Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie city, in central China’s Hunan Province, has been called “one of the most beautiful mountains in the world” by many travelers who have been there.
The stunning views including ‘Heaven’s Door’ and the 99 Bends, vertical cliffs, the thrilling cliff-hanging walkway and glass skywalk, and the world’s longest cable car ride, make it unquestionably one of the best mountains to visit in China. As the slogan said “Come, climb the Stairway to Heaven!”
The mountain is best reached by cable car. We thought our cable car ride to Tianzi Mountain was long, but the aerial tramway ride to Tianmen Mountain is the longest in the world, taking about 30 minutes for over 7 kilometers. The last part of the cable way is very steep, going up at 37 degrees over sheer cliffs to one of the mountain peaks.
The cable car starts from the bus station and railway station. It is often very busy, and waiting in line is normal. Kelly already got us the ticket and we only had to show the booking number at the counter.
The cable car starts at 7:30 in summer and 8:00 in winter. Be mindful that The cableway may close when there are thunder storms, high winds, or heavy snowfalls.
The scenery viewed from the cable car is fantastic: lush mountain peaks, the 99 Bends (99 sharp curves on a road up to the mountain peak), and deep valleys.
Tips before going to Tianmen: Eat first. There is no proper restaurant inside. They only have stall selling snack and drinks.
Hiking trail in Tianmen mountain is very organized. You only have to chose whether to start from the west trail or east trail and this mountain can be explored within one day.
Tianmen Mountain also has a Cliff Hanging walkway. The walkway was built along the edges of this mountain’s summits, clinging to the vertical cliffs. The walkway is about 1.6 kilometers long, about 1,400 meters high.
The cliffside loop takes about 1½ hours. At the end of the walkway, there is a hanging bridge linking two peaks.
It was a long walk down as you can see in the picture we came down from that top.
we got down around 5ish in the evening and bought additional ticket to go down using escalator. There is also an option to walk down the stairs if you don’t want to purchase additional ticket. I counted there are total of 7 escalators we had to take to go down.
After the series of escalator we boarded the bus to drive us down to thru the 99 bends. Yes there are 99 sharp curves on the road up to Tianmen Cave, the famous 99 Bends. The road is built for tourist use and the buses take travelers from the midway cable car station along some of these 99 bends to the bottom.
The bus doesn’t stop on the way. It takes about 20 minutes to go down. The ride, full of sharp turns along vertical cliffs, is not recommended for those who are easily carsick. I decided to close my eyes throughout the ride.
Our driver was already waiting for us as we reached down and he took us to airport, not far from Tianmen Mountain. Our flight back to Beijing was at 10pm so we had plenty of time at the airport to rest and had dinner. Kevin picked us up at the Beijing airport and drive us to our Hotel.