Ultimate Zhangjiajie Travel Guide for International Visitors

Nestled in Hunan Province, China, Zhangjiajie (张家界) is a breathtaking natural wonderland renowned for its mystical quartz-sandstone pillars, dense forests, and dramatic landscapes.

Ultimate Zhangjiajie Travel Guide for International Visitors

Immerse yourself in the enchanting realm of Zhangjiajie, where nature's mastery and cultural richness converge to create an unforgettable adventure. Nestled in the heart of China's Hunan province, Zhangjiajie captivates with its breathtaking landscapes and warm hospitality, inviting travelers to explore its wonders and uncover hidden treasures.

Known for its towering sandstone pillars, often shrouded in mist, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park stands as a testament to nature's artistry. These majestic pillars inspired the floating Hallelujah Mountains in the movie Avatar, showcasing the park's otherworldly beauty. As you traverse its winding trails and vertiginous cliffs, you'll encounter lush forests teeming with wildlife and cascading waterfalls that punctuate the silence with their soothing symphony.

Beyond its natural splendor, Zhangjiajie embraces a rich cultural tapestry, shaped by centuries of history. Explore the quaint villages of the Tujia and Miao ethnic minorities, where time seems to stand still amid traditional wooden houses and vibrant festivals. Delve into the local cuisine, savoring flavors that reflect the region's agricultural abundance and culinary craftsmanship.

Whether you seek adventure amidst the misty peaks or yearn to uncover the cultural heritage woven into Zhangjiajie's fabric, let this guide be your compass. Prepare to be spellbound by Zhangjiajie's allure, where every vista and encounter promises a journey of discovery and wonder.

Which Month Should I Go?

Zhangjiajie is located in the north-central latitude zone and has a subtropical mountain monsoon climate. It is characterized by abundant sunlight, plentiful rainfall, a long frost-free period, a short severe cold period, and distinct seasons. The average annual sunshine, temperature and precipitation are 1440 hours, 16 degrees Celsius and 1400 millimeters respectively. The average frost-free period is between 216 and 269 days. The annual average temperature is 17°C, the average temperature in January is 5.1°C, the average temperature in July is 28°C, and the annual precipitation is 1400 millimeters.

The best time to visit Zhangjiajie is from April to October, especially April and October. During these months, the weather is pleasant and the scenery is at its most beautiful.

In July, August, and early September, you might find it humid and hot, but overall, due to being in a mountainous area, it won't feel unbearably discomfort.

Must-See Sights of ZhangJiaJie

  • Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the crown jewel. Hike or take a cable car to reach the park's peaks and marvel at the towering pillars, mystical caves, and cascading waterfalls. Key areas include Yuanjiajie, where you'll find the "Hallelujah Mountain" from Avatar, and Tianzi Mountain, known for its panoramic views.
  • Tianmen Mountain: Ascend this mountain via the world's longest cable car ride or challenge yourself with the 999-step stairway to reach the "Heaven's Gate" cave, a natural opening through the mountain.
  • Yellow Dragon Cave: Embark on a boat ride through this magnificent cave adorned with colorful stalactites, stalagmites, and natural rock formations.

Beyond the Must-Sees

  • Yangjiajie: Hike through this quieter park with ethereal scenery, including the "A Soldier Standing Guard" formation.
  • Baofeng Lake: Take a scenic boat ride on this tranquil lake surrounded by lush greenery.
  • Tujia Folk Custom Park: Immerse yourself in the rich culture of the Tujia minority people, experiencing their traditional architecture, performances, and cuisine.
  • Tianmen Fox Fairy Show: Witness a captivating performance that blends acrobatics, folklore, and music.

Planning Your Trip

Getting There:

Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport has connections to major Chinese cities, e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen.

Getting Around:

Public buses connect the main town of Wulingyuan with the National Park entrances. Within the park, a network of buses, cable cars, monorails, and elevators aids transportation (fees apply).

When to Visit:

Spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) offer pleasant weather and fewer crowds. Summer (June-August) can be hot and humid, but with lush greenery. Winters are mild with occasional snowfall.


  • Purchase a multi-day pass for the National Park for cost-effectiveness.
  • Wear comfortable shoes suitable for hiking.
  • Pack for changeable weather, including rain gear and layers.
  • Be prepared for crowds, especially during peak season.


Many hotels in Wulingyuan offer a range of options, from budget-friendly to luxury.

  • Consider staying closer to specific park entrances depending on your itinerary.

Beyond Zhangjiajie:

  • Fenghuang Ancient Town: Extend your trip to this charming town known for its well-preserved ancient architecture and rich cultural heritage.

Itinerary Suggestions: 3-Day Itinerary

Day 1:

  • Arrive in Zhangjiajie and check into your hotel in Wulingyuan.
  • Visit Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, entering through the Wulingyuan gate.
  • Hike or take the Bailong Elevator to Yuanjiajie, admiring the stunning scenery.
  • Explore the highlights of Yuanjiajie, including Hallelujah Mountain and the Back Garden.
  • Stay overnight in a hotel near Yuanjiajie.

Day 2:

  • Take the cable car to Tianzi Mountain, enjoying panoramic views of the park.
  • Visit Tianzi Mountain's iconic attractions, such as Imperial Writing Brush Peak and Stone Soldier.
  • Descend Tianzi Mountain by cable car or hike down the Ten-Mile Gallery.
  • In the evening, enjoy the Tianmen Fox Fairy Show or stroll through the bustling Wulingyuan town.

Day 3:

  • Visit Tianmen Mountain, taking the world's longest cable car ride to the summit.
  • Walk along the Tianmen Mountain Glass Skywalk, experiencing breathtaking views.
  • Explore the Tianmen Cave and admire its natural formations.
  • Depart from Zhangjiajie Hehua Airport.

Additional Tips

  • Be mindful of the environment and dispose of waste responsibly.
  • The mountain roads are slippery on rainy days, and rain and fog can obscure visibility. It is best not to risk mountain climbing in the rain.
  • The Golden Week and summer vacation periods are peak tourist seasons.
  • It's better to travel with companions; many costs can be shared, and you can look out for each other.
  • Most scenic spots have baggage storage facilities at ticket offices, and luggage is generally safe.
  • Pay attention to using legal tourist group vehicles; identify tour guides and porters by their credentials.
  • Do not picnic or make campfires in the scenic area.
  • Avoid curiosity about sudden disputes or unusual scenes; such situations are more prone to theft or robbery.
  • Do not attempt to enter areas marked as "No Entry" or "Dangerous."
  • Climbing mountains requires physical stamina; bring some dry food and bottled water to satisfy hunger and reduce travel expenses.
  • The three main groups of monkeys in the scenic area are dominant; absolutely do not provoke them or expose food, as it may lead to injury while the monkeys try to take it away.