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Differences Among Zhangjiajie, Huangshan, Guilin & Jiuzhaigou

There is a famous saying in China “The wise man delights in water, the virtuous man delights in mountains. The wise are active; the virtuous are tranquil. The wise are joyful; the virtuous are long-lived”. Indeed, there are many stunning scenic destinations in China with breathtaking mountains and beautiful water which are worth your time for deep exploration and enjoy. Among all the fascinating destinations, Zhangjiajie, Huangshan, Guilin and Jiuzhaigou have always been stood out.

Check the location, attractions, destination features, best things to do & differences among Zhanjiajie, Huangshan, Guilin and Jiuzhaigou to plan a scenic tour in China in 2022/2023! Get inspired now!

Zhangjiajie Huangshan Guilin Jiuzhaigou Location Map Zhangjiajie Huangshan Guilin Jiuzhaigou Location Map (Clik to Enlarge)

Zhangjiajie - Spectacular Quartz Sandstone Peaks & Inspiration for AVATAR Mountains

Chinese Name: 张家界 (zhāng jiā jiè)
Location: in the northwestern of Hunan Province and in the south China
Suggested Visiting Time: 3~5 Days (most travelers choose 4 days)
Best Time to Visit: from April to October

Destination Features: More than 3,000 narrow sandstone pillars and peaks in this scenic area. Ravines and gorges with streams, pools and waterfalls, caves and natural bridges are nestled with the towering peaks. Zhangjiajie is the shooting place for the movie Avatar and it displays an amazing “Pandora” world in real.

Best Suit for: This is a great destination best suit for who are fond of nature especially peculiar mountains, adventurous travelers, good hikers and photographers...

What to See & Experience:

Zhangjiajie is a small city and the visiting can be divided into two parts - one is in Wulingyuan Town with many attractions scattered around, like Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon & Glass Bridge, Yellow Dragon Cave, Baofeng Lake. Travelers can spend about 2-3 days in this area located in the northern of Zhangjiajie, about 30-40 kilometers away. The other part is around Zhangjiajie downtown area where Tianmen Mountain is located which is suitable for 1-day trip. Moreover, if you want to enjoy the antique beauty of ancient town, Fenghuang Ancient Town is the best choice for one to two days' escape.

You Will Love to Do in Zhangjiajie...

✔ Have a full exploration in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park to catch a panoramic view of the whole scenic area with thousands of peculiar peaks and see the Avatar Hallelujah Mountain in person;

✔ Challenge yourselves to walk on the longest and highest glass bridge in the world of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and stand on the transparent bridge to overlook the verdant canyon;

Tianmen Mountain will give you everything of a mountain - ride the 7455-meter cableway to reach up the mountain, take a walk on the breathtaking glass skywalk built on the cliff and travel through Tianmen Cave and experience Avenue toward heaven with 99 turns...

✔ Discover the secrets of Yellow Dragon Cave which is reputed as “A Wonder of Cave on Earth” and “An Enchanted Palace under the Ground” with millions of peculiar stalactites and stalagmites.

Zhangjiajie Tourist Attractions Map Zhangjiajie Tourist Attractions Map
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon

Related Reading: Zhangjiajie Travel Guide | 10 Best Things to Do in Zhangjiajie | Top 14 Attractions in Zhangjiajie | How to Plan a Trip to Zhangjiajie | Zhangjiajie Tour Packages

Huangshan - Renowned for its Magnificent Scenery Made up of Granite Peaks & Rocks

Chinese Name: 黄山 (huáng shān)
Location: in the southeast of Anhui Province and in the east of China
Suggested Visiting Time: 3~4 days (most travelers choose 4 days)
Best Time to Visit: April to June, October to Middle November

Destination Features: Huangshan is well known for its unearthly breathtaking views of Yellow Mountain. When its granite peaks and twisted pines emerging out of a sea of clouds, it comes the best magnificent scenery. Many distinctive Huizhou style ancient villages scattered at the foot of Yellow Mountain where is suitable for a cultural relaxation.

Best Suit for: This lovely destination is best suit for travelers who want to see a mountain with idyllic views and also have a deep understanding about Huizhou culture in the ancient villages. Also suit for mountainous hikers and photographers.

What to See & Experience:

Huangshan City is a large area consisting of four parts for the visiting and travelers can choose some of the best sites based on your interests, budget and time. Yellow Mountain Scenic Area located in the northwestern of Huangshan City is the core attraction and almost every traveler come for it. After the visiting, many travelers choose to Yi County (黟县) for Ancient Villages in Southern Anui - Xidi & Hongcun which are known for the overall layout, landscape, architectural form, decoration and construction techniques all retaining the original features of Anhui Villages between the 14th and 20th centuries. The third part for Huangshan traveling is She County (歙县) which is noted for its rich history and culture heritage and Huizhou Ancient Town is located. Don’t miss the Huangshan Downtown area where you can take a short cultural visit to Tunxi Old Street and Hu Kaiwen Ink Factory with Huizhou culture experience and activities.

