Zhangjiajie Travel Guide: A Gateway to Unforgettable Experiences


Located in the Hunan Province of China, Zhangjiajie is a captivating travel destination renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and awe-inspiring landscapes.

This enchanting region is home to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wulingyuan Scenic Area, which encompasses the mesmerizing Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and its iconic towering sandstone pillars, often referred to as the “Avatar Hallelujah Mountains” due to their resemblance to the famous movie.

Myth and Legend of Zhangjiajie

One of the famous legends surrounds the Southern Sky Column, also known as “Hallelujah Mountain” or “Avatar Mountain.” According to local mythology, these towering sandstone pillars were believed to be the physical manifestation of a celestial pillar that connected the heavens to the earth. The tale tells of gods descending to Earth, leaving their footprints on the columns as they interacted with humans, ultimately creating the breathtaking landscape that we see today.

Another captivating legend revolves around the Bailong Elevator, a remarkable glass elevator that ascends the side of a steep cliff. It is said that the elevator was built by the gods to connect the mortal world with the heavenly realm. The Bailong Elevator, with its awe-inspiring construction and panoramic views, continues to capture the imagination of visitors, who can’t help but feel a sense of wonder and awe as they ascend to the sky.

Zhangjiajie is also associated with the legend of a beautiful and benevolent goddess named Xiangxi. It is believed that Xiangxi fell in love with a mortal man and chose to reside in the Zhangjiajie area to protect and bless the people. The ethereal beauty and tranquility of Zhangjiajie are said to be a reflection of her presence, and locals often pray to her for good fortune and protection.

Additionally, Zhangjiajie is intertwined with the mythology of the ancient Tujia ethnic minority group, who have their own unique stories and folklore passed down through generations. Their rich cultural heritage is interwoven with tales of mythical creatures, heroic figures, and spiritual beings that have shaped their traditions, customs, and way of life.

Top Things to Do in Zhangjiajie

When visiting Zhangjiajie, there is an abundance of incredible experiences awaiting you. Here are the top things to do in Zhangjiajie that will make your trip truly memorable:

Explore the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Begin your adventure by immersing yourself in the surreal landscapes of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. Marvel at the towering sandstone pillars, hike along breathtaking trails, and soak in the stunning vistas that inspired the movie “Avatar.”

Take a ride on the Bailong Elevator

Experience the thrill of riding the Bailong Elevator, also known as the Hundred Dragons Elevator. This glass elevator ascends the side of a massive cliff, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes as you ascend to the top.

Walk the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge

Test your courage by walking across the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge. Admire the spectacular views of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon beneath your feet, providing an exhilarating and unforgettable experience.

Visit Tianmen Mountain

Take a cable car ride to the summit of Tianmen Mountain, known as “Heaven’s Gate.” Explore the natural wonders and cultural sites, such as the Tianmen Cave and the Tianmen Temple, while enjoying breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks.

Discover the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain

Journey to the Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, also known as the Avatar Mountain, where you can witness the iconic Hallelujah Mountain featured in the movie. Capture awe-inspiring photos and immerse yourself in the fantastical landscapes.

Top Things to Do in Zhangjiajie

Explore the Golden Whip Stream

Take a leisurely stroll along the enchanting Golden Whip Stream, a tranquil watercourse surrounded by lush forests and towering peaks. Enjoy the serene beauty, listen to the sounds of nature, and be captivated by the crystal-clear waters.

Experience the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon

Venture into the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, where you can marvel at the deep gorges, waterfalls, and lush greenery. Walk across the glass-bottomed bridge, hike through the canyon, and soak in the breathtaking scenery.

Discover the Cultural Heritage

Engage with the local culture by visiting the Tujia Ethnic Folk Customs Park, where you can learn about the traditions, customs, and crafts of the Tujia people. Witness traditional dances, explore ancient architecture, and appreciate the rich cultural heritage.

Try Local Cuisine

Indulge in the flavors of Zhangjiajie by sampling the local cuisine. Savor dishes like Tujia bacon, Xiangxi wild mushroom, and smoked tofu, which showcases the unique culinary traditions of the region.

Attend Cultural Festivals

If your visit aligns with the timing, immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Zhangjiajie’s cultural festivals. Experience events like the Tujia Song Festival or the International Country Music Week, where you can enjoy performances, music, and local celebrations.

Zhangjiajie Food and Cuisine

Zhangjiajie offers a delightful culinary experience, featuring a blend of local Hunan cuisine and regional specialties. Here are some highlights of Zhangjiajie’s food and cuisine:

Spicy Hunan Cuisine

Hunan cuisine is known for its bold and spicy flavors. In Zhangjiajie, you can savor dishes that showcase the vibrant and fiery taste of the region. From the famous “La Rou” (smoked pork) to “Chou Shui Tofu” (stinky tofu), the local cuisine will satisfy the cravings of spice enthusiasts.

