Zhangjiajie Travel Guide

- Everything you need to know before visiting Zhangjiajie -

If you are a movie lover, you have definitely watched the Avatar and amazed by the Hallelujah Mountains. You can find the mountain in real in Zhangjiajie National Park. There are over 240 peaks and more than 3000 pinnacles in the park. In 1982, Zhangjiajie National Park was classified as the first national forest park in China.

The human residence in this city dates back to over 100,000 years ago. The Academy of Chinese Social Science discovered relics from the Stone Age in Cili Country in 1986. The institution’s experts claimed that the discoveries are related to 100,000 years ago. 

  • Local Name 张家界 (zhāng jiā jiè)
  • Country China
  • Population (2010) 1,477,000
  • Time Zone UTC+8 (China Standard)
  • Area Code 0744
  • Website www.zjj.gov.cn

Why Visiting Zhangjiajie?

Zhangjiajie is one of the best destinations that can help you to escape from the modern busy world. If you love nature, adventure, and fresh air, you should add Zhangjiajie to your bucket list. Also, you can enjoy walking and hiking in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon with amazing waterfalls and landscapes as well as having a fantastic and panoramic view on the Glass Bridge.

You might be wondered if you can visit these attractions in a single day with a single ticket?! Of course, you can’t but there is good news for you. Tickets in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are valid for 4 days, which is enough for you as a tourist to enjoy nature.

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What to See in Zhangjiajie

Best Time to Visit Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie has a humid subtropical monsoon climate with an average temperature of 17.4 °C (63.3 °F) and significant amount of rainfall, even in driest months of the year. The temperature changes during the day and night sharply up to 10Zhangjiajie Travel Guide 2C (50Zhangjiajie Travel Guide 2F) of gap because of the high altitude of the mountains. September to October is the best time to visit Zhangjiajie as the weather is delightful and sunny. However, at this time, the city is highly crowded.

Spring

        • Temperature: 15° C – 25° C
        • Average Crowd
        • Normal Price
        • Good Weather

      What to wear?

      Bring Long sleeve clothes, jacket, long trousers raincoat or hoodie as it can be extremely windy.

      Tips & Notes

      Spring is not the peak season in Zhangjiajie; however, you may face some queues especially in popular attractions.

      During the Labor Day Holiday, 1st to 3rd May, the city and national parks are highly crowded. 

Summer

      • Temperature: 28° C – 33° C
      • Crowded
      • Normal Price
      • Hot Weather

    What to wear?

    Bring T-shirts, sunglasses, short, hats, and sunscreens.

    Tips & Notes

    Summer (July and August) is the peak season as it’s summer vacation in China. During this time, you will face crowded attractions as well as long queues. Try to get up early and arrive at attractions before others to avoid queues.

    The weather is hot during the daytime but it’s pleasant in the national park. The weather is cool in the evening. 

Fall

    • Temperature: 18° C – 28° C
    • Very Crowded
    • Higher Prices
    • Awesome Weather

What to wear?

Bring a light sweater, hoodie, and trousers.

Tips & Notes

The scenery in autumn is evergreen and it’s less rainy.  Like summer, autumn is the peak season as well, especially during Chinese National Day Holiday  (October 1st to 7th)

Prices are higher than other seasons. You should pay 50-100% increased prices for hotels and tours during autumn.

After national holiday is the golden time of visiting the city as during this time, you will face less crowded attractions

Winter

    • Temperature: 18° C – 28° C
    • Very Crowded
    • Higher Prices
    • Awesome Weather

What to wear?

Bring a light sweater, hoodie, and trousers.

Tips & Notes

The scenery in autumn is evergreen and it’s less rainy.  Like summer, autumn is the peak season as well, especially during Chinese National Day Holiday  (October 1st to 7th)

Prices are higher than other seasons. You should pay 50-100% increased prices for hotels and tours during autumn.

After national holiday is the golden time of visiting the city as during this time, you will face less crowded attractions

 

How Long To Stay?

If you are traveling alone or in a group as backpackers, 4 days is ideal for visiting both Wulingyuan Scenic Area and Tianmen National Forest Park. Wulingyuan Scenic Area will take 3 days and Zhangjiajie will take 1 day for visiting.

Things to do in Zhangjiajie

Explore Avatar Hallelujah Mountain

Hallelujah Mountain, originally known as Southern Sky Column (Nan Tian Yi Zhu), is the most famous section of the park, which has renamed to Avatar Mount in honor of the film. Now, the mountain is considered one of the main attractions of the city. You can explore the mountain you watched in the movie in real!
 

Hike on the Grand Canyon

It’s the highest and longest bridge in the world. The bridge is 430 meters located 430 meters above the ground. The bridge has different names such as Lanchuanxia, translated as “Rotten Ship Gorge”, and Luanquanxia, translated as “Massive Springs Gorge”. The name Luanquanxia is related to the many streams around the canyon. 

