The Avatar Mountains of Zhangjiejia, China: Photos and Travel Tips
As soon as I stepped through the entrance to Zhangjiejia, I could see why the landscape is constantly compared to that of the movie Avatar. Giant mountain pillars float above the mist and colourful forest decorates the trail. James Cameron has denied that the landscape of Avatar’s Pandora is inspired by the region, but all I can say is, if Avatar isn’t ripping off Zhangjiejia, then Zhangjiejia is somehow ripping off Avatar.
Here are my top tips for visiting this beautiful park, as well as some of my favourite photos from our time here…
Accommodation by the park entrances is pretty pricey. It’s cheaper to stay in Zhangjiejia city and take the bus to and from the park each day. The bus costs between 10 and 15 CNY and takes between 35 and 90 minutes (depending on which entrance you go to). The buses stop running around 6pm.
The monkeys throughout the park are adorable, but they will attack tourists for food! Be sure to not have any food visible, and, if a monkey approaches you, reach for a stick or act like you’re about to throw a rock and this should scare him off. And it should go without saying- never, ever, feed the monkeys.
The park is officially known as Zhangjiejia and Wulingyuan, and there are three entrances. Zhangjiejia National Park Forest Entrance in the south is the most commonly used and is a 35 minute bus ride from Zhangjiejia city. Wulingyuan Entrance, in the northeast, is 45 minutes from the city. Tianzi Mountain Entrance, in the northwest of the park, isn’t commonly used, and is 90 minutes from the city. Most hostels will provide you with a free map.
A bus system runs throughout the park, and the cost is included in the price of the entrance ticket.
The entrance ticket is valid for four days from date of purchase. In high season, regular tickets cost CNY 245 and “preferential price” tickets (for students and over 65s) cost CNY 160. In low season (from December 1st to February 28th), regular tickets are CNY 136 and preferential price tickets are CNY 82. Annual tickets are also available for CNY 298. Children under 1.3 metres in height enter for free.
On arrival each day, you’ll be required to scan both your ticket and your fingerprint. Don’t lose your ticket or you must buy a new one!
If you only have one day, enter through Zhangjiejia Entrance in the south. From this entrance, you can climb the steps to take in the view of Hallelujah Mountain (aka Heaven Pillar), walk the easy, flat route to Camel Peak, and take the elevator up the side of the mountain (CNY 72 one way, CNY 112 return).
If you have a second day, enter through Wulingyuan entrance in the Northeast. Walk down the steep steps from Helong Park to reach Ten Mile Gallery, where you can take a tram (CNY38 one way, CNY52 return) or walk through the valley (despite the name, it’s only 3.6 miles long). At the end of the valley, you can take a bus back to the entrance. Warning- do not do this in reverse (i.e. take the bus to Ten Mile Gallery then walk up Helong Park) as you will be walking up thousands of steps!
If you have a third day, try the Tianzi Mountain Entrance in the northwest and exploring the Wulang area. Or, you can combine days two and three by entering through Tianzi Mountain Entrance, exploring Wulang, then taking the bus to Helong Park, walking down to Ten Mile Gallery, and leaving through the Wulingyuan entrance.
Got any more tips for visiting Zhangjiejia? Be sure to share them in the comments!