When speaking of curious things in China, the first question that comes into my mind is: What is not curious about China? It is one of the largest and most diverse countries in the world.
During our one month in the People’s Republic of China we have seen so much of this beautiful country and experienced so many particular things, but we’ve been also quite surprised by some. Here you will find a list with them.

Fact # 1 Music everywhere

One thing we immediately noticed was that the Chinese like to listen to loud music. No matter where and whether someone feels disturbed by it. For example, during our hike in Zhangjiajie National Park we met several groups, that listened to loud music with their mobile phones. Generally speaking, it is not a big deal, but when you are out in nature and the volume of loud music is covering the chirping of the birds, it is a bit annoying. In trains or in the metro, as well as in many other public places, you might get the feeling that headphones have not been yet discovered in China. Also on long-distance trains, shortly before the train arrives at the destination, loud music will make sure that everyone is awake.
However, it was nice to see that in parks, during the evening, dances or sports exercises were being organized, accompanied by music, and everyone could join.


In China, you also find this kind of karaoke cabins.

Fact # 2 People

Another curious thing in China is the people. Before our trip, we have often heard that the Chinese are rude or that they would misbehave. We can not confirm that. For example, shortly after our arrival, a nice man helped us to find our hotel. He even escorted us to our hotel and assisted us during check-in without accepting any favor in return. And from that day we constantly met nice and helpful people.

Yes, some Chinese do spit, burp and fart, but that’s normal for them and just because we consider it as rude and disgusting, it does not mean that the Chinese do so as well. In the beginning, the hustle and pushing in crowded places bothered us a bit, but we learned quickly that it is often the only possibility to move around. It happened not only once that we missed the Metro because we waited politely until everyone got off the train, but weren’t offered a chance to enter due to the crowds. Travelers in China should be aware that there are different manners and the faster you accept them, the faster you can enjoy the beautiful things.

Fact # 3 Food

Chinese restaurants, which we know in the Western world are different compared to the restaurants in China itself. Despite the different and complicated to understand the alphabet, it is very easy to order food, as the menu usually comes with photos. We ate very often at small local street food restaurants. Here you can choose the ingredients without having to worry about things that you do not want to eat. We usually ate vegetarian food, because we couldn’t always be sure whether the chicken was really chicken or if it used to bark before landing on a plate… you probably know what we mean.

Fact # 4 Language

In China, there are approximately 300 different languages and dialects. The most spoken is Mandarin (70%) followed by Wu, Yue, Min, Jin etc. English is very rarely spoken. Therefore, it is absolutely advisable to use an offline translator (keep in mind that Google apps are blocked in China).

Fact # 5 Payment

Payments in China are done mainly with mobile phones. The online payment system Alipay allows the Chinese people to pay in restaurants, shops and for tickets. Even donations to beggars can be done with Alipay. As a tourist, it is wise to have enough cash as foreign credit cards are mostly not accepted for payments. On the other hand, ATMs are widely available, making it easy to withdraw money when needed.

Fact # 6 Time zones

The People’s Republic of China has a population of about 1,4 billion. It is the country with the highest number of inhabitants and the fourth largest by area, almost as large as Europe. But here comes the interesting fact, there is only a one-time zone. Very practical, don’t you think?
China has the time zone UTC +8, which is the zone in which the capital Beijing lies. Actually, China extends over 5 zones, but since 1949, there is only one time. This rule was established by the Communist party at the end of the civil war. The largest time difference to other countries is at the border with Afghanistan, with 3.5 hours difference.

Fact # 7 Be ready to become a photo model

It is certainly nothing new that the Chinese love taking pictures everywhere. However, it was new for us that we had to be in these photos. We were asked many times if we could pose for a selfie with them. What we found disturbing was that many photos of us were taking secretly, which is typical for China, so you better be prepared to accept it.


Fact # 8 Scams

In large cities like Shanghai or Beijing, we saw a lot of information about scammers. Unfortunately, there are not only nice people in China, but, luckily we weren’t victims of any of these scams, but we find it still important to let you know about it.
The most popular is when tourists are being approached by very friendly, well-looking, English-speaking Chinese and offered free sightseeing or guided tours. After an invitation to a restaurant or tea house will follow. One of these persons will order for everyone without showing the menu to the tourists. You might think a tea does not cost a fortune, but as soon as the bill is presented, tourists might get the shock of their lives. The bill will probably have an amount of several hundred euro and the tourist will be forced to pay that.

