Zhangjiajie (also know as the floating mountains of Pandora – geeky movie reference there) is becoming increasingly busy since it burst onto the world tourism stage as the set for the 2009 Avatar movie and it’s so easy to see why, the dramatic landscape is like nowhere else on the planet.
But don’t be put off by the crowds, the park is absolutely massive and the Chinese do not like to walk. By skipping the free shuttle bus routes and walking instead you will be almost guaranteed to have at least a few hours in near peace. The park is well maintained and has plenty of information so it’s difficult to get lost.
Entrance to the park costs ¥248 per person, which is expensive but your ticket is valid for 4 consecutive days. (There is no ‘one day ticket’ option.) they take your finger print when you first enter so there’s no chance to pass on your card to someone else.
Your ticket includes unlimited free bus rides around the park. If you want to use any of the cable cars or the elevator then that will cost you extra. There’s no need to pre-book tickets, just show up on the day and you will be fine.
Where To Eat:
Food in the park is just as good as anywhere else in China and only slightly inflated, of you would pay ¥15 anywhere else then expect to pay ¥20 inside the park. We didn’t mind because it was so tasty and there are plenty of options.
In Wulingyuan there’s an amazing food truck parked outside the Xing Hong hotel every night from 6pm, we ate there 4 nights running (creatures of habit when we find something we love), he charges ¥15 per meal and portions are massive.
Zhangjiajie is HUGE, and as google maps is out of the question in China it’s really worth picking up a good map, you can pick one up almost anywhere in town, but they are all slightly different which can be confusing.
The airport have an English version as well as a Chinese version which is handy when you first arrive. It gives you a good overview of the whole area not just the park though it does lack a lot of detail.
Our hotel then gave us a much more detailed map of the Wulingyuan area including inside the national park with bus routes etc included. It also had the place names both in English and Chinese all on one map. Make sure you stop by to pick one up.
How Many Days Do I Need?
I’ve already mentioned the shear size of this park, there’s a reason all tickets are valid for 4 days. We spent 3 days walking around the park and only seen around half.
If you choose to use the free shuttle buses you will see more of the park in less time but won’t get the same experience. A well planned route could be done in 1 day but if you have the choice, try not to rush this unique paradise.
The 402 bus will take you from the airport to the railway station for ¥1, the bus doesn’t come right up to the terminal so you’ll need to walk a minute or two to get to the bus stop but it’s easily visible, you can’t walk past it. We got off the bus to early but the station is well sign posted so we managed to travel the rest of the way on foot.
The bus station is adjacent to the railway station on the western side, shuttle buses to the Wulingyuan district (east entrance) leave about every 15 minutes and take just over an hour, they cost ¥20 each way and don’t have bus numbers or signage, staff at the bus station will show you where to go.
From Wulingyuan the last bus back to town is 8pm, though the bus station closes at 6pm, after that buses just wait by the roadside instead of inside the station.
Where To Stay:
The tea house Inn was pretty newly renovated, rooms were clean and even had balconies. It was only 5 minutes walk from the bus station and 10 minutes to the park entrance. We were really happy with this hotel and can’t recommend it enough. We paid £18 per night through hotels.com.
I hope this covers everything you need to plan the perfect trip to Zhangjiajie, let me know if you have any questions.