Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Reputed as one of top three natural wonders of China, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a superexcellent travel destination for adventure, sightseeing, hiking and photographing. The wonderland boasts more than 3,000 oddly shaped karst pinnacles rising abruptly from the valley, cladded with lush pine trees and shrub clusters. Shrouded in lingering mists and clouds, the peak forest with waterfalls and streams has inspired the dreamlike floating mountains in the Movie Avatar. As the core attraction of Wulingyuan Scenic Area, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park covers four essential scenic areas, namely Yuanjiajie, Golden Whip Stream, Huangshi Village and Yangjiajie.
Perched on a mountain tableland, Yuanjiajie has been praised as the mysterious Pandora's World due to its cloud-capped karst pinnacles with luxuriant greenery. As the shooting location of the film Avatar, the Hallelujah Mountain is one of the must-sees where one could delve into the otherworldly land with star-studded crests. The majestic Mihun Platform surrounded by hundreds of towering peaks is the most perfect viewing platform to gaze at Avatar Peak.
Another wonder of Yuanjiajie is the No. 1 Bridge under the Heaven spanning over two vertical cliffs with a horrible fall of 357 meters. With a length of 25 meters and width of 2 meters, it is a naturally formed stone bridge with the largest vertical height difference in the world. Visitors could walk through the bridge and get caught by the thrill of the bottomless chasm.
Besides, Bailong Elevator inside Yuanjiajie Scenic Area is absolutely a must-try experience. Inscribed as the highest and fastest outdoor elevator in Guinness World Records, Bailong Elevator is able to take travelers to go up to a relative elevation of 335 meters within two minutes, which requires more than two hours if by walking. Inside the cabin of the elevator, one could have a quick glance at the sandstone pillars from the top to the bottom through the transparent glass windows.
With a full length of 5,710 meters, Golden Whip Stream is the most gorgeous valley in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. As the earliest developed area of Zhangjiajie, the stream is characterized by a grotesque stone peak in the upper reaches which resembles a huge golden whip with sharp edges soaring up into the clouds. An eagle-like peak jutting up by side seems to guard the whip, which is an incredible sight to behold.
Besides, Golden Whip Stream is a fairytale-like trekking destination with well-paved plank walkway. The crystal-clear brook snakes though the steep valley of flourishing forests along the natural ups and downs, with peculiar ridges and peaks scattered on both sides. Many spectacular spots are dotted along the stream, such as the famous Huaguo Hill, Water Curtain Cave and Split Mountain.
It is a delightful experience to walk in the shades of the verdant forests to trace the upstream. Small fishes cruise in the gurgling waters, and birds chirp on the tranquil valley. Possibly visitors could come across some naughty wild monkeys sitting on the branches, squatting by the road or jumping in the forests. They are good at robbing foods from travelers, while it is unwise to tease them in close distance.
Located at the central part of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the origin of Huangshi Village could be derived from an alchemy master named Huangshi who is the teacher of Zhangliang, a brilliant state adviser in Han Dynasty.
Towering in the air at an elevation of 1,080 meters, Huangshi Village is the largest viewing platform of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park that clings to sheer cliffs. Reaching the top, one could absorb the densest scenic spots and hold all the surrounding peaks at a single glance, such as the Needle Peak, Five Finger Peaks and Pillar of Southern Heaven. Capped with verdant pines on the summits, the peak forests loom up through the drifting mists like small oases in a floating wonderland. By the way, one need to walk on thousands of stairs to reach the stop of Huangshi Village, which could be quite energy-consuming. We suggest travelers with walking problems take cable car to ascend and trek down on foot.
Featured with heart-stopping cliffs and vertical walkways, Yangjiajie is a favorite place for backpackers and adventurers to seek the primitive scenery. Wulong Village and Tianbo Mansion are two major scenic spots in Yangjiangjie. Embracing vertical cliffs, Wulong Village used to be a stronghold of local bandits because of the forbidding geographic position. Meanwhile, endowed with spectacular natural beauties, Wulong Village boasts broad views with peculiar peaks and grotesque peaks arrayed like soldiers.
From Wulong Village, visitors need to climb a narrow manmade vertical ladder to reach Tianbo Mansion, which is the most dangerous section of Yangjiajie. The breakneck trekking requires travelers to crawl on all hands and feet. Once reaching the viewing platform of Tianbo Mansion, one would stand in awe of the dozens of cliffs encircling the tableland which seems a ruin of a grand mansion. It is also one of the top 10 photography spots to shoot the mist-shrouded sandstone peaks in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.
Yangjiajie Scenic Area has not been fully developed yet, so the road condition would be a bit challenging. Trekking all the way in Yangjiajie needs about 5 hours, which is a harsh and energy-consuming journey to accomplish. It is advisable to take the cable car to the summit directly for travelers who want walk less.
There are five entrances in total to get into the scenic area, namely Wulingyuan, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Tianzi Mountain, Yangjiajie and Zimugang entrances. You can enter the scenic area by buying tickets at any ticket station. Wulingyuan entrance and Zhangjiajie National Forest Park entrance are two most popular ones. One is for entry and the other for exit so that you could tour the whole scenic area by a ring-like route. For a day trip, you could choose to enter from Tianzi Mountain by taking a cable car to the summit directly.
You need about two days at least to make the best of all highlights of the forest park. Here we design a classic two-day itinerary for your reference.
- Day 1: Enter Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and tour the main attractions including Tianzi Mountain, Yuanjiajie and Ten-Mile Gallery.
- Day 2: Continue to sight-see the Huangshi Village, and then hike for about 2-3 hours along the Golden Whip Stream. Trek to the Shuirao Simen transportation exchange station for exit.
1. Zhangjiajie is a quite popular travel destination that is always packed with tourists, so please avoid visiting the forest park in public holidays or weekends.
2. If you hate long queues, you'd better reach the scenic area in the early morning, as it might take several hours to wait in line for the cable car of Tianzi Mountain and the Bailong Elevator.
3. Zhangjiajie covers a huge scenic area for sightseeing, so it is advisable to hire a guide for navigation.
4. Wulingyuan Town is an ideal foothold where you could easily find accommodation and dining options.
Huangshi Village Cableway: CNY65 for a single trip; CNY104 for a round trip.
Bailong Elevator: CNY 72 for a single trip; CNY118 for a round trip.
Yangjiajie Cable Car: CNY79 for a single trip.Notes:
1. Children under 1.3 meters and seniors over 70 years old could enjoy free entry, but they need to purchase the eco-bus ticket of CNY68.
2. The admission ticket is valid in four consecutive days since the day of issue.Transportation:
1. Take a direct bus from Zhangjiajie City Bus Station to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. The buses depart at an interval of about 10 minutes, and the duration is about 40 minutes.
2. Take a taxi from the airport or railway station to the scenic area directly, which may cost CNY100.