The road through the subtropical forest of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park leads to the classic sandstone formations. The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park claims the honor of being the first national forest park of China. It is also the home of 143 mountain peaks and around 3,000 pinnacle karsts. The park is located in the North-western forests of Húnán province. Zhangjiajie provides the bliss of nature’s serenity, the culture of the local tribes along with man-made wonders like the glass-bottomed bridge through its Grand Canyons.
This UNESCO-protected park used to be the home of the local tribes called Tujia, Miao and Bai. The Heavenly Pillars of Zhangjiajie inspired the Hallelujah Mountains in blockbuster Hollywood movie Avatar. Since then, the number of foreign travelers has increased in Zhangjiajie. Rare animal species like Chinese giant Salamander and Chinese water deer are the rare attractions of this miraculous mountain area. There’s an array of activities which can be enjoyed while visiting this place.
1. A trip through Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
This national park is spread through 50 miles (80 kilometers) of tropical forest. The park is made with five beautiful areas named Yuanjiajie, Yangjiajie, Yaozizhai, Golden Whip Stream and Huangshizhai. The main attraction of this forest are the unusual rock formations. Around 3,000 rocks of this forest have formed pillar-like formations, some of them are curved as the shape of a human, some of them have taken the shape of giant trees.
In the middle of the forest, find the picturesque Huangshi Village. The view of the sounding forests and the sandstone peaks are marvelous, especially in the time of sunrise. In between the mountains, the Golden Whip Stream is located beside the Golden Whip Rock. For its pristine water, the rare surrounding plants, this stream has earned the title of ‘Most poetic stream’. Lastly, a visit to the museum in this park will provide a glimpse of the ethnic culture of the area. The national park is accessible from Zhangjiajie City. The tourist buses from downtown of Zhangjiajie City take travelers to the national park.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Address: Wulingyuan, Zhangjiajie, Hunan, China
Contact: +86 7445718833
Timing: 7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Website: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
2. Step into history: visit the Phoenix Ancient City
The Phoenix Ancient City is located near the western boundary of the Húnán province. This small city is located in the lap of the mountains and the forest. Phoenix Ancient City still possesses the essence of ancient China. From the ancient era, the town is the home of Ethnic minority group Tujia & Miao. The small wooden houses of ancient Chinese Architecture, small alleys, and the picturesque bridges over the water are still preserving the original effects of the city.
According to legend, once two Phoenixes had flown over this town. Enchanted by the beauty of this town, they have never left. Thus, the city is called ‘Phoenix City’ in honor of these mythological birds. The places to visit in this city are Huang Si Qiao Castle, Chao Yang Palace, the residence of Xiong Xiling Weng Chen Pavilion, Da Cheng Hall, Tian Wang Temple, the tomb of Shen Congwen, and the ancient pagodas of Ming and Qing Dynasties.
This town is located around 130 miles (210 km) away from Zhangjiajie town. Daily 3 buses travel from Zhangjiajie scheduled between 8:30 am-11 am. The last bus for coming back to Zhangjiajie leaves from Phoenix town at 4:30 pm.
Phoenix Ancient City
Address: Jinping Rd, Fenghuang Xian, Xiangxi Tujiazumiaozuzizhizhou, Hunan Sheng, China
Timing: 24 hours
Website: Phoenix Ancient City
The Tianmen Mountain stands around 4,921 feet (1,500 meters) above the sea level. The word ‘Tianmen’ literary translates as ‘Heaven’s Door’. Consisting of around 40 peaks, the mountain is referred to as the soul of Zhangjiajie. The top of the mountain can be reached after 99 bends in the mountain roads. Take a climb up staircases through the fog and clouds to reach the water-eroded natural cave called Tianmen Cave.
The 1.8 mile (3 km) long glass skywalk is the main attraction of Tianmen Mountain. It is set to give the experience of walking through the air. During your trip, visit the Hanging Garden, called the Bonsai Garden. The other attractions are Tianmenshan Temple, Tianmenshan National Forest Park, the Tianmen Academy, Yuhu Peak, and The Ghost Valley Plank Road. The most enchanting way to reach this mountain is via the cable car. From the Zhangjiajie cable-way station, the 28-minute cable car journey provides an enchanting view of the mountain peaks through the clouds. Tianmen Mountain cableway is also the longest mountain cableway in the world.