You Will Love to Do in Huangshan...

✔ Enjoy a good hiking time on “the loveliest mountain of China” - Yellow Mountain and appreciate its breathtaking magical wonders - “odd-shaped pines, spectacular rocky peaks, sea of clouds, hot spring and winter snow”.

✔ Have a pleasing and relaxing tour to Xidi and Hongcun for half day to one day. Backed by picturesque hills and towering ancient woods, Xidi Village is noted for the harmony of its architecture and its colorful fields. Hongcun Village is most note for its overall design that resembles the shape of an ox.

✔ Walk on Tunxi Old Street - the best preserved old street in China in the style of the southern Song Dynasty, Ming and Qing Dynasties where you can absorb Hui-style culture.

Huangshan Attractions Location Map Huangshan Attractions Location Map
Yellow Mountain Yellow Mountain (Stone Monkey Watching the Sea)
Hongcun Village in Huangshan Hongcun Village (South Lake) in Summer
Tunxi Old Street in Huangshan Tunxi Old Street in Huangshan

Related Reading: Huangshan Travel Guide | Top 20 Attractions in Huangshan | How to Visit Yellow Mountain | How to Plan a Trip to Huangshan | Huangshan Tour Packages

Guilin - Picturesque Karst Landscape, Idyllic Painting-like Countryside Scenery & Diverse Ethnic Minorities

Chinese Name: 桂林 (guì lín)
Location: in northeast of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in South China
Suggested Visiting Time: 3~5 Days (most travelers arrange 4 days)
Best Time to Visit: from April to October

Destination Features: Guilin is with “the finest scenery under heaven”, ranked as top four destinations to go after Beijing, Xian and Shanghai and usually formed Beijing - Xian - Guilin - Shanghai Itinerary. This whole area is surrounded by karst mountains rising sharply at odd angels, and limestone peaks look like giant teeth growing out the green terrain. Guilin is specifically boasts some of the most spectacular karst topography in the world. The ways to enjoy the scenery are diverse - Li River cruising, biking/cycling, bamboo rafting, hiking, sightseeing bus...

Best Suit for: This is a leisure resort which is best suit for regular travelers, good hikers, photographers, and who are fascinated with karst landscape...

What to See & Experience:

Guilin City is a large area and the visiting usually include three parts - Guilin downtown area, Yangshuo Town and Longsheng Various Nationalities Autonomous County. Most people would land in Guilin first and explore the downtown area with a visit to Elephant Trunk Hill and Reed Flute Cave. With a Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo, you’ll enter into an idyllic land with karst peaks, rivers, caves and villages. Many travelers would head north to Longji Rice Terrace which is composed of three scenic spots - Ping’an Rice Terrace, Jinkeng Rice Terrace and Longji Ancient Zhuang Rice Terrace.

You Will Love to Do in Guilin...

✔ Take a 4-hour Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo to relax yourselves on board for numerous karst mountains passing by. This is the best way to get from Guilin to Yangshuo which is almost chosen by every traveler.

✔ Slow down your pace and mind to indulge in Yangshuo countryside no matter which style you choose - walking, hiking, cycling, bamboo rafting or kayaking, you will enjoy yourselves to the fullest. 

✔ Spend one or two days in Longji Rice Terrace, the most amazing terrace in China. Whether you’re an avid hiker or just someone who appreciates beautiful scenery, the Longji Rice Terraces are an absolute must-see. And if you are into ethnic minority (Zhuang and Yao) culture, you’ll be in heaven up here.

✔ “You never visited Guilin without a photograph of Elephant Trunk Hill which enjoys unparalleled view.” Pay a visit to the symbol of Guilin - Elephant Trunk Hill either on the arrival or departure day.

Guilin Attractions Location Map Guilin Attractions Location Map
Guilin Li River Cruise Guilin Li River Cruise to Yangshuo
Longji Rice Terrace Longji Rice Terrace Autumn Scenery
Elephant Trunk Hill Elephant Trunk Hill (Water Moon Cave)

Related Reading: Guilin Travel Guide | Yangshuo Travel Guide | Longsheng Travel Guide | Best Things to Do in Guilin | How to Plan a Trip to Guilin | Guilin Tour Packages

Jiuzhaigou - Fairyland Landscape of Crystal Pools, Lakes, Waterfalls, Limestone Terraces & Caves

Chinese Name: 九寨沟 (jiǔ zhài gōu)
Location: in the north of Sichuan Province, about 410 kilometers from Chengdu
Suggested Visiting Time: 2~3 Days (Most travelers arrange 2 days)
Best Time to Visit: April to June, September to October

Destination Features: Jiuzhaigou’s fairyland landscape of numerous lakes, waterfalls, and limestone terraces, with their attractive, clear, mineral-rich waters, set in the spectacular alpine mountains with a highly diverse forest ecosystem, demonstrates remarkable natural beauty. It features the most beautiful waterscape in China.

