Tianzi Mountain

Written by Sally Guo Updated Apr. 4, 2021

Zhangjiajie's Tianzi Mountain is a unique piece of landscape and geology with an interesting history.

It is named after a farmer- Xiang Dakun, from the Tujia ethnic group residing in the area- who led a farmer's revolt and christened himself "Tianzi" meaning "Son of Heaven" which was also the name traditionally used for the emperor of China.

Presently, Tianzi Mountain is a tourist location, known for its beautiful misty visage.

Zhangjiajie and Tianzi Mountains Map

Tianzi Mountain Facts

Tianzi Mountain Cable Car

The cable car enables everyone who visits to see the peaks with minimum effort- whether you think that is a good or bad thing is a different story.

The total length of the cable car ride is 2,084 meters (6,837 feet) one-way, and it ascends 692 meters (2270 feet) up the mountain. The ride takes about 6 minutes total and provides a commanding view of the legendary scenery of the area.

cable car
Tianzi Mountain Cable Car

What to see at Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve?

1. Shentang Bay

The Shentang Bay, or Gulf, is a wide natural ravine, with thin jungle-capped karsts pointing out of it. Wisps of clouds float through it year-round, giving it a mystical ambiance. Mostly untouched by people, the only access to this place is a natural — and terrifying — natural ladder.

Legend has it that the self-proclaimed King Xiang Dakun died falling into the misty Shentang Gulf.

2. Fields in the Air

This place is a traditional Chinese landscape painting that comes to life. One thousand meters (3,281 feet) in the air is a terraced field, surrounded by steep cliffs on 3 sides that plunge into a jungle-filled gorge. It is unlikely to get there without the help of a local guide.

Fields in the Air
Fields in the Air

3. Sea of Stone Forests

The entire Wulingyuan Scenic Area, where Tianzi Mountain and Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are located, is covered in over 3,100 sandstone karst pillars. The tallest reach heights of up to 800 meters. Most of the landscape is covered in lush jungle forests, waterfalls, and streams.

4. Imperial Writing Brush Peaks

These sharp, narrow karsts with small bits of jungle brush and trees growing out the top look just like...well, paintbrushes. They are extremely thin rock formations, and the bits of vegetation at their tips look like the bristles of writing brushes.

This area is regarded as one of the best places in the whole Zhangjiajie area for photography. During light mist, the views are especially stunning. Snow cover in the winter also provides a once-in-a-lifetime vista.

Imperial Writing Brush Peaks
Imperial Writing Brush Peaks

How did the Tianzi Mountains form?

Tianzi Mountain and the landscape surrounding it is a karst landscape. Karst landscapes can be found all over China and Southeast Asia, from Guilin, China to Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, and the Philippine Isles.

Karsts are formed over hundreds of millions of years, as the Indian continental plate rams into the Eurasian continental plate causing the continental plates to arch upwards as they push together.

As the collision progresses, the landmass throughout much of Central Asia, China, and Southeast Asia rise up, this is what caused the Himalayas to rise to be Earth's highest mountains.

As the land in Asia rises up, the soft sedimentary soil and rock are eroded away, leaving the hard, dense formations that were once deep under the earth.

These formations are called karsts. The karsts of Zhangjiajie are unique because they are especially steep and narrow, rather than the conical karsts found all over Southeast Asia.

Zhangjiajie's karsts are made from hard-packed sandstone. The steep and jagged peaks inspired the alien landscape of Pandora, from the movie Avatar.

How to get to Tianzi Mountain?

Tianzi Mountain is part of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It is complicated to get there by public transportation. Even for experienced travelers or expats who know their way around China, it is not easy to arrange local transportation on their own.

We recommend you contact us and arrange private transport to travel around Zhangjiajie.


From the Airport

There are no buses directly to the Wulingyuan Scenic Area or Zhangjiajie National Park from Hehua International Airport in Zhangjiajie. You will have to first get to one of the bus stations in the city.

Take city bus #4 or a taxi to the Zhangjiajie Central Bus Station. The bus is cheap, at about 2 CNY, and the taxi fare should cost around 15-30 CNY.

From the Bus Station

There is a bus that leaves every 30 minutes from Zhangjiajie Bus Station to Tianzi Mountain. The cost is 15 CNY and the trip takes about 90 minutes. The bus runs from 06:00-16:30

Within the Park

Within the park, there are several ways to get to Tianzi Mountain.

Batter cars patrol regularly within the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Area. The price of the entrance ticket for the park will cover rides on the electric vehicles. These shuttle buses can be used to get to Avatar Mountain, Yuanjiajie, and pretty much the whole park area.

From the small village of Wulingyuan, which connects other parts of the park (Baofeng lake, etc.), you can take taxis or buses to major destinations like the city or some of the park entrances.

How to travel around Tianzi Mountain?

You can travel in the park for half-day or full-day according to your time.

Full-Day (about 8 hours) Hiking:

Half-Day (2-4 hours) Hiking

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