What to see in China
Tourist attractions Zhangjiajie
Situated in the Hunan province of central China, Zhangjiajie is the site of the so-called ‘Hallelujah Mountains’ of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a protected area of quartz sandstone columns, the inspiration for the land of Pandora in the blockbuster movie Avatar! In fact, these distinct geological formations are found nowhere else on the planet, making a trip to Zhangjiajie one of the most exciting parts of a tour of China.
A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Zhangjiajie is a natural paradise, nestled within one of the most remote parts of the country. Historically, this epic landscape has been home to the Tujia, Miao and Bai indigenous groups. The city of Zhangjiajie is relatively small but is increasingly becoming an important travel destination for those who want to visit the otherworldly scenery Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. The prominence of these unique natural landscapes mean there’s plenty of accommodation options both within the park and in the city itself, which is well-equipped with amenities for travellers who visit Zhangjiajie.
As you’d expect from one of China’s top attractions, Zhangjiajie is almost always buzzing with excited international and local visitors. The best time to visit Zhangjiajie is between April and November when the weather is warm and dry. On the other hand, if you visit during the autumn season you’ll be treated to a multi-coloured array of foliage, making this already captivating sight even more appealing!
Things to see in Zhangjiajie
Almost all who travel to Zhangjiajie come to experience the natural treasures of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a natural reserve encompassed within the larger Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Established in 1982 and covering an area of 48 square kilometres, this protected area is home to 3000 quartzite sandstone pillars and gravity-defying peaks. It is said that this area inspired the scenery of the fictional planet of Pandora in James Cameron’s Avatar movie.
A tranquil oasis where you can forget you’re even on planet earth, within the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park you’ll also find epic canyons, glistening lakes, caves and tropical forests. Furthermore, you needn’t spend all day on your feet as a number of scenic cable car systems link together different viewing platforms throughout this otherworldly paradise.
Some of the best things to see in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are the rock formations of Huangshi Village, best admired from a 1,200-metre high viewing deck, the tranquil Golden Whip Stream and Yuanjiajie Scenic Area, where you’ll find the coveted ‘Hallelujah Mountains’ from Avatar!
To reach the Yuanjiajie viewpoint you can take the Bailong Elevator, one of the most exciting things to do in Zhangjiajie. The world tallest outdoor elevator, this amazing feat of engineering transports up to 50 visitors at a time to the top of Yuanjiajie in just two minutes, in contrast to the two hours the walking route requires. Constructed in glass, you can soak up the scenery as you climb the mountain, plus the Bailong Elevator is tastefully encompassed into the natural landscape, so as not to spoil the views.
South of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is Tianmen Mountain, one of the best things to see in Zhangjiajie. Another epic natural wonder, the mountain is within the national park of the same name. Rising 1,519-metres above the untouched landscapes of central China, Tianmen Mountain is known for its 999 step staircase. Nicknamed the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, those who manage to climb to the top are met with the stunning Tianmen Cave, the world highest naturally formed rock arch. From here, you can soak up sweeping views across the beautiful landscape of Zhangjiajie. The more adventurous might like to walk on the Tianmen Glass Walkway or take a 40-minute ride on the scenic Tiamen Cablecar.
Finally, you cannot travel to Zhangjiajie without visiting the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge, the longest and highest glass bridge on earth. Spanning the width of the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, this amazing structure offers 360-degree views of the surrounding landscapes thanks to its glass floor. Not for the faint of heart, this incredible bridge gives visitors the chance to enjoy a birds-eye view of the verdant forest below.