Visiting Zhangjiajie national forest park is a once in a lifetime trip! But, it can be overwhelming trying to plan with most information being in Mandarin. Below is my complete Zhangjiajie national forest park travel guide including where to stay, day planner and some useful tips.
First, where to stay?
After spending a few days in Shanghai we flew to Hehua Airport(DYG)- closet airport to Zhangjiajie. We opted to stay in Wulingyuan because it is walking distance to one entrance of the Wulingyuan Central Scenic Area, this is the main portion of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. We stayed at the Pullman Hotel, I would highly recommend it as it is one of the nicest hotels in the city and is very inexpensive- in American standards. You will feel more at home in this hotel versus others as it caters more to western travellers. They even have a burger and pizza on the room service menu!
Things to know: The hotel will provide airport pickup and drop off for a fee which is important because Wulingyuan is about a 45 minute drive from the airport.
We were able to see the majority of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area in 1 day. Wake up early, finish late and be exhausted! We entered the park at the Wujiayu ticket office, walking distance from our hotel. Then we took a bus to the Lower Station of Tianzi Mountain Cableway and took the cablecar up the mountain. Don’t miss the cableways, they are amazing! We were here is September and it was almost too foggy to see anything up this high. Next we took a short bus ride to Tianzi Mountain Scenic Office, from here we walked all the way down! My legs were shacking after the miles of stairs down! Side-note: you will pass a McDonalds on the way down, only in China! We came out at the Three Miles of Enchanted Nature where you can catch a train down to the next stop.
Things to know: Although this is a national park in the mountains there is no hiking. Everywhere you go, up and down the mountains, is paved with concrete and stairs. There are also venders selling you food, drinks and souvenirs everywhere and I mean everywhere! Watch out for the monkeys they are aggressive and will steal food right out of your hand!
Next we took a bus to the Bailong Elevator and took it up the mountain. Tip: if you can try to get a spot in the elevator by the glass at the back to take advantage of the breathtaking view going up. After taking the elevator up and snapping some pictures at the scenic overlook we took a bus to the Yuanjiajie Scenic Office. From here you can walk to the pathways that wind around the mountains where the Avatar Shooting Site is located. After this we took a bus to the Upper Station Yangjiajie Cableway and took the cableway down. Once you are here there is no way to backtrack to the Wujiayu Ticket Office(where we entered) so the next steps are how to exit and get back to the hotel. We took the bus down to the next and final stop- no name here but it is the only stop. Next we walked to the Luoguta Ticket Station and exited the park. We then took a city bus back to Wulingyuan(bus stop is outside of the ticket office, straight about 1/2 mile or less on the left side).
Things to know: You will need to pay for tickets throughout the park. You will pay to enter the park then to ride each bus, each cableway and the elevator so have cash handy.
We visited the Golden Dragon Cave and Jhangjiajie Glass Bridge. We took a city bus from Wulingyuan to the Golden Dragon Cave Scenic Area. You will buy tickets at a small office to the right after you walk over the bridge. Once you have the tickets continue straight where you will walk through a beautiful area on a lifted wooden walkway passing manicured gardens, a hanging gourd tunnel and past a large display of multiple watermills. The cave itself is massive, from beginning to end it was a few miles walk.
Things to know: This cave has a tiled floor and false walls which made me wonder what else was fake. There are lots of coloured LED lights illuminating the cave and there is even a boat ride through a flooded part of the cave- created by a man-made damn. While the cave is still beautiful I could do without these things, to me, it took away from theÂ natural beauty.
From here we caught a cab to the glass bridge. Sure this is cool but to be honest I could have done without it. They call it the longest glass suspension bridge over the Chinese Grand Canyon. In reality it is a small suspension bridge with some glass panels and the canyon is maybe a fourth of the depth of the Grand Canyon. We went on the bridge, took some pictures and left. They will try to make you do the entire thing- walk the bridge, hike down the canyon and finish with a boat ride- but I faked an injury so we could leave.
We checked out of our hotel and had our driver take us to the Tianmen Mountain Tourist Services, there is a luggage storage facility on site. We then bought our tickets for the cableway- this is the longest cableway in the world! The tickets will have a timeframe printed on them and this is when you can enter the line. We had to wait about an hour before we could get in the line then another hour before getting on a cablecar. The ride up is absolutely breathtaking, have your camera ready! Once at the top be sure to do one of the glass walkways, 4700 feet up! We then took what must be the worlds longest set of escalators down part of the mountain to the Heavens Gate and stairs. Once up at the top of Tianmen Mountain this is the only way down other than the cableway. The stairs are very steep but this is a once in a lifetime walk down that will give you all the feels! Next you will take a crazy bus ride down the rest of the mountain – the street down is often used in sport car commercials and is not for those with motion sickness.
After this we took a cab to the airport and flew back to Shanghai. If you are a lover of the natural and a travel addict like myself then visiting Zhangjiajie national forest park is a must do experience and definitely a trip of a lifetime!