowers to the world.

The Imperial Writing Brush Peaks reveal their distinct features unmistakably. The peaks on the right mimic an inverted imperial writing brush, while those on the left resemble a completed picture, with even the tip of the brush vividly represented. According to an ancient Chinese legend from the Song Dynasty, these sharp peaks were, in fact, the “imperial writing brushes” discarded by Prince Xiang after he met his downfall.

For visitors, Sky Field Garden stands out as a unique attraction within Zhangjiajie Forest Park. However, among the locals, opinions are divided. Some commend its distinctive and otherworldly scenery, while others dismiss it, viewing it as a local money-making scheme disguised as farmland.

In my personal perspective, Sky Field Garden is a scenic gem with its own distinct charm, setting it apart from other attractions in Zhangjiajie. Positioned within the ‘Old House Area’ scenic spot, it resembles a precious pearl perched over 1000 meters above sea level, across the valley from Yuanjiajie.

Spanning approximately 3 hectares, the sloping trapezoidal field takes the shape of a gourd, with a heart-shaped section nestled halfway up, resembling delicate jewelry. The fields exhibit meticulous care, displaying regular patterns and adorned with crops, surrounded by purple flowers.

Accessing Sky Field Garden is no easy feat; the path winds through woods and shrubs, with no protective barriers on the platform, extending over the abyss. Despite the challenging journey, few tourists make the climb, often opting for the convenience of the Bailong Elevator from Yuanjiajie to witness Sky Field Garden from a unique vantage point.

Encompassing approximately 40 square kilometers, Yangjiajie Scenic Area is situated in the northwest of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, adjoining Yuanjiajie to the east and Tianzi Mountain to the north. As the latest addition to Zhangjiajie’s scenic spots, Yangjiajie is renowned for its spectacular landscapes featuring towering rocky peak walls.

The scenic area boasts rich biodiversity, with macaques scattered throughout the cliffs and valleys, flocks of egrets gracefully soaring through the air, and peculiar flowers, including the vibrant five-colored flowers.

Renowned for its challenging terrain, the mountain paths in Yangjiajie are considered the most difficult to traverse in Wulingyuan. Some routes are reinforced with steel bars, requiring vertical climbs. As such, this terrain is better suited for energetic young people and middle-aged tourists seeking adventurous challenges.

The highest point in the scenic area is a petite viewing deck nestled atop the mountain. To reach this summit, one must ascend a narrow iron ladder comprising 32 steps, allowing only a single person to pass at a time. The summit itself is flat and enclosed by iron railings, offering an excellent panoramic view of the surroundings.

Previously recognized as Black Dragon Village, situated at an elevation of 1122 meters above sea level, Wulong Village has harbored bandits since the time of the Republic of China. The village itself stands over 300 meters high, surrounded by steep stone walls. Accessible only through a 1000-meter-long exhilarating road, this route to the village top is dotted with numerous natural checkpoints. Along the way, you may navigate through holes, crevices, or sidle along precipitous pathways.

Contrary to expectations, Wulong Village is a modest compound featuring old courtyard houses with several wooden structures. Within the village, an array of weapons and bandit attire are on display, and for a nominal fee, visitors can capture memorable moments through photographs as keepsakes.

Following the journey through Wulong Village, the path ascends by climbing an iron ladder affixed to the rock wall, reaching the nearly deepest section of Yangjiajie. Despite its name, Tianbo Mansion may evoke images of a grand estate constructed by the Yang family in the mountains. However, it surprises visitors as it turns out to be a platform situated atop a mountain peak, enveloped by numerous stone hills, and it serves as an extraordinary vantage point offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

The air corridor stretches along the mountainside of a prominent peak, spanning 300 meters in length. It widens to less than one meter at its broadest point and narrows to just a foot at its tightest spot. Positioned beside a sheer precipice with seemingly endless depths, those traversing the corridor appear as if walking in mid-air. This challenging path takes approximately an hour to navigate, characterized by steep terrain and strong winds.

The simple railing installation underscores the need for extreme care, discouraging those lacking the courage to ascend. Despite the challenges, the corridor provides a panoramic view, showcasing the opposite mountain and offering a breathtaking overlook of the expansive terraces below. It serves as an exhilarating aerial observation platform within the Yangjiajie scenic spot.

The existence of the “five-colored flower” in the world is likely a mystery to many, as this unique blossom undergoes several transformations throughout the day. Research reveals that within the Yangjiajie Scenic Area, a peculiar flower thrives in the upstream region of the Liucui Stream. This arboreal community comes to life in late spring and early summer annually.

