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“Breathtaking, just like the scenes from Avitar”

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
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Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and Glass Bridge
Ranked #2 of 69 things to do in Zhangjiajie
Certificate of Excellence
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Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Zhangjiajie is situated in the northwest of Hunan province, in the juncture of the Yunan-Guizhou Plateau and the subsidence of Donating Lake, stretching over the area from between 109'40 to 110'20 E to between 28'52 to 29'48 N. It is bounded by Shimen county and Taoyuan county on the east, Yuanling county on the south, and Hefeng, Xuan'en of Hubei province on the north. The city stretches 167 km from east to west, and 96 km from north to south at best. Zhangjiajie city covers an area of 9,653 square kilometers, which accounts for 4.5 percent of Hunan province. The landform is complex in Zhangjiajie, including mountains, lava, hills, plains, etc. Mountainous area takes up 76 percent of the total. The most characteristic feature is the quartzes sandstone landform, which is rare in the world. The city is higher on the northwest, and tilts along Li River to the south. Wuling mountains, divided from Yunwu Mountain in Guizhou province, are again divided into some branches across the city . There are mountains over mountains in the city and many abrupt peaks and low lands. The highest point is 1890.4 meters above the sea level, and the lowest 75 meters. Zhangjiajie is a city under the direct administration of provincial government, and has jurisdiction over Yongding, Wuling districts, and Cili, Sangzhi counties. Up to the end of 1999, it has a population of 1.55 million, of which 1.13 million are minorities which accounts for 73.1 percent of the total population
Useful Information: Stairs / elevator, Activities for older children, Lockers / storage, Food available for purchase, Activities for young children
Reviewed June 5, 2011

My wife and I spent two exciting days in the park and were blown away by the landscape and features there. We flew the two plus hour flight from Shanghai arriving around 9 PM and were met by our excellent guide Tang Ming (zjjtours@gmail.com) and driver Chin who drove us to the Pipaxi Hotel just outside one of the gates to the park. (The Hotel was adequate, not a 4 star like advertised but met our needs and did provide an authentic and well supplied Chinese breakfast)

The next morning Tang took us through the Yellow Dragon Cave, 4.5 km of the massive 24 km caverns. The cave is easy to negotiate since steps have been created to safely explore the stalagmite and stalactite structures. Tang knew where and how to go to avoid the numerous tour contingents that where also enjoying the sights. We did an underground river ride (included in the ticket) in the middle of our hike through the cave.

After lunch we took a cable car up the Tianzishan Mountain where we were astounded by the Avitar like scenery. Every turn and scenic spot was so breathtaking, I think we eventually took over 400 pictures with out digital camera. And again, our guide Tang, negotiated us to a "quiet" area avoiding the tour crowds and enhancing the serene and awe-inspiring scenery.

After dinner that evening Tang arranged for us to go to the Folk Show. An amazing production of acrobatics and dancing and singing, with bright costumes and impressive backdrops, well worth the 300 Yuan per person charge.

The next day, which happened to be a Saturday, we hiked the Golden Whip Stream, seeing from the ground what we had seen from the mountain the day before. We also experienced the Rhesus Monkey population who were bold enough to come within a few feet of the humans.

That afternoon we took another cable car up another mountain to have lunch and then hike around the mountain and view more unbelievable scenery. Again our guide Tang, took us to areas not frequented by large tour groups providing a perfect atmosphere to enjoy the magnificence of the area. We capped off the tour with a ride down the Bailong elevator, the tallest outdoor elevator in the world. After an exceptional Chinese dinner at the Da Cheng Shanshui Hotel, Tang and Chin took us to the airport to catch our return flight to Shanghai.

All in all a marvelous experience, highly recommended especially with our special English speaking guide, Tang Ming who had the ability to know where and how to find the right routes to take advantage of the best this park had to offer.

