Zhangjiajie national park is home to the breathtaking monoliths that rise from the ground for thousands of meters and shoots straight through the clouds. Word has it that this was the landscape that inspired James Cameron to create the Hallelujah Mountains in the award-winning film, Avatar. It is located in Hunan province of China.
So, here is everything you need to know for visiting Zhangjiajie National Park. If you want to read about my journey in Zhangjiajie, refer to this article: The Avatar mountains are real: welcome to Zhangjiajie
How to get to Zhangjiajie National Park?
First things first, how do you get here? Zhangjiajie has its very own airport and there are flights from many major cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai etc. Once you land in the city of Zhangjiajie, you have two options: either stay in the city or stay in the scenic town of Wulingyuan, which is right beside the national park.
Where to stay in Zhangjiajie?
While some people prefer to stay in the city which is closer to the airport, if your main aim is to visit the national park, I highly recommend saying in Wulingyuan. It’s a tiny little town at the foothills of Zhangjiajie national park. The hotels and hostels are surrounded by mountains and there are just enough things to ensure travellers have a great time.
We stayed in Wulingyuantuniu Youth Hostel. It was about 3-4 min walk to the entrance of the national park. For US$30/night we got a comfortable twin bedroom and a friendly lady at the reception who will happily help you plan your trip.
There were cute little local restaurants, supermarkets, and massage parlours around the hostel that stayed open late into the night. Travellers hiked around the whole day and enjoyed the delicious food at night, over hearty conversations. There was something about the lazy vibe and the fresh air that allured both locals and foreigners alike.
Zhangjiajie National Park – what you need to know
The national park covers an enormous area and requires 2-3 days to cover. Fortunately (or unfortunately), it is very well connected. There are roads around the whole park and internal shuttles take you from one place to another.
A ticket (258 Yuan) includes Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, Yangjiajie and Suoxiyu Nature Reserve (part). It is valid for 3 days. For who want to visit for a week, buy ticket 298 Yuan. It is valid for 7 days. The sightseeing bus is included in the fee.
- Huangshi Village Cableway: 65 Yuan per way; 118 Yuan round trip;
- Bailong Elevator: 72 Yuan per way; 144 Yuan round trip;
- Yangjiajie Cable Car: 76 Yuan per way;
- Tianzi Mountain Cable Car: 67 Yuan for one way; 134 Yuan for round trip;
- Ten-Miles Gallery Mini Train: 38 Yuan per way; 52 Yuan round trip;
- Yellow Dragon Cave: 100 Yuan per person;
- Baofeng Lake: 96 Yuan per person.
There are many places to cover and many routes you can take. I would highly recommend taking a map and planning out a route before heading to the park. If you want to find out the route I followed, read this article: The Avatar mountains are real: welcome to Zhangjiajie
Tips for first-time visitors
- Zhangjiajie is a city in Hunan province. Other than the national park, there are quite a few wonderful attractions (like Tianmen mountain). If possible, keep some additional time in hand.
- Wulingyuan is a bit of a drive from Zhangjiajie airport. If you land late at night, it is advisable to book a car from your hotel or hostel.
- If you want to visit the glass bridge, ask your hostel for tickets. Chinese nationals have certain restrictions and most likely need to book tickets beforehand.
- Remember China does not allow many common sites like Google, Facebook etc. Make sure you download and test a reliable VPN beforehand. A few free VPNs are available on Playstore and they work alright for basic communication purposes.
- As a common tip for any trip in China, remember to write down your address in Chinese and English both. Some taxi drivers may not understand the English name and you might get stuck in the middle of nowhere.
- Brace yourself for mass tourism. It is not uncommon to see huge local groups with loud microphones in the middle of the national park. Whether you like it or not, that is the reality. When you are in a different country, learn to adjust to their way of life.