Situated in Hunan Province, Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, containing several National Parks and is most visited for the amazing, almost unbelievable, rock pinnacles that impressively tower from its beautiful forested gorges. The most visited sights can be found within Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.


It is the majestic towering formations that really stun the eye here, for as far as it can see, which were heavily used as the landscape models for the structural formations used in the film Avatar, together with features from Guilin and Huangshan Mountain.

The features of Wulingyuan are most prominently featured in the Hallelujah Mountains sequences of the film, where they have in part been digitally modified to create floating formations, a concept clearly inspired by the artwork of British designer Roger Dean, who originally developed the themes during his album cover work for the progressive rock band, Yes, despite the fact he lost a lawsuit on the matter.

Among the Park’s many other profound visually stunning treats are ‘Golden Whip’, Huang He’an Sightseeing Terrace, and the naturally formed bridge spanning two of the towering peaks at a lofty 357 metres (1,171 feet) above the leafy canyon floor.

To aid accessibility to enjoy the unique perspectives and grandeur of its landscape, the park’s visitor areas feature several cable cars and the vertical Bailong Sky Elevator.

Aside from the breathtaking visuals, Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is home to over 3,000 species of plant and is an important wildlife area.

Just beyond the eastern reaches of the Forest Park, south of Wulingyuan Town, the gorgeously scenic Baofeng Lake affords an opportunity for a leisurely cruise among its shapely cliffs.

Further to the northeast, nearby Zhangjiaie Grand Canyon is another of the awesome sights to be experienced in this region, highlighted for visitors via an inspirational and extremely popular 6 metre wide glass bridge extending a distance of 430 metres across the yawning gap, some 260 metres above the canyon floor.

Another famous feature, found along the way to the canyon is the truly vast Huanglong cave, one of China’s largest and most beautiful underworlds, with a host of chambered caverns, hosting over a hundred remarkable geological features.


To the south of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, beyond Zhangjialie City, the lofty world of Tianmen Mountain is approached by a breathtakingly twisting road, in a series of 99 bends.

A long stairway leads up to the natural arch of ‘Heaven’s Gate’, while the summit area, home to Tianman Temple, can be reached by cable car. From the summit, a series of walkways lead around the cliff edges, to appreciate the profound overview of the surrounding landscape but, although not actually dangerous to anyone with a good head for heights, will certainly not appeal to some.

Some newer sections of the cliff walkways have been updated with modern glass bottomed sections for an extra intensity of experience, which despite the enormous and sheer drop below, are highly popular with visitors from all over the world.

Also south of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, the Miao ethnic minority village of Dehang provides an opportunity to observe the traditional lifestyle of the people of the area and is the focal point of the surrounding Nine Dragon Stream Scenic Area and its dramatic waterfalls.

Nearby, situated on the Tuo River, the city of Fenghuang, named after the mythical bird, is an impressive walled town, a scenic window into the past, with its well preserved riverfront stilt houses, pagodas, bridges, temples and courtyards a delight for ambling around in old world charm.

Elsewhere in Hunan Province, in Heng Shan, Zurong Peak is one of China’s many sacred mountain climbs, with a 13 kilometre pathway to its summit, while nearby Shaoshan is the birthplace of the founder of the Chinese communist state, Mao Tse Tung, and still a pilgrimage site for his many millions of adoring fans.