Hiking here takes about two hours and you can take regular buses from the Zhangjiajie Center Bus Station to the canyon and vice versa with 1.5 hours of journey. Bring suitable clothes and an umbrella for rainy weather.

Learn about folk culture in Tujia Folk Customs Park 

Located in Yongding District of Zhangjiajie City, Tujia Folk Customs Park gives you an overview of the Tujia ethnic group including the architecture, artifacts, and dance performances. You can also try local dishes like sour fish, smoked meat, stewed chicken with Gastrodia Elata soup in the park. The park is located 5 minutes from the city. 

Enjoy ancient China’s atmosphere in The Phoenix Ancient City 

The city is located 210 km from Zhangjiajie. Phoenix Ancient City located in the lap of the mountains and the forest displaying the essence of ancient China. The city is home to a minority group called Tujia & Miao. There are many attractions in the city such as Huang Si Qiao Castle, Chao Yang Palace, the residence of Xiong Xiling Weng Chen Pavilion, Da Cheng Hall, etc., which can be great for history lovers.

Take a tour on Tianmen Mountain

Tianmen Mountain is located 6 kilometers away from downtown Zhangjiajie and known as the highest mountain of Zhangjiajie. Here, you can experience an adrenaline rush in the World’s Longest Cable Car ( 7455 meters) and 60-meters Glass Skywalk. Visiting the Tianmen Cave, the highest cave of its kind, 999 steep and narrow steps can be an amazing experience for you. The longest escalator in the world is also available here for you to save notable time and energy. Taking a bus to reach the mountain helps tourists to experience the “Avenue Leading to the Sky” known as the most impressive mountain road in the world.

Capture Fantastic Scenery of Mysterious Tianzi Mountain

Tanzi Mountain is 1182 meters high peak offering the best chance for photographers to capture this amazing scenery. The cable car helps you to reach this area. The mixture of cloud sea, sunrise, winter snow, and peak forest make a stunning view for capturing a panoramic view of the misty Tianzi Mountain.
 

Hike Along The Golden Whip Stream

It’s a 5.7-km stream joining Lute stream in the western side and Syoxi Stream on the eastern side. Wildflowers can be found here easily and girls from Tujia will offer visitors folk songs as well. Besides, you will see wild monkeys and beautiful birds. Hiking along this path is an amazing experience. It takes about 3 hours and the ticket is included in Forest Park.  Chupajie Carries His Wife, Mother and Child Peak, Golden Whip Rock, Splitting the Mountain to Save Mother, Two Tortoises Visiting the Stream, etc. are the famous attractions of this section.

Enjoy Boating Experience in Baofeng Lake

Baofeng Lake is located in 20 km in the southeast of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It’s a very relaxing environment. The lake is surrounded by green trees and stone peaks of various shapes. You can enjoy a 20-minute boat riding in the lake. and enjoying the scenery.

Explore The Underground Palace in Yellow Dragon Cave

Yellow Dragon Cave, known as “the wonder of the world’s caves”, is one of the largest ones of its type in China containing stalagmites, stalactites, underground streams, and large caverns. Besides hiking, you can explore boat riding in the cave as well. It will take about 2 hours of exploring.

Take The Train To Visit Ten-Mile Natural Gallery

Ten-mile Natural Gallery is situated between Yuanjiajie and Tianzi Mountain. At the end of  Golden Whip Stream, you can take the train to travel through this natural gallery. Herb Collecting Old Man, Monkey Slope, and Three Sister Peaks are some of the amazing mountains in this section.

Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie

There are many international hotels in Zhangjiajie; however, with the exception of 5-star hotels, they are not as good as hotels in major tourist cities of China. For example, they do not offer Western breakfast and you can’t find English-speaking stuff easily. Most of the hotels in Zhangjiajie are located in downtown and a small town near the Zhangjiajie called Wulingyuan.

Of course, it’s better to stay near the national park for its landscape, view, and quality. However, those who arrive late or depart early should stay downtown to reach the airport and train station easily. Accommodation in Zhangjiajie costs around 170 CNY.

How to Get to Zhangjiajie

By Plane

Zhangjiajie has a small airport called Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport. Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou airports have daily flights to Zhangjiajie. Also, the airport offers a couple of international destinations such as Busan and Taipei as well.

Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport is located 6 km from downtown Zhangjiajie and 40 km from Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Shuttle buses operate from the airport to downtown. Besides, city bus 4 can help you to reach the Central Bus Station. Here, you can take long-distance buses for Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Wulingyuan and Tianzi Mountain.

By Train

The train is not recommended for Zhangjiajie as there is not any high-speed train station with the exception of Changsha. It takes at least 10 hours to reach Zhangjiajie from major cities of China.

The main Zhangjiajie Railway Station, which is located in Yongding District (12 km from city center), can help you to reach Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Changsha, etc. Also, Zhangjiajie West Railway Station offers high-speed trains to Changsha and regular trains to Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou. This station is located 8.5 km from downtown Zhangjiajie.

