Zhangjiajie, 25 September 2017 In the last few years, Zhangjiajie has become a popular destination in China because of Avatar movie. The floating island of Pandora, was inspired by the strange peaks in Zhangjiajie National Park. During our trip planning, it was a little bit hard to find information and guide in English. Even if there are some, it’s a bit confusing to me because of all the unfamiliar Chinese names, similar photos and different blogs say different things. I took painstaking efforts to get the the bigger picture. However, I still suggest you to read more comprehensive guides as this post only highlights some untold tips. Let’s begin with top 5 to see in Zhangjiajie.
Zhangjiajie National Park
森林公园 (Sēnlín Gōngyuán) – This is the biggest and, of course, the main tourist attraction in ZJJ where Avatar Hallelujah Mountain located. Don’t get confused though because all the mountains inside the park are very much alike. The park infrastructure is well established facilitated with free buses to take you to different points of the park.
Tips #1: The park is divided into upper and lower part. Once you are up, make sure to finish all the sightseeing before you go down by the elevator because there’s no way back up except the elevator or cable car (extra charges occurred).
Many blogs mention that the park is so huge that you gotta spend 2-3 days inside to see everything. You can also choose to stay inside the park, which we did for a night, only to meet the nicest people. However, we finished most of the upper part attractions in one day and feel a bit bored already. It wasn’t peak season but there were too many people so we didn’t get the ‘exploring’ hype.
Tips #2: I personally think you don’t have to stay more than two days in the park unless you’re really into mountains or come from a place where there’s no mountain. Some blogs suggest to hike the less-travelled paths but few friends of mine and I agree that one day would be enough.
Grand Canyon – Glass Bridge
玻璃桥 (Bōlí qiáo) – The renown Glass Bridge is said to be the world’s longest and highest one, connecting two mountains. However, it’s not the only one in Zhangjiajie. Tianmen National Park also has relatively shorter and smaller glass bridge encircle the mountain. It’s technically located inside the Grand Canyon, so don’t mix up between these two. They are located in the same place!
Tips #3: You are not allowed to bring professional camera inside. You better leave it in your hotel because the luggage storage is not convenient. It’s located near the gate, on top of the hill, while you will exit at the bottom part. So, you need to take bus only to get back your belongings.
Tianmen National Park
天门山 (Tiānmén Shān) – Unlike the rest of the attractions that are located near Wulingyuan scenic area, Tianmen National Park entrance is right in the centre of Zhangjiajie City. Again, don’t get confused. Wulingyuan is also part Zhangjiajie, it’s just a bit far, around an hour from the airport. Whereas the city center is around 10-20 mins drive from the airport.
This is where the Heaven’s Gate located with world’s longest cable car in the that takes 30 mins for each way. The entrance ticket includes transportation to and from the mountain areas. The bus will take you the bottom part of Heaven’s Gate while the cable car took us to the top of the mountain. They both give you opposite routes. It was fine but we just didn’t get the hype of entering Heaven’s Gate as we had highly anticipated (instead, we exit the gate).
Tips #4: If you really care which route you want to explore the park, make sure to choose the right transportation method upon purchasing the entrance ticket. Take bus first if you want start in Heaven’s Gate or ride the cable car first if you don’t want to climb up 1000 stairs (there’s actually escalator but you’ll miss the fun and exhaustion, plus it costs extra money)
Baofeng Lake and Yellow Dragon Cave
宝峰湖 (Bǎo fēng hú) and 黄龙洞 (Huánglóng dòng) – These two, located around Wulingyuan Scenic Area, are actually on the list of many tourists but we don’t have much time to explore. I’ve been to many caves and lakes before so, I thought it’s not gonna wow me. But yeah, you may consider them on your list, especially the lake which I heard is very easy to access.
Tips #5: Some people would recommend you to hire a tour guide which probably will make the trip easier, especially if you don’t speak Chinese at all. But be careful about the price, they might offer you different packages from what’s shown in the website. If you’re adventurous enough, I’m pretty sure you don’t need one! (ps. we survived without tour guide, so no worries!)
Survived ZJJ with Broken Mandarin,