Global Mark : 13.19
Ratings by criteria :
Ratings by backpackers :
Comments : Arguably one of the most beautiful area of China, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992, Wulingyuan is somehow spoiled by the mass tourism that take place everyday but is particularly oppressive during WE.
What to do : Leave your bag at an hotel (the Cun Lou Binguan charge 5Y a day) and trek the area / Have your photo taken in colorful minorities costumes / Play the stubborn foreigners to avoid paying some extra fees / Join a tour to visit the largest cave in Asia (60Y entrance fee) / Test your luck with the weather /
What you may not like : The entrance fee (60Y + an optional 2Y insurance), only valid for one entry / Other extra fees in a few places / The insistence of the local guides or other singing kids to annoy you on your way / Karaoke where you would expect bird's songs / Sweating too much on the stairs / The traffic jams with the numerous porters / The expensive food at the top (5Y noodle soup, 4Y water) / Having to join a tour to visit the cave / Seeing nothing from the top due to the fogs that hide the peaks most of the time (the best season to visit is autumn) / The humidity during summer /
How long ? This extensive place would require a minimum of 3/4 days to tour it all. This might not be necessary as you can already make some amazing walks in one day. An overnight stay inside the park would however be the best way to fully appreciate the sights and will multiply your chances of a weather clear up...
Backpacker's Tips : Tania Wang, Australia (May
Backpacker's Tips : Dom Edmondson, UK (August 03)
Below is a suggested itineraries to see the whole area in a limited time. The tame rafting at Baofen Lake (60Y entrance fee + around 80Y boat fee) was not recommended as worth the price...
First day : If you leave early in the morning, walk to Huangshi Village (2-3 hours). Back at the "crossroads", take the east road to "Over Bridge" (2-3 hours), visit the place (3Y) and then walk to Black Dragon Village and back (less than 2 hours). Spend the night in "Over the Bridge" Village.
Second Day : Take a car to Tianzi Peak (20Y per person) and visit the place (2-3 hours). Take a car to Helong Park (10Y), visit the place (10Y) and then walk down (2 hours) or take the cable car (37Y). From the bottom, take a car to Shuirao Simen (Y80 per vehicle) or walk 3 hours (not so nice). From there, walk back to the entrance in a around 2 hours nice walk.
Remark : The above (second day) is based on infos provided by locals. Considering the necessity to take cars for some long or boring parts, the foggy weather and/or the beautiful scenery already seen, most travelers choose to go down the same way and then walk a bit along the river toward east.
To Huangshi Village : 2-3 hours round trip, clockwise (slightly more easy on your lungs, especially with the cable car up for 45Y) or anti-clockwise (slightly kinder for your knees)
A strenuous walk up stairs that should not be your priority during foggy days. At the top, karaoke welcome you, as well as a ticket office to get access to a "viewing" platform. The "village" does not look like one and accommodations are expensive at around 300Y before negotiation. The west road leading to the cable car is however a nice and easy walk with a few acceptable places to stay.
To "Over Bridge" (Tian Xia Di Yi Qiao) : 2-3 hours up, east road
The first part is fairly easy
and beautiful as it follows the river and is usually located below the fog.
After (take the left stairs), it all depends on the weather and your legs. If
you are reasonably fit and lucky, you will find at the top an amazing panorama
of karsts peaks as well as a few reasonably priced accommodations. The
"over bridge" is not to be missed, even at an additional 3Y...
Prices varies according to the season, the day of the week (avoid WE) and the location :
Zhangjiajie village : outside but more choice and somehow better rooms
Park Base : conveniently inside...
At "Over Bridge" : Below places have HW in the evening only
Trains << Click there
From the village, the last bus to the city (bus station) is leaving at 18pm. From Jiefang Lu, the last public bus to the train station leaves at 18:30. After, you will have to rely on less regular minibus (2Y).
We were not sure whether to go to Kaili in Guizhou Province or straight to Guangxi so we bought our ticket a few hours before departure only. No sleeper of course but we were told we could upgrade the ticket once in the train. It proved indeed possible, but only from 2am. Before that, we were offered to wait in the restaurant wagon, a much more comfortable alternative to the crowded hard seat wagons... People who wake up early (or did not get sleepers) will be able to catch beautiful rice terraces and minorities villages' scenery between the numerous tunnels...
Update (Jan 01) : the train No1473 is now leaving at 8:24am and arrive in Sanjiang at 17:46. This remains the only alternative to reach Sanjiang by train. A good news from the scenery point of view... See trains schedules for more details.
See also trip from Changsha to Wulingyuan...