Visited Zhangjiajie National Forest Park & came back with mixed feelings of satisfaction and certain degree of disappointment. Zhangjiajie's stunning natural beauty is indisputable and had certainly impressed us. It's one of the most beautiful places we have seen in China. To add flavor to it, the romantic Chinese have fully utilized their rich imagination to name most of the hills with interesting names, many from Chinese classic literature.
Mount Tianmen, Mount Tianzi, Ten-Mile Gallery are the three must-see highlights for visitors to Zhangjiajie and they are certainly worth your time and effort. You will wonder how they could build the 999 steps of staircase to reach Tian Men Cave, standing majestically on top of Mount Tian Men ! Challenge yourself to ascend these very steep steps to the top and there you are, at the Gate of Heaven! You will be rewarded with stunning view of misty hills around you!
Like many other tourist attractions we have visited in China, our disappointment arises from the unconstrained human effort to develop tourism. They have certainly done a good job to make Mount Tianmen and Mount Tianzi more easilly accesible by installing the cable cars and the elevators. Allowing only the environmentally friendly vehicles to go up the mountains is also a thump-up! We are most impressed with the warning signs put up at every corner saying that smoking is strictly prohibited in the mountain areas. This will not only prevent jungle fire but also air pollution. Well done, China!
BUT, things that need improvement are not lacking. They have allowed TOO MANY food and souvinors stalls to be set up in the tourist spots, which are real eye-sores. The persistent and insistent vendors are also everywhere, trying to sell you everything. These things happen in every tourist attraction all over the world but in Zhanjiajie, and generally in China, they need to be more strct about it so as not to irritate the tourists.
Finally, about the food. Food in Northern China are generally more spicies, more salty and more oily ! You have no choice if you eat from the road-side stores. But if you are in a restaurant, remember to tell your waiter/waitress to remind the cook to use less spicies, less salt and less oil for your food. We did that every time but most of the time the food came to us is still too salty and oily! Also be aware that you can't find KFC or Mc Donald or Pizza Hut at Zhangjiajie!
Visiting Zhangjiajie is a good fitness trip. You have to do a lot of hiking and climibing to fully enjoy the beauty of the mountains. So a pair of good walking/hiking shoes is a MUST when you visit Zhangjiajie!
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