Fly to the sky mountains

HAVE you heard of Zhangjiajie? Most likely not. How about the Avatar Mountains? Probably. And that’s because this mystical place is where director James Cameron drew inspiration for that eponymous blockbuster of his. Yet the Avatar Mountains are just one of the many scenic sites in Zhangjiajie City in China’s Hunan Province.

Because words do not suffice, the only way to find out how breathtaking these spots are is to see Zhangjiajie for yourself. And getting there isn’t as hard as it sounds. All it takes is a bit of planning and some time off, preferably seven days.

Yellow Dragon Cave
Yellow Dragon Cave

Subtropical destination

If you look at the map, Hunan Province is in the south-central part of China. With its subtropical climate, Hunan is a lush, fertile land of converging rivers, lakes, mountains, valleys and plains.

Zhangjiajie is some 300 kilometers from Hunan’s ancient capital Changsha, a meticulously planned city of new and hi-tech industrial production.

Changsha is an attraction in itself — the Xiang River, wide walkways and boulevards, the old and the new converging — but it is Zhangjiajie that is Hunan’s tourism gem, a favorite of domestic travellers from all over China.

Mountain electric monorail
Mountain electric monorail

Fast facts

Hunan Province has a population of 71.4 million and an area 210,000 sq. km. Check out some info on Changsha and Zhangjiajie:

Capital City of Changsha
Population: 7.1 million
Area: 11,819 sq. km.
Ave. annual temp.: 17°C

Old meets new in Changsha City
Old meets new in Changsha City
Changsha street food
Changsha street food

Zhangjiajie City
Population: 1.5 million
Area: 9,518 sq. km.
Ave. annual temp.: 16°C

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

Scenic Zhangjiajie

So what’s there to see in Zhangjiajie? Well, the Avatar Mountains are just one of the attractions of the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, which along with the Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve and Suoxi Valley, forms part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area.

Baofeng Lake
Baofeng Lake
A Tujia woman
A Tujia woman
Tianmen Mountain Skywalk
Tianmen Mountain Skywalk

Getting there

Cathay Pacific and Dragonair have made Zhangjiajie accessible to Cebuanos with a no-fuss, reasonably priced seven-day, six-night travel package.

Daily flights from Cathay Pacific will take you to Hong Kong, while Dragonair, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, will take you to Changsha City.

Heaven’s Gate in Tianmen Mountain
Heaven’s Gate in Tianmen Mountain
Cable car to Tianmen Mountain on a foggy day
Cable car to Tianmen Mountain on a foggy day

From Changsha, a coach with comfy legroom will then take you to Zhangjiajie along an impressive road network and tourism infrastructure.

Cathay Pacific and Dragonair offers “The Best of Avatar” Zhangjiajie package, a dream vacation for just US$880 per person.

(Read more about Zhiangjiajie in Sun.Star Cebu’s Travel section, as Weekend editor Noel S. Villaflor writes a three-part series about his recent trip to this breathtaking place.)

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