|— Prefecture-level city —|
Location of Zhangjiajie within Hunan
|Time zone||China standard time (UTC+8)|
Zhangjiajie (simplified Chinese: 张家界; traditional Chinese: 張家界; pinyin: Zhāngjiājiè) is a prefecture-level city in the northwestern part of Hunan province in China. It comprises the districts of Yongding (永定), Cili (慈利) and Sangzhi (桑植) counties. Within it is located Wulingyuan Scenic Area which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The estimated population of Zhangjiajie, as of 2002, is 1,568,200.
The city itself used to be named Dayong (大庸), and has a recorded history dating back to 221BC.
The new name of Zhangjiajie City was adopted in 1994, after the National Forest Park in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area (武陵源) in order to give it more prominence and after this site had been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The National Forest Park had been given the name of Zhangjiajie after the name of a small village located within its bounds, and now a popular tourist attraction within the park. The three-character name (张家界) can be interpreted as follows: "Zhang" (张) is a common surname in China; "jia" (家) can be translated as "family"; and "jie" (界) can be translated as "homeland", giving the completed translation of "Zhang family homeland." It has been reported that at least one tourist guide has said that the name may have been chosen to convey the idea or impression of "Open the family door to welcome the world" (张开家门引进世界), but this is not the locally-accepted and directly translated meaning of the name.
The prefecture is mainly a tourist area. It attracts visitors from all over China and other Asian countries such as Korea.
The Wulinyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area comprises the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the Tianzishan (天子山) mountain ranges, BaoFengHu (宝峰湖) and the Suoxi Valley (索溪峪), and is a very popular filming and tourist destination.
Also in the Zhangjiajie area, Huanglongdong (黄龙洞) and Longwangdong (龙王洞) are caves known for many natural rock formations (much like Wulingyuan) and its underground cataract.
The Zhangjiajie Airport services scheduled service to major airports in China.
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.
The park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992
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
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.
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.
There is a 248 yuan fee to enter the park, which is then valid for two days.
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.
Other attractions in the area, about a 10 yuan taxi-ride away (Negotiate with the driver) include:
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.
There are hotels in both the main villages, Zhangjiajie Cun and Suoxiyu Cun, and there are simple inns throughout the reserve
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.
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
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