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Zhangjiajie
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The mist glides across hundreds of towering sandstone pillars topped by trees before plunging down into the green-swathed ravines below. A verbose description of Zhangjiajie's (Zhāngjiājiè, 张家界) scenery will never quite do the place justice; perhaps this is why the area is such a popular filming and tourist destination. Lying on the border of Hunan, the main draw is the Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Wǔlíngyuán, 武陵源), which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and is made up of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Zhāngjiājiè Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán, 张家界国家森林公园), Suoxi Valley (Suǒxī Yù, 索溪峪), Tianzi Shan (Tiānzǐ Shān, 天子山) range and Baofeng Lake (Bǎofēng Hú, 宝峰湖). Avid hikers and nature lovers flock to Zhangjiajie explore the mountains, caves and forests of the area; travelers often trek up to Huangshi Village get the best view of one of China's most famed landscapes.

While Zhangjiajie is most known for its unusual sandstone pillars, its caves with their numerous stalactites, underground cataracts and rock formations are also impressive: Yellow Dragon Cave and Dragon King Cave (Lóngwáng Dòng, 龙王洞) are both worth a visit. The wildlife in the National Forest Park is one of the main draws: giant salamanders, rhesus monkeys and golden pheasants are among the usual suspects you might stumble upon, especially when walking along the ever-photogenic Golden Whip Brook. And if you are not the hiking type, access to many of the mountains and caves has been made easier with paved paths and even a new glass elevator that hoists you smoothly to the top of one of the peaks without you even breaking a sweat. Sixty percent of the city's 1.5 million person strong population are Tujia, Miao and Bai minorities giving the area a unique cultural feel. Take some time to properly explore this unusual place, if for no other reason than to return home with the necessary "China scenic" photos.

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History

Zhangjiajie city was originally named 'Dayong' and has historical records going back as far as 221 BC. The name Zhangjiajie was assigned in 1994 in order to draw attention to the area after being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The Zhangjiajie region covers an area of 91,563 sq km (35,353 sq mi) and is made up of two districts, Wulingyuan and Yongding (Yǒngding, 永定), and two counties, Sangzhi (Sāngzhí, 桑植) and Cili (Cílì, 慈利). The region was at one time heavily under Korean influence, both because of investment and tourism, however, more recently, visitors are flocking in by the thousands from around China and other Asian countries. International tourists are still in the minority, but the number continues to grow.

Climate

Situated in the midst of the semitropical monsoon climate zone, Zhangjiajie has a moderate climate, lots of sunshine and enough rainfall to keep the vegetation gloriously green. Like Kunming, Zhangjiajie is also called a "city of spring" due to its comfortable year-round temperatures that hover around 16°C (61°F). The fog and heavy rain in July create a few snags for hikers and mountain climbers, so plan accordingly. While the winters get heavy snowfall, the park remains open. Although April and October are the best times to visit, Zhangjiajie is good all year round.

Hunan guide | Zhangjiajie attractions
Zhangjiajie flights | Zhangjiajie hotels | Zhangjiajie tours & activities
Zhangjiajie on the China Travel Blog