The Hunan Province of China is not only home to spicy food – it’s also the location of many unbelievably beautiful villages and scenic mountains!
From the famous Avatar mountains in Zhangjiajie National Forest, to the waterfalls in Furong, to the beautiful river houses and Miao people in Fenghuang, these places will show you a side of China you’ve never seen before.
Because of their close locations to each other in the northern Hunan province, you can easily visit all three places in one trip. I created this 8 day itinerary to help you make the most of your time in Hunan and see the best parts based on my own personal experiences traveling to these places.
Day 1: Travel to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Your travel time will depend on what destination you’re coming from. Zhangjiajie is the most convenient city to start off your trip in Hunan. There is an airport in Zhangjiajie you can fly directly to, or you can take a slow speed train or a bus from a local Hunan city (there are no high speed trains to Zhangjiajie).
Alternatively, Changsha is also an excellent starting point. Changsha is the capital city of Hunan and has a bigger airport with more flights in and out. You can fly to Changsha Airport, or take a train there. From Changsha, you can take a train to Zhangjiajie city (6 hours).
Once you’re in Zhangjiajie, you will take a bus, mini van, or taxi to the Wulingyuan Scenic Area (45 minutes). The city itself is separate from the park where the scenic mountains are.
For more information about getting to the park and planning your route inside, check out My Guide for visiting Zhangjiajie.
Day 2: Wulingyuan Scenic Area
I spent one full day in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area. This area is where the famous Hallelujah Mountain is located (the inspiration for the movie Avatar), so it’s very popular to visit and a must-see if you come to Zhangjiajie.
- Take the shuttle bus from the Park Entrance to the Tianzi Mountain Cableway
- Cable car to the top up Tianzi Mountain
- Hike down to the 10 Mile Gallery and other trails
- Bus over to Yangjiajie Area – hike up to
Bus from Yangjiajie to Yuanjianie to see the Hallelujah Mountain
- Bailing Elevator down
- Bus to park entrance
This was a lot to cram into one day, but I had limited time and wanted to see the main attractions and spend more leisure time hiking the next day.
Day 3: Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Area
The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is a separate park, but it is still connected to Wulingyuan Scenic Area. It’s recommended to come to this area if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy a quieter hike in nature! The best way to get there is by walking along the Golden Whip Area.
- Shuttle bus to Jinbian (Golden Whip Stream)
- Stroll along the Golden Whip (1-2 hours)
- Bus to Huangshi Village Cableway
- Take the cable car up the mountain (alternatively you can also hike up the mountain)
- Walk the loop around the National Forest
- Hike down the Huangshi Mountain (1+ hour)
- Walk back along the Golden Whip Stream
- Bus back to the Park Entrance
Day 4: Tianmen Mountain
Tianmen Mountain is a gorgeous mountain in the middle of Zhangjiajie City. You need to take a bus back to the city center to get here. You can buy your tickets for the mountain on the day of your visit, but it’s recommended you buy your ticket ahead of time if you have a time preference for going up the mountain. Your ticket will have a time slot on it, and you can’t go on the cablecar or take the bus up the mountain before the time on your ticket.
- Early morning bus to the Zhangjiajie City Center
- Walk to the Tianmen Mountain Cable Car Entrance
- Cable Car up the top of Tianmen Mountain
- Walk the East Loop around the top
- Visit the Heaven’s Gate
- Bus down the mountain back to the city center
Day 5: Travel to Furong
There are a few buses that leave to Furong everyday, but it’s best to check the bus schedule in Zhangjiajie. There is usually a bus leaving around 8:30 or 9am, and it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to drive to Furong. The bus will drop you off at the Furong bus station, then you take a little van for 15 minutes to the tourist area (2 RMB).
You can spend the day exploring around the little village and enjoy the magical atmosphere at night! Read my guide for visiting Furong here.
Day 6: Travel to Fenghuang
There is no direct bus from Furong to Fenghuang, so you first need to take a bus from the Furong Bus Station to the Jishou North Bus Station. From there you can get a bus to Fenghuang.
Day 7: Fenghuang Ancient Phoenix Town
One day is plenty of time to explore Fenghuang – stroll around the river area, try some local snacks, and get your feet nibbled on by little fish. Make sure you stay out to enjoy the night life as the evening is when Fenghuang really comes alive! Bars and restaurants along the river will light up, and you’ll hear live music all around.
Day 8: Travel Day
Fenghuang doesn’t have an airport or train station, so you’ll need to take a bus to Huaihua or Changsha, and then a high speed train or plane from there.
Here’s a short video of my trip to Fenghuang and Zhangjiajie:
Visiting the Hunan Province
If you’re planning a visit to the Hunan Province in China, Zhangjiajie, Furong, and Fenghuang are three sites you can’t miss! Whether you’re looking for stunning scenery, a break from city-life, or more traditional Chinese culture, you’ll find all that and more here.
Have you been to Zhangjiajie, Furong, or Fenghuang? How was your experience traveling in the Hunan Province?
Read more about the Hunan Province:
- Hiking The Avatar Mountains in Zhangjiajie
- 7 Incredible Views on Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie
- A Complete Guide To Fenghuang: The Ancient Phoenix Village in China
- What Do You Eat In China?