Zhangjiajie is a charming town with plenty of things to do. Have you seen Avatar movie? Do you remember Pandora? Yep, the inspiration came from Zhangjiajie Park. But Zhangjiajie is not only that. You can also find Tianmen Mountain there, with unforgettable views and loads of stairs 🙂 If you want to climb to Heaven’s door you should do your part 🙂
Having said that, book a couple of days there. First of all, there is plenty to do. Second of all, this place has 200 days of rain a year. That is a lot of rainy days…
It is located in Zhangjiajie. Mark that it is not in the same place as Avatar Mountains, which are in Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in the in the Wulingyuan Area (45 minutes bus drive from Zhangjiajie).
It’s regarded as the Top 1 Heaven Mountain in the west part of Hunan province and the spirit of Wuling.
There are two ways to get on top: by the world’s longest cable car ride or with a bus on the road with 99 bends.
Cable car ride up to the mountain top
It is the longest cable car in the world. Spanning over 7 kilometers, it takes 30 minutes to travel from the city of Zhangjiajie to the top of Tianmen Mountain.
The cable car passes over the edge of the city, so if you are lucky with the weather, you can see the city and the farmlands below you. You can also see fantastic mountain scenery, 99 sharp curves on the road up to the mountain peak and valleys.
It is a good idea to arrive early. I was lucky/unlucky, and the weather was horrible, so I only had 20 minutes of the queue. But I saw what they had prepared 🙂 Good couple hours of waiting time.
The bus goes along the road that is considered as one of China’s most dangerous roads. The best view of it is from the Tianmen cable car.
The road is famous because of the 99 bends. Meaning, that if you are easily car sick then skip it 🙂 It takes about 20 minutes to the cave.
When you get on top, it’s pretty easy to move around. The signs are pretty straight forward, so you will not get lost. Because I was sick and the weather was horrible, I decided to half the hiking effort and took a chairlift to Tianmen Mountain Temple. From there, there are two paths.
It was not much fun hiking and puking, so I took a shorter one – The West line. There was not much to see as the fog was everywhere, but once in a while, you could still see a little. The massive advantage of the horrible weather was that there were almost no people at all! Yey! Finally pictures without others 🙂
There are several places worth mentioning on the top of the mountain.
“Coiled Dragon Cliff” and “The Walk of Faith” skywalks
If you want to feel some adrenaline pumping, check one of the skywalks.
“The Walk of Faith” skywalk is an older one and is located on the west side of the mountain. While “Coiled Dragon Cliff” can be found on the east side.
It is also the most crowded area on the mountain. Wonder why, huh?
I would not recommend going there on a rainy day as I did. The only thing you will see will be clouds, instead of an impressive looking valley just below your feet.
The Cliff-Hanging Walkway
Along the edges of mountain summits, there is a beautiful walkway. There is nothing below it, just air. The walkway is about 1.6 kilometers long, about 1,400 meters high. It looked impressive and mysterious in the fog, and I am sure you can see amazing views when the weather is excellent.
Forest of Wishes
Along the road, there were many trees covered in red ribbons. It looked eerie and very magical in the fog. Each ribbon on the tree represented a wish. I bought mine (was quite cheap), wrote my wish and hanged it together with others:) Hope it will come true!!!
Tianmen Cave – “Heaven’s Door”
Before I left for China, my dad sent me a picture of Heaven’s Door. It was my reason for going there. But as they say, you can’t fight nature… I didn’t see much, and it left me really disappointed.
The cave is a massive hole between two peaks, and it’s the highest cave of its sort in the world.
I got there from the top, but if you really miss walking up the stairs, there are 999 steps (called “the Stairway to Heaven”) all waiting for you 🙂
If for some reason, you don’t feel like walking up/down the stairs, fret not! There is an escalator! You have to pay for the comfort, but then again the alternative is 999 steps 😀
Overall, despite sickness and horrible weather is still enjoyed the hike quite a lot. Too bad most of the views were left to my imagination. But I guess you can’t have all.
Best time to visit
Between September and November temperatures are pleasant and the weather is dry. Unless you’re as unlucky as me and end up in a fog 🙂
Between July and August is a peak season with a lot of tourists and crowds making the lines super long.
December to February is the best time to for snow scenery on the mountain.
Be sure to check the weather and book more time in advance. The fog does take a lot out of the experience. Additionally, if the weather forecast calls for storms or high winds, the cable car can shut down.
About Tianmen Mountain
Hours: 8 am to 4 pm; the Tianmen Shan Cableway runs from 8 am to 5 pm
Cost: 258¥, this includes the admission fee, single-way cableway, shuttle bus, and the upper escalator between Tiammen Cave and the mountaintop.
Additional Fees: Peak Forest Cableway (chairlift) 25¥; shoecovers for the glass skywalks are 5¥; lower escalator to Tianmen Cave is 32¥