When we travel to Tianmen Mountain it is in low season and we manage to miss a number of the better attractions including the sky walk and the Tianmen Cave entrance (Heaven’s Gate). It was however, an easy day trip, a half-day even, and travelling from Zhangjiajie to Tianmen Mountain by cable car is by far the best route. Arriving to Zhangjiajie it will likely be at the bus or train stations, both beside each other and you’ll quickly see the cable cars passing nearby. To find the cablecar station just follow the line for a 5 or 10 minute walk. Taxis are also found out front of the bus station to make the trip easier. Prices should be no more than 10 Yuan.
The Cable Car
The cable car is a 5 to 10 minute walk from the Zhangjiajie central transport hub, and on our visit we arrive to the ticket office to be second in the queue. There is also the option of ticket vending machines, although I didn’t see English on these. Ticket prices in low season were 225 Yuan for the two-way cable car ride and entrance to Tianmen Mountain. The cable car turned out to be the highlight of the journey for us, and it’s said to be the longest in the world taking around 30 minutes to travel a length of 7 plus kilometers. Also, some fantastic views along the way.
When up up on the mountain there are a number of routes to navigate the top. I would say the easiest route, from the upper cable car station, would be taking the lift direct to Yunmen Fairy Peak where you will arrive to a hilltop Pagoda with Panoramic views of surrounding mountains and valleys. From here there is a second, open cable car (25 Yuan one-way) which take you to the opposite peak where Tianmenshan Temple is located. This also marks the start of two different routes. The first, simpler route travels back down to the upper cable car station which we didn’t cover. The second is more extensive and follows cliff side walkways around the mountain top. This is where you’ll find the glass skywalk and many of the best views of Tianmen Mountain. This also leads back to the cable car and bearing the end of this route will find an elevator to Tianmen Cave, the big hole in the face of the mountain.
This may be in part due to low season, or just general hazards of weather etc. The weather on the day, however, couldn’t have been better and there was no sign of construction or fixing, so I’m a little stumped here. Also, don’t expect people to inform or explain in English as speaking is next to none. Among the closed attractions on our trip were Turbulent Water, Uhu Peak, the Skywalk and the elevators to Tianmen Cave. Yes, we missed all the best bits. Also, a week later we see photos of the skywalk open and the best of Tianmen covered in snow. For us it was bad luck, I guess.
Of what we did see, the highlights would probably include the two cable cars and Tianmenshan Temple. There are scenic view points along the way, but if planning to see Zhangjiajie National Park the views at Tianmen Mountain don’t quite compare. Either way it is still worth visiting.
Where to Stay?
Zhangjiajie, where across from the central transit area, there are a number of cheap hotels. From our base here we would also visit Zhangjiajie National Park on a day tour, and we forwarded to Phoenix Ancient City (Fenghuang) for a couple of days. Many