How to Plan a Zhangjiajie Tour: Ultimate Trip Planning in Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie (张家界), previously named Dayong, is a prefecture-level city in the northwestern part of Hunan Province containing spectacular landform and national parks. This amazing scenic destination is on the bucket list of 2020/2021 for many travelers no matter when they take first-time trip to China or do second-time in-depth exploration.

Zhangjiajie is not an easy place to explore. So, how to plan a trip to Zhangjiajie? Doing detailed research before your Zhangjiajie tour will make you travel smoothly and in a well-organized way. In our Zhangjiajie trip planning guide, we have listed some essential travel information, like Best Attractions to See and Top Things to Do, How to Stay and Itineraries Suggestions, Best Time to Visit, How to Get to Zhangjiajie, Where to Stay and more for your Zhangjiajie trip. Just take some time to read and make a perfect plan for yourselves in 2020 & 2021.


Best Attractions to See & Explore in Zhangjiajie

In recent years, Zhangjiajie has become particularly well known for its striking surrounding surreal landscape. I bet you know two things in Zhangjiajie, one is Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan National Forest Park where the real Avatar Mountains are located and the other is Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge over the Grand Canyon.

The UNESCO-protected national park represents the main attraction in Zhangjiajie, with over 3000 quartzite sandstone columns providing one of the region’s most arresting natural sights. While, the Glass bridge experience is the standard for trilling and adventurous activity in China. Actually, there are many stunning tourist attractions in Zhangjiajie well worth your time for further exploration.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan National Forest Park

The attractions in Zhangjiajie is mainly divided into two areas, one is located in Wulingyuan Town and around, the other is located around Zhangjiajie downtown area, like Tianmen Mountain. Check the following attractions list and get a quick look at what to see and explore in Zhangjiajie.

Attractions Type Location Distance & Driving Time
(from Zhangjiajie Downtown)
Highlights Recommended Length of Visiting
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park National Park Wulingyuan Scenic Area 28KM, 40 mins’ driving Including Huangshi Village & Golden Whip Stream, hiking and photography 2 or 3 days
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Canyon East of Wulingyuan Town 60KM, 80 mins’ driving Experience the longest and highest glass bridge, hiking in the canyon Half day
Yuanjiajie National Park Wulingyuan Scenic Area 32KM, 50 mins’ driving Capture famous Hallelujah Mountains of Avatar, Bailong elevator 2 hours
Tianzi Mountain National Park Wulingyuan Scenic Area 54KM, 80 mins’ driving Sea of Clouds, whole and complete majestic view of Wulingyuan Scenic Area 2-3 hours
Yangjiajie National Park Wulingyuan Scenic Area 43KM, 1 hour’s driving Newly-developed scenic area with less crowds 2 hours
Tianmen Mountain National Park Downtown area 6KM, 10 mins’ driving Longest cable car experience, Glass skywalk, Tianmen Cave, 99 Turns toward Heaven Half day
Yellow Dragon Cave Underground Cave East of Wulingyuan Town 41KM, 50-60 mins’ driving Delicate underground palace with typically Karst landform 2.5-3 hours
Baofeng Lake Lake Wulingyuan Town 34KM, 50-60 mins’ driving Man-make lake surrounded by verdant forest and peculiar mountains with 30-minute boat experience 2 hours

To get more ideas for what to see in Zhangjiajie, you can turn to Top 14 Zhangjiajie Attractions to inspire you.


Top Amazing Things to Do in Zhangjiajie

Your life in Zhangjiajie no matter in daytime or at night will be full of pleasure, excitement, surprise and thrill. Most of them should be listed into your must-do bucket list to enrich your experience in Zhangjiajie.

No.1: Hold your Breath to Walk through Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge over Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon

Imagine that you are walking 300 meters in the air while you can clearly see the deep canyon under your feet through the transparent glass, how do you feel? It is so thrilling and your feet may shake unconsciously. This is the must-do activity when paying a visit to Zhangjiajie. Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is the longest and highest glass-bottled bridge in the world, with the full length of 430 meters and height of 300 meters above the valley bottom. Hold your breath and catch 360 degree view of the canyon on the hanging bridge.