Standing at a height of 3 to 5 meters, the flowering branches are clustered, each branch adorned with approximately 12 flowers showcasing a remarkable array of five colors. What makes this floral spectacle even more enchanting is that the colors undergo several changes throughout the day, accompanied by a delightful fragrance.

Situated in the southern part of the scenic area, Zhangjiajie’s Huangshizhai, also known as Yellowstone Village, serves as an expansive and centralized observation platform within Zhangjiajie Forest Park. Ascending to the summit of Huangshizhai offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the sandstone mountains, making it an ideal location for witnessing the sunrise and the mesmerizing sea of clouds.

Huangshizhai boasts over 20 observation decks, each providing a wide perspective and optimal angles for sightseeing. Notable decks include the Ruins of The Heaven Bridge, the Star Picking Terrace, the South Sky Pillar, and the Dinghai Magical Needle.

For those opting to ascend on foot, be prepared for a climb involving thousands of steps, demanding considerable physical exertion. Alternatively, visitors can choose to take a cable car to the summit and then leisurely walk down the mountain, offering a balanced combination of convenience and scenic exploration.

Among the natural inhabitants of Huangshizhai, small monkeys are a common sight. While these playful creatures may approach tourists in search of food, it is crucial for safety not to engage or provoke them.

💡Note: Generally, visitors who have explored both the Yangjiajie Scenic Area and the Yuanjiajie Scenic Area may find that a visit to the Yellowstone Village Scenic Area is not essential. Yellowstone Village and Yuanjiajie are located in opposite directions, offering similar scenic views. The primary distinction lies in the proximity of Yellowstone Village to the forested mountain peaks, providing visitors with potentially clearer and more immersive views of the landscape.

The Pavilion of Six Wonders, perched atop Huangshizhai, serves as both a man-made pavilion and a scenic viewing platform. Its name is derived from Zhangjiajie’s six natural wonders—strange mountains, water, clouds, stones, trees, and birds and animals.

This three-story structure is designed to replicate ancient pavilions, resembling a tower when viewed from a distance. Adorned with a yellow-tiled roof, gracefully warped cornices, and painted beams, the pavilion exhibits exquisite architectural detailing.

The upper floor of the Pavilion of Six Wonders offers a breathtaking vantage point. Leaning over the rail, visitors can indulge in the splendid scenery of Zhangjiajie, capturing exceptionally beautiful photos.

Additionally, during the winter season when snow blankets the landscape, the Pavilion transforms into a stunning spectacle. The pristine white snow contrasts with the gray walls and red rails, creating a picturesque winter scene at Huangshizhai.

Star Picking Terrace, an elevated pinnacle on its own, stands as the premier observation point within Huangshizhai. Its summit, flat and encircled by the guardrail, offers an unparalleled viewpoint.

As you ascend and take in the expansive scenery, the peaks of Huangshizhai unfold before your eyes in a single sweeping glance. Ranging from stout columnar formations to solitary peaks, interconnected structures, and parallel arrangements of similar columns, the landscape presents a diverse and captivating display. Gazing upward, the sky feels within reach, evoking a sensation as though one could stretch out and grasp the stars above.

Situated between Huangshizhai and Yuanjiajie in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the Ruins of The Heaven Bridge is a striking formation comprising a group of elliptic cylinder-shaped stone peaks that soar over 200 meters high.

Arranged in a 3,000-meter-long valley, these six stone peaks exhibit equal size and spacing, culminating in a platform at their summits. Beginning with the No. 1 stone peak near Yuanjiajie, the peaks ascend sequentially and then descend to the No. 4 stone peak. Together, they form an arc resembling a series of bridge piers.

The entire scenic spot is equipped with viewing platforms, rest areas, and comprehensive facilities for visitors to enjoy the picturesque landscape.

During the rainy and foggy season, a mesmerizing sea of clouds and fog envelops the area, causing the bridge piers to intermittently disappear and reappear. This creates a mystical ambiance, resembling a row of structures standing in a watery expanse.

Guides mention that following a rain shower, a nearby rainbow often forms, perfectly aligning with the height and curvature of the bridge piers. This creates the illusion of a rainbow bridge suspended above the stone peaks, giving rise to the evocative name “Ruins of The Heaven Bridge.”

