Zhangjiajie, also called the Avatar mountains, is a beautiful range of mountains in Hunan province of China. The national park is massive and full of stunning sights and curious monkeys (take care of your food because they’ll be there if you’re eating too obviously).
Today, I’ll take you through my trip from Beijing to Hunan’s Avatar mountains. I hope you’ll fall in love with this place as much as I did and who knows maybe you’ll even consider going there after seeing the beautiful pictures of stunning views because it is actually really easy to get around if you just prepare a bit beforehand (Get those Chinese names down on your phone to show the Chinese if you are lost at a train or bus station). Cheers!
How to get to the Avatar mountains:
I took the 12-hour train over-night from Beijing to Changsha, then I jumped onto the bus (4-5 hours) to Zhangjiajie town which you can take from the East Station (长沙东站, Changsha Dongzhan). Take taxi or bus to go to the station.
There are also trains running to Zhangjiajie as well so if you don’t speak Mandarin, it would be more safe to take the train from the same station as where you arrived (if you took the slow train, Changsha has a south station for bullet trains as well).
When I arrived at the bus station in Zhangjiajie, I asked for the tourist bus to the national park (张家界森林公园，zhangjiajie senlin gongyuan). The fare is 12 RMB and it will take you to the main entrance.
Price: the entrance fee is 245 RMB (cheaper during winter)
- Get a map when you arrive. The place is massive and it is easy to get lost in the wilderness of the forest
- Bring food, you can buy some Chinese over-prized stuff in the mountains but it isn’t great and you need power to climb (I climbed for 6 hours around the area). Also take care when you’re eating because of the monkeys. They can be aggressive if they see your food
- Bring a scarf if you go there early in the morning. The temperature in the mountains are lower than in town (I didn’t think about it before I arrived so I had to buy a colorful scarf from one of the locals at the entrance)
- Bring a BIG SD card for your camera. You won’t be able to stop taking photos of this stunning place
- This is a very crowded tourist spot so see if you can avoid the big Chinese holidays and the summer vacation (I went there in April and it was great. There were loads of tourists but not enough to fill up the forest lol)
- Bring cash for bus tickets, entrance ticket and whatever else you need to buy
When you get close to the exit of the forest (not the same as the entrance), you can pay 10 RMB to wear a Chinese costume and get some pictures taken in front of the lake (I loved that experience and so cheap!)
At the exit, there will be tourist buses running back to town again. Just buy a ticket from the driver and jump onto it. Before you know it, you’ll be back in Zhangjiajie again.
More info on the Avatar mountains and surrounding areas here.
Btw I stayed in a small hostel in town. They had maps of the town itself and advised me where to go. If you have time, you should definitely go to Zhangjiajie’s little cultural park (土家风情园，tujiefengqingyuan, Tujia Folk Customs Park) where the staff is dressed up in traditional clothing and you’ll get a view into Hunan’s traditional life long ago (it is in Chinese but I didn’t listen anyway, just looked at all the beautiful scenery and nice clothing).
There are also other things you could do in Zhangjiajie but I didn’t stay there long enough to go but check this link out if you have more time and want to see more of the beautiful Hunan province.
Have a nice trip! And please leave a comment below if you have more information about this area or any questions about my travels there or how to get around.