I bet you have seen the epic Avatar movie or at least you’ve heard of it. Now, imagine the world you’ve seen on the cinema screen is real.
Close your eyes and try to picture yourself in the middle of the stunning floating mountains.
As surreal as it may sound, there is a place in China where you can actually step into Pandora’s biosphere and explore it.
Agness has spent over 3 years on and off in China traveling around. She managed to visit 12 out of 22 provinces in the Land of Dragons and in today’s post she is sharing one of her favourite spots, the world famous Avatar Mountains.
How do I know? I have been there and I’ve seen the magic happen.
Knowing this secret place isn’t well-known, I’m here to spread some information about it so you and your loved ones can add it to your bucket list and perhaps go there one day.
Welcome to Zhangjiajie
Zhangjiajie is a small town located in Hunan Province, China. Its location, central China, far from any other famous spots makes it a very rare destination for most western travellers visiting the Land of Dragons.
Although Zhangjiajie is mostly known for its wonderful National Park – the Zhangjiajie National Park, the town itself is more than just a set of mountains everyone knows from the Avatar movie. In fact, there are plenty of hiking trails you can try, a lot of history to explore and some good Chinese food to try – something to bear in mind when going there for longer than just a weekend.
Zhangjiajie Floating Mountains
Now it’s time to finally introduce you to Pandora – imaginary land of floating mountains, so beautifully featured in American blockbuster Avatar. The idea of space travel is hard to believe, and as far as the general public knows it is a fiction, but the mountains shown in Avatar are real (only not floating above the ground).
Let me tell you that the beauty of Zhangjiajie National Park could easily knock you out and I’m absolutely serious about that.
Although many of you can imagine the Hallelujah Mountains floating in the air, because that’s how we can remember them from the Avatar movie, it doesn’t really happen in real life. What a bummer! However, although they don’t fly in the sky, they still look impressive when you look at them, for some even better than on the cinema screen.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – Hidden Gem of Chinese Scenery
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1992 and as such deserves attention from travellers around the world who fancy a breath-taking walk amongst rocks rocketing to the sky.
Sandstone pillars scattered across the whole area can be taller than 1000 meters and ask for a good photographer and or a hiking drone to capture his or her shot of a lifetime.
Nevertheless, it’s not only the views, which will take your breath away, it’s the heights. Some of the sandstone pillars are 1,080 meter (3,549 feet) long!
Admission Fee and Opening Hours
The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is open all year round and the admission fee depends on the month of your visit. Between March and November, you will pay CNY 248 ($38,26) a visit while the price between December and February drops down to CNY 139 ($21,44).
Your ticket will be valid up to 4 days and it covers such tourist spots as Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie.
The park is open daily between 7 am and 6 pm.
Best Time to Visit
Picking the right time to visit Zhangjiajie is crucial as the town can be very foggy and rainy for the majority of the year (some say over 200 days).
Spring (March to May) is the best time to go. It’s a wonderful season to experience, especially in the Hallelujah Mountains. It gets warmer in March and the forest is full of vigor. As spring is not the peak season here, you will avoid big crowds so you can enjoy it even more.
The warmest month in Zhangjiajie is July and it will be too hot for you. Summer in general is hot and crowded so avoid planning your trip between June and August.
Autumn (September to November) can be a pretty epic season similarly to spring. There is less rain, temperatures are okay but you might find the park to be more crowhy.
When it comes to winter, while the park looks absolutely stunning when covered with snow, it’s way too cold and dangerous due to heavy snowfall.
Top 5 Attractions You Can’t miss out
As this is a huge park, there are plenty of different spots to be discovered. To make things easier for you, here are the top 5 attractions worth visiting:
#1 Mount Tianzi
This is one of the highest peaks of Zhangjiajie National Park and it has 1262.5 meters. If you want to, you can get there with a shuttle bus that goes regularly from the Zhangjiajie central bus station. Located in the Northeastern part of the park, it will welcome you with some incredible views. A place to be for those who enjoy hiking!
Note: Again, please make sure you get on a sunny day for the best views. A bus ride costs only CNY 15 ($2.31) per person.
#2 Tianmen Mountain
This will be one of the highlights of your visit is Zhangjiajie – Tianmen Mountain, known as the soul of Zhangjiajie. Its impressive height of 4,983 feet (1,519 meters) will leave you speechless, especially when you get to the top using the cable car (must-do, read more in Zhangjiajie Cable Car paragraph).
Note: When going there, please make sure it’s a clear day. I highly recommend summer. You need a crystal clear sky to fully enjoy the view.
#3 Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge
Here it is another wonderful spot you can’t miss and it’s world’s longest and highest bridge – Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge. Imagine walking through the glass-bottom bridge that is 430 meters long and it’s suspended 300 meters above the valley floor! How awesome is that! Something that will blow your mind, for sure.
Note: Before you make it there, please make sure the bridge is currently open. It used to be closed in the past a couple of times but then reopened again.
#4 Bailong Elevator
You’ve just heard about the longest and highest bridge in the world, now it’s time for the longest outdoor elevator in the world. It’s located here in the middle of Zhangjiajie National Park and it’s called Bailong Elevator. It’s 326 meters high and allows you to go through a beautiful cliff providing some wonderful views. If you are afraid of height, be careful!
This unique spot, home to the beautiful Bailong Elevator, can’t be missed. Yuanjiajie is located on the opposite side of Mount Tianzi and it’s a great spot for photography lovers as they can take some of the epic shots of the mountains here.
ZhangJiaJie cable car
Thanks to Chinese technology, or bravery, there is a cable car built to connect the town with the mountain range. They claim it’s the longest cable car ride in the world and it will take you more than 800 meters above the ground. Then you will have a chance to walk on a serepntine of sidewalks mounted on a vertical cliff. If you are scared of heights, like I am, this is the best way to face your fears.
At one point you can even walk on the ZhangJiaJie glass bridge. Yes, you should get the idea of the feeling by now.
When I first went to Zhangjiajie, I didn’t even expect to see what I saw. Back then I worked for a school nearby (only 4 hours away, which in China is like on the same street) and the school administration decided to award us, teachers, a school trip to see the mountains. Since then, I tell everyone to go to see Chinese Floating Mountains.
I honestly recommend it even more than seeing Beijing.
Join one of the below tours to ZhangJiaJie:
Is It Worth It?
I hope this little guide will help you decide to visit Zhangjiajie at some point of your trip to China. It’s truly a magnificent spot you will fall in love with at the very first sight. I tell everyone to go to see the Chinese Floating Mountains.
So worth adding to your bucket list and I can’t wait for you to experience it yourself.
Have you ever heard of ZhangJiaJie National Park? Do you know any other place on this planet to see something as incredible as this? Share your experience with me in the comment section below.