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Backpacking Tour of Zhangjiajie

[Food]   [Itineraries]   [Transportation]   [Weather]   [Special Suggestions]   [Necessary Gear]

Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province is included in the UNESCO's list of World Cultural & Natural Heritage and is a famous tourist destination. It has a well preserved natural ecological environment and strangely-shaped mountains.


Dinner: Dinners are expensive in scenic areas. A meat dish costs at least 30 yuan, and a game dish costs 80 yuan or more. Vegetable dishes costs at least 15 yuan. In downtown Zhangjiajie City, food is inexpensive. In the evening, tourists can find food stalls everywhere on street. Tujia hot-pot dishes are recommended.
Snacks: In the scenic areas there are stalls along the way providing inexpensive Tujia snacks.
Local flavor: The local Tuijia flavor stresses hot-and-prickly sauce.


Day 1:
Enter the Wulingyuan Scenic Area from the north entrance. The admission fee is 60 yuan (US$7). Take cable car to Tianzi Mountain. The fare is 50 yuan (US $6). The Wulingyuan Scenic Area is composed of the Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve, the Zhangjiajie National forest Park, and the Suoxiyu Nature Reserve.

After arriving at the summit of Tianzi Mountain, tourists walk for 20 minutes to Shentangwan. There is a terrace for tourists to see a panoramic view of the scenic area.

Going back to the cable car stop, tourists can visit He Long Park where there is another terrace for panoramic views. The park is in commemoration of Marshal He Long of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The admission fee is 10 yuan (US $1.20). After visiting the park, tourists can go down the mountain to the park entrance.

It takes about two hours to go down the mountain. Along the way, tourists pass by "10-li art gallery." On both sides of the stone path are grass, flowers and mountains. Tourists take a motor vehicle frm the "10-li art gallery" to the scenic spot called "Water Surrounds Four Gates", a place where four streams meet, including the Jinbian Stream.

This area has many hotels. All of them are surrounded by mountains on all four sides. The air is fresh and the scenery is beautiful. Zuohan Mountain Village is one of the best. The price for a standard room is 388 yuan (US $47). There are several other hotels nearby. Most do not have air-conditioning, but electric fans are available. Hot water is supplied at certain hours, and the price for a standard room is 200 to 300 yuan (US $24-36) per night.

There is a "Zhangci Ethnic Amusement Park" that gives performances of ethnic songs and dances. The admission fee is 15 yuan (US $ 1.80).

There are also some small eating places that provide inexpensive foods.

Day 2:
Start from "Water surrounds Four Gates" and travel upstrearm along the Jinbian Stream. The Jinbian Stream is a choice tourist route in the valley, flanked by steep mountains, Crystalline clear water flows along a stone path.

After walking for about one hour, tourists reach the scenic spot "Meeting from 1,000 Miles Away." The peaks on the opposite look like two lovers embracing.

Yuanjiajie, on top of the Viewing Terrace, has a well preserved ecological system. From there tourists go to the "Rear Garden", where they can have a bird's-eye view of the Zhangjiajie Forest Park.

Along the way, tourists can see the Tujia ethnic minorities tilling the land. The farmland is situated at the mountain top 1,000 meters above sea level, and the scenery is magnificent. Finally, tourists arrive at "No. 1 Bridge Under Heaven." It is huge stone spanning two peaks, 350 meters apart. This place is another site that is concentrated with hotels.

Day 3:
Descending from "No. 1 Bridge Under Heaven," tourists return to Zicaotan, on the midway of the Jinbian Stream. There, tourists ascend to Laomowan, where they end the tour of the Jinbian Stream. Laomowan is surrounded by mountain in four sides. Here, Jiang zemin, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, left inscriptions after touring the area.

Tourists take a bus trip free of charge to Huangshizhai cable car station . A return ticket for cable car is 70 yuan (US $3.40). Huangshizhai looks like a lion. On its to there is a terrace, the best place for viewing the Zhangjiajie Forest Park. If it is cloudy or misty, tourists may forget going there, since they would not be able to see the surrounding scenery.

Tourists descend to the exit of Zhangjiajie forest Park by either taking the cable car or by walking. They can take a minibus ride to Zhangjiajie. The journey takes one hour and the bus fare is 5 yuan (US $ 0.60). If they want to visit Suoxiyu the next day, they can spend the night in the city. Zhangjiajie City has many hotels of varying prices.

