ZhangJiaJie National Park – China’s “Avatar Mountains”

categories: asia travel

If you have seen Avatar – famous American blockbuster directed by James Cameron – you probably held your breath seeing Pandora’s floating mountains and wished you could be there. You can, they are real, in China at ZhangJiaJie. Even among Chinese, you will find some who have never heard of ZhangJiaJie, so it is not surprising that most foreign travelers who visit China miss this attraction.

Zhangjiajie Mountains, Hunan Province, China

Observing the Avatar Mountains

Ok, the mountains do not float above the ground, but they do rocket to the sky, and on a foggy day you can’t tell if they touch earth. I have visited ZhangJiaJie by a chance, together with my fellow teachers in Chinese high school. I was shocked as much by the sights as for the lack of tourists. Despite it’s natural beauty, and being listed as UNESCO World Heritage site, ZhangJiaJie, foreign travelers are rare.

The Hallelujah Floating Mountains

The Hallelujah Floating Mountains in Zhangjiajie

ZhangJiaJie National Forest Park is a place where you can visit fantastic Pandora, without the need of space travel, and stay in the park for few days. Trekking through spectacular scenery does not have to end in the evening. You can stay overnight, either out in the forest or in a cheap hostel, within its boundaries. The entrance ticket (at the time of my visit it was RMB248 which is about $40 ) enables you to step into the park through the main gate for three days, but tickets are not checked on the exit. It means that once in you can freely explore every corner for as long as you like as long as you don’t try to reenter after 3 days.

The Hallelujah Floating Mountains

Welcome to Pandora

Free eco shuttle buses are available throughout the park. Although I don’t understand how one could call them eco (they are old and certainly not eco friendly in terms of emissions), but it’s worth taking a ride. Firstly, it’s much quicker to cover vast terrain. Secondly, it’s a mad ride, best compared to the roller-coaster.

The Hallelujah Floating Mountains

The stunning Floating Mountains are only in Hunan Province in China

Apart from multiple sandstone rocks and variety of trees, plants and animals, you’ll get to experience something more unique – being some kind of a rock star (you don’t have to play guitar, don’t worry). Imagine going to a tourist attraction and suddenly becoming a tourist attraction. Chinese people would love to take a photo with the beautiful scenery as much as with you. Actually, you’ll be running away from Chinese teenage girls by the end of the day.

The Hallelujah Floating Mountains

The stunning scenery of ZhangJiaJie

There’s not many places on this planet such as this one. I have not been to a place which took my breath away for longer than ZhangJiaJie yet and the bar has been set high. Despite my utmost efforts to tell everyone around, it’s still a place somewhat off-the-path. What stops you from going there?

Find out what happened to me when I visited ZhangJiaJie and how I travel the world for less than $25 per day at eTramping.

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by Agness Walewinder

Agness is a Polish vagabond who, after graduating in 2011, left her comfort zone setting off for a journey of a lifetime to China. She has been constantly travelling the world since then, living like a local for less than $25 a day. She is an adventure budget blogger, sharing her enthusiasm for life as well as her travel experiences.

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4 Responses to “ZhangJiaJie National Park – China’s “Avatar Mountains””

Agness Walewinder

Says:

It was my pleasure to work with you Chris.Thank you for publishing it 🙂

jeremyyy87

Says:

I’m thoroughly amazed by the pictures, and still somewhat in disbelief. All this while, I thought that particular scene in Avatar was all CGI animation! I’ve been to China several times, especially Chengdu, since my work sometimes require me to go there. I usually stay in serviced apartments in the city, at Fraser Suites Chengdu, perhaps I could arrange for something like a 2-day trip out to Hunan province the next time I’m there. Thank you for sharing!

Chris Christensen

Says:

I know what you mean Jeremy, definitely on my list of places to go

Zhangjiajie Tours

Says:

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!

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