Fact # 9 Attention, special content !!!

Have you ever seen the signs in toilets showing a person sitting with the feet on the toilet seat? This is partly indicated for Chinese. It is because in this country, there are almost exclusively squat toilets, partially not even with a door, but with small view protection, that offers zero privacy. It is not only in China like this, but here we found Western toilets to be extremely rare. I personally do not consider it a bad thing, since it is more hygienic. Still, I have to say that China is not the cleanest country that we have traveled in.

It is very surprising how this topic is handled. Some Children, for example, wear pants with slots, so that, when nature calls, they can always and everywhere do their needs. Parents will not bother bringing them behind a bush or a special place. No, sometimes they would even stop right in the middle of the street leave their little “human traces” behind.
An important thing to mention is that there is no toilet paper in most of the toilets, sometimes not even in the hostel or hotel, so make sure you always carry some with you.

The list of unusual things could be longer, but these were the ones that we witnessed. Probably exactly these things and experiences made our stay as memorable and unique as it was.

Have you ever been to China? If yes, how would you describe your experience? Leave a comment or send us a message, we are very excited to hear what you have to tell.

Do you want to see more photos of China? Click here.

China has some of the fastest trains in the world, like the one that brought us from Beijing to Xi’an. While Xi’an is an important stop on every traveler’s map through China and therefore needs time to be explored and discovered, we had only one day to spend there. We choose to do so after previously excluding Xi’an from our plan and deciding later that at least a bit of time should be reserved for the ancient capital of China. So we changed our train ticket for an experience that we wish now could have been longer.


Xi’an – beautiful and diverse

The city has a strong and pleasant international vibe, with French bakeries, a German beer garden, diverse Asian restaurants and a huge Muslim market, all surrounded by the ancient walls of an old fortress. Outside these walls is the new part of the city with its modern architecture.

Our accommodation was beautifully placed inside the walls, featuring a bar, a restaurant and a terrace where guests could relax and enjoy a refreshing drink.

We decided to don’t waste time and see as many touristic attractions as we could. So, after a delicious lunch in the city, we got lost in the immense Muslim Quarter and tasted different street food. A short distance walk from there brought us to the Bell Tower.


We were happy that the weather was again on our side, but two hours later we decided to return to the hostel as the sun felt too strong and made the walk less pleasant. So we made it more enjoyable by having a cold drink on the terrace of our accommodation and planned to continue our walk through the city later in the evening.


We found Xi’an to be more beautiful as the sun went down when the dominating red color of the surrounding walls and of the buildings looked much brighter.


The ancient walls

The sunset found us on the ancient walls that enclose the old city. You can access the top part of it after paying an entrance fee of 45 Chinese Yuan. Apart from enjoying the panoramic view over the old and the new parts of the city, visitors can just walk on the almost 14 km long wall or rent a bike to go around. Sometimes also dance and music shows are available at the South Gate for those seeking for more entertainment.


Soon after sunset, we continued our walk in the modern neighborhood, admiring the lights that were turned on everywhere, transforming the fortress and the rest of the city in an explosion of color.

Highlights of Xi’an

One of the attractions that make Xi’an such an important touristic destination is the museum of the famous terracotta army of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. The emperor ordered to be buried together with the terracotta soldiers in order to protect him in the afterlife. For us, it has been just an option that we had to give up, as we wanted to see more of the city and the remaining time didn’t allow us to visit any other attraction.

On the way to Tibet

And so we left one more city behind and took the train to Xining, where we planned to spend the following two days. The reason why we reserved more time for Xining than for Xi’an is not that we found the first to be more interesting. In fact, we were surprised how little Xining has to offer in terms of touristic attractions. But what made it important for us were the elevation of 2275 matters of the city and the fact that Xining is one of the access points to the Tibetan plateau and one of the stops for the train that connects several big cities in mainland China with Lhasa. When we planned our trip to the roof of the world we’ve been warned about the altitude sickness that we might experience in the Himalayas and therefore decided to spend the two days in Xining in order to be able to acclimatize faster and easier once we would reach Lhasa.