The Treasure Box with Sealedbook is an isolated stone peak featuring a small platform at its summit. On this platform rests a three-dimensional stone structure resembling a box, with its lid seemingly pulled off. Despite its modest height, this solitary peak rises prominently, surrounded on all sides by cliffs that prohibit close access. The landscape offers a panoramic view from afar, as there is no accessible passage to approach the peak closely.

Ascending from the Golden Whip Stream, the South Sky Gate marks a point on the mountainous path leading to the summit of Huangshizhai. It’s worth noting that if you opt for the cableway, you won’t pass through this particular location. Despite its name implying a heavenly view, the South Sky Gate is just the beginning of a longer journey towards the mountaintop.

The South Sky Gate takes the form of a natural arch, created by the slanting rock peak and stone walls, showcasing nature’s remarkable craftsmanship. The stone pathway traverses through the gate, where the opening is narrow and profound, enveloped by wild trees on both sides. Adjacent to the South Sky Gate on the right is a peculiar stone, standing at approximately 20 meters in height. Its humanoid resemblance exudes a sense of might and awe, almost as if it stands as a guardian of the South Sky Gate.

Now, venture into the initial allure found at the entrance of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park—the Golden Whip Stream Scenic Area. This 7.5 km-long stream derives its name from one of Zhangjiajie’s 10 wonders, the Golden Whip Rock. Within the Golden Whip Stream Scenic Area, you’ll encounter a diverse range of flora and fauna, complemented by distinctive peaks and rocks.

Dayangba Square

Dayangba Square, situated at the entrance of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, stands out as the most densely populated area within the entire park. Upon entering the forest park and proceeding inward, one can identify Dayangba Square upon encountering a gathering of monkeys and a prominent large copper lock.

This square is surrounded by lush greenery, offering a refreshing atmosphere. Renowned as the location with the highest concentration of negative oxygen ions in the country, many visitors make it a priority to take a deep breath, immersing themselves in the invigorating scent of nature. Dayangba Square is a popular spot for feeding monkeys and capturing group photos.

This peak has a peculiar form, resembling the imaginative depiction of Pigsy carrying his wife on his back. On the right side of the peak, the figure of Pigsy is discernible, while on the left side, a smaller figure represents his wife, who is also depicted holding a small umbrella—creating a vivid scene. However, the interpretation of these peculiar peaks and rocks is subjective, varying from person to person, as what one perceives might not necessarily align with another’s interpretation.

Located approximately 200 meters to the east along the Golden Whip Stream, the Mother and Child Peak is characterized by a slender stone pinnacle, about 100 meters in height, standing amidst a cluster of peaks on the left bank.

This rock formation resembles a middle-aged woman with clearly outlined head and waist features. The facial features are vaguely discernible, conveying a kind and dignified expression. Positioned facing southeast, the figure appears as if eagerly anticipating the return of a loved one. Adjacent to this main peak, a smaller one is nestled, creating the impression of a child nestled in its mother’s chest, gazing up with a childlike innocence towards the maternal figure.

The Golden Whip Rock, standing at a height of approximately 400 meters, stands out prominently as another representative instance among the myriad of unique peaks and stones in Zhangjiajie. It emerges from the ground, reaching towards the sky, crafted entirely from quartz sand that glows with a golden sheen in the sunlight. The peak’s surface resembles a sleek, straight-edged knife, featuring straight and unblemished lines.

To the left of the Golden Whip Rock, a peak extends like a hawk spreading its wings, exuding a sense of awe-inspiring, untamed wilderness. Majestically positioned alongside the Golden Whip Rock, it stands as a vigilant guardian, watchful day and night. Locals vividly depict this peak as the “Magical Hawk Protecting the Whip.”

A line of rocks resembling a cone, a spear, a long-handled giant axe, and even one resembling a squatting dog can be observed. Amidst these peaks, a mountain summit is cleaved in half, appearing as though a sharp axe has sliced through it, resulting in a smooth and symmetrical rock surface. This formation is known as the “Rock of Splitting the Mountain to Save Mother.”

Legend has it that in ancient times, a child named Chen Xiang witnessed his mother being pressed at the mountain’s base by the Emperor of Heaven for violating heavenly rules. Displaying intelligence and filial piety from a young age, Chen Xiang dedicated himself to kung fu practice. Upon mastering his skills, he wielded a sharp axe to split the mountain peak and successfully rescued his mother.

