Zhangjiajie, also known as Avatar Land. Home to the freshest air and quiet hiking, one of the best places to be in China.
After a few relaxing days in Guilin I took a night train from Guilin to Zhangjiajie! Zhangjiajie is in the Hunan Provence of South-Central China. It is home to the famous Zhangjiajie National Park which inspired the scenery for the movie Avatar. The National Park has the most spectacular sand stone pillars rising over 650ft in the air. It is a huge park with tons of hiking trails that have views that will give you goose bumps for days.
The night trains in China are very special… The three layered bunk beds make it impossible to sit upright on the beds and the bathroom consisted of a hole in the train floor with no toilet paper (that’s a given in China btw) and pee and poo all over the floor. I must admit it is hard to aim in the hole when the old train is flying on the tracks so make sure to hold on tight while you go!
After the scaring train ride I made it to my awesome hostel at around 12pm. I stayed in the city of Zhangjiajie while many tourists stay closer to the gates of the National Park which is a 45min bus ride from the city center. I liked having the commute to and from the National Park every day because there are great restaurants in the city and you are at the foot of Tiamen Mountain.
In the afternoon I took the cable car up the Tiamen Mountain. The mountain was higher than I expected and the top was unfortunately in the clouds when I went up. I just have white pictures.. So make sure you check the weather forecast before you go!
The next day I had an early start (6:30am) and made my way to the Zhangjiajie National Park!
I arrived at the park at 8am and bought my 4 day pass to the park. (make sure to ask for the student discounts!)
I entered the park with what seemed like 5,000,000 other people. Don’t get discouraged about the amount of tourists because almost all of the people take the elevators or cable cars up to the top of the mountains. I took a quick right up the first path I saw, mostly to get away from the crowds, and found myself hiking for 6 hours straight. Up, down, up down, up down, up… you get the picture. Most of the hiking trails are just stairs so you get one of the best work outs ever. When you start to get into the higher elevations (1-2 hours into the hike) the views are AMAZING. You will be blown away I can promise that. I felt like I was in prehistoric times and a dinosaur was going to pop out of the mountains. The forests are a variety of brilliant greens. There are trees are growing out of the sides of the mountains and the colour contrast is beautiful. Here are some pictures I took on my first day of hiking.
After a nice long day of hiking I made it back to my hostel at around 7pm and went straight to bed!
Day two at Zhangjiajie National Park started the same as the previous day, early wake up, bus to park entrance and met up with my friends. This time we followed the crowd and went along the Golden Whip Stream path which leads you to the most famous sights (AKA the most crowded ones).
The path started out very crowded and flat and after an hour the stairs started… Stairs that didn’t end until every muscle in my legs gave out.