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How to Plan A 3-Day Trip to Zhangjiajie

If you are heading to Zhangjiajie, you’d better make it a worthwhile trip because it is an adventure. To help you with a good plan, our travel experts here in China design a Zhangjiajie 3-day itinerary and summarize the key points for planning a trip to Zhangjiajie. It can be a memorable and perfect trip if you are willing to spend a little time planning and have an expert to help you.

Zhangjaijie Attractions Map

Day 1: Arrival and Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

In the Morning

Enter Zhangjiajie National Forest Park from Wulingyuan entrance and get to the lower Bailong Elevator station by the sightseeing shuttle bus. Bailong Elevator is the world’s tallest outdoor lift which will directly take you 326 meters up to the mountaintop in only 66 seconds.

After reaching the top, you can tour Yuanjiajie Scenic Area along the following route:

  • Enchanting Platform- believed to be the best viewpoint for a bird’s-eye view of the park all around;
  • Hallelujah Mountain- which provided the inspiration for the floating mountains in the movie Avatar;
  • First Bridge Under Heaven- a natural stone bridge that goes 357 meters above the valley below.

In the Afternoon

After a local lunch in Yuanjiajie, you can get a bus to Tianzi Mountain area and visit Fields in the Sky- a terraced field on the mountaintop. The site is undeveloped and little-known, between Yuanjiajie and Tianzi Mountain. It’s hard to locate without a local guide.

Fields in the Air Fields in the Air

Tianzi Mountain also features the sea of cloud and spiky peaks thrusting upward from below, which you will enjoy on the way downhill by cable car. The 6-minute ride will help you save 2 hours of walking to the park exit.

Leave the park before its closing time, usually at 5pm, and stay at a hotel in Wulingyuan.

Tips: To ensure your travel time is well-spent, and you get a good experience, we suggest you arrive in Zhangjiajie the night before your tour. Thus you will have enough time for a fine rest and time to prepare for your following days of hiking.

Day 2: Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon and Baofeng Lake

In the Morning

After 40 minutes’ driving from Wulingyuan, you will get to the entrance of Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Scenic Area.

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge

A must-visit here is the Glass Bridge- if you don’t have any fear of heights. It is the highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge in the world. Hanging 300 meters over the deep canyon, you will feel like you are “walking in the air” when stepping on the bridge.

Walking through the bridge and going downhill to the Grand Canyon, you’ll start hiking along the canyon for about 1 hour, and then exit the canyon by ferry boat. On the way hiking, you will see mountains, cliffs, streams, waterfalls, caves, and forest, making it a getaway from hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds.

In the Afternoon

Baofeng Lake is a reservoir made by blocking the local gorge. You can enjoy a leisurely wooden boat ride here for about 30 minutes and see the surrounding forested peaks. It will cool you off in summer and give your burning legs a good break.

Go back to Zhangjiajie after the lake tour and stay overnight in downtown.
Tips:

  • The tickets for the Glass Bridge are not available on the spot. You will have to book in advance and enter the scenic site during your reserved time only.
  • If the weather is bad - rainy or snowy - it would be better to visit Yellow Dragon Cave instead of Baofeng Lake, which is a massive underground karst cave with a constantly cool temperature regardless of season.

Day 3: Tianmen Mountain and Zhangjiajie Departure

Get to the lower Tianmen Mountain cable car station in downtown before 8am to avoid the long lines. Then, take the world’s longest cable way to get to the peak of Tianmen Mountain. The ride takes 28 minutes and offers your gorgeous views of Tianmen Mountain, Tianmen Cave, and the dangerous 99-hairpin-turn mountain road.

Tianmen Mountain Cave and the 999 Steps Tianmen Mountain Cave and the 999 Steps to the Taoist "Heaven"

Touring around the top of Tianmen Mountain from the west line to the east line, you’ll walk through:

  • The 999 Steps to Heaven- you have to ascend the 999 steps to reach Tianmen Cave. You can escape the exhausting 30-minute climbing by taking tunnel escalators.
  • Tianmen Cave- it is an enormous natural hole through the mountain and looks like a gate into the heaven, hence the name “Heaven’s Gate”;
  • Glass Walkways- built on the edge of a sheer cliff, each of them is over 1000 meters in height, giving you more thrills than the Glass Bridge at the Grand Canyon.