Adjacent to the “Mountain-Splitting Rock to Save Mother,” within the thick, diverse woodland, lies a massive rock measuring approximately 10 meters in diameter and 30 meters in height. At its summit, two large rocks overlap, taking on the appearance of tortoises. The rock itself features an arched back, and a head that looks upward, extending its feet, resembling a pair of affectionate tortoises. This formation is famously named the “Two Tortoises Visiting the Stream.”

Situated in the central stretch of Golden Whip Stream, this location boasts a pool with a purple-red rock bottom, measuring around 5 meters in length, 4.5 meters in width, and 2 meters in depth. The stream at the pool’s upper end rushes vigorously, while the pool itself remains tranquil and clear, allowing fish and shrimp to swim leisurely. The pool’s bank, shaded by thick foliage, provides a respite from the sun. The pool’s edge features a spacious slope of large purple-red stones, inviting visitors to take a break, sit, or recline.

Nestled at the base of the Zicao Pool, amidst a collection of scattered peaks, stand two distinct stone peaks—one tall and the other short—in a configuration resembling humanoid figures. Positioned facing each other, they give the impression of a couple joyfully reunited after a prolonged separation, gazing at each other with affection. These rocks are aptly named “Reunion from Afar.”

The Ten-mile Nature Gallery spans a 5.8-kilometer valley, representing the essence of the Suoxigu Natural Reserve. Along the sides of this extensive valley, diverse and abundant natural landscapes unfold, creating an immersive experience akin to walking through a living painting.

The peaks flanking the valley take on shapes that resemble natural sculptures, with over 200 stone formations resembling figures such as people, immortals, birds, and beasts. Notable attractions include the renowned Herb Collecting Old Man, Longevity Man Greeting Visitors, and the striking Ferocious Tiger Roaring.

The Winding Attic is a stone peak that ascends from the ground, presenting the appearance of a multi-tiered pagoda when viewed from a distance. Upon closer inspection, it resembles a winding attic, featuring a narrow, meandering footpath leading up to the roof.

The Longevity Man Greeting Visitors is a distinctive rock formation embodying the likeness of an elderly individual, reminiscent of a venerable birthday celebrant. The contours of the stone peak artfully capture the essence of an old man joyfully waving his hand, wearing a warm smile, and eagerly anticipating the arrival of visitors.

The Herb Collecting Old Man, often referred to as the Old Man’s Rock, boasts a remarkably lifelike depiction. The portrayal captures an elderly figure, bent with age and carrying a bamboo basket, meticulously collecting a valuable assortment of herbs.

This attraction not only stands out as a prominent landmark in the Ten-mile Natural Gallery but also holds the esteemed distinction of being one of the city’s ten superb views in Zhangjiajie.

Facing westward from the Ten-mile Natural Gallery, there are two peaks extending in a north-south direction, creating the illusion of a tiger roaring vigorously toward the sky when observed from a distance. This renowned sight is famously known as the Ferocious Tiger Roaring.

Two neighboring upright rocks create a harmonious pair, with the left one standing tall and majestic, while the right one is shorter and softer in appearance, evoking the image of a couple joyfully reunited after an extended separation. This formation is appropriately named the Husband and Wife Rock.

Towards the conclusion of the Ten-mile Natural Gallery, the landscape transforms with the emergence of jagged rocks displaying peculiar shapes, surrounded by flourishing forest trees. This area is a favored gathering spot for groups of monkeys, and as a result, it has earned the name “Monkey Slope.”

Similarly, at the endpoint of the Ten-mile Natural Gallery, three slender rocks can be observed, standing gracefully and shaped like three beautiful women. This picturesque arrangement is appropriately named the Three Sisters.

Within the Ten-mile Natural Gallery, the miniature electric train has gained popularity among numerous visitors. For those who prefer not to traverse the entire journey on foot, opting for this small train on the ascent is a convenient choice. The fare for a one-way trip is CNY 38, while a round trip is priced at CNY 76.

In Wulingyuan Scenic Area, numerous dining options, predominantly farmhouse restaurants, cater to visitors. However, specific restaurant hunting is often unnecessary.

It’s more practical to align meals with your tour schedule, considering the substantial energy expenditure during mountain hikes. Bringing your own provisions for energy replenishment is an option, or you can return to your accommodation for a meal. Alternatively, you can dine near the attractions where you are staying.