While many people arrive in Tibet by plane, the sudden change of altitude makes it harder for them to adapt to the new conditions, which might affect the enjoyment of the first days.

We recommend traveling to mainland China and after taking a train to the higher placed cities or just book a longer stay in Lhasa in order to acclimatize. We experienced difficulties despite the long journey that we planned into Tibet and the constant change of altitude. Medicine or oxygen supplies would help control the altitude sickness, but we think it is important to adapt to it naturally.

Read more about our journey into Tibet by clicking here.

The Great Wall of China can be visited at many places along its length of over six thousand kilometers. Its condition ranges from excellent, at the sections that are closer to Beijing, to ruined or almost destroyed. The same goes for walking on the wall, the access might seem easy on some sections or extremely difficult and even dangerous on others.

Different sections have their own admission fees, so if you want to hike from one section onto another, you probably have to pay twice. Its construction is traditionally associated with the reign of the first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di in the 2nd Century B.C., but the wall that tourists see today is a more recent one, dating back to the Ming Dynasty.

The first wall was built with the purpose to defend the northern borders of the empire against attackers that threatened the stability and integrity of ancient China. As these attacks have been constant along with history, so were also the plans of continuing and improving the construction of other walls, which gave birth to an incredible and spectacular engineering wonder.

While the longest part of the Great Wall lies in the desert regions of the country, it is the area around Hebei and Beijing that most tourists associate with the Great Wall and that is usually shown in pictures.


The “modern” Wall of China

The “modern” wall is the result of more recent historic facts and the most popular part of it is divided into few sections that are open to tourism. On many other sections, the access on the wall is prohibited due to the unsafe conditions, which are not stopping daredevils to venture out and explore them.

Badaling, Juyongguan and Mutianyu (find here more details about how to reach the Mutianyu section)  are the closest to Beijing and fairly well restored, but also more crowded. Jiankou is the most challenging and wild, which makes the hike on this section also dangerous but exciting. The most popular for hiking is the half unrestored section Jinshanling, which leads the path towards the Simatai section, the only one where visitors can experience night tours.

A particular experience is offered by the hike on the Huanghuacheng section, where, apart from the magnificent view of the wall, visitors can admire a beautiful lake scenery.

Choosing the right time and place

From the western deserts to the eastern sea, the Great Wall is impressive wherever you might want to visit it. The sections around Beijing are the easiest to include in your itinerary while visiting the capital of the People’s Republic of China. But since many other tourists plan to do so, it is important to organize your trip very well. Avoid peak season and Chinese national days, otherwise trying to see the Great Wall might turn in seeing the Great Crowds. There are many villages along the wall and finding a place for the night and food is easy, so if you are one of the lucky ones that have more time in China, we recommend exploring different sections, including the ones that are more difficult to access and farther from the tumult of touristic activities.



Because choosing the right section to start on is difficult, we included bellow a map that shows popular sections of the wall and a summary of all main sections that stretch across China. We felt lucky enough to have experienced even just little of what exploring the Great Wall is about and left with the desire to explore more sometime in the future.


– Click here to open the image in high-quality resolution –

Check out our gallery for more pictures of our experience on the Great Wall.

While many of the historical treasures of China are of little importance to the outside world, others are well known across the country’s borders. The most representative remains the Great Wall of China, a landmark that Chinese citizens are very proud of, but also a destination that many travelers would like to cross off their bucket list.

The history of an engineering wonder

The Great Wall tells an important part of the history that shaped China as the country we know today and played an essential role in the military strategies of many Chinese emperors. What fewer people know is that the fortifications which get crowded with tourists nowadays are only part of the fourth generation of walls and the last ones that have been built. They date back to the Ming dynasty, who constructed structures out of stone and brick.

The term “wall” refers to an entire defense system. According to the research of modern archaeology, from the first wall ever built to more recent times, the Great Wall measures over 21.000 km, which is much more than traditionally believed, and sums up 16 walls that have been built along 2000 years. It started as a project initiated by emperor Qin Shi Huang, who tried to protect the northern border from invaders. The same reason determined other emperors to continue the project and build longer, stronger and more sophisticated walls.