Learn more about Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and Its Glass Bridge Experience >>

Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge

No.2: Take the World’s Tallest Outdoor Lift - Bailong Elevator to See Avatar Mountains in Real

Recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest outdoor lift, Bailong Elevator (百龙天梯) is the best and most convenient way up to Yuanjiajie Scenic Area to see Avatar Mountains in reality. Only 1 minute 28 seconds, you’ll climb up to the top of 326-meter peak. Otherwise, you need to spend around 3 hours hiking up to the mountain. With the fast Bailong elevator, you’ll travel like a rocket sending into air with numerous peaks in thousands of postures. When arriving upon the peak, you can continue your walking to Yuanjiajie to find thousands of foliage covered vertical stone columns that rise up into the sky. It is this unique feature that helped inspire the floating Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora in the film Avatar.

Learn more about Bailong Elevator Experience in Yuanjiajie Scenic Area >>

Yuanjiajie Bailong Elevator Yuanjiajie Bailong Elevator

No.3: Ride the Longest Cableway in the World to Tianmen Mountain

Tianmen Mountain attracts lot of travelers coming to Zhangjiajie. It has everything for all, complete with 3 cliff hanging glass bridges, various temples, a forest hike, plenty of cliff hanging walkway, the longest cable car in the world, a chair lift, the gateway to heaven, 999 steps and 99 turns toward heaven. Sound like a great place to spend a day? It sure is.

Many travelers who have been to Tianmen Mountain and they said riding a cable car to Tianmen Mountain is the highlight of the Tianmen Mountain journey. Claimed in the tourist publication as the “longest passenger cableway of high mountains in the world”, Tianmen Mountain cableway starts from Zhangjiajie downtown area and ends at the top of the mountain, with a total length of 7455 meters. With the cable car in a fine weather, you can enjoy some fantastic views changing from the cityscape, beautiful farmland to the national forest park, and catch the sight of 99 turns winding sharply on the ground, Tianmen Cave (Heaven’s Gate Cave), the oval opening in the side of the mountain. At the end of the journey the cable car makes a sharp turn upwards, making you unforgettable experience when begins your Tianmen Mountain visit.

Learn more about Tianmen Mountain Cableway & Other Thrilling Activity >>

Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Tianmen Mountain Cable Car

No.4: Take a Beautiful Scenic Route through Golden Whip Stream in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

To explore Zhangjiajie National Forest Park with some exciting hiking experience, it is a good idea to take a beautiful scenic route through Golden Whip Stream, a 7-kilometer long stream flowing from the west to the east. This site is best suitable for photographers, nature lovers, hiker and adventure enthusiasts.

Golden Whip Steam was named after the Golden Whip Rock standing by the stream. After entering Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Ticket Station, travelers need to walk ahead for 300 meters and arrive at the entrance of Golden Whip Stream. The natural Golden Whip Stream runs through the peaks and the valley. Rare trees and wild flowers grow along the stream. Along the way, you will also encounter with wild monkeys and they can get up close and personal. Hike and photograph, time steals away from you. The whole hiking experience is about 2-3 hours.

Learn more about Golden Whip Stream >>

Wild Monkeys of Golden Whip Stream Zhangjiajie Wild Monkeys of Golden Whip Stream

No.5: Extend to Fenghuang Ancient Town for a Short Cultural Break

Reputed as the Most Beautiful Tiny Town in China, Fenghuang Ancient Town has more than 400 years’ history situated in the southwest of Zhangjiajie, about 200 km away. Fenghuang Ancient Town has the same fame like Lijiang Ancient Town in Yunnan Province and Pingyao Ancient Town in Shanxi Province.

With the clear Tuo River winding through the old town, there are many unique wooden houses called DiaoJiaolou built alongside. Taking a boat trip along the Tuo River is a great way to have a better view of the houses. Besides, it will be very enjoyable to take a relaxing walk om the old streets with dozens of ancient lanes and ancient residence in Ming and Qing Dynasties. You’ll explore Yang’s Ancestral Hall (杨家祠堂), Longevity Palace (万寿宫), Former Residence of Shen Congwen (沈从文故居), Former Residence ofr Xiong Xiling (熊希龄故居) and so on.

Learn more about Fenghuang Ancient Town >>

Fenghuang Ancient Town Fenghuang Ancient Town

Besides, your nightlife in such a small city would not get bored. You can take an enjoyable walk in Xibu Street or extend to Zhangjiajie downtown area to watch Tianmen Fox Fairy Show with Real Tianmen Mountain as Background. To get more ideas about your nightlife, you can have a look at Things to Do in Zhangjiajie at Night.