Each shuttle bus station within the scenic spot features a snack street offering items like glutinous rice cake, sweet potatoes, and grilled sausages. Restaurants near bus drop-off points typically have vegetable dishes priced above CNY 15, while those with meat exceed CNY 30. Bush-meat dishes may cost more than CNY 80, and some establishments are open to price negotiations.

Additionally, fast food options, including familiar chains like McDonald’s, can be found at elevated locations such as Huangshizhai and Tianzi Mountain.

Generally, dining within the scenic area tends to be pricier compared to options outside its confines.

Zhangjiajie, located in the Hunan province of China, offers a unique culinary experience with distinctive features that reflect the broader characteristics of Hunan cuisine. Here are some notable features of Zhangjiajie food:

Spicy Flavors: Like much of Hunan cuisine, Zhangjiajie food is known for its bold and spicy flavors. Locals have a penchant for using chili peppers and other fiery spices to create dishes that pack a punch.

Tujia Minority Influence: The Tujia ethnic minority has a significant presence in Zhangjiajie, and their culinary influence is evident in the local cuisine. Tujia-style dishes, such as smoked pork and various pickled vegetables, are commonly enjoyed in the region.

Mountain Ingredients: Zhangjiajie’s mountainous terrain has an impact on its food culture. The region is rich in diverse flora and fauna, and local dishes often incorporate ingredients sourced from the mountains. Wild mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and herbs unique to the area may find their way into Zhangjiajie dishes.

Zhangjiajie’s standout culinary offering is the renowned Zhangjiajie Mixed Pot, also known as San Xia Guo. This dish features a combination of lamb’s belly, beef belly, pork belly, fat sausage, pig’s trotters, and pig’s head meat as its primary components. Typically, a selection of three meats is made, and the dish can be prepared in either a dry pot or a soup pot. In the case of the dry pot, there is an absence of broth, resulting in a notably spicy flavor.

Serving sizes are generally substantial, providing enough for three individuals. This dish is readily available in local eateries, and for a highly recommended experience, Chef Hu’s Three Pot is suggested.

Preserved Pork is a popular culinary choice in Zhangjiajie, commonly prepared by stir-frying with ingredients like garlic sprouts, peppers, and spring bamboo shoots. This dish is renowned for its savory and spicy taste, featuring well-textured meat that is both lean and slightly fatty, without an excessive greasiness.

Savoring the renowned home-style dishes of Hunan, a plate of farmhouse-style stir-fried pork on the mountains within the scenic area stands out. The locally sourced ingredients, coupled with the distinctive wild pepper, contribute to the dish’s unique and refreshing taste.

Shi’er, colloquially referred to as Yan’er thrives on the sandstone cliffs in the Wuling mountainous region. Resembling fungi, wood ear, or tree ear, Shi’er is exceptionally rare, making it one of the three treasures of Zhangjiajie due to the local challenge of finding and harvesting it.

A delectable winter treat is the Stewed Chicken or Duck with Shi’er, known for its ability to provide warmth during chilly winter days and nights. Nowadays, this dish is readily available in numerous restaurants, featuring an exceptionally delicious and nourishing stew soup.

Among the Tujia and Miao communities, a little-known delicacy, Sour Fried Fish, stands out with its unique local flavor.

Fresh fish, coated in rice powder, ferments in a sealed jar to achieve a delightful sour taste. The fish is then expertly fried in local tea oil, resulting in a delicious snack that’s neither fatty nor fishy. With a golden color, tender exterior, and a sweet-sour profile, this treat, with a long shelf life, is not only available in Zhangjiajie’s eateries but can also be taken back to your hotel for a delightful snack.

Blood tofu is a distinctive dish among the Tujia Minority Groups, traditionally a New Year essential. Tujia people blend tofu, pork, pork blood, and pepper into small balls, smoke and bake them until golden. When prepared for consumption, the balls are sliced and fried with chili and garlic.

Despite its unassuming appearance, the dish is pleasantly chewy and aromatic, boasting high nutritional value suitable for all ages.

Glutinous Rice Cake is one kind of snack made up of steamed glutinous rice. The traditional preparation methods involve combining glutinous rice flour with water to form a thick batter, adding brown sugar for sweetness. The mixture is then steamed or boiled until it solidifies into a sticky and chewy cake. Glutinous Rice Cake with brown sugar in Zhangjiajie may be molded into various shapes or cut into bite-sized pieces.