Best Suit for: This is an ideal destination best suit for those who want to enjoy distinctive waterscape in China and also a paradise for photographers.

What to See & Experience:

Usually, the visiting in Jiuzhaigou is composed of two parts - one is Jiuzhaigou Valley and the other part is Huanglong Valley. Both of them were inscribed into world heritage sites. Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area, the Fairyland on Earth, is a reserve of exceptional natural beauty with spectacular jagged alpine mountains soaring above coniferous forest around superb landscape. Jiuzhaigou Valley is formed in the Y shape with a total length of over 50 kilometers. And it consists of three main valleys, called Shuzheng Valley (main gully), Zechawa Valley (left gully), Rize Valley (right gully). The well known Nuorilang Waterfall is also in this scenic area. While, Huanglong Valley is with a series of travertine lakes, limestone shoals, waterfalls, forests and mountain scenery, rising from a based of 1700 m up to 5588 m. The most popular visiting route is taking the cable way to the upper location of the Huanglong Valley. After visiting the most top attractions - the Huanglong Temple and Five-color Pool, then walk down the valley, and visit the attractions one by one, until get to the foot of the valley. 

You Will Love to Do in Jiuzhaigou...

✔ You can either by hiking or sightseeing bus to fully appreciate the most beautiful waterscape in Jiuzhaigou Valley since there are over 100 sparking gem-like lakes and 5 major waterfalls.

✔ You’ll forget where you are when you take a trip to Huanglong Valley. The Five-colored Pools are unfolding layer upon layer in front of you till the vast forest dressed in beautiful colors. How idyllic it is.

Jiuzhaigou Nuorilang Waterfall Jiuzhaigou Nuorilang Waterfall
Jiuzhaigou Changhai Lake Jiuzhaigou Changhai Lake
Huanglong Valley Five Color Pool Huanglong Valley Five Color Pool

Related Reading: Jiuzhaigou Travel Guide | Jiuzhaigou Tour Packages

How to Choose among the Four Scenic Destinations?

Guilin or Zhangjiajie?

Many travelers feel very hard to decide whether Guilin or Zhangjiajie in their China trip. Let’s make things more clear. If you are looking forward a leisure tour with lots of time for sightseeing in diverse way, Guilin is right for you. If you are searching for a scenic destinations with more hiking time and adventurous experience, Zhangjiajie is more suitable for you. Besides, the cost in Zhangjiajie is higher than in Guilin.

If you are not in tight schedules, you are recommended to cover both Zhangjiajie and Guilin for tourist attractions in each destination are obviously different but attractive.

>> 7 Days Best Guilin Zhangjiajie Landscape Exploration

Zhangjiajie or Huangshan?

Peculiar mountain peaks and magnificent mountain, which one do you like? If you are mountain lovers, you can cover both. Zhangjiajie is the quartz sandstone peaks with thousands of peaks standing side by side, forming the whole scenic area. While, Huangshan is made of granite peaks and rocks which looks more magnificent.

For those who are tight in time only with 3 to 5 days, if you are looking for exploring the natural Avatar mountain to step into the real Pandora world, Zhangjiajie is the one for you. If you are fancy with a famous mountain as well as want to have some cultural exploration in the idyllic traditional villages, Huangshan is better than Zhangjiajie.

>> 6 Days Best Mountains Tour with Huangshan & Zhangjiajie

Guilin or Jiuzhaigou?

Both Guilin and Jiuzhaigou have beautiful waterscape. Guilin is the common choice for most travelers for it is easier reach than Jiuzhaigou. And the sightseeing in Guilin is more diverse with different experience in different region including Guilin downtown area, Yangshuo and Longji Rice Terrace. While, Jiuzhaigou is hard to get to with limited fights and buses. And the visiting in Jiuzhaigou only covers two sites - Jiuzhaigou Valley and Huanglong Valley. But its waterscape is no doubt the most beautiful waterscpae in China. The cost will be higher in Jiuzhaigou than Guilin.

