Zhangjiajie Map - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide Zhangjiajie is in Central China and located in the southwest of Hunan province. With the diverse topography featuring various plains, mountains, hills, and rivers, Zhangjiajie is the place for those who love adventure and ecotourism. This city is covered with many exciting forest parks and nature reserves. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is the most sought-after attraction of this city. Zhangjiajie is the home to three main ethnic minorities: Tujia, Bai and Miao. Beautiful nature, rich ethnic culture and friendly people make Zhangjiajie one of the most famous tourism-driven destinations in China.

It is said that Zhangjiajie is the combination of the rustic Guilin and the spectacular Huangshan mountain. Relishing the nature and visiting Fenghuang Ancient Town are two main activities you can do in this city.

Best Time to Travel to Zhangjiajie

Located in a semitropical monsoon zone, Zhangjiajie enjoys a mild climate with a high level of humidity year-round. With the system of mountains and evergreen forests, the weather is pleasant here and the temperature hardly rises beyond 33 degrees Celcius. You can visit Zhangjiajie any time a year. The best times to visit this city are April to June and September to November. July – August is the peak season, thus, attractions such as Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Fenghuang Ancient Town will be crowded with local tourists. Winter (December – February) is the low season, hence you can book a hotel room at a lower price.

Zhangjiajie Travel Tips

  • The temperature on mountains will be 3 -5 degrees Celsius lower, make sure you prepare warm clothing. Be aware of the weather forecast, the trails are slippery when it rains. July is the rainy month in Zhangjiajie.
  • Children, the elders and those who have health problems should not participate in mountain climbing nor glass bridge climbing. We recommend cable cars to appreciate the beautiful scenery in Zhangjiajie.
  • Bring a bottle of water and some snacks. Foods are available along the pathways, but they are expensive.
  • Be careful of the monkeys in the forests, they are quite aggressive. Don’t give foods to them.

What to See in Zhangjiajie

1. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Covering 480,000 square meters, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a must-visit natural park for adventurers. It is a part of the magnificent Wulingyuan Scenic Area in Zhangjiajie, together with Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve, Tianzi Mountain and Yangjiajie Scenic Area. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a surreal world with imposing sandstone pillars, tranquil streams, green forests and diverse wildlife. This scenery is often covered by clouds and fog, which makes it more mysterious and delicate. Yellow Stone Village, Golden Whip Stream and Yuanjiajie are three essential tourist routes here. Yuanjiajie is well-known for unique sandstone pillars among which ‘Avatar Hallelujah Mountain’ is the most notable one. It is the inspiration for Mt Hallelujah, hence this pillar was renamed in 2010.

2. Fenghuang Ancient Town (Phoenix Ancient Town)

Phoenix Ancient Town - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
Phoenix Ancient Town

Phoenix is a sacred animal in Chinese culture which can be reborn from the flame. According to the legends, two phoenixes flew over the town, found it beautiful and decided to stay there, hence the name. Phoenix Ancient Town is one of the most romantic ancient towns in China that is visited by thousands of travelers every year. Wooden traditional houses, small arch bridges, and rustic river are the main attractions of this ancient town. Its idyllic and atmospheric features have impressed a lot of photographers and culture lovers, and Phoenix Ancient Town is absolutely the highlight of your trip to Zhangjiajie.

3. Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve

Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve

Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve is one of the four scenic spots in Wulingyuan Scenic Area. Tianzi means ‘the son of the heaven’ in local language. This attraction is taken from Xiang Dakun, the leader of Tujia ethnic people who led a revolution against the ruling government about 700 years ago. You can see that the peaks here get the name from this historical event. Tianzi Mountain is primitive and eccentric with quartz peaks in various shapes and heights. The four must-see mountain peaks are Xi Hai (‘West Sea’), Shentang Wan (‘Bay of Myths’); Tianzi Ge (‘Son of Heaven Pavilion’); and Yubi Feng (‘The King’s Writing Brushes Peak’).

4. Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge

Grand Canyon - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
Grand Canyon

With 430 meters in length and 300 meters in height, the Glass Bridge in Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon is considered as the longest and highest glass bridge in the world. If you want to challenge yourself with skywalk to appreciate the magnificent view of towering peaks, walking on this bridge will be your once-in-a-lifetime experience. Standing on this glass bridge, you will feel that you are at the boundary between the clouds and the fog. If you have an intention to cross this bridge, prepare an appropriate pair of shoes. Otherwise, there is a cable car up to this bridge.

