Zhangjiajie travel guide, All the things you should know for your ‘Avatar tours’

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Zhangjiajie Scenic Area is a natural wonder renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and unique geological formations. This UNESCO World Heritage site is often referred to as the “Avatar Mountains” due to its striking resemblance to the fantastical landscapes seen in the movie “Avatar.” This article details everything you need to know about your ‘Avatar tours’!

The city of Zhangjiajie is located in the province of Hunan in central China. Zhangjiajie is 2 hours 50 minutes flight distance from Beijing; 2 hours 35 minutes flight distance from Shanghai. There are no direct flights to Zhangjiajie from either Xi’an or Hong Kong.

‘Avatar tours’ – Highlights

Please read the article, Zhangjiajie, for the detailed discription about Zhangjiajie highlights.

‘Avatar tours’ – Recommended Itinerary

Zhangjiajie tourist areas are divided into three parts. They are the core scenic area of Wulingyuan (Zhangjiajie National Forest Park), Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area, and the Grand Canyon Scenic Area. It is recommended to spend at least three days visiting these three scenic spots.

Day 1: Visit the Core Scenic Area of Wulingyuan (Zhangjiajie National Forest Park)

Stop 1: Take the 335-meter-high observation elevator, the Bailong Sky Elevator

Stop 2: Go to Yuanjiajie, visit the Mystic Terrace, First Bridge of the world and Hallelujah Mountain scenic spot in the movie Avatar, Qiankun Pillar

Stop 3: Take the environmental protection vehicle to Yangjiajie scenic area, visit the natural Great Wall and other natural landscapes

Stop 4: Visit various karst geological landscapes in Tianzi Mountain, such as the Royal Pen Peak, the West Sea Rock Forest, and the Fairy Offering Flowers.

Take the ropeway from Tianzi Mountain to descend the mountain.

Day 2: Continue to visit the core scenic area of Wulingyuan in the morning; visit the Grand Canyon scenic area in the afternoon.

Stop 1: Take a small train to visit the Ten Mile Gallery and see the scenery of the canyon, such as the Index Finger Peak, the Three Sisters, and the Old Man Picking Medicine.

Stop 2: Visit the Jinbian Xi, one of the “most beautiful canyons in the world.”

Stop 3: Go to Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Scenic Area and cross the world’s longest glass bridge in the canyon, with a total length of 430 meters.

Day 3: Visit Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area

Stop 1: Take the Tianmen Mountain Ropeway, the world’s longest single-loop alpine ropeway, with a total length of 7,454 meters and a height difference of 1,277 meters.

Stop 2: Visit Tianmen Mountain Glass Bridge with the length of 60 meters.

Stop 3: Hike the 1600m long Ghost Valley Trail above the cliff, 1400m above sea level.

Stop 4: Visit Tianmen Mountain Temple, where the relics of Buddha are kept.

Stop 5: Visit Yunmeng Summit, which is hidden in the clouds.

Stop 6: Visit Tianmen Cave, the highest natural cave in the world.

Day 4: Visit Phoenix Old Town 

Nestled along the banks of the Tuo River, Phoenix Ancient Town is a charming and ancient settlement that transports visitors back in time with its well-preserved architecture and cultural traditions.

The town boasts a remarkable collection of Ming and Qing dynasty buildings, showcasing traditional Chinese architecture with wooden stilted houses, ornate carvings, and intricate roof designs.

Wandering through the narrow cobblestone streets of Phoenix Ancient Town, visitors can explore ancient temples, traditional courtyards, and old bridges, all adding to the town’s nostalgic atmosphere.

The town is inhabited by the Miao and Tujia ethnic minorities, who have preserved their age-old traditions, colorful clothing, and distinctive customs, providing visitors with a chance to experience their unique culture.

Traditional festivals, such as the Miao New Year and the Dragon Boat Festival, are celebrated with grand parades and cultural performances, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in local festivities.