Keep Reading: 10 Best Things to Do in Zhangjiajie


How Long to Stay and How Spend your Time in Zhangjiajie Reasonably?

Travelers should spend at least two days in Zhangjiajie. Most travelers would spend 3 to 5 days to explore most of the tourist attractions and see all the highlights.

If you have 3 days, you can go as following:

Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
Plan A Day 1: Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge + Yellow Dragon Cave
Day 2: Yuanjiajie + Tianzi Mountain
Day 3: Tianmen Mountain
Classic and most famous sites 4 Days Zhangjiajie Exciting Adventure with Glass Bridge
Plan B Day 1: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Huangshi Village + Golden Whip Stream)
Day 2: Yuanjiajie + Tianzi Mountain
Day 3: Tianmen Mountain
Two national forest park with exciting experience 4 Days Zhangjiajie Highlights Tour with Fantastic Hiking Experience
Plan C Day 1: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Huangshi Village + Golden Whip Stream)
Day 2: Yuanjiajie + Tianzi Mountain
Day 3: Yellow Dragon Cave + Baofeng Lake
Most relaxing way 4 Days Leisure Zhangjiajie Nature Discovery

(Note: the above travel plans exclude the arrival in Zhangjiajie one day ahead. While, the recommended tours include the arrival day.)

Know more about How to Spend 3 Days in Zhangjiajie >>

If you have 4 days, you can go as following:

Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
Plan A Day 1: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Huangshi Village + Golden Whip Stream)
Day 2: Yuanjiajie + Tianzi Mountain
Day 3: Yellow Dragon Cave + Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge
Day 4: Tianmen Mountain
Comprehensive with all the highlights 5 Days Zhangjiajie Ultimate Adventure Tour with Glass Bridge & Tianmen Mountain
Plan B Day 1: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Huangshi Village + Golden Whip Stream)
Day 2: Yuanjiajie + Tianzi Mountain
Day 3: Tianmen Mountain + Transfer to Fenghuang
Day 4: Fenghuang Ancient Town, drive back to Zhangjiajie
Side trip to Fenghuang Ancient Town for a cultural break 5 Days Amazing Zhangjiajie & Fenghuang Ancient Town Tour

(Note: the above travel plans exclude the arrival in Zhangjiajie one day ahead.)

Know more about How to Spend 4 Days in Zhangjiajie >>

For travelers who are short in time, you can take a look at our How to Spend 2 Days in Zhangjiajie which is great for weekend trip to Zhangjiajie. If your time in Zhangjiajie is ample and want in-depth exploration, you can turn to How to Spend 5 Days in Zhangjiajie.


Choose the Best Time to Visit Zhangjiajie

To pick the best time to travel to Zhangjiajie, you should first know the general climate and weather of Zhangjiajie. Located in the north middle latitude, Zhangjiajie has distinct four seasons - warm and wet spring, hot and rainy summer, comfortable and dry autumn and cold and sometimes snowy winter. The annual average temperature is about 16℃. In a year, the hottest month is July, and the average temperature of this month is between 26.3℃ to 30℃. While the coldest month is January, and the average temperature is between 3.5 and 4.3℃.

Considering the temperature and scenery, the best time to visit Zhangjiajie is from April to October when weather is pleasant and comfortable and scenery is attracting and impressive. However, depending on the experience you’re looking for, there may be a different season better suited for what you want to enjoy.

Zhangjiajie Baofeng Lake in Spring Zhangjiajie Baofeng Lake in Spring

Also, you can have a further check and travel by season - Zhangjiajie in Spring, Zhangjiajie in Summer, Zhangjiajie in Autumn and Zhangjiajie in Winter for more inspiration.