Your Tianmen Mountain tour will end up with a crazy drive down through a 11-km mountain road. It declines 1100 meters with 99 bends, and hairpin turns.

In the afternoon, go to the airport/train station for departure and head to your next destination.
Tips:

  • Tianmen Mountain cable car will be under maintenance and construction every year from November 1st to 30th. Shuttle buses will be used instead during this period.
  • Extend a day trip to Furong or Fenghuang Ancient Town will give you a cultural break after exploring the wild nature of Zhangjiajie.

5 Things for Zhangjiajie Tour Planing

Besides itinerary, there are other 5 things you might need to know to plan your 3 days in Zhangjiajie well.

When to Visit Zhangjiajie

Generally speaking, September to November is the best time to go to Zhangjiajie, when the weather is dry and comfortable. But if you go there for misty and foggy mountainous views, spring is perfect; for icy and snowy scenery, winter would be better.

Zhangjiajie in spring Zhangjiajie in Spring

Whenever your planning time is, try to avoid Chinese holidays: Chinese New Year (late January-early February), Labor Day (May 1-3), and National Day (October 1-7th), during which Zhangjiajie would be packed with tourist crowds and the prices for flights and hotels would skyrocket.

How to Get There

There are direct flights to Zhangjiajie from China’s major cities every day, including Beijing, Changsha, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Shenzhen. Traveling by high-speed train is also a good option if you don’t mind getting a transfer in Changsha. See more for How to Get to Zhangjiajie.

The local transportation in Zhangjiajie, however, is very unfriendly for non-Chinese speaking visitors: you’ll find there are very few English signs and English-speaking staff. Language barriers and little knowledge of local conditions will even get you into some potential tourist traps. Therefore, the best way to travel around Zhangjiajie is to arrange a private car transfer through a reliable travel agency. Please contact us if you need.

Where to Stay

There are two main areas for stay in Zhangjiajie: downtown and Wulingyuan. Downtown Zhangjiajie is close to the bus/train station, and airport, and is great for weary travelers who just got off a long flight or train ride, or those who are heading to Tianmen Mountain the next day morning. While Wulingyuan borders the forest park and is also convenient for going to the Grand Canyon, Baofeng Lake and Yellow Dragon Cave.

According to the above itinerary, we recommend you stay in Wulingyuan for Day 1 and downtown for Day 2. Recommended hotels:

  • Downtown: Best Western Grand Hotel Zhangjiajie, Zhangjiajie Sunshine Hotel
  • Wulingyuan: Pullman Hotel, Crowne Plaza Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan

Guided Tour or Not?

It is advised to travel with a tour guide because Zhangjiajie is a mountainous area, it is difficult to arrange transport on your own and you’ll easily get lost in mountains and forests. A local guide will make everything easier and keep you from wandering around aimlessly and wasting time. So you can devote yourself to the stunning nature and maximize your travel experience.

Touring Zhangjiajie  with a Local Guide Touring Zhangjiajie with our Local Guide

We have licensed and experienced local guides who know the hidden path to lesser-known attractions of Zhangjiajie, lead you to the best spots for viewing great sceneries, and always listen to your needs. We can make your trip a deeper and experience, and go smoother. Feel free to contact us and arrange your private tour guide!

What to Pack

Traveling around Zhangjaijie needs a lot of walking and weather in Zhngjiajie is year-round wet and foggy. Based on the weather and hiking, here’s a list of things you should pack:

  • One good pair of walking/hiking shoes;
  • Bottles of water, snacks or energy bars for quick energy supply during the hike and climb;
  • A rain jacket (a light overcoat for spring and autumn and a heavy coat for winter);
  • Travel documents: passport and a Chinese tourist visa.

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