You’ve planned a trip to Zhangjiajie but only have enough time to see one mountain; Between the Avatar Mountains and Tianmen, which one do you go to?
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So you're in Zhangjiajie, China but how do you spend your time?? In a perfect world, you’d have time to do both; the stunning pinnacle mountains that inspired the Avatar movie are so cool! But so is Tianmen mountain; the world’s longest cable car ride brings you up to dizzying heights and stunning views. Both are in Zhangjiajie but are a couple hours apart (more on that here).
Sorry to make this harder, but one really isn’t better than the other, they are just different. So, which one do you choose?
First Things First: The Avatar Mountains
- Different Viewpoints
- Boat Rides
Get The Scoop On Tianmen Mountain
- The World's Longest Cable Car Ride
- Heaven’s Gate
- Glass Cliff Walkways
- Easier To Navigate
First Things First: The Avatar Mountains
They are AMAZING. Instagrammer Zoe Lazerson (@zoelaz) has been in China with ILP this week and her pictures should give you a pretty good glimpse at just how beautiful they are.
Fog swirls around the bottom of these spectacular mountains and make for some amazing photographs, though seeing it in person is way better, right?
Ticket prices depend on when you go; high season (April - October) costs 245 CNY while low season is 145 CNY.
Bring your student ID and passport - students under 23 get half off! Your ticket is actually a 3 day pass that also gives you free rides on the shuttles within the park. Here’s what you should see:
Zhangjiajie is made for hiking and adventuring! There are basically two levels to the park and tons to see; one level hugs the forest floor and has spectacular walkways that wind around the rivers and the base of the pinnacle mountains. You can easily spend a couple days hiking different trails on both levels of the park.
They are everywhere and love to get their photo taken (especially if you have a snack you are willing to share). The monkeys here come right up to you and say hi, which is pretty cool.
The lower level has most of the monkeys and you can see the mountains from below; take the glass elevator (or cable car) up to the upper level of the park and see some really unique and dramatic mountain views. The park is huge and gives you a lot to see. So if you want to explore in the mountains for a couple days, this is the place you should visit.
Though Baofeng Lake is outside of the park, it would be easy to add onto your itinerary of adventuring in the Avatar Mountains. Don’t miss out on this hidden gem!
Get The Scoop on Tianmen Mountain
Tianmen Mountain is closer to the Zhangjiajie City (Yes, there’s a city and a park by the same name - see a map to make this a bit more clear right here), and is absolutely incredible; even getting there is an adventure.
Choose between a road with 99 hairpin turns, or the world’s longest cable car ride before you get to the top where you can check out some dizzying heights. Zoe Laz is traveling around China and snapped this shot of the road you can drive all the way to the top; do you think you can handle it?
Tickets should be about 258 CNY depending on how you choose to get up to Tianmen and back to Zhangjiajie city…and don’t lose your ticket!
On the mountain, some things you will need to pay extra for (like the glass walkway) but some things are included in your ticket price, so keep track of it while you see the sites, like these ones!
The World's Longest Cable Car Ride
Take this cable car up to the mountain or take it down; either way gives you amazing views. The ride is about 30 minutes long and goes right over Zhangjiajie city and little villages at the base of the mountain. It’s an incredible ride that makes you feel like you are floating in the clouds because you are up so high.
This is why most people visit this mountain, so don’t miss it! 999 steps lead you up to this huge archway in the mountain that looks like the entrance to heaven. You can either choose to hike up all the steps, or get to the mountain from behind and climb down all 999 stairs.
When I went to Tianmen Mountain, I took this photo halfway down…even going down all these stairs is exhausting but is so worth it!
Glass Cliff Walkways
Tianmen gives you quite an adrenaline rush if you want to walk across one the glass walkways! Narrow paths hug the side of a massive cliff and the glass panels let you see past your feet to the dizzying drops below.…so cool!
If you're itching to try out a massive glass-walkway over a Grand-Canyon like drop, you've got to come here.
Easier To Navigate
Tianmen mountain isn’t as big as Zhangjiajie park so you only need less than a full day to see the highlights. There also aren’t as many hikes you can take on top of the mountain. So, if you are looking to see some spectacular sites, a bit short on time and want to hike a specific trail, visit Tianmen Mountain.
Want to know where else you can travel to while living abroad in China?
Come check out our China Destination Guide for info on our favorite vacation spots. Want to know how you can live abroad in China? International Language Programs gives volunteers the chance to live in foreign countries all around the world, teaching English and volunteering in an orphanage, but also gives you vacation time to see places like Zhangjiajie.
Here's what it takes to be an ILP volunteer and you can get some questions answered by clicking below: