How to spend one day in Zhangjiajie National Park

Zhangjiajie was recognized as China’s first national forest park in 1984 with an area of 4,810 ha.  Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is part of a much larger 397.5 km2 Wulingyuan Scenic Area. In 1992, Wulingyuan was officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was then approved by the Ministry of Land and Resources as Zhangjiajie Sandstone Peak Forest National Geopark in 2001. And in 2004, Zhangjiajie geopark was listed as a UNESCO global geopark.

The most notable geographic features of Zhangjiajie National Park are the pillar-like formations that are seen throughout the park. Although resembling karst terrain, this area is not underlain by limestones and is not the product of chemical dissolution, which is characteristic of limestone karst. They are the result of many years of physical, rather than chemical, erosion. Much of the weathering that forms these pillars is the result of expanding ice in the winter and the plants that grow on them. The weather is moist year-round, and as a result, the foliage is very dense. The weathered material is carried away primarily by streams. These formations are a distinct hallmark of the Chinese landscape, and can be found in many ancient Chinese paintings.

One of the park’s quartz-sandstone pillars, the 1080 meter Southern Sky Column, was officially renamed “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” in honor of the movie Avatar in January 2010. The film’s director and production designers said that they drew inspiration for the floating rocks from mountains from around the world, including those in Hunan province.

When I told my Chinese Colleague that I planned to go to Zhangjiajie, he was so surprised because he said that he considered it as off the beaten track and even him has never been there yet. He said it was not the first destination international tourist usually go when they visit China. But I told him that this was my 3rd visit to Beijing albeit for work but I have never ventured outside Beijing yet.

Long story short, our flight from Beijing landed at 9.15 pm. Our baggage arrived quickly and off we got out from the airport. At the exit door, our driver was already waiting with a banner with our names on it. Our driver couldn’t speak english so we communicate using Baidu translate. He would type a sentence to his mobile and showed it to us and we responded the same lol. Technology can indeed remove the language barrier!

We were staying in Pullman Hotel, which was 1 hour drive from the airport. We chose to stay in Pullman because it was walking distance to the national park. We arrived at the hotel around 11pm and went straight to bed because we were going to hike the next day.

We had breakfast at the hotel. Kelly already got us the entrance tickets which we picked up at the Hotel reception. From the hotel we just had to walk to the park.

The entrance to the National Parl

There are 3 top most attraction spot inside the National Park.

  1. Yellow Stone Village.
  2. Golden Whip Stream
  3. Yuanjaijie and Tianzi Mountain

You need to 2-3 days to explore all the attraction spot. As we only had 1 day we were going to trek to Yuanjaijie where the Hallelujah Avatar Mountain is located and is the most popular.

Yuanjiajie is a steep-sided platform mountain, surrounded by higher peaks, grotesque rock pillars, and deep valleys. The highlights of Yuanjiajie include the First Bridge under Heaven, Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, and ‘Lost Souls Platform’.

We took the bus to get us to Yuanjiajie and then took the cable car to get to the top of the Tianzi Mountain. The 30-minute ride took us through the towering formations and give us many opportunity to take great fly-by photos. 

The cable cars

Avatar inspired mountain atau Hallejujah mountain

Yaay we made it to the top!

After taking many pictures of the wonderful rock formations we needed to descent down. There are options of walking trails and we chose the three sister trail which we thought was a short trail and followed by taking a tram down.

In reality it was not a short trail and we spent hours walking and not all are walking down lol.

Wienny my friend who is also a yoga teacher
The famous rock formation of Avatar mountain

Kayak gini nih kita jalan turun naik

See… no all walking down lol

We stopped to rest whenever we get tired and looked for more scenic spot to take more pictures.

terus nyari spot foto baru hahahaha

After hours of walking we finally found a rest area so we can eat and drink. The waitress told us it was only another 2km to the tram station, Yay. But as we descended down it started to rain but luckily we had umbrella with us.

Finally we got to the tram

We reached the bottom around 5pm in the evening and called it a day as we walked back to our Hotel.

Muka udah ledes jalan seharian.

We had dinner at Halal Restaurant we found thru muslim apps. Its called Restoran Islam 🙂 It was only few minutes by Taxi from our hotel. We were the only customers and were served directly by the owner. He couldn’t speak english so again we communicate using Baidu Translate. Blessed the technology! The food is delicious… so happy we get to eat yummie halal chinese food while we were here.

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