Exploring Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – Wulingyuan, Hunan, China, Day 1
Exploring ZhangJiaJie National Forest Park, getting to Wulingyuan, Wulingyuan accommodation review including directions, daily cost summary, other useful information, and perhaps also some not so useful personal observations and opinions.
The main reason I went to Wulingyuan was for exploring Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and see the rock formations which inspired the scenery for the movie Avatar.
First off, get to ZhangJiaJie by train or bus from any number of cities in China. I caught an overnight train from Guangzhou to Zhangjiajie (about a 13 hour trip) and arrived at about 0930am.
Once Zhangjiajie, make your way to the bus station (which is also right next to the train station). In the bus station, ignore the ticket counter. Walk through security into the waiting hall. To the left is a door leading to the outside where all the buses are. Go through it and take a left. Looks for the characters for Wulingyuan.. or just ask someone for the bus to Wulingyuan. It takes about 40 minutes and costs 12RMB.
Wulingyuan Accommodation Review – Zhangjiajie Yanran Inn
Cost: Approx 100RMB / night for a twin room
I was really happy with Zhangjiajie Yanran Inn. Decent price, close to the park entrance and a very spacious room with TV aircon/heater, good shower, hot water, clean and nice staff. The owner’s English is decent.
Book your stay at Zhangjiajie Yanran Inn or other accommodation in Zhangjiajie.
Getting to Zhangjiajie Yanran Inn
For some reason I didn’t take a picture of the map provided on the booking site so it took me a while to find my accommodation. I must have walked past it a couple of times… I knew I was on the right street. Eventually I just got a taxi to it. It was about 30 seconds down the road and the flag-fall was 5RMB, but it saved me lots of time so totally worth it. The taxi driver was happy also.
Check the map below for directions from the Wulingyuan Bus Station.
Exploring ZhangJiaJie National Forest Park
By the time I had checked in and got my shit sorted out it was about lunch time, so I got some noodles from a hole-in-the-wall place (9RMB) and then made my way into ZhangJiaJie National Forest Park.
Getting to the Wulingyuan Entrance of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Getting to the Wulingyuan Entrance of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park from the Yanran in is a 5-10 minute walk. Check the map below.
Exploring ZhangJiaJie National Forest Park
The entry ticket cost 248RMB (including 3RMB insurance). It is the most expensive ticket, i.e., Adult in high season. Low season is about half the price.
The ticket is like a hotel card so you can reuse it for 3 days. They also take your fingerprint, I guess so you can’t give your card to someone else.
The ZhangJiaJie National Forest Park is huge, but luckily there are buses which are included in the price of a ticket. So I jumped on the first one and just went.
My plan was to take it easy on this first day, then do lots of hiking the next. The only thing I really knew about Zhangjiajie National Forest Park was the Avatar mountain rock formation things.
It took a good 20 minutes on the bus to get into the park. I got off at the something-or-rather lakes and had a look around. There was a 5km hiking track that I think would have took me to the Zhangjiajie entrance, but I decided to go back onto the bus.
Next stop I got off at was the 10 mile nature gallery, which isn’t actually 10 miles. I think the sign says that it is actually 5.5km (which I guess is close enough to 10 miles). There is a monorail (about 30RMB I think) or you can walk on the boardwalk, which I did. Apart from the masses of tourists, it was nice.
At the end of this is a bunch of stalls (which are all throughout the park) and for some reason some caged monkeys. Not sure why because there are monkeys just roaming around free everywhere. I felt bad for the monkeys.
Not one to back-track I decided that I would instead walk up some stairs, which turned out to be a very long walk.
Mt Tai Shan
Keep on keeping on and make it to Mt Tai Shan. Along the way I saw them constructing something and thought to myself, “Man, it must have been a mission to get the concrete up here”. Next minute I see some donkeys… makes sense.
I finally get to the top of Mt Ta Shan and guess whats there…
That’s right. McDonalds. I wonder how many donkeys died so it could be built up there.
I went and checked out some more views then decided it was time to head back. Unfortunately getting out was a mission. Apparently there is no bus back to the Wulingyuan Gate from Mt Tai Shan. I didn’t want to take the cable car so I just caught the first bus I saw… and then another two until I got to the Tourist Lift.
Bailong Tourist Elevator
This was a f*kn nightmare, but apparently it was the only way back, so I paid the 72RMB and then lined up.. for about two and a half hours of pushing and shoving as the Chinese like to do.
I’m sure the view from the lift is impressive, but by the time I got on the f*kr it was night time, so I couldn’t see anything.
At the bottom was another line (about 30 minutes), and then finally a bus (with a bunch of school kids…) for a 20 minute ride to the exit.
I got some fast noodles (ramen, maggi, 2 minute noodles) and some fruit on my way home.
Costs Summary for Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Fast Noodles. 14RMB for 2.
Nu Rou Mian. 9RMB
Dinner and snacks (the night before). 46RMB
Food Costs Total: 78RMB
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. 248RMB
Bailong Tourist Elevator. 72RMB
Sightseeing Costs Total: 320RMB
Bus to train. 2RMB (previous day)
Train from Shunde to Guangzhou. 15RMB (previous day)
Train (hard sleeper) from Guangzhou to Zhangjiajie. 307RMB (previous day)
Bus from Zhangjiajie to Wulingyuan. 12RMB
Taxi to hotel. 5RMB
Transport Costs Total: 341RMB
Zhangjiajie Yanran Inn 196RMB (2 nights)
Accommodation Costs Total: 196RMB
Grand Total for Day 1 in Wulingyuan, Hunan, China: 935RMB
Grand Total in USD (Approx): $150.60
Apart from the end of the day, I had a pretty good time exploring Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. I did more than I expected, and I’ll be going again tomorrow to see what else I can see.
Have you spent any time exploring Zhangjiajie National Forest Park? Let us know about it (or anything else you want to say) in the comments 😀 .