▶ Further Reading: What to Pack for a Trip to Zhangjiajie


How to Get to & Zhangjiajie? Flight & Train to Zhangjiajie

Flights to Zhangjiajie

Taking a flight to Zhangjiajie is a popular, convenient and fast way to reach Zhangjiajie directly. Zhangjiajie has both domestic and international flights linking with many cities. Travelers can take flights to Zhangjiajie from Beijing (about 3 hrs), Shanghai (about 2.5 hrs), Xian (1.5 hrs), Changsha (1 hr), Chengdu (1.5 hrs), Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Kunming, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Qingdao, etc. Most flights land in Zhangjiajie in the evening. Moreover, it has international flights from Bangkok, Osaka and so on. Learn more about Flights to Zhangjiajie >>

● Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport (张家界荷花国际机场)

Location & Detailed Address: Jichang Road, Yongding District, Zhangjiajie (张家界市永定区机场路)

Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport

Transportation: The airport is located at the southwest of Zhangjiajie downtown, about 5 kilometers to downtown area (about 10 minutes by driving). And it is about 30 kilometers to Wulingyuan National Forest Park, taking about 40-50 minutes by driving. It is about 9 kilometers to Tianmen Mountain which needs 15-20 minutes by driving.

Train to Zhangjiajie

No high speed runs to Zhangjiajie at present. Travelers should take normal train to reach Zhangjiajie. To cut down your budget or make travel easy, some travelers may take trains from Changsha (4.5-5.5 hrs), Yichang (4.5-5 hrs), Tongren (about 7 hrs), Xian (15 hrs), Shanghai (20 hrs), Beijing (23 hrs), Wuhan (10 hrs) and so on. All the trains arrive at Zhangjiajie Railway Station - the mainly used train station in Zhangjiajie located in the downtown area. Learn more about Trains to Zhangjiajie >>

● Zhangjiajie Railway Station (张家界火车站)

Zhangjiajie Railway Station Address: Guanli Road, Yongding District, Zhangjiajie City (张家界市永定区官黎路)

Zhangjiajie Railway Station Zhangjiajie Railway Station

Transportation: Zhangjiajie Railway Station is located in the downtown area. It is about 6 kilometers to Tianmen Mountain (about 15 minutes by driving) and about 29 kilometers to Wulingyuan National Forest Park (about 40-50 minutes by driving).

How to Get to Zhangjiajie from Other Destinations of China

Most travelers may combine their Zhangjiajie tour with Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Guilin, Changsha, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Yangtze River Cruise, Jiuzhaigou, Huangshan, Suzhou, Hangzhou and more destinations in China. To get detailed transportation plan between the two cities, you can click and jump to How to Get to Zhangjiajie for more specific information.

Getting around Zhangjiajie

After arriving in Zhangjiajie either in the airport or the railway station, it is time to figure out how to transfer to different tourist attractions. Check the following link to get detailed information about the distance, driving time and means of transportation from the airport/train station to the attractions. To know more info, you can visit Getting around Zhangjiajie.

Fenghuang Ancient Town is located in the southwest of Zhangjiajie, about 200 kilometers away. Many travelers choose to pay a short visit to this most beautiful ancient town in China after their Zhangjiajie tour, if you want to know detailed transportation plan, you can check our page Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang | Fenghuang to Zhangjiajie.


Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie - Wulingyuan or Downtown Area?

Most travelers would stay at least 2 nights in Zhangjiajie and many of them may spend 3 or 4 nights. Now, it is time to have a clear understanding of where to stay. There are four best places to stay based on our experience and the review of many customers, namely, Wulingyuan Town, Places near Ticket Stations of Wulingyuan National Forest Park, Zhangjiajie downtown area and Fenghuang Ancient Town.

1. Wulingyuan Town: It has the most scenic attractions in and around, including Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, Baofeng Lake, Yellow Dragon Cave and Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon, etc. Most travelers would like to spend their night in Wulingyuan Town after arrival and there are a large number of hotels from 5 star (including international bands) to 3 star and also many hostels and inns to meet your needs. Know more Recommended Hotels in Wulingyuan Town >>

2. Near Ticket Station of Outside of Wulingyuan National Forest Park: For travelers who want to stay close to Wulingyuan National Forest Park, you can stay outside of the ticket stations under the foot of the beautiful mountains of the park, which are Forest Park Ticket Station and Zimugang Ticket Station. You can easily make a trip to Yuanjiajie, Huangshi Village and Golden Whip Stream. There are multiple comfortable and budget hotels and hostels, however, which may be not luxury compared to those in Wulingyuan Town.