Tujia Minority Cuisine

The Tujia ethnic minority is indigenous to the Zhangjiajie region, and their cuisine offers a unique culinary experience. Traditional Tujia dishes include “Suan Tang Yu” (sour fish soup), “Xiang Chun Dou” (Tujia-style soybeans), and “Liang Fen” (a jelly-like dish made from sweet potato starch). Exploring Tujia cuisine provides a glimpse into the local culture and heritage.

Zhangjiajie Food and Cuisine

Forest Flavor

Zhangjiajie’s natural surroundings also inspire a forest-themed cuisine. You can enjoy dishes prepared with fresh local ingredients, such as wild mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and mountain herbs. These dishes showcase the earthy flavors and natural essence of the region.

Local Snacks

Zhangjiajie has a variety of street food and local snacks to tantalize your taste buds. Don’t miss trying “Tu Si Zi” (glutinous rice cakes), “Gan La Zha” (crispy snacks made from glutinous rice flour), and “Qian Shan Hu” (sweet jelly dessert). These snacks are popular among locals and visitors alike.

Tea Culture

Zhangjiajie is also known for its tea culture. The region produces high-quality tea, including the famous “Maofeng Tea.” You can visit tea plantations, attend tea ceremonies, and learn about the art of tea preparation while enjoying the flavors of local tea.

When dining in Zhangjiajie, you’ll find a range of dining options, from local eateries and street food stalls to upscale restaurants in hotels. It’s worth exploring both traditional and modern establishments to get a comprehensive taste of the local cuisine.

Best Times to Visit

When planning your visit to Zhangjiajie, it’s important to consider the best times to experience the destination’s natural beauty and avoid potential challenges. Here are the recommended times to visit Zhangjiajie:

Spring (March to May)


Spring is an ideal time to visit Zhangjiajie as the weather starts to warm up, and the region comes alive with blossoming flowers and lush greenery. The landscapes are vibrant and rejuvenated after the winter, creating a picturesque setting for exploration. However, do keep in mind that spring can bring occasional rainfall, so be prepared with rain gear.

Autumn (September to November)


Autumn is another fantastic season to visit Zhangjiajie. The temperatures are pleasant, ranging from mild to cool, and the landscapes transform into a kaleidoscope of autumn colors, with leaves turning shades of red, orange, and gold. This season offers comfortable weather for outdoor activities and hiking, allowing you to fully appreciate the natural splendor.

Winter (December to February)


Despite the cooler temperatures, winter in Zhangjiajie has its own charm. The misty landscapes take on an ethereal beauty, especially when the peaks are dusted with snow. If you don’t mind the colder weather, visiting during winter can provide a more serene and tranquil experience, with fewer crowds and lower hotel rates. Just make sure to bundle up and come prepared for chilly conditions.

Transportation options to and within Zhangjiajie

Getting to Zhangjiajie is relatively easy, with multiple transportation options available.

By Air

The Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport serves as the main gateway to the region. It offers domestic flights from major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. International flights are also available from select destinations. Upon arrival, you can take a taxi or shuttle bus to your desired location in Zhangjiajie.

By Train

Zhangjiajie is well-connected by train, making it a convenient option for travelers. The Zhangjiajie Railway Station is the main train station in the city and is linked to major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Changsha. High-speed trains are available, offering faster travel times. From the railway station, you can take a taxi or public transportation to your destination within Zhangjiajie.

Transportation options

By Bus

Zhangjiajie has an extensive bus network that connects it with various cities in the surrounding regions. Long-distance buses operate from major cities like Changsha, Chengdu, and Wuhan. The bus terminals are located in the city center, and you can easily find buses to Zhangjiajie from nearby cities.

By Car

If you prefer the flexibility of driving, you can rent a car or hire a private driver to reach Zhangjiajie. Highways connect the city with neighboring provinces, making it accessible by road. However, do note that driving in China may require an International Driving Permit, and it’s important to be familiar with local traffic rules and regulations.

Local Transportation

Once you arrive in Zhangjiajie, there are various modes of local transportation to get around. Taxis and ride-hailing services are readily available, and most drivers are familiar with popular tourist attractions. Public buses also provide a convenient and affordable way to navigate the city.

So pack your bags, set off on a journey of discovery, and let Zhangjiajie captivate your senses and ignite your spirit of adventure. A world of enchantment awaits you in this extraordinary destination.

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