Zhangjiajie National Forest Park: To reach Huangshi Zhai, at the first fork after the entrance to the park, take the left road; hike 2 hours to this former mountain stronghold that is 1,080m (4,542 ft.) high and affords a panoramic view of forested peaks and jagged sandstone pillars. A cable car also goes to the plateau. Another path through beautiful jade-green forest and passing a tight cluster of sandstone columns is reached by taking the right road at the first fork. Follow the path along Jinbian Stream. At the next fork, either take the left to Mihun Tai (and return the same way), or take the more traveled right-hand path to Zicao Tan. From there, take the right-hand path at the next two forks to return to the entrance.
Yuanjiajie, located on the north of the park, is another scenic spot that shouldn't be missed. Head to the right path of the park, where the Jinbian Si (Golden Whip Stream) starts. Follow the path; there is a small road going up to Yuanjiajie. The hike takes another 2 1/2 hours. Or you can walk farther to Shui Rao Xi Men (Stream Winding Around Four Gates). From there, take a bus to the Bailong Tianti (Bailong Tourist Lift), which runs 356m (1,068 ft.) vertically and costs ¥56. During 2-minute journey, you can enjoy the magnificent panoramic view of hundreds of sandstone pillars. After that, take a bus from Bailong Tianti to Mihuntai (the Platform of Lost Mind) of Yuanjiajie. The huge quartz sandstone mountain has breathtaking landscapes of sandstone pillars.
In Tianzi Shan Natural Reserve: Located just southeast of the cable car platform at Tianzi Shan, Yubi Feng and Tianzi Ge are two of the most famous spots for their imposing views of forested peaks and jutting sandstone pillars.
In Suoxiyu Natural Reserve: A boat ride on lovely, clear Baofeng Hu (Baofeng Lake) surrounded by lush forest is included in the admission fee of ¥74.
The colored lights that illuminate famous Chinese caves are an acquired taste, but they shouldn't get in the way of appreciating the 11km-long (7-mile) Huanglong Dong (Huanglong Cave) that contains spectacular calcite deposits as well as a waterfall 50m (164 ft.) high. Entrance is ¥80. Take bus no.1 from Wulingyuan Qiche Zhan (Wulingyuan Bus Station) to the entrance; ¥1; 20 min.
Other than the Wulingyuan scenic zone, Tianmen Shan (Tianmen Mountain), 8km (5 miles) from Zhangjiajie downtown, has huge quartzite sandstone peaks and a giant natural sandstone arch, offering astonishing scenery different from in Wulingyuan. It's worth visiting if you are going to spend one more day in Zhangjiajie.
Regarded as the number one miraculous mountain in Western Hunan for its unique landscape comprised of Tianmen Dong (Tianmen Cave), which literally means "Gate to Heaven" in Chinese, and Gaoshan Huayuan (Garden in the Air), a small plateau covered by a lush forest.
Named as Songliang Mountain before the Three Kingdoms period, the steep cliff face of the mountain collapsed and formed a 130-m (426-ft.) high and 30-m (98-ft.) wide "cave," or a natural bridge, in the year of 263. Since then, the mountain has been named as Tianmen.
The 7,455-m (24,458-ft.) cableway, Tianmen Shan Suodao (Tianmen Mountain Cable Car), operates from 8am to 5:40pm, takes you straight to the upper station and the Gaoshan Huayuan at the attitude of 1,500m (4,921 ft.). Along the 40-minute ride, the bonsai-like landscapes formed by numerous hillocks and mountains are incredibly fascinating and thrilling. At Gaoshan Huayuan, take the west route and the stunning mountainous landscape along the Ghost-valley Plank Road (Guigu Zhandao), which is built on the over 1,400-m (4,593-ft.) high steep cliff, is breathtaking. If you can successfully avoid the tour groups, you can enjoy the serenity and a wonderful stroll as if you are walking in the sky. A sightseeing cable car, which starts at Yingtao Wan (Cherry Bay), goes to Yunmeng Xian Ding (Yunmeng Fairy Summit) at the highest peak (1,519m/4,983 ft.). On a clear day, a panorama of the 16 peaks of Tianmen Shan, Wulingyuan and Zhangjiajie City come into view at the summit. The trip costs ¥23 one-way, and ¥39 round-trip. Or you can climb up stone stairs to reach the peak in 45 minutes to an hour.
Tour buses wait at the midway station and take you to Tianmen Dong via Tongtian Da Dao (Heaven-Linking Revenue), a driveway with 99 turns. A fascinating graphical picture formed by the serpentine turns can be seen when you are about to reach the terminus. From there, you climb up 100 stairs to go to the bottom of Tianmen Dong.
Take bus no. 10, charging ¥1, to Tianmen Shan Suodao Zhan (Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Station). By taxi, it costs about ¥5 to ¥7 from Zhangjiajie downtown and ¥3 from Zhangjiajie train station. Admission to the mountain is ¥258, including the round-trip cable car ride and tour bus between the midway station to Tianmen Cave.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.