In modern times the Great Wall is as impressive as it always used to be. Unfortunately, due to safety reasons, many parts of it are closed to the public, although adventurous people still dare to venture behind the safe areas. And it is easy to understand why. The wall stretches along mountain peaks and around beautiful valleys, offering rewarding views only to the most adventurous explorers.

We wanted to experience a bit of everything and since our time was short we had to choose wisely. Some of the most famous and easiest to access sections of the wall are Badaling (probably the most popular among Chinese tourists), Juyongguan and Mutianyu. Badaling and Juyongguan are the most touristic and most crowded. After seeing pictures of how crowded it can get, we knew they were not options for us. We even planned our days on the wall to be weekdays in the hope that fewer local tourists would join us. And the result of our planning happened to be positive.

On the way to the Great Wall of China

On our third day in Beijing we walked to the Dongzhimen bus station, from where we took the bus 916 Express to Huairou North Avenue. The station is big and well organized, so finding the right bus was an easy task. We paid for the ride 12 CNY and it took more than one hour to arrive at the Mutianyu Roundabout, where things got a bit trickier. At this point, our options were to wait for the bus H23 (H24, H35 and H36 go in the same direction), that had an uncertain arrival time, and the taxi, that is most recommended as it takes you in less than half an hour to the ticket office at the entrance of the wall. And while deciding which option is better, unofficial taxi drivers surrounded us offering help with the luggage and price offers for a ride. Surprisingly we got a more than an attractive offer, so we decided to give up on other options and threw our backpacks in the back of one unofficial taxi driver’s car.

In the afternoon we could already cross the threshold of the Yue Tong Farmer House, where we planned to sleep for the following three nights. There were no more grey buildings, no noise, no traffic, just a peaceful and beautiful nature and kind people around us. Our hosts were a family of four that also cooked for us and made every moment of our stay more than enjoyable. There are many such farms stays in the area, but we considered ourselves lucky to have found the one where we stayed.

The Mutianyu section – between history and beautiful nature

Our first morning in Huairou has been a very early one as we wanted as much time on the wall as possible. So after paying the 45 yuan at the entrance, we took the touristic bus (which is included in the price of the ticket) that dropped us at the ticket counter of the cable car. There are two cable cars at the Mutianyu section, offering connections with two of the watchtowers, numbers 6 and 14. These two towers offer also some of the best views over the surroundings. For going back down, visitors can use also an available toboggan.

Of course, there is also the option to walk. Since we decided that we want to spend the day hiking, we skipped the cable car and walked up the stairs. And climbing up and downstairs is what we did for the rest of the day.

Mutianyu, known to be the most magnificent of the fully restored sections, is only 2.3 km long, with easy parts to walk on but also very steep ones. We climbed till the 22nd tower of the wall, where the restored part ended. Here the crowds disappeared and nature seemed to have taken over the almost untouched parts of the wall. After passing the last tower we continued on the Jiankou section. From here on, walking on the wall felt less safe and much more challenging, but the landscapes were truly breathtaking.



We were lucky enough to encounter only a few people on the wall that day and most in the areas where tourists arrived by cable car. We walked as long as we could and as far as it felt safe for us. Other travelers that we met on the way seemed more courageous and ventured much further than we did. But as the sun was going down, so did also our energy reserves.

Walking on the Mutianyu felt like quite a touristic activity. We’ve been constantly surrounded by people taking their selfies and by merchandisers offering snacks and refreshments to the visitors. So we were lucky to have the option to leave them behind and continue on the unrestored part of the wall.

Our walk took around 10 hours, with a coffee break in between, and ended before sunset, when we slowly followed the path back to the accommodation.


On the third day, we decided to move less and use the time to explore the area. If you want to visit the wall section at the Mutianyu but plan to spend less time on the wall, you should know that the surroundings and the villages are beautiful and even a walk around will turn into a pleasant experience.

The following morning we ate our last breakfast with the family at the farmhouse and went to catch an early bus back to Beijing. While waiting at the bus station, luckily the same “unofficial” taxi driver that brought us to Huairou passed by and offered us a ride for an even lower fare than on the day when we came to the farmhouse. And the day hasn’t been much longer after. Our plan to catch the 6 o’clock train on the following day called for an early breakfast and an early sleep, so we could save some energy for our arrival in Xi’an.