Kiwifruit is a significant specialty of Zhangjiajie, known for its delicate and juicy nature. The “kiwi juice” derived from it offers a delightful blend of sweetness and sourness, packed with exceptional nutritional benefits. Easily accessible in supermarkets, this tasty and affordable treat is a popular choice for locals and visitors alike.

In Zhangjiajie’s Wulingyuan Scenic area, you’ll find a range of accommodations, including star hotels, resort hotels, and homestays. Your choice can be tailored to your budget and preferences.

Accommodations within the scenic area are generally limited, but staying in Wulingyuan urban area near the East Gate ticket station provides convenient access to food, shopping, and entertainment. For those planning to visit Tianmen Mountain, consider staying in the downtown city nearby for a two-day visit.

During my visit to Zhangjiajie, I stayed at ZiShan Ecological Resort, which is in close proximity to the East Gate ticket station. I have fond memories of my stay, and it offered a great experience.

Shell Youth Holiday Hotel
⭐️ Rating: 4.9/5 | 🤑 Cost: from $38 USD | 🏩 View on Trip 

This budget hotel attracts a youthful clientele, eschewing luxury amenities and big-brand affiliations, yet consistently achieves high occupancy rates.

Nestled by the picturesque Suoxi River, it’s conveniently located, requiring just over 10 minutes on foot to reach the Wulingyuan entrance ticket station. The hotel’s decor is straightforward yet cozy, featuring one of the rare setups with separate wet and dry bathrooms, all at an affordable price.

Adding to its charm, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant provides a unique dining experience. Guests can enjoy their meals while taking in the breathtaking distant views, creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

ZiShan Ecological Resort
⭐️ Rating: 4.9/5 | 🤑 Cost: from $169 USD | 🏩 View on Trip

The ZiShan Ecological Resort has gained significant popularity as a preferred homestay in Zhangjiajie in recent years. Among the various room options, the transparent Forest Room stands out as the most favored by tourists, and during my stay, I opted for this particular accommodation.

Strategically situated near the Wulingyuan East Gate, the resort combines Tujia decorative elegance with modern aesthetics, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of a hidden mountain retreat. Upon arrival, guests are warmly greeted by butlers and concierge staff, extending a welcome from the parking lot.

Featuring 35 guest rooms, including two distinctive glass Forest Rooms, each room possesses its individual name. The layout of my chosen room included expansive front and rear double terraces, complemented by large floor-to-ceiling windows adorned with delicate white gauze curtains. The room was thoughtfully stocked with various amenities.

ZiShan Ecological Resort elevates the guest experience by offering a buffet breakfast and an array of Hunan specialty dishes such as rice noodles, fried rice, and assorted snacks. Ordering from the room is made easy, as guests can contact the hotel butler to request the menu and place restaurant orders. Once the dishes are prepared, guests can conveniently proceed to the restaurant.

The resort provides a unique blend of relaxation, allowing guests to unwind in a soothing bath accompanied by the sounds of forest birds. Additionally, it offers a level of service akin to a five-star city hotel, ensuring a well-rounded and enjoyable stay.

No. 5 Valley Inn
⭐️ Rating: 4.6/5 | 🤑 Cost: from $160 USD | 🏩 View on Trip | Photos: Booking

Zhangjiajie’s No. 5 Valley Inn is not only the zenith among homestays in the region but also ranks among the top 10 most beautiful homestays globally. Positioned at a mere 2 km from the Yangjiajie Ticket Station in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, it stands as an epitome of scenic elegance.

The heartening tale behind this haven involves a couple who, forsaking the allure of urban prosperity, returned to their roots in Zhangjiajie. They transformed an abandoned valley into a veritable paradise, now known as No. 5 Valley Inn.

Respecting the local architectural heritage, the inn, built down the hillside, mirrors the stilted structures of the Tujia people. Every brick, stone, wood, and ounce of soil used in its construction is locally sourced.

Comprising 38 rooms spread across five courtyards, each room at the inn offers a breathtaking view of the natural surroundings through oversized floor-to-ceiling windows. The room designs are not only aesthetically rich but also wonderfully diverse, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the serene atmosphere—whether observing lotus ponds, admiring the valley, listening to the rain, or stargazing under the night sky.

Beyond the captivating accommodations, the inn offers an array of experiences. Guests can indulge in a buffet barbecue, partake in various performances, and join in the festivities around a grand campfire, and engage in hand-swaying dances.

Tianmen Mountain is situated to the south of Zhangjiajie city, in the opposite direction of Wulingyuan. Typically requiring a full day for exploration, visitors in Zhangjiajie can enjoy distant views of Tianmen Cave.

