Cruising at an altitude of 1,200 meters, through a cloud of fog with glimpses of spiked mountains in the surroundings, is a memory that will remain vivid in one’s mind after a trip to China’s first National forest park. Enclosed in a cable car and looking down upon the rich foliage below is mystical. A Kodak moment awaits at every turn as you explore Zhangjiajie, home to the inspiration of the Hallelujah Mountains in Spielberg’s Avatar. Zhangjiajie is located in Hunan Province and a near enough location for a long weekend trip or far enough to spend a relaxing week. A definite on the list of places you could plan to travel to escape the fast-paced city life of Dongguan. Though be sure to keep in mind and try not to travel during a Chinese holiday as it can get overly crowded at the major attractions, which might dampen the trip.
5. Hot Springs: There are two hot springs in Zhangjiajie that can be checked out if you have an extra day in hand. Jiangya Hot Spring and Wanfu Hot Spring are both popular in the region. Jiangya Hot Spring, a 20 minutes drive from Wulinguan, is a good option for a day to unwind and relax. There is a bus from Zhangjiajie at RMB 20 to get to the hot spring or you can opt for a cab. Choose to spend a few hours in the hot springs or you can check into one of the rooms in the hot spring resort. There are several more places that you could venture out and explore including the Tianmen Mountain. Zhangjiajie in all is a scenic getaway which is stunningly beautiful. Although commercialized by tourism, the untouched beauty of its regions still leaves us mystified with an aura of fantasy.
4. Mengdong River Rafting: For the adventurous, the Mengdong River located around 80 kilometers from Zhangjiajie hosts a thrilling river rafting experience. Several local tour companies provide day tours to and from Zhangjiajie, including meals, and river rafting with a few stopovers en route as well. Prices vary. You can also choose to make a deal with a local driver.
3. Xibu Alley: Xibu Alley is the perfect place to spend an evening or night at Zhangjiajie. Some interesting shopping experience converts to anight food bazaar at evening. There are a few interesting shops with arts, crafts, and some unique outfits, but prices are typically high. The upper floor converts to a night-market style array of food stalls dishing out Chinese and Taiwanese delicacies for the adventurous.
2. Grand Canyon: A day at the Grand Canyon of Zhangjiajie entails driving up a mountainous range, then walking several flights of stairs between a steep and narrow, rocky valley. Mid-way you can choose to continue walking down stairs or taking a long slide down. Twisting and turning through the narrow ceramic tiled slide is a fun twist to the path. A lengthy trail follows with serene scenes, trickling waterfalls, a gentle stream alongside a rugged mountain. A small bridge over a creek, a pitch dark cage, a distant bat spotting, all making a reminiscence of a five-course gourmet meal that you relish. The whole experience ends with a small boat ride through the foot hills.
1. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: The main attraction in Zhangjiajie is its National Forest Park. Located around 45 kilometers from the city center, its quartz-sandstone pillars are a one-of-a-kind treat to the eyes. There are free buses throughout the park, you can choose to stay a night in the park itself, or the 3-day pass allows you to re-enter the park for three consecutive days. The cable car ride as well as the Bailong elevator are delightful, but at an extra cost. The Bailong Elevator clings to the side of an emerging pillar stone which you ride up to explore the Sandstone peak forest. The trail at the starting at this point leads to a twisted tale of deep jungles, delicate bridges and winding paths bordering majestic views. There are a few hiking trails within the park that bring you a stunning view at every bend when provided with clear weather. There are numerous locations within the park that can be explored. Maps are available to guide you, but plan your day carefully to cover separate sections of the park each day to fully explore the several regions. If you are a nature lover, choose to opt for the week pass. Note: There are a few tricky things to steer clear of. Plan to take the elevator up, ride the free bus to the cable car station, and take the cable car down, to avoid paying twice at these places.