Check out our gallery for more pictures from the Great Wall.

The second-largest Chinese city after Shanghai, Beijing is home to more than 20 million people and it has been the capital of the Chinese Empire for much of its history. After the Chinese revolution at the end of the Second World War, it became the country’s educational and cultural center.

Luckily for us, the city is well connected with all the other big cities of China, allowing us to travel to Beijing in just 4 hours from Shanghai, by speed train. China is indeed a big country, but its citizens found ways to reduce the time needed to move between large distances by developing fast-moving transportation methods.

So we were once again in the middle of concrete buildings and chaotic traffic. And while Shanghai surprised us with the kindness of its people (which we realized it’s not common in big cities), Beijing happened to be colder from the way people reacted to our presence.

Still, while traveling in China, Beijing cannot be excluded from one’s itinerary. And if the people there are not the best reason to consider the city as a destination, its history remains a strong argument. We spent here only three days, two to explore the city and one to prepare for the destinations that were planned for the last part of our trip. We decided to do so because we wanted to have more time for the Great Wall, which would turn into the highlight of our trip to Beijing.

The Forbidden City

Trying to follow a tight schedule and a strict plan, we headed early in the morning to the Tiananmen Square, with the intention to visit the Palace Museum, best known in the past as the Forbidden City. We need to mention that our two days in Beijing were weekend days and we can only recommend to those who are planning to do the same to just change their plans and try visiting Beijing during weekdays. We didn’t really have a choice due to the limited time of our visa, so we joined the crowd that was lining at the ticket counter.



Despite the high number of tourists, the security check and the selling of the tickets happened to be surprisingly fast and less than one hour later we found ourselves inside this gigantic palace. While few people had the chance to go inside the Forbidden City during the ancient era, modern times allow visitors to invade almost every corner of it.

At the ticket counter we just had our passport details inserted into the computer instead of receiving a ticket and later at the entrance we had our passports checked in order to enter (make sure that they write the right data when you pay for the entrance to avoid problems when trying to go inside… as it happened to us).


The best view of the Palace Museum we got not from inside, but from an outside hill facing the northern exit, the Jingshan Park. The hill is actually an extension of the Forbidden City. From the top of it, visitors can get a better picture of the way the museum is structured. Designed to be the center of the ancient city of Beijing, the palace is enclosed in a larger area, surrounded by walls, called the Imperial City, which, in turn, is enclosed by the Inner City.


The Temple of Heaven

Going around the walls of the Forbidden City, we walked back to the main entrance, crossed the Tiananmen Square and continued to the southeastern part of central Beijing, where we found a complex of religious buildings known as the Temple of Heaven. The place was used by the emperor for annual ceremonies. We spent another hour here walking around the buildings, finding our way through the crowds that seemed to have invaded every touristic place in the city. The two main attractions of the Temple of Heaven are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Circular Mound Altar, two circular structures with a base of marble stones. The area is used by the locals as a space for outdoor social meetings, where they can get together and play card games. We have seen many of them doing so, which gave us the impression that it is a common practice.


While Beijing has much to offer, it requires time, which we had only little from. Short before sunset, we stopped at a local restaurant for dinner and went back to the accommodation. Our one day in Beijing offered us only a bit of enthusiasm compared to the experience of the following days when we would discover some of the ancient secrets of the Great Wall of China.

Click here for more pictures from Beijing.

After being surrounded for more than a week by wide green landscapes during our time spent in Guilin and Zhangjiajie, we thought that the upcoming trip to Shanghai will bring less joy, as the mountains and trees were about to be replaced by grey buildings and noisy crowded streets. But we happened to be wrong.

Shanghai proved to be a beautiful experience. The streets were busy like in any other big city that we visited before, but more animated by the crowds of tourists, the street food vendors, the shops and the big advertisement billboards that gave the city a much more international feeling than our previous destinations in China. And there was still a balance between the modern and the traditional, while many temples still found their place in the modern neighborhoods and traditional food was served next to western restaurants. This mix feels exciting and the walks in the city are beautiful and inspiring for the travelers on the look for urban adventures.



Being one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of more than 24 million, Shanghai is a global financial center and transport hub. It is also hosting the world’s busiest container port. Such a big city definitely requires time to be discovered.