Tianmen Mountain boasts renowned attractions such as Tianmen Cave, Ghost Valley Plank Road, and the thrilling adventure of the artificially constructed Glass Skywalk.

At the summit of Tianmen Mountain, there are two main routes: the east line and the west line. For those with limited time, it’s advisable to prioritize the west line and consider skipping the east line. This recommendation stems from the fact that the key attractions at the top of Tianmen Mountain are predominantly concentrated along the west line.

The entrance fee is CNY 232, covering a scenic spot ticket priced at CNY 75 and an internal transportation fee of CNY 183. This transportation fee includes a one-way cable car, shuttle bus, and the upper escalator between Tiammen Cave and the mountain summit.

The configuration of Tianmen Cave is exceptionally distinct, featuring an enormous fan-shaped opening at the mountain’s center, measuring 131.5 meters in height, 57 meters in width, and 60 meters in depth.

A challenging ascent of 999 steep and narrow steps, aptly named “the Stairway to Heaven,” leads to the cave. Perpetually enshrouded in dense mists, the cave exudes a mystical ambiance throughout the year.

According to legend, Tianmen Cave originated from a mountain collapse during the Three Kingdoms period, solidifying its status as the most iconic attraction on Tianmen Mountain.

The Glass Skywalk at Tianmen Mountain hangs over the eastern and western edges of the mountain peak, forming a glass observatory suspended from a cliff. The pathway consists entirely of see-through glass, offering a view of the deep valley below. Walking on it feels like you’re in the sky—super thrilling and crazy joyful!

Keep in mind that the cableway might close during thunderstorms, strong winds, or heavy snow. It’s a good idea to check the weather forecast before you travel.

The cableway at Tianmen Mountain holds the title of the world’s longest, stretching an impressive 24,458 feet (7,455 meters). It kicks off its journey from the City Garden downtown and wraps up at the mountain’s summit.

Sitting in the cable car feels like you’re suspended in mid-air. The ascent from the mountain’s base to an altitude of over 1,500 meters takes approximately 27 minutes for a one-way trip. During the ride, you get a scenic view of the city. The cable car hits the midpoint and then sharply ascends, running right along the cliff wall, making the journey incredibly exhilarating.

The best plan for your Zhangjiajie visit depends on your arrival time. If you get there around noon, it’s a good idea to head to Tianmen Mountain first. This way, you can maximize the latter half of the day and avoid the peak crowds.

On the flip side, if you arrive late at night or early in the morning, it’s advisable to head straight to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park from the train station or airport. Save your Tianmen Mountain exploration for the last day to make the most of your time in Zhangjiajie.

🌌Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon: World’s Tallest and Longest Glass Bridge

The standout feature in the canyon is undoubtedly the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge, renowned for its transparent, glass-bottomed structure. When it debuted in 2016, it held the title of the world’s longest and tallest glass-bottomed bridge. Stretching 430 meters in length and 6 meters in width, the bridge hangs suspended approximately 260 meters above the ground, spanning the canyon between two mountain cliffs.

For an added thrill, right in the middle of the bridge, you have the opportunity to experience the world’s highest bungee jump.

🎫Admission ticket:
Grand Canyon Ticket A: CNY 118 + CNY 3 insurance;
Grand Canyon and Glass Bridge Ticket B: CNY 219 + CNY 3 insurance;
Glass Bridge Ticket C: CNY 138 + CNY 3 insurance.

Opting for Tianmen Mountain is a wise choice. Apart from the thrilling glass plank road, Tianmen Mountain boasts additional natural attractions like Tianmen Cave. It’s also conveniently located closer to the urban area, ensuring easy transportation and comprehensive facilities within the scenic spot.

On the other hand, the Grand Canyon, a relatively recent tourism project, centers around the Glass Bridge with fewer additional attractions to explore. However, it offers more outdoor entertainment experiences, such as bungee jumping and paragliding, providing a different kind of adventure for visitors.

🌸Final Tips on Traveling to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Here are some final tips for traveling to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park:

Pre-book round-trip flights, hotels, and attraction tickets in advance during the peak season.

Major cities have direct flights to Zhangjiajie.

Don’t trust strangers’ words when leaving the station, and refuse unregistered taxis.

Be skeptical of accommodations and restaurants recommended by strangers or drivers, as they may involve kickbacks.