Tianmen Mountain of Zhangjiajie
Address: Yongding, Zhangjiajie, China
Contact No: +86 7448369999
Timings: 24 hours
The Tianzi Mountains claim the honor of being the inspiration for the fictional location of the movie Avatar. The mountain range is located near Wulingyuan Scenic Area. The peaks of this mountain range provide an excellent view of the surrounding mountains. The word Tianzi signifies ‘Sons of Heaven’. The mountain was named after a man named Xiang Dakun, who was the leader of the ethnic group ‘Tu’. According to the legend, he had described himself as the son of heaven.
The legend also describes nature’s deeds, which are increasing the beauty of this area, like the radiance of the moonlight, the snow in winter, the sea of clouds, and the rays of sunshine. The places of Tianzi Mountains, like the Xian Nu San Hua, the Yu Bi Peaks, and Shen Bing Ju Hui are also mentioned in the legend. Tianzi Mountains is easily accessible from Zhangjiajie City. The normal bus journey from Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station takes around 80-90 minutes to reach the Tianzi Mountains.
Address: Wulingyuan District, Zhangjiajie 427400, China
Timings: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Hiking to the Grand Canyon of Zhangjiajie will take you to the longest and highest Glass Bridge of the world. The Grand Canyon of Zhangjiajie is known as Lanchuanxia, which means ‘Rotten Ship Gorge’. The bridge is around 1,410 feet (430 meters) long and located around 1,312 feet (400 meters) above the ground. The transparent glass bridge allows a clear view of the surrounding forest and the water-steam located below. The main water stream flows from the Shenquan Stream. Due to the presence of various streams, the canyon is also known as Luanquanxia, which means ‘Massive Springs Gorge’.
The other attractions of this place are One Line Sky, The Sky Ladder, Bandit Cave, Chuangwang Pavilion, The Millennial Rattan, Slide-way Butterfly Spring Waterfall, Rotten Ship Rock, Tianhe River Sightseeing Deck, The Family Portrait and the Flying Springs. The hike to the Grand Canyon normally takes around two hours, and there are regular buses from Zhangjiajie Center Bus Station to reach the Grand Canyon which normally take 1.5 hours. The weather around the canyon often remains wet, so carrying protection against the rain is recommended while visiting the canyon.
Grand Canyon of Zhangjiajie
Address: Zhangjiajie Forest Park, Wulinguyan district, 427400, China
Timings: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
6. Get a glimpse of folk culture at Tujia Folk Customs Park
The Tujia Folk Customs Park is located at the Yongding District of Zhangjiajie City. This park provides a glimpse of a typical village of the Tujia ethnic group, and the replicas of the houses provide an excellent example of the Tujia architecture. Inside the Jiuchongtian Hereditary Hall, the artifacts used by this group can be seen. To get a live view of the Tujia culture, catch the live performances of the Maogusu Dance in the village square. The park is located a five minute drive away from Zhangjiajie City. If you are keen to taste the local food, try the dishes like sour fish, smoked meat, stewed chicken with Gastrodia elata soup at the Minority Flavor Garden.
Tujia Folk Customs Park
Address: 306 Provincial Rd, Yongding, Hunan, Zhangjiajie, China
Contact No: +86 7448282222
7. Cleanse yourself at the temples of Zhangjiajie
The Zhangjiajie Zixia Temple is known as the first Taoist temple located in the western part of Hunan. Consisting of more than 30 temples in a row, the temple is also famous for its surrounding beauty. The temple is around 500 years old, and was built in the time of the Ming Dynasty. This temple is an important place for various religious ceremonies of local people.
The temple is located on the Wulingyuan District of Zhangjiajie City, which is easily accessible by public transport. Along with Zhangjiajie Zixia Temple, the Tianmenshan Temple, located on Tianmen Mountain, provides an excellent view of a Chinese temple situated on the lap of the mountains. The temple is located inside the Tianmen Mountain National Park.
Zhangjiajie Zixia Temple
Address: Baofeng Rd, Zhangjiajie, Wulingyuan, Hunan, China
Timings: 8:00 am - 5:30 pm
Website: Zhangjiajie Zixia Temple
Address: Tianmen Mountain National Park
Timings: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Website: Tianmenshan Temple
Zhangjiajie: where nature and folk culture meet
The serenity of the Zhangjiajie National Park merges with the folk history of ancient tribes in the land of Zhangjiajie. Discovering this ancient and mysterious land through the mists is sure to provide you the experience of a lifetime.
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