5. Tianmen Mountain

Tianmen Mountain - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
Tianmen Mountain

8 kilometers from the center of Zhangjiajie, Tianmen Mountain is breathtaking with mist-covered karst mountains, lush green forests and deep valleys. It was recognized as a national forest park in 1992. There are many exciting things to see in Tianmen Mountain which you cannot find in other natural forests: the world’s longest cableway, the cliff-hanging walkway, the glass skywalk and especially Tianmen Cave – the stairway to the heaven.

What to Eat in Zhangjiajie

Since Zhangjiajie is situated in the northwest part of Hunan Province, Zhangjiajie cuisine is a combination of Hunan style and Tujia ethnic minority cuisine. Hunan cuisine is characterized as strong and spicy; the chefs here even use more chili than Sichuan cuisine. The main cooking techniques are sauteing, braising, stir-frying, steaming and stewing. Besides, Tujia cuisine is sour and spicy. There are three main kinds of sour foods: sour vegetables (sour cabbages, sour eggplant, etc.), sour meat (the most famous one is Sour Fish), and sour cereal. The ethnic people prefer smoking, baking and charcoal fire heating to preserve the foods for a long time.

1. Zhangjiajie Mixed Pot (San Xia Guo)

San Xia Guo - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
San Xia Guo

The history of San Xia Guo can be dated back to 1555 (during the Ming dynasty) when there was a war between Ming army and Japanese enemies. Chinese soldiers were afraid that they could not come back to their hometown after the war, so they decided to celebrate their last spring with their relatives. However, they did not have enough time to have a big party; hence San Xia Guo was invented. The food was really simple: three ingredients were fried together (‘San’ means three and ‘Xia Guo’ means together). At that time, only bacon, tofu and radish were used.

Today, the ingredients can be changed upon guests’ request. You can choose your favorite vegetables and meat. This traditional Tujia food can be found in local restaurants and street vendors.

2. Zhangjiajie Tujia Bacon

Tujia Bacon - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
Tujia Bacon

There is a tradition in Zhangjiajie that the pork is usually smoked at the end of the year. The smoking process is a painstaking task that requires a lot of skills from the cook. The pork is cut and then marinated with salt and many other spices. After four to six days, the meat is slowly dried with smoke. The cook has to control the fuel so that the meat is not sour nor tough. After this process, this pork can be preserved for six months.

3. Hot and spicy chicken

Hot and spicy chicken - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
Hot and spicy chicken

The chicken cubes are stir-fried with pepper, vinegar and rice wine to create a spicy taste. The dish is appetizing with beautiful golden color.

4. She Meal

She Meal - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
She Meal

Tujia ethnic people celebrate a special ‘She Day’ in the second lunar month annually. On that day, a ‘She Meal’ is prepared with glutinous rice, preserved ham, and a local vegetable called Hao. This is a cannot-miss dish for your Zhangjiajie dish.

5. Duojiao Yutou

Duojiao Yutou - Zhangjiajie Travel Guide
Duojiao Yutou

Zhangjiajie is known as ‘a land of fish and rice’, so enjoying a fish dish is a cannot-miss part of your Zhangjiajie trip. Duojiao Yutou is a fish steaming dish. It is spicy with local red pepper.

Most famous restaurants in Zhangjiajie

  • Shan Gui Zhai: across from the Tujia Cate City in Lao Beimen Area
  • Laowu Yutou: in Sanjiaoping Area
  • Tongda Restaurant: on the first floor of Tongda International Hotel in Yongding Da Dao
  • Qiannian Waguan Soup Restaurant: Daqiao Bei Road (near Ziwu Road) in Yongding District
  • Wulingyuan Hotel Restaurant:192 Wuling Avenue, Wulingyuan District
  • Tang Tujia Restaurant: Wuling Avenue, Wulingyuan District
  • Wulong Shanzhai: 2/F, Xinhua Tiancheng Golden Street, Yongding District
  • Xiangzhong Family Restaurant: B 20, Xintiandi, Biaozhi Gate, Wulingyuan District
  • Hu Restaurant: 897 Ziwu Road, Yongding District