3. Zhangjiajie Downtown Area: Many travelers would like to spend one or two nights in Zhangjiajie downtown area. This place is great for travelers who want to explore Tianmen Mountain, or who arrive in Zhangjiajie by late flight or train and also it is great if you have an early leaving schedule to end your trip. Zhangjiajie downtown area is not very big, however, it has a rich array of luxury hotels, comfort hotels, budget hotels and many other good boutique hotels and hostels. Know more Recommended Hotels in Zhangjiajie Downtown Area >>

Zhangjiajie Hotels Map Hotels Location Map of Zhangjiajie
Pullman Hotel at Wulingyuan Downtown Pullman Hotel at Wulingyuan Downtown

4. Fenghuang Ancient Town: If you extend your trip from Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang Ancient Town, it is highly recommended to spend one night to enjoy night view of famous old city. Hotels range from 5 star to 3 star for you choose. Know more Recommended Hotels in Fenghuang Ancient Town >>

▶ Keep Reading: Where to Stay in Zhangjiajie


Extend your Zhangjiajie Tour with Other Destinations in China

Yangtze River Cruise: Zhangjiajie should not be a single destination of your trip in China. It is a good idea to combine a Zhangjiajie tour after 4-day Yangtze River downstream cruise from Chongqing to Yichang or before a 5-day Yangtze River upstream cruise from Yichang to Chongqing. Both of the two destinations will be scenic and eye catching.

>> 7 Days Nature Tour to Yangtze River & Zhangjiajie

Xian: Called the 13 ancient China dynasties, Xian is undisputed the perfect representation of Chinese dynastic history and culture. It will be great to spend around 2 days in Xian exploring Terracotta Warriors and Big Wild Goose Pagoda, taking a walk on Muslim Quarter and Ancient City Wall. Then take a 1.5 hour flight to Zhangjiajie. The two destinations are perfect combination of history and nature.

>> 7 Days Xian Mount Hua Zhangjiajie National Park Tour

Guilin & Yangshuo: Known as “the finest scenery under heaven”, Guilin offers you a chance to get up closer with the glamorous world of hills, rivers, countryside and adventures. Cruising along the picturesque Li River, cycling around historically and culturally Yangshuo Old Town, hiking through the magnificent Longji Rice Terrace...Various activities await you to do. Both Zhangjiajie and Guilin are scenic destinations, but Guilin is more relaxing than Zhangjiajie with amazing waterscape surrounded by Karst mountains.

>> 7 Days Best Guilin Zhangjiajie Landscape Exploration

Mount Fanjing: Located in Tongren, Guizhou Province, Mount Fanjing is about 330 kilometers away from Zhangjiajie. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018. It is the highest peak of the Wulingyuan Mountains in southwestern China, at an elevation of 2570 meters. Fanjingshan, which in Chinese means “Buddhist tranquility”, has also been a sacred site for Buddhist since the Tang Dynasty. Besides, it is a fantastic nature reserve with bizarre rock formations and dominating summit of stones all-above-the-clouds.

>> 7 Days Zhangjiajie to Fanjingshan Unbelievable Nature Tour

Besides above destinations, many travelers may also cover Changsha, Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Jiuzhaigou, Huangshan, Hong Kong and Guangzhou and so on into their trip. If you have your own ideas for your Zhangjiajie China trip, please feel free to let us know and we can customize the tour for you at any time.

Three Gorges of Yangtze Cruise Three Gorges of Yangtze Cruise
Yangshuo Yulong River Bamboo Rafting Yangshuo Yulong River Bamboo Rafting Experience
Mount Fanjing Golden Summit Mount Fanjing Golden Summit

Travel Zhangjiajie with China Discovery

To help you enjoy a worry-free trip to Zhangjiajie and the whole 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 tour, please feel free to contact us. We will help you plan your enjoyable trip with sincerity and professionalism!

Recommended Zhangjiajie Tours

Top 3 Zhangjiajie tours chosen by most customers to explore Zhangjiajie in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Peculiar Stone Peaks at Tianzi Mountain
6 Days Beijing to Zhangjiajie Fantastic Adventure Tour

Beijing / Zhangjiajie

Bailong Elevator
6 Days Shanghai Zhangjiajie Highlights Tour with Glass Bridge Experience

Shanghai / Zhangjiajie

Surreal Avatar Views in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
13 Days China Landscape Tour including Zhangjiajie and Guilin

Beijing / Xian / Zhangjiajie / Guilin / Shanghai

Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once enquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.

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