How to Transfer among Zhangjiajie Huangshan Guilin & Jiuzhaigou

1. Guilin to Zhangjiajie / Zhangjiajie to Guilin

Distance: 611 kilometers

There in only one flight from Guilin to Zhangjiajie or Zhangjiajie to Guilin at present, taking about 1 hour for a single way. Travelers can also make a transfer via Changsha where both train and flights connecting Zhangjiajie and Guilin and it may need about 7-12 hours. Some travelers may go from Guilin to Zhangjiajie via Liuzhou by train which covers about 1-1.5 hours by bullet train from Guilin to Liuzhou and 10.5-11 hours from Liuzhou to Zhangjiajie.

Learn more about How to Get to Zhangjiajie from Guilin >>

>> 7 Days Best Guilin Zhangjiajie Landscape Exploration

2. Zhangjiajie to Huangshan / Huangshan to Zhangjiajie

Distance: 960 kilometers

There is no direct flight and train between Zhangjiajie and Huangshan. If you want to link the two destinations together, it is a good idea to make a transfer in Changsha, Hangzhou, Shanghai where have flights and bullet trains connecting with Huangshan.

If you want to plan Zhangjiajie Huangshan trip, please feel free to contact our professional travel consultants who would make the travel plan for you including the transportation.

>> 6 Days Best Mountains Tour with Huangshan & Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie Huangshan Transfer Map Zhangjiajie Huangshan Transfer Map

3. Zhangjiajie to Jiuzhaigou / Jiuzhaigou to Zhangjiajie

Distance: 1095 kilometers

The transportation between Zhangjiajie and Jiuzhaigou is not convenient at present. There is no direct flight running between Zhangjiajie and Jiuzhaigou. Most travelers may first visit Jiuzhaigou Valley from Chengdu and then take the flight to Zhangjiajie from Chengdu.

Related Links:
>> How to Get to Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu
>> How to Get to Zhangjiajie from Chengdu

Zhangjiajie Jiuzhaigou Transfer Map Zhangjiajie Jiuzhaigou Transfer Map

4. Guilin to Huangshan / Huangshan to Guilin

Distance: 1223 kilometers

Taking flight from Guilin to Huangshan or Huangshan to Guilin is the most convenient way. There is one flight available from Guilin Liangjiang Airport at 12:35 to Huangshan Tunxi Airport at 14:20. It takes about 2 hours.

No train goes between Huangshan and Guilin. Travelers need make a transfer at Shangrao (上饶), Nanchang (南昌). The whole traveling time lasts about 8 hours and not recommended for regular travelers. If you want to plan Guilin Huangshan trip, please feel free to contact our professional travel consultants who would make the travel plan including the transportation for you.

Guilin Huangshan Transfer Map Guilin Huangshan Transfer Map

Related Reading: How to Get to Zhangjiajie | How to Get to Huangshan | How to Get to Guilin | How to Get to Jiuzhaigou

How to Plan a Scenic Tour in China

The above are the four well known scenic destinations in China, it is a common choice for travelers to cover two or three into their long China trip. If you cover two destinations like Zhangjiajie Guilin, Guilin Huangshan, Zhangjiajie Huangshan, it usually takes about 6 to 7 days. If you cover three destinations into one trip, like Zhangjiajie Guilin Huangshan, it usually needs to spend about 8 days.

No matter whether you are fancy with nature or not, travelers should at least visit one of them to experience the scenic side of China to feel the true beauty of this vast land.

Recommended Package with Guilin:

>> 10 Days Classic China Tour from Beijing (Beijing / Xian / Guilin / Yangshuo / Shanghai)

Recommended Package with Guilin & Zhangjiajie:

>> 7 Days Best Guilin Zhangjiajie Landscape Exploration

>> 13 Days China Landscape Tour including Zhangjiajie and Guilin (Beijing / Xian / Zhangjiajie / Guilin / Shanghai)

Recommended Package with Huangshan & Zhangjiajie:

>> 6 Days Best Mountains Tour with Huangshan & Zhangjiajie

Recommended Package with Zhangjiajie:

>> 15 Days China Splendors Tour with Avatar Zhangjiajie (Shanghai / Zhangjiajie / Yichang / Yangtze Cruise / Chongqing / Xian / Beijing)

Recommended Package with Huangshan:

>> 9 Days East China & Mt. Huang Tour by Speed Train (Shanghai / Suzhou / Hangzhou / Mt.Huang)

Travel with China Discovery

To help you enjoy a worry-free trip to Zhangjiajie, Huangshan, Guilin or Jiuzhaigou and other destinations in China, we suggest you travel with China Discovery. Our experienced travel expert will help you arrange the accommodation, transportation and everything well to let you spend all your effort and time on the sightseeing. If you have any other ideas or questions about your Zhangjiajie, Huangshan, Guilin or Jiuzhaigou tour, please feel free to contact us. We will help you plan your enjoyable trip with sincerity and professionalism!

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