Zhangjiajie Travel Guide: What to See & Do

You may know Zhangjiajie for its unique sandstone forest landscape, which inspired the Pandora world in the Avatar movie, but it can afford you more than that.

Here, we show what to expect on a Zhangjiajie tour and conclude with most of the information you may need.

The natural beauty of Zhangjiajie is too exquisite to be supplanted. You can appreciate the splendid scenic view of the first UNESCO World Heritage Site of China - Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Every peak here is so unique that it looks like carefully crafted by master artisans. It is a perfect place for hiking and thrilling activities. Here, you can admire the wonderful sandstone forest landscape in the Wulingyuan Area or walk on the glass bridge of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, which is high above 1000 meters.

Sandstone Forest Landscape of ZhangjiajieSandstone Forest Landscape of Zhangjiajie

The best time to visit Zhangjiajie is between September and October when the weather is cool and dry. It is suitable for hiking and trekking with a great view, but also the busiest time of Zhangjiajie.

Another peak season is July and August, caused by Chinese students' summer vacation. But you can see the most transparent sky, which is ideal for observing the mountains.

If you tend to travel during these two periods, it will be wise to book your hotel and entrance tickets several months in advance, and you can contact our travel expert to arrange everything for you and help you avoid crowds.

Visiting Zhangjiajie between March and June will be relaxed, for fewer tourists than in autumn. You can easily see mists covering the mountains, which look like in a dream world, or even meet a sea of clouds after the rain.

Traveling to Zhangjiajie between November and February is not a common choice because of the cold weather. But only during this period will you have the chance to see the mountains covered in snow and rimes on trees. At the same time, you won't meet crowds, and it may cost less for your Zhangjiajie tour. For example, the hotel price in December maybe 60% lower than in early October.

Sea of Clouds in ZhangjiajieSea of Clouds in Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park - See Avatar Mountains in the Real World

The Pandora world does not exist, but Zhangjiajie does. The floating "Avatar Mountains" in Yuanjiajie, also known as the Hallelujah Mountains, inspired the pandora world of the Avatar movie. As China's first national forest park, it has over 3000 oddly shaped hills and over 800 beautiful streams waiting for you to explore.

Tianmen Mountain - Climb 999 Steps to Heaven's Gate

Tianmen Mountain, also known as Heaven's Gate Mountain, has the world's highest natural caves on precipices. Ride one of the world's longest passenger cableways for about 20 minutes, then take 999 steps to Heaven's Gate, the most famous symbol of Tianmen Mountain.

Here, you can see different scenic views in different weather. After it rains in Spring, the wet mist slowly fills the heaven's gate, and it looks like the fairyland where the immortals live. If lucky, you may see the Buddha light on a sunny summer morning or afternoon when the sun is shining slantly.

Tianmen MountainTianmen Mountain

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon - Walking Across Glass Bridge

The Grand Cayon offers a different way to experience the karst landform in Zhangjiajie. It was once famous for being the world's longest glass bridge, and though the record has taken place now by Bach Long Bridge, Vietnam, it still can offer you a thrilling experience. Just think, walking across the 460-meter-long glass bridge and seeing a 300-meter-deep canyon right under your feet!

Moreover, the wooden trail will lead you deep through the canyon, and you can enjoy the stunning view consisting of steep cliffs, winding streams, lovely waterfalls, and lush forests.

Hiking

With the unique sandstone desert landscape, strange peaks, numerous streams, waterfalls hidden in the valley, and fossils under your feet, Zhangjiajie is a paradise for hiking lovers. From the Avatar Mountains to Golden Whip Stream to Tianmen Mountain, each can offer you the excitement of hiking and the fragrance of nature at the same time.

Cycling

Zhangjiajie is a cycling-friendly city. Many roads here provide bike lanes since many international cycling competitions are held here yearly. Cycling in Zhangjiajie will climb up a lot, but the view along the road is picturesque. If you are interested in cycling in the beautiful mountain city, contact Odynovo to customize your Zhangjiajie cycling tour.

