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Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

The sandstone pillars of Wulingyuan extend hundreds of meters over the valley floor.
State Party Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China
Type Natural
Criteria vii
Reference 640
Region** Asia-Pacific
Inscription history
Inscription 1992  (16th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Wulingyuan (Chinese: 武陵源pinyin: Wǔlíng Yuán) is a scenic and historic interest area in Hunan Province, China, famous for its approximately 3,100 tall quartzite sandstone pillars, some over 800 meters in height, which are a kind of karst formation. It is part of Zhangjiajie city, about 270km from the capital of Hunan Province, Changsha. It lies between the coordinates of 29°16′0″N 110°22′0″E / 29.266667°N 110.366667°E / 29.266667; 110.366667Coordinates: 29°16′0″N 110°22′0″E / 29.266667°N 110.366667°E / 29.266667; 110.366667 and 29°24′0″N 110°41′0″E / 29.4°N 110.683333°E / 29.4; 110.683333. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Wulingyuan forms part of the Wuling Range.

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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Wulingyuan is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hunan, China.

Understand

Often called Zhangjiajie, this 243 square mile park is full of stunning karst pillars of sandstone, covered with sub-tropical rainforest. The park is often covered in fog, adding to the mystery but obscuring views.

History

The park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992

Flora and fauna

The park covers 3 natural reserves, and contains over 500 tree species, including dawn redwood, believed extinct until it was re-identified in 1948. There are also giant salamanders, rhesus monkeys, and many bird types

Climate

There is extensive fog in the park at times, and summers are very humid. Temperatures greatly between early morning and late afternoon. In May, mornings can be a temperate 18°C but rapidly reaching 30°C by noon.

Get in

Wulingyuan is 155 miles northwest of Changsha. The best way to get in is to take transit from Zhangjiajie City, which has a domestic airport. Buses and trains run to there as well. A 1 hour minibus (10 yuan) goes from the main bus station in Zhangjiajie City to the village of Zhangjiajie Cun, at the entrance to the park.

Fees/Permits

There is a 248 yuan fee to enter the park, which is then valid for two days.

Get around

There are two cable cars in the park, one near Zhangjiajie Cun that runs for half a mile up to the top of Huang Shi Zhai, and one a few miles to the east that goes near Suoxiyu Cun another half mile to a road to the north. Many other roads go across the park, and many hiking trails go in between those.

There are two main ticketing gates, one at Zhangjiajie (West side) and one at Wulingyuan (East side). From each of those gates there are buses that take you up to the actual park entrance for free.

  • Hiking The main highlight is following the many paths through the stunning sandstone landscape. It can be quite daunting at times, so the above mentioned cable cars help. The park is enormous and there is no way you can see it all, even in two days, so it's important to plan ahead and know which areas you want to visit. The signage in the park is not always adequate, so buy a map from a vendor in the village before you go in (some maps are in both Chinese and English). It's a good idea to use the free bus network within the park to get from one hiking area to another. Some highlights of hiking include the following natural landmarks:
  • Huang Shi Zhai The highest area in the park at 3,450 feet, which can be climbed up a 3,878 step stairway, but you can take a cable car instead
  • Kongzhong Tianyuan This garden sits on an outcropping surrounded by slender peaks
  • Xianren Qiao (Bridge of the Immortals) This spectacular, narrow rock bridge is over a deep chasm, with no railings. Access to the bridge is blocked by barbed wire, but some daredevils choose to walk over it anyway. There are several amazing look-out points you can walk to nearby, including "Great Viewing Platform," "Emperor's Throne" and "Cock-Pecking."
  • Golden Whip Stream This famous stream begins near the Zhangjiajie village park entrance and continues for several kilometres through the park. There is a walking path along the length of the stream, from where you can look up at the karsts all around you. At around the halfway point you will come to a restaurant/souvenir shop. At this point there is a bridge across the stream, which leads to a different trail (about 4.5km) through the Shadao Gully. The second half of the Shadao Gully trail is a steep flight of steps, but it leads to one of the most beautiful areas of the park. At the top of the staircase is a road with frequent buses that can take you to the First Bridge of the World (to the right) or to Xianren Qiao (to the left) and many other places. There is also an HI Youth Hostel just 50 metres down the road (see Lodging below).
  • First Bridge of the World (天下第一乔 - Tian Xia Di Yi Qiao) This is a natural rock bridge similar to Xianren Qiao, but with guard rails that make it much safer to walk across. The bridge itself is really just a minor part of the incredible panoramic views to be seen along this short and easy trail. Not to be missed.
  • Yupi Feng These thin, spiky columns hundreds of feet high are featured on stamps and resemble calligraphy letters

Other attractions in the area, about a 10 yuan taxi-ride away (Negotiate with the driver) include:

  • Baofeng Hu This pristine artificial lake has boat trips, additional hiking trails, and occasionally traditional performances of the Tujia minority which is native to the area.
  • Huanglong Dong This large cave has boat trips cruise on its subterranean river.

Eat

In Zhangjiajie Cun lots of little restaurants have exotic wildlife on display in cages outside - which turn out to constitute the menu. You can have turtle, snake, toad and a huge variety of interesting and obscure fish and shellfish. Definitely interesting. It has been suggested some of these are endangered species, however.

Breakfast and dinner can be had at your hotel to be on the safe side, and there are restaurants inside Wulingyuan.

Note that Wulingyuan is in the Hunan province, a region known for its spicy cuisine.

Sleep

There are hotels in both the main villages, Zhangjiajie Cun and Suoxiyu Cun, and there are simple inns throughout the reserve

Lodging

Railway Hotel (Tielu Binguan)- a budget hotel in Zhangjiajie village which can be booked online for 120 yuan for a double room.

Chinese-speaking touts offering rooms will meet visitors at the Zhangjiajie village bus station. You can probably get a cheap room for about 50 yuan for a double by following one of these guys.

HI Youth Hostel - This hostel is inside the park, making it a great place to base yourself if you're visiting the park for two days and don't want to return to Zhangjiajie village to sleep. They have simple but clean dorms (around 60 yuan) and double rooms (130-150 yuan) and also serve food.

Stay safe

Hiking is not good here for those with fear of heights, or dropoffs, or generally being near really steep cliffs, but you can always stick to the roads or take a boat cruise

Get out

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