Purchase tickets for Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park at least 3 days in advance; on-the-spot purchases may not be allowed.

Visitors planning to explore Tianmen Mountain are advised to stay in the downtown the night before. Avoid staying in Wulingyuan as the downtown city is closer to Tianmen Mountain.

Be cautious of unlicensed guides on the roadside; many independent travelers fall victim to scams.

Tickets may not be available on the day of the peak season.

First-time visitors to Zhangjiajie are advised not to travel alone due to the complex and unpredictable mountainous environment. Traveling with companions or joining local tours is safer.

Flow control measures are in place at the Grand Canyon Glass Bridge.

Do not feed monkeys or provoke them. Monkeys can be aggressive, and snacks should not be held in hand.

Carry an umbrella as there may be occasional light rain in the mountains.

Zhangjiajie offers a variety of hotels and guesthouses with good value for money. Staying near Wulingyuan is recommended for shorter travel distances.

The little shuttle bus goes between different scenic spots, while the big shuttle bus connects scenic spots to cable cars. It’s important to figure out the right bus to take before waiting to avoid wasting time.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is extensive, and without a guide, it’s challenging to navigate.

Zhangjiajie’s cuisine is known for being spicy and sour. Inform in advance if you cannot tolerate spicy food.

China Travel Planning Guide&FAQ

🎫Do I need a visa for China?

Yes. Most visitors to China will need a visa to enter the country. The type of visa you need will depend on the purpose and duration of your trip, as well as your nationality. If you are a resident of the US, you must apply for a Chinese visa at the Consular Office in the country. On the other hand, inhabitants of countries like Japan, Canada, and the UK can request a visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

🤔Why is it necessary to install a VPN in China?

In China, the government has strict regulations on internet access, leading to the blocking of popular websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube. To access these sites, a VPN is suggested as a means of bypassing the restrictions. It is important to choose a reputable VPN provider and use caution while doing so. ExpressVPN has been historically deemed the most reliable VPN for this purpose, despite being heavily targeted by China’s censors. Nevertheless, it is still a widely preferred option owing to its ease of installation and user-friendliness.

📲Is it necessary to have a Chinese SIM card while in China?

Yes. It is crucial to acknowledge that accessing the internet in China may pose limitations due to certain websites being prohibited or filtered. To ensure uninterrupted connectivity while staying in China, purchasing a local SIM card is advisable. For optimum results, acquiring SIM cards from either China Unicom or China Mobile is recommended. While China Mobile has the most comprehensive coverage in China and is a market leader, China Unicom is more compatible with foreign phones, enabling 3G and 4G services. Or you can purchase a SIM card online.

🔮Should I buy China travel insurance?

Yes. Although China is generally a safe country for travel, it is still possible to encounter accidents or other unexpected occurrences. Therefore, obtaining travel insurance can provide a sense of security and financial protection. In my research, I have found that World Nomads is a reputable travel insurance provider that covers a wide range of activities and is recommended for the average traveler. Nevertheless, I advise you to compare insurance quotes from various providers before making a decision.

🚙Can you rent a car in China?

Unfeasible. Obtaining a Chinese driver’s license to rent a car and self-drive may seem like an option, but it is not a practical choice for most foreigners. Therefore, many prefer to opt for a driver or public transportation when navigating China, as it proves to be more convenient.

✈️What’s the best site to purchase flight tickets for China?

I suggest using Trip for affordable flights to China. As a China-based company, they often offer lower prices compared to foreign companies. Additionally, they offer English-speaking phone support in case of any issues.

🏡What is the best way to book hotels in China?

Not only does Trip offer a wider range of flight options, but it also provides a greater selection of hotels to choose from. Moreover, Agoda is a reliable resource for hotels throughout Asia.

🎒What do I pack for China?

Travel adapter and converter: China uses a different electrical system than many other countries, so it’s important to bring a travel adapter and converter if you plan to use electronic devices such as phones, cameras, and laptops.  
Sunscreen: The UV index in China can be high, particularly during the summer months, and prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Deodorant: It should be noted that finding deodorant in China may not be a simple task.

📚Can a guidebook for traveling to China be useful?

Yes. If you’re planning to travel to China for the first time, a travel guidebook can be a valuable resource, and Lonely Planet is one of the most reputable guides available globally. Its comprehensive itineraries and recommendations take into account your personal preferences and can save you both time and money. The insider tips are also extremely helpful in navigating China’s unique cultural landscape like a local.

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