Zhangjiajie China Photo

Photo Tour of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Julie China 12 Comments

Zhangjiajie, China…a place you may never have heard of but have seen if you watched the movie “Avatar.”  When we learned that there was a place on earth that served as the inspiration for one of its most scenic landscapes, we put it at the top of our list.

Zhangjiajie…the Inspiration for the landscape in “Avatar”

This place is Zhangjiajie, China.  In the movie, most people are familiar with those incredible sights of towering karst pinnacles in the mist and especially the floating mountains in the sky.  This is where Jake Sully and Neytiri race around on dragons, soaring through the mists and under those floating mountains.  In our opinion it is one of the best parts of the movie and left us wishing that this was something we could do in real life.

Cruising around on dragons was not an option but viewing that inspirational scenery was, and here we are now in Zhangjiajie.  Tim was so excited to be here, almost like a kid on Christmas, and this is the place where Tyler celebrated his twelfth birthday.  I think that Tyler just may have the coolest location ever for a birthday celebration!

We spent two full days touring Zhangjiajie, exploring various areas of the park.  Since it was March it was a bit chilly, with daytime temperatures in the mid 40’s (fahrenheit) with overcast skies.  It was low season which meant no crowds of people and no queueing.

Photo Tour of Zhangjiajie

Here are some of my favorite photos from our explorations.  Zhangjiajie is a beautiful place and my photos will show it so much better than my writing ever would, so enjoy!

Our first views of the spectacular scenery was from our first cable car ride.

Cable Car Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie Cable Car

Once on the mountaintop we had our first views of amazing Zhangjiajie.

Five Fingers Peaks

Earth Trekkers Kids

Julie in China

Zhangjiajie March

We took the cable car back down the mountain and then walked along the Golden Whip Stream to the next area of Zhangjiajie.  Along the way we met some monkeys who were all too eager to accept food from park visitors.

Zhangjiajie Park Sign

From the stream we climbed on what seemed like an endless series of staircases to the top of the next amazing mountain section.  From here we could look out over the section of Zhangjiajie that served as the real inspiration for the movie “Avatar.”

Avatar in China

Tyler Turns 12

Happy Birthday, Tyler!

Tyler Rivenbark

Avatar Zhangjiajie Pic

Tim Tyler Kara

Heaven Pillar Zhangjiajie

Tianzi Mountain

Our second day in Zhangjiajie took us to the area around Tianzi Mountain.  Tim estimated that we climbed 12,000 steps to get to the top of this mountain.  The climb left us tired and sweaty and our calves would be aching for days but it was worth it for the views.

Try following this map!

Zhangjiajie Park Map

Zhangjiajie Avatar Inspiration

Zhangjiajie Mountains

Zhangjiajie Forest Park

We found an archery range that Tyler and Kara were very excited to try.

Tianmen Mountain

After our two days in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park we visited Tianmen Mountain, located very close to the city of Zhangjiajie.  The mountain is accessible by one of the most amazing cable car rides we have ever taken.  It was a fifteen minute ride from the city to the mountaintop, passing over the bus station and city streets, then farms, and then almost straight up the side of the mountain.  Tianmen Mountain was awesome to see but the cable car ride may have been the highlight of the day for our family.

Tianmen Shan

Once on top of Tianmen Mountain, there are several trails to walk.  We chose to walk along the plank roads, which were concrete pathways built along the vertical cliffs of the mountain.  There was nothing below us but air and the valley floor, far far below us.  The crazier the better and we all really enjoyed this walk.

Tim Rivenbark

Read more: Tianmen Mountain: How to Have the Best Experience

Zhangjiajie was a great stop on our tour of China.  Tim enjoyed this destination the most out of our family since he absolutely loved the landscape here.  He also really like the city of Zhangjiajie and its people.  We did have a good time here, hiking during the day and eating dinner (cups of ramen noodles) with the hotel staff.

Where We Stayed

Kara at BajieWe spent five nights at the Bajie Ren Wen Hotel, also called the Bajie Hill Hotel. It has a brilliant location in downtown Zhangjiajie, right in the heart of the city with a nearby grocery store, restaurants, KFC, and McDonald’s (Tyler ate at McDonald’s a lot because of his peanut allergy). The rooms are very large, the beds are comfortable, and the staff is very helpful.  They speak a little English and we mostly communicated using translate apps on our phones. Most nights we would sit in the lobby with them, drinking tea and eating cups of ramen noodles. We really liked it here, mostly because of the wonderful hotel staff.

Dinner in Zhangjiajie

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Zhangjiajie China

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Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Tianmen Mountain, China #zhangjiajie #china

Comments 12

  1. I really appreciate all of your honest information here. We are going in a week and this is very helpful to know.🙂
    Thank you for sharing this – I will need to adjust my expectations accordingly!

  2. OMG, I am absolutely dying to see these! Thanks for such an informative guide, this is such helpful information in helping me plan out my own trip. These photos are pretty epic too, that landscape is just incredible!!

  3. Planning to head to Zhangjiajie in April. Can you please advie me if you took a tour around Zhangjiajie National forest. Any recommendations. If not a tour can you advice me on how i shoudl go about planning seeing all places around Zhangjiajie . I have kept aside just a day for Zhangjiajie and another for Tinamen mountain.. Please advice

    1. Post

      Zhangjiajie Forest Park is huge. We took two days to see parts of it and still didn’t get to everything. The Wulingyuan Scenic Area was a highlight for us, seeing Tianzi Mountain, Heaven Pillar, and riding the Bailong elevator. We did not have a guide. We hired a taxi to take us from the city of Zhangjiajie to the park and back. It helps to have a paper map of the park (I believe we got one from our hotel before going into the park). Having a day for Tianmen Mountain is a good idea. It’s just as good as the Wulingyuan Scenic Area and the cable car ride is awesome. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hi! Very helpful blog! did you manage travelling around these two attractions independently without a tour guide?

    1. Post

      Yes, we did everything independently. To get from Zhangjiajie into the National Park and Tianmen Mountain we would flag down taxis in the city. It was very easy. We had to do a lot of bargaining to get the price down. The same went for returning from the National Parks into the city. There were always several taxis at the park exits. The taxi drivers spoke just enough English and we could speak just enough Mandarin to get by. Knowing some Mandarin was a HUGE help to get around Zhangjiajie on our own. Cheers, Julie

  5. If you travel to China for natural sightseeing, you should not miss Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Jiuzhaigou National Park. The two parks were designated as world heritage sites and world geopark.

  6. Zhangjiajie is really beautiful! I did enjoy my trip there in this April and had impressive trip when exploring the Tianmen cave, glass sky walk, Bailong Elevator and of course including the famous Avatar Hallelujah Mountain!

    1. Post

      Yes, we have learned a little Chinese. Women shuo yidianr Hanyu. Tyler is doing better than I am with learning Chinese and he plans on continuing his studies once we return home. Everyone we’ve met has been so helpful and very appreciative of our efforts to speak Chinese. These interactions have made our visit to China so special.

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