‘Avatar tours’ – Best Times to Visit 

The best weather in Zhangjiajie is from April to June and September to November. However, the number of tourists is larger during this time, and attractions such as the Bailong Sky Elevator, for example, often require long lines.

May to August is the rainy season in Zhangjiajie. The rain during the rainy season is very daunting, the mountain roads are slippery on rainy days, and rain and fog can also cause poor visibility, so it is recommended not to venture hiking in the rain.

Winter’s temperature in Zhangjiajie scenic area is 3-6 degrees below zero. If you can stand the cold, Zhangjiajie in winter has a different kind of beauty, while the hotel prices are also much cheaper.

‘Avatar tours’ – Accommodation 

Zhangjiajie offers a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels. Book in advance, especially during peak tourist season.

Wulingyuan Core Scenic Area

It is recommended to stay near the scenic spot, such as a hotel near the Biaozhimen station. You can also stay at the top of the scenic area. In addition, the closest accommodation to the top of the scenic area is in Tianzishan Town. The closer the accommodation to the scenic spot, the higher the price is relatively, but you can save transportation time and even the cost of going up and down the ropeway.

Grand Canyon Scenic Area

You can choose a hotel in Wulingyuan District or stay in Sanguansi Town, where there is a lot of public transportation to and from the area daily.

Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area

It is recommended to stay in downtown Zhangjiajie city, such as near Zhangjiajie bus station, which is close to Tianmen Mountain ropeway station.

Phoenix Ancient Town

It is recommended to stay overnight in Fenghuang Ancient Town. You can choose a hotel with a view on both sides of the Tuo River, which has a beautiful view but is more expensive. You can also choose a quiet hotel on the outskirts of the ancient city; the price is much cheaper than the hotels on both sides of the Tuo River.


Get to Zhangjiajie by plane

Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport is the only airport in Zhangjiajie, 10 km from downtown, about 15 minutes’ drive

Get to Zhangjiajie by train

The West Railway Station is a high-speed railway station, 12 kilometers from downtown, about 18 minutes’ drive.

The South Railway Station is 4 km away from downtown, about 6 minutes’ drive.

Downtown – Wulingyuan Scenic Area

50 km, about 55 minutes’ drive. The bus will run once every 15 minutes.

Downtown – Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area

6 km, about 10 minutes’ drive

Downtown – Grand Canyon

65 km, about 74 minutes’ drive

Downtown – Fenghuang Ancient Town

237 kilometres, about 4 hours drive. (You can also take the train to Jishou and then change the bus to Phoenix Ancient Town, about 1-hour drive)

Tianmen Mountain and Grand Canyon do not have public transportation to reach Phoenix Ancient Town. You need to take public transportation to the downtown central bus station or railway station.

Other Tips and suggestions

1. Do not easily believe in various recommendations from strangers.

2. Do not trust the recommendations of inn or small hotel owners.

3. Try to take official taxis. Informal taxis do not have meters, and the fares offered by the drivers are not always reasonable. Even if you take an official taxi, do not easily believe the recommendations of some drivers because most of them will receive commissions from the recommended stores, restaurants, etc.

4. Do not join the various low-priced tours, which will involve a lot of unknown consumption.

5. Tickets are valid for four days. Purchase tickets in advance. There is a possibility of not being able to buy tickets on the travel day.

6. Do not drive to the scenic area; finding a parking space is difficult, and the return trip to pick up the car will be very troublesome.

7. You will encounter monkeys everywhere in Golden Whip Creek. Keep the carried food in the bag.

8. Do not catch incense people give you when you enter the temple, for these incenses are charged.

9. Tickets for the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge can be purchased separately or in the scenic combined tickets. If you only visit the glass bridge, do not purchase the scenic combined tickets. 10. In the ancient town of Phoenix, there is a fee for taking pictures with performance artists and people wearing ancient Chinese or ethnic costumes.

10. Wear comfortable and sturdy footwear, bring a rain jacket, and dress in layers as the weather can change quickly.