Our adventure began by flying into the city of Zhangjiajie and getting a 40 minute ride to our hostel in Wulingyuan. Wulingyuan is one of the town areas that borders the National Park. We spent our first evening walking around by the river, through Xibu Street (tourist area) and then went to the Chang Xiang Xi show. The show was spectacular. Although parts of it were in Chinese, it was filled with quality costumes, scenery, dance and music and topped with some incredible feats of inhuman skills.
The next morning we woke up early to head to the park. Our hostel was about a 5 minute walk from the entrance. At 7:30 (when the park opened) there were tons of people headed toward the entrance. Thankfully, we had already purchased our tickets and moved onto the shuttle bus quickly. The bus was a pretty smooth ride to the Tianzi Cableway. After the cableway, we hopped on another bus to He Long Park. Here there were many viewpoints to take in the beauty of the sandstone quartz rock columns. We told our hotel receptionist we wanted to do a moderate amount of walking so she recommended that we skip the 10-mile Gallery and ride another bus down to the Yuanjiajie section of the park.
Yuanjiajie includes the Great Wall of Natural as well as the Tianbo Mansion. The trek to the Tianbo Mansion was a little perilous in parts. You hike up some stone steps and squeeze yourself between some narrow rock alleys. Just when you think you are there you must climb up and down some pretty rickety metal steps to reach the viewing platform. In my personal opinion the view wasn’t worth it. It was nice, but there were many other viewpoints that showed off the sandstone pillars in a much more spectacular fashion.
One of our last buses took us to see the Hallelujah Mountains (aka Avatar Mountains) and other sights. Now these were outstanding. The formations were unlike anything we have ever seen. They looked liked pieces of earth had be plucked and sculpted into a series of rock towers.
This area was really crowded and full of people taking photos. Instead of heading to the famous elevator we decided to head down toward the valley of the park. The Luancuan Slope was a leg breaker. We walked down about 2000+ steps. Luckily at the end there was a lovely flat walking path along the Golden Whip Stream. We meandered along the base of the rock columns and took in their insane height and width. We also spotted 5 monkeys hanging. By 4:00 we had logged almost 13 miles. We were exhausted! We headed to the hotel for a rest and then out for some Hunan cuisine for dinner.
Again we woke up early and headed to one of the local bus stations to head toward the “Grand Canyon” and glass bridge. Thanks to our map the locals were super nice and showed us the way to the mini bus. The scenery along the ride was lovely. Picture mountains towering over a wooded area with a river running through it. The ride on the bus was quite Chinese. Our driver weaved the bus through traffic like a pro while honking his horn about 90% of the ride.
The Glass Bridge was interesting. There was a bit of scenery to see from the bridge but mostly it was a key location for selfies. Watch your step as there were many tourist lying on the glass to get that perfect shot. I had to give it a try.
We made it over the bridge and then took a long walk down to the base of the “Grand Canyon.” The walk was lovely. The lush mountain cliffs surrounded us as we walked along a bubbling brook. There was one point the water changed to an aqua color that was just stunning. At the end of the walking section, there was a boat waiting to take us to the exit. The boat ride was quite peaceful and a nice finale to the hike. Our total walking distance clocked in at about 6 miles.
Overall, our trip was one of the best we have taken in China. We were definitely sore the next few days, but it was all worth it.
1) Zhangjiajie National Park is NOT in Zhangjiajie. You can take a bus or DiDi (Chinese Uber) to the park or stay in a neighboring town such as Wulingyuan.
2)Make sure you have a English and Chinese Map. If you don’t know how to speak Chinese you can always point to the words and the staff were more than happy to show you the way.
3) There are A LOT of food options in Zhangjiajie National Park. They have Chinese snacks, fruit, veggies, McDonald’s and KFC. Unless you have a pretty restrictive diet we recommend bringing a few snack and water.