Emily Huang is a student at University of California, Santa Barbara and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Shanghai, China.
If you want to see some of the most spectacular sights in the world, Zhangjiajie, China is the place to visit. Although this place may not be as famous as places like the Grand Canyon in the United States, Zhangjiajie has become a huge vacation destination in China due to the popularity of the film Avatar; the film’s floating Hallelujah mountains in Pandora were based on the pillars found in Zhangjiajie’s National Park. Tianmen Mountain and the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon are also must-see sights all located within an hour of each other.
Realizing we had a long weekend coming up, I gathered a group of my friends and we all booked our flights to Zhangjiajie in the study lounge together. I had been wanting to go to this place for months and I couldn’t have been more excited to go on this adventure. Although I captured amazing pictures, a camera really cannot do the beautiful scenery justice.
The first place we went to was Tianmen Mountain, where we rode a bus on a 99-loop road up to the famous natural arch known as Heaven’s Gate. The gate doesn’t seem all that interesting from pictures, but the grandeur size makes the landmark fascinating.
Once we reached Heaven’s Gate, we had to take around fifteen escalators just to get up to the trails of the gigantic mountain. We decided to hike up to a look-out point that reached an altitude of 5,000 feet. Needless to say, the views were amazing and the slight fog gave the mountains a beautiful mystique.
While we were on the mountain, we had a lot of fun hiking the different paths and walking on the glass bridges along the side of the mountain. We stayed on the mountain until it was almost sunset, which gave us a beautiful view while riding the world’s longest cable-car down the mountain.
The following day, we went to the Zhangjiajie National Park and we rode the Bailong elevator, which is the world’s tallest outdoor glass elevator, up to the top. The view of the Avatar Mountains was absolutely breathtaking and I have to reiterate, a camera simply cannot do this place justice. With the pillars having such a unique quality to them, the trees growing in odd places and the scattered spacing between each one, the view looks almost extraterrestrial.
On the last day, my friends and I headed to the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon so that we could walk across the world’s longest and tallest glass bridge in the world. It was a bit terrifying at first, but you get use to the feeling of looking down from a 1,000 feet above the canyon!
Although we came to see the glass bridge, we were pleasantly surprised with the hike down the Grand Canyon. There was a large man-made waterfall, an old cave that bandits used to hide out in, and a beautiful blue river we rode a boat on. There was also a really fun zip-line, but with my luck, I wasn’t going fast enough and got stuck in the middle. It was a pretty funny experience and I got off within minutes, so I still recommend going on the zip-line as it was a fun addition to the hike!
If you decide to study abroad in China, I highly recommend making the journey out to Zhangjiajie. It’s the trip of a lifetime and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit the area. Even if you’re worried about leaving a big city like Beijing or Shanghai, the locals working in every hostel we stayed at were incredibly friendly and very helpful. My trip to Zhangjiajie is easily one of the best parts of my study abroad experience and I already wish I could make another trip out there. If you have any questions about my experience in Shanghai or this trip, feel free to reach out!
The world awaits…discover it.