By Bus

The long-distance bus station of Zhangjiajie offers regular buses to Changde, Shanghai, Changsha, Yueyang, Wuhan, Dongguan and Zhuhai. In order to reach Long-distance Bus Station from Yangjiajie Scenic Area, take the bus 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5.

The intercity buses from Changsha West Bus Station, Changsha East Bus Station, and Changzhutan Bus Station can help you to reach the Zhangjiajie. The bus departs hourly and the last one will be at 19:00. This journey will take 4 hours and you can take minibus and tourist express to reach the Wulingyuan Scenic Area when you arrived.

In Town Transportation

By Taxi

Taxis in Zhangjiajie are very cheap and they can be your best choice inside the city. The price for the first 1 mi (1.6 km) would be 5 CNY and each additional kilometer costs 1.6 CNY. Since the city is small, you will not need to pay over 20 CNY for each trip within the town.

By Bus

In Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station, you can find minibusses, which can help you to reach the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park’s entrance. You don’t need to buy tickets. Find the security, Exit 1, and go outside of it. You will need to pay 12 CNY to the driver. An important point is that minibusses are somehow old and they pick up and drop off passengers through the route. For coming back, you just need to go to the location you had dropped off when you arrived at the park.

Flight to Zhangjiajie (DYG)

Food & Drink

Cuisine in Zhangjiajie is a mixture of traditional Hunan cuisine (aka Xiang cuisine) and  local Tujia minority cuisine. Hunan or Xiang Cuisine offers very hot dishes for pepper and spice lovers! They are known for their use of pepper, smoked and sour ingredients. Tujia minority people, on the other hand, use rice, corn, wheat, and sweet potatoes in their dishes.

Best Local Dishes

Among the best dishes in Zhangjiajie, you can try these items:

    • Sanxia Guo (a hot pot with three ingredients)
    • Sour and Salted Fish
    • Smoked Blood Tofu
    • Cold Noodles
    • Tujia Steamed Pork Belly
    • Stewed Chicken with Chestnuts
    • The Fried Sweet Dumplings
    • Straw Hat Noodles
    • Steamed Smoked Dish
    • Loach Drilling through Tofu

Chinese Restaurants

    • Le Kou Fu Restaurant (Best for its Taro spareribs, fish head with pepper sauce, sauce meat, and chicken hot pot)
    • Xiang Li Ren Jia Restaurant (Best for its fish dishes and Tofu)
    • Tang Shifu’s Tujia Outlets (Best for its fish in sour soup)
    • Lao Wu Yu Tou Restaurant  (Best for its  Fish Head Hotpot, Ribs Steamed Pork Ribs with Taro, and Steamed Sausage)
    • Lao Yuan Zi Restaurant (Best for its Deep-fried vegetable)
    • Joy Tsin Lau (Best for its Tu minority dishes)

Western Restaurant 

Mr. Cat Restaurant (Best for its pizza, Curry Rice, The Paella, etc.)

Note: As mentioned, it’s not easy to find western food in Zhangjiajie; however, you can order it in your hotel.

Cafes

    • Kafelaku Coffee (Best for its Americano, Cappuccino, Vietnamese Iced Milk Coffee, etc.)
    • UKO Cafe (Best for its Tuna Sandwich, Honey Grapefruit Tea, Latte, Spicy Beef Rice, etc.)
    • W Coffee (Best for its Cappuccino, Vanilla Latte, Caramel Sorbet, White Peach Oolong Tea, etc.)
    • Coffee Bene (Best for its Bene Milk Tea, Coffee Latte, Banana Nut Bread, etc.)

Shopping in Zhangjiajie

Handicrafts

As there are some ethnic minorities living in Zhangjiajie, you can find many beautiful handicrafts among which, these are notable:

  • Tujia Stickup Picture,
  • Tujia Brocade,
  • Guiwen (tortoise veins) Stone Carving.

Chinese Gooseberry

It’s a very delicious fruit in China and you can find the best of it in Zhangjiajie.

Tea

Zhangjiajie is one of the famous cities in China for tea production. These items are the best tea kinds in the city:

  • Qingyan (green rock)
  • Mingcui (tea green) Tea
  • Longxia (lobster) Tea

Around Zhangjiajie, you can find special kinds of tea, which are:

  • Yunwu (cloud and mist) Tea and Maofeng Tea from Tianzi Mountain
  • Maojian Tea from the Suoxiyu Natural Resource Reserve

Zhangjiajie Travel Tips

  • Try to avoid Chinese holidays, as you may lose a lot of time waiting in queues!
  • Try to reach the parks early in the morning to make most of it.
  • Try to learn the basics of mandarin for restaurants, taxis, etc. as you may find hardly anyone who speaks English.
  • Ali Pay and Union Pay are the payment systems available in Zhangjiajie and Visa or MasterCard will not work. You will need Chinese cash money.
  • The park has many extremely steep cliffs however, they are safe and well guarded by railings if you stick to the official routes. If you fear about the height, you should try roads and boats.
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