We, instead, dedicated only 3 days of our trip to exploring the Pearl of the East. We stayed in a hostel that proved to be different from others, as it occupied the space of one apartment only, whose rooms were converted into dorms and a large living room was used as a common area, where the owners installed also a few tents. We liked the idea of indoor camping and took a tent for ourselves and enjoyed the beautiful cityscape from the large window next to it. Being in the hostel gave us also the chance to meet a few of the other travelers and be able to speak more English than we previously had a chance to.

We met old friends during our stay in Shanghai and we made new ones. We spent a good time with Florian, a traveler from Switzerland, that happened to be not just a nice company but also an inspiration for the rest of our travels through China. And we had a chance to meet with old friends from the time spent on board, as one of the vessels that we used to work on docked in the port during our time there.



Costa Serena was the first ship that we worked on when we started our adventures at sea. Later the ship was sent to Asia to provide cruise experiences for the Chinese market. It felt good to be on board the ship again, have a cup of good Italian coffee, that we miss so much sometimes, and walk on corridors that once were part of our daily life as people of the sea.



On the second day in the city, after our visit to the port, we decided to return to the center area and witness the cityscape lightning up in the Pudong New District, while spectacular cloud formations on the sky were giving us signs that we should expect rain to poor soon.


Getting around Shanghai

Despite the fact that Shanghai is a big city (and a “big city” in China is bigger than most big cities in the world), it is easy to move around. We used the application Metroman in order to keep an offline map of the subway always with us and we used convenient ferry transfers over the Huangpu River, which divides the city into two parts: the Pudong and the Puxi (we paid 2 RMB per person for one transfer). That gave us also a short feeling of what a cruise on the river might feel like.

Since we didn’t have time to see all of what the city has to offer, we decided to see a few things only but beautiful ones to remember. We walked mostly on the Bund, the waterfront promenade area facing the skyline of the Pudong (the skyscraper-filled center of recent development), and in downtown Shanghai, called Puxi Area (the historic heart of the city), where the most popular scenic spots are located: Yuyuan Garden, People’s Square, Nanjing Road Pedestrian and Jade Buddhist Temple.



While leaving Shanghai behind, we were excited about our next stop in the capital of the People’s Republic of China, where we would be introduced to the ancient secrets of the country.

Find out more about our experience in Shanghai by clicking here.

After another train adventure in China, we finally arrived in Zhangjiajie, a town located in northwestern Hunan Province, home to Wulingyuan Natural Park (Zhangjiajie National Park).

While telling people about our trip to Zhangjiajie, we realized many question marks appearing, but words like “Avatar” and “Floating Mountains of Pandora” helped them understand better what our destination was about. And indeed, I felt the same way when Alex told me about it for the first time.

How to reach Zhangjiajie

The best way to reach the city is by train or plane. The airport has connections to 35 domestic airports, as well as flights to Seoul, Taiwan and Bangkok. By train, Zhangjiajie can be reached via 29 cities. Both the airport and the train station are not far from the city center.

The best time to travel to this region in China is April or October-November. We would not recommend traveling during Chinese holidays or in the hot summer months. Apart from the amazing natural stone formations, there is much more to see, from the longest and highest glass bridge to the longest cable car in the world.

Wulingyuan Natural Park – The core scenic area of ​​Zhangjiajie

Our focus was the National Park of Zhangjiajie (Wulingyuan), which belongs to the list of UNESCO World Heritage since 1992. The most beautiful parts of the park are Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Suoxiyu Viewpoint, Tianzi Mountain Viewpoint and Yangjiajie Viewpoint. But with so much choice, how should you plan the visit there? We faced exactly the same question when we planned our trip to the park.



Here is a possible suggestion

Unfortunately, we have not planned much time in the city because our visa in China only forced us to follow a tight schedule. We stayed a total of 3 nights, one of them in the park itself. The hotel in Zhangjiajie cost us 10 Euro for a private room per night and for the meals we mainly paid less than 2 Euro each. In China, we enjoyed going to local food stalls, as we often could choose what goes into the WOK and, above all, the prices were really cheap.