Day 4:
Tourists take a mini-bus to suoxiyu. Usually, they visit Huanglong Cave in the morning and Baofeng Lake in the afternoon.

Baofeng Lake is an alpine man-made lake that covers 30 hectares and is surrounded by mountains.

Huanglong Cave is 28 km long, covering 48 hectares, with a vertica l drop of 167 meters. The cave has two dry tiers and two water tiers and contains the Xiangshui River, Dragon Palace and Labyrinth scenic areas.


There are direct flights to Zhangjiajie from Hong Kong, Beijing, Changzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Shantou. Wuhan, Xiamen, Yichang, Zhuhai, and Changsha. Flights from Changsha and Guangzhou leave daily. The ticket from Beijing to Zhangjiajie is 1,100 yuan (US $132).

Train or Bus:
Starting from Beijing. Take the No. 417 (Beijing West Station to Huaihua) air-conditioned train. It leaves at 9:40 and arrives at Cili at 14:30 the next day. The price for a hard seat is 160 yuan (US $20), and the price for a hard sleeper is 320 yuan (US $40). From Cili, tourists can take a minibus to Wulingyuan. It takes about 2 hours to get there, and the price for the bus journey is 15 yuan (US $1,80). Tourists can either stay at nearby hotels or remain in Cili. There are hotels with standard rooms near the railway station, ad the price for a guestroom is about 100 yuan (US $ 12) per night.

Starting from Guangzhou. Take the No. 206 (Guangzhou to Huaihua) air-conditioned train. It starts at 11:00 and arrives at Zhangjiajie at 6:00 the next day.

Starting from Shanghai. Take the No. 136 (Shanghai to Changsha) air-conditioned train. It starts at 12:00, and arrives at Changsha at 7:20 the next day. The price for a hard seat is 150 yuan (US $18), and the price for a hard sleeper is 270 yuan (US $33). Tourists then change to a regular bus going to cili (not to Zhangjiajie) at the Changsha Bus West Station. The price is 66 yuan (US $8). Tourists then change to a minibus from Cili to Wulingyuan.


Weather in Zhangjiajie is the best in April and October. Never climb a mountain in a rainy day. There are two reasons for this. First, the road is slippery. Second, even if it only drizzles, there will be heavy mist on the mountain top, preventing you from seeing anything at all. The best time for viewing a mountain scene is one or two hours after rainfall. Looking down, one can see mountains shrouded by clouds and mists. Never climb a mountain when the weather is very hot, since it consumes too much energy and there is no place to hide from sunlight on the mountain top. To inquire about weather within the next 48 hours, call 0744-121.

Special Suggestions:

Tour Guide:
Although the backpacking tour of Zhangjiajie is basically an independent tour, inviting a tour guide is recommended. A guide can explain the scenic spots along the way , so that you can avoid unfavorable detours.

The price for a tour guide is 50 yuan (US $6) per day for a group of six tourists or less; the price for groups of seven of more members is 100 yuan (US $12). A tour guide for one person is 50 yuan per day.

Tourists can make phone calls to travel agencies for tour guides and make specific requests concerning fees, gender, and education level. You can ask your tour guide to meet you at the station (Cili or Zhangjiajie) and then hand over the payment directly to the guide. Tourists do not need to pay for the guides' food, lodging, bus fare, or admission fees.

Tourists can call a travel agency or meet with a travel representative at travel agency counters located at airports, railway stations, and bus terminals.

Best Tourist Season:
Busy tourist seasons include Spring Festival (in January or February), International Labor Day, summer Vacation (early July to early September), and National Day (October 1 to 3). The prices mentioned above are all for slack seasons. Backpackers should avoid the busy seasons, because during these periods, prices of food, hotel, and transportation rise sharply by doubling or redoubling. Also, hotel rooms are hard to find and scenic areas are too crowded.

Necessary Gear:

The lighter and smaller the backpack, the better for tourists because you cannot leave your pack at lodging places in the mountains. Bring umbrellas and waterproof clothing unless you don't mind buying a disposable raincoat locally. In summer, tourists are advised to bring sun block and insect repellent, sunglasses, and at least three sets of underwear and socks. Also bring tissues and anti-bacterial wipes. You should bring a pair of anti-bacterial wipes. You should bring a pair of anti-slippery sports shoes with thick soles. Bring extra film, since it is expensive to buy locally. Bring medicated Band-Aids for wounds as well as anti-phlogistic and anti-diarrhea tablets.

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