Zip Lining, Chair Lifting, and Bungee Jumping

Want some thrilling experience? Zhangjiajie can satisfy you! Here you can find multiple ways to watch the forest view from the air: zip lining, chair lifting, and bungee jumping! You can also try a 15-minute chair lift in Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park, swaying in the air high above the forest. Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon can provide a zip-lining experience and bungee jumping. These are safe activities but are not recommended for faint-hearted tourists.

River Rafting

If you want a soft adventure, rafting at the Maoyan River or Mengdong River is a good choice, especially for couples and families. During the summertime, it's pleasantly cool on the water, and you can see the beautiful original forest along the river, and it won't cost a lot of energy.

Generally, three days are enough to explore the essence of Zhangjiajie, including Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Tianzi Mountains) and Golden Whip Stream. If you want adventure experiences, you may need one or two more days for Tianmen Mountain and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon.

For those interested in the ancient town and ethnic culture, spending one more day visiting the Fenghuang Ancient Town near Zhangjiajie is recommended.

Zhangjiajie is a small city surrounded by mountains. Though the accommodation here might not be as high a standard as in metropolises such as Beijing and Shanghai, the basic amenities and sanitary conditions can be guaranteed.

Hotels in Zhangjiajie are mainly concentrated in 2 areas: Wulingyuan Town and Zhangjiajie Town.

Staying in Wulingyuan Town:

For visiting Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, staying in the Wulingyuan area is more convenient. The accommodation in Wulingyuan town is better than in Zhangjiajie town for this area is better developed. If you do care about the quality of hotel services, you can stay in Wulingyuan town.

Staying in Zhangjiajie Town:

Living in Zhangjiajie town is convenient for visiting Tianmen Mountain. Zhangjiajie town is close to the airport and train station. For travelers who arrive late or need to leave early, staying here is the best choice. What's more, if you want some night activities, you can walk to the night market to taste the local snacks.

Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport is the second largest airport in Hunan province, and it contains domestic airlines from Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, etc. And international airlines from Hongkong, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc. Planning a multi-country tour, including the southeast country like Vietnam, is convenient.

There are also many high-speed trains from the main cities of China to Zhangjiajie. Mostly, it will take a much longer time than a flight, but cheaper at the same time. So, if you want to experience China's high-speed train and save your budget, you can get to Zhangjiajie this way.

Comparison of Flights and High-Speed Train to Zhangjiajie
Departure CityFlightHigh-Speed Train
 TimeCostTimeCost
Beijing2h 25min$21411h 14min$123.16
Guangzhou1h 45min$1525h 57min$70.5
Shanghai2h 40min$1579h 14min$102.96

The cost of flights to Zhangjiajie can be changed frequently.

Zhangjiajie is in the north of Hunan Province. Different from other places, the gastronomy here is affected by the Xiang Cuisine. Living in the mountains area, Tujia Minority people believe spicy food can help them to keep healthy. You can taste famous Tujia Cuisine like Tujia Preserved Pork (土家扣肉), Tujia Sanxiaguo Hot Pot (三下锅), Bean-residue(合渣), Xiangxi Rice Tofu (湘西米豆腐). Most of Tujia's cuisines are spicy. If you are unfamiliar with eating peppers, Odynovo can always arrange suitable meals.

Bean-residueBean-residue

Hiking Shoes:

Since you may need to walk a lot and climb mountains on your trip to Zhangjiajie, wearing a pair of light and breathable walking shoes is important, and it is better waterproofing.

Appropriate Clothes:

We recommend you wear long sleeves and trousers to hike in the forest for sun protection and to prevent unknown insects and mosquitoes from touching you.

Besides, the temperature difference is significant between the mountains' bottom and top in Zhangjiajie. Remember to prepare thick outerwear.

It's better not to wear a dress or skirt when visiting the glass bridge, for it is transparent and reflective.

Lightweight Backpack:

Leave your luggage at the hotel, and use an outdoor lightweight backpack to take a bottle of water and some food you can eat directly. It can make your hiking easier.

Zhangjiajie is the place you should go when you want to get close to nature, embrace the winds from everywhere in the valley, and nurture your spirit! Let us customize a seamless Zhangjiajie tour for you with exclusive experiences.

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