15  Thank Hollars
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 13, 2010

I'm Asian American and do not speak Chinese. I visited Zhangjiajie with a tour that spoke only Chinese. Still, no translation was necessary to convey this vast beautiful land. I could not believe that there is so much publicity for the Grand Canyon, but I've heard nothing of this place til I got here. I'm sure there is little I can add to the other reviews, but I do want to note something. Coming from the West, I have noticed certain things about this park. Though I'm grateful that the Chinese have made this place so accessible...I know that in America there would be a huge uproar if anybody tried to put a train or cable car system through the Grand Canyon. Still the views the cable cars afforded would not be possible otherwise. I feel that in America and for most of the West, conservation is more of a priority then turning a profit in parks. It make me sad to see how much trash is lying around here. They do have ppl picking up litter, but not to the degree of the national park I've seen in the U.S. and other countries. The trash receptacles are not even designed to keep out the animals or even the wind. Another thing, in one area of the park, ppl tied fabrics to the trees..all synthetic and become worn and litter the surrounding area. I believe the idea is that you write your prayers/wishes on these red fabrics and leave them high in the heavens. There is another area where padlocks can be attached anywhere you please. So there are thousands of these. The idea is that you imprint your wish on the lock (lock available for purchase, of course), and toss the key over the cliff. In the Grand Canyon, they ask you not to toss coins over the edge, b/c the birds swallow them and die. There is also a train that takes you through a portrait landscape. Basically similar structures like you see from above and at ground levels in other areas of the park, but here they contrive names like "forefinger rock." My issue is that it's more of the same, so they damage this area of the park for nothing. The train (walking path available too) that you take does make a tidy profit...and there are vendors at the end of the trail. In fact there are vendors everywhere in the park...It's a little difficult to enjoy nature with vendors yelling over their speaker system, children playing with their noisemakers sold by said vendors, adult contemporary playing over the park speaker system, and tour guides screaming through their microphones. Of course, I recommend this park. It beats almost everything I've seen my entire life. But I do wish that the Chinese gov't would do right by this Heritage site. I don't know if my grandchildren will be able to see what I've seen today.

8  Thank lilorchid82
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2010

I just spent a weekend in ZhangJiaJie and I can't decide whether to recommend it for other travelers. It has some of the most stunningly beautiful scenery you'll see anywhere in the world. The problem is you have to stand in long slow moving lines for every location at the park and then march along with the masses of tourists to catch a glimpse of any of it. So, while the sights are spectacular (when the fog and clouds aren't shrouding it), the experience is rather numbing and not in the least relaxing or serene.

During my 30+ years of traveling throughout China, I've been impressed how well the government has developed the infrastructure to handle hordes of visitors with cool trams, cable cars and other devices. But, I've also watched these types of natural sites more and more become overrun with tacky trinket stands, abrasively loud touts and very inconsiderate tourists. It's taken the fun out of visiting many of these exciting places.

If you go to ZJJ, you should give strong consideration to hiring a local guide who can help you figure out where to go and what to see so you don't waste too much time. I suggest you avoid the standard group tours, but rather go with a private guide. When you arrive at ZJJ you'll quickly understand why as the large group guides are constantly blaring out instructions and facts on their mobile loudspeakers.

For anyone going to ZJJ from Changsha as I did, it's a four hour bus ride costing about RMB100 each way; not elegant travel, but it works. There are also flights that go there pretty regularly.

The Pullman Hotel is very nice, clean and located immediately outside the park's entrance. This is helpful as you can then arrive at the park very early to avoid the masses of people for at least the first 30-60 minutes. Since there's really not much to do in ZJJ City, you won't be missing anything by staying away from the town.

Rather than go on and on about other details, I'm fine to answer any questions that may come up from anyone thinking of going to ZJJ. The bottom line... fantastic scenery that may or may not be worth the beating it takes to see it.

14  Thank Trotter0717
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2010

This World Heritage Park has columnar karst formations and one can spend two days there. First day is best spent going to the ridge top via an elevator. You can then enjoy the scenery along the ridge and then descend either via a cable car, an elevator, or walk up and down the alleged seven thousand steps . The last method is slimming and free until your knees get shot. The porters on the steps can be tricky so whatever price you negotiate needs to be for carrying you all the way down the mountain and not some intermediate point; my wife paid a price higher than the cable car ride but the porters dumped her just ten minutes later after she refused to accede to their demand for about $60 more. The park is the first one that I've been to in the world that uses finger print identification for the two day entrance ticket, which serves as a souvinier. The second day is best spent walking in the serene valley below. There are roving monkey bands, ridge and valley, so conceal your edibles.

5  Thank seetheworld2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 23, 2010

you need more English speaking waiters & waitresses in the hotels.Employ foreigners that could influence english speaking so they could be no language barriers.

Thank killianLusaka
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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