On the day of our arrival, we did not do much, apart from walking around the area where we stayed. On the second day, we went by bus from the stop next to the central train station to the Zhangjiajie National Park. At the bus station, you only need to go to the tourist buses, which leave at regular intervals (about every 10 – 15 minutes) towards the park, which takes about 50 minutes and costs about 2.60 Euro (20 RMB). It is best if you look up the Chinese name on the internet before you go, so you can ask for the bus, in case you don’t find it easily.

Once in Wulingyuan, you can either catch another bus to one of the other park entrances (which are very good indicated) or walk to Wujiayu Ticket Station. We recommend using the offline map of maps.me, because Google Apps do not work in China.

The tickets are quite expensive, with a cost of 32 Euro (245 RMB) per adult, but valid for 4 days. In the park itself you pay extra for cable cars, lifts and some other attractions. At the information desk is a map with all the prices, which is very helpful to guide you. The ticket is a magnetic card, which is matched with the fingerprint at the entrance and allows access for the next few days.

Free buses in the park

Just right behind the entrance, you will find the purple buses, which are available for free in the park. We took the bus to our first highlight, the Tianzi Mountain Cable Car. The ride by cable car had a cost of 9.50 Euro (72 RMB) per person, which we found a bit expensive, but later the view of the sandstone rocks felt very compensating for the price.


From there we took the bus that brought us to Tianzishan Scenic Office, where we started our walk towards the station of the Ten-Mille Gallery Tram Bahn. The beautiful path leads from here mainly downhill and is therefore easy. Once we arrived at the station we preferred to go for the 30 minutes walk instead of using the tram.



We continued by bus to the “Four Streams Crossroad”. Beware, there are two bus stations, do not take the wrong one that leads you towards the exit. We stopped by the river for a moment, then headed for the elevator.

The Bailong Elevator is the largest and fastest outdoor lift in the world. As for the cable car, we paid 9.50 Euro (72 RMB) and shortly after we were catapulted 3 m per second towards the sky. Once at the top, we were rewarded with a spectacular view and so we came closer to our highlight of the day.


The world of Pandora

Only a short bus ride separated us from the “Floating Avatar Mountains”.  Here we realized that it was a bit more crowded than in the other areas. Still, we were incredibly lucky, there were only a few people all day long and so we did not have to queue at all. It is said that about 30,000 visitors visit the attractions around Zhangjiajie every day, but that wasn’t noticeable.

The Avatar Mountains are especially beautiful and it is not surprising why this place inspired the movie of James Cameron. It is almost impossible to capture in a photo the feeling inspired by these gigantic sandstone rock formations. It was really impressive.



Here we stayed for a while and watched the monkeys, before taking the bus to the hostel… Well, at least that’s what we thought we were doing. When we arrived at the bus stop at 6 pm, we were told that the buses were only going in one direction, which surprised us because in the brochure it was clearly indicated that the buses would run until 7 pm.  Nobody could answer us why buses wouldn’t go also in the other direction. Of course, we could have gone the other way and looked for a place to stay in Wulingyuan, but that would mean to pay again for the elevator in order to leave the park.

Lost in the national park

For a short moment, we did not know what to do, when a nice old lady appeared and asked if we need accommodation. Probably it happens quite often that visitors stayed behind in the park.

The woman gave us a fair price and took us to her house, which was in the middle of the park and everyone there was very friendly. Alex and I got a nice room with super-fast wifi (one of the best we had in China) and something to eat. We enjoyed the silence that took over the park and were very happy that we could cancel our originally booked hostel.

Day two in Pandora

The next morning we took advantage of the good location and left the accommodation already at 8.00 am. We enjoyed the emptiness of the park and returned to the “Floating Avatar Mountains”, which looked different in the morning light.

We took the bus to another area of ​​the park, with the plan to enjoy the view at Yangjiajie Station and from there the path led us to the lower cable car station, from where the bus took us to the exit of the park (Yangjiajie Ticket Station).

After a 15 minute walk, we found the bus that took us back to Zhangjiajie. Despite the shorter distance, the trip took a bit longer than from Wujiayu Ticket Station due to the bad road conditions.

Our conclusion of the park: Not very budget-friendly, but definitely very impressive and worth seeing. We would recommend at least 1 night in the park or nearby.

More pictures of China you will find in our gallery.