Many travelers believe Zhangjiajie is one of the places you have to visit before you die. It looks like a magical paradise and was the inspiration behind James Cameron’s mountainous scenes in Avatar. The city of Zhangjiajie is located in the northwestern corner of Hunan Province.
In geological terms, Zhangjiajie straddles the juncture of two crustal extremes: the upwardly thrusted Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and the downwardly thrusted Dongting Lake area. Quite naturally, the overarching geological crustal extremes define the natural landscapes of Zhangjiajie, and they make for an interesting landscape that is both beautiful and at times a little terrifying. The highest point in Zhangjiajie measures roughly 1900 meters above sea level, while the lowest point measures 75 meters above sea level. The movie Avatar best describes the unique land form of Zhangjiajie, attracting a lot of visitors from both home and abroad.
The city of Zhangjiajie is both old and new. The new city of Zhangjiajie came to be in two stages: first, in 1988 the nearby city of Sangzhi merged with the city of Dayong; in 1994, the enlarged city of Dayong was renamed Zhangjiajie, meaning “Zhang family homeland.” The newly created city of Zhangjiajie is not part of a larger local political entity, but exists independently, under the direct administration of Hunan Province.
If you’re a foodie, the city features one of the eight regional cuisines of China, Xiang cuisine has evolved from the three local styles of the Xiang River region, Dongting Lake and western Hunan Province. It’s known for hot spicy and sour flavors, fresh aromas and deep color, as well as sophisticated cooking and cutting techniques. Ingredients used in Hunan dishes are many and varied due to the region’s high agricultural output.
Zhangjiajie saw boom in tourism quickly after the establishment of New China. The two attractions Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Wulingyuan Scenic Area are both popular among tourists. A large part of the city of Zhangjiajie is taken up by Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, itself a part of the much larger entity, the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, which comprises, besides Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, also Suoxi Valley and Tianzi Mountain, each of which subsections of Wulingyuan Scenic Area in turn consists of numerous individual scenic sites, including Yellow Dragon Cavern (the largest cave in Asia) and Baofeng Lake.
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ZHANGJIAJIE THINGS TO DO
Located in the northwest part of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Yuanjiajie is a naturally formed platform mountain; surrounded by higher summits which are divided by deep valleys. Yuanjiajie has always been a hot spot for tourists, specifically known for the Southern Sky Pillar; a breathtaking scene and the inspiration behind the floating mountains in Hollywood movie Avatar.
With the sea level of 1518 meters, Tianmen Mountain is the highest mountain in Zhangjiajie. It’s often praised for being the soul of Zhangjiajie. The Tianmen Mountain is also known as “Heaven Gate Mountain,” its large natural ark makes it one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Many Chinese people believe that the Tianmen Mountain is the “Closest Earth Landmark to God.”
Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon
Misty streams, royal waterfalls, and more the views from the Zhangjiaji Grand Canyon are akin to fantasy fairylands. It joins with mountains, caves, cliffs, and forests; covering a total area of over 60 square kilometers. The Wulingyuan Scenic Area is the main tourist area in Zhangjiajie and along the way, you’ll get to see the tallest glass bridge in the world.
Golden Whip Stream
Stretching layer and layer, coiling around from the base of Longji Mountain to its top, the Golden Whip Stream is situated approximately 27 kilometers away from the Longsheng County. It was first constructed in the Yuan Dynasty and it was the culmination of both wisdom and labors of Zhuang Nationalities.
Ten-Mile Natural Gallery
Located in the northwestern part of Suoxiyu Natural Reserve, the Ten-Mile Natural Gallery is nestled at the foot of Tianzi Mountain. With a steam flowing through and the peaks on both sides of the valley, the gallery is arduous and different in shape. It forms natural sculptures; the Herb Collecting Old Man and Immortals Worshipping Guanyin are the most impressive.
With a main span of 1,146 meters (3,760 ft) and a deck height of 336 meters (1,102 ft) as of 2013, the Aizhai Bridge is the seventh-highest bridge in the world and the world’s fifteenth-longest suspension bridge. The origin of its name comes from a nearby town named Aizhai. Aizhai bridge crosses the valley of the River Dehang which offers an awe-inspiring setting.
Fenghuang Ancient Town
As an ancient city gathered with Miao and Tujia ethnic minority, it covers an area of 1.8 kilometers. It was built up in Qing Dynasty over 300 years and it is still one of the most well-preserved ancient towns in China, looking almost identical to it did back when it was originally built.
Yellow Dragon Cave
Known as “the wonder of the world’s caves” it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful caves in China, featuring a 15 kilometer long (9.3 mi) cave with deep and quiet underground rivers, hanging waterfalls and dense stone bamboo shoots — a breathtaking journey and a must-visit.
Nestled away in the beautiful Wulinyuan Scenic area, 8 kilometers from Tianzi Mountain and Yellow Dragon Cave, you’ll find Baofeng Lake. Here you’ll discover high gorges, natural scenery, and clean water, all surrounded by stunning emerald mountains.
Tujia Folk Garden
Tujia Folk Garden is a well-crafted masterpiece of garden design and is often trumpeted as one of the most beautiful pieces of land in the locale. The park displays Tujia customs, special stone, root carving, valuable relics and old Tujia folk performance.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Popular for a reason, this gem is made up of five main areas: Yuanjiajie, Tianzi Mountain, Yangjiajie, Huangshi Village, and Golden Whip Stream. It’s an unique national forest park, located in Zhangjiajie City, Hunan Province and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.
Avatar Hallelujah Mountain
The initial name of Avatar Hallelujah Mountain is “Floating Mountain” because it unbelievably looks like it floats in the air without any support. Avatar Hallelujah Mountain is its new name after the movie had shot here. It’s a definite must see, be sure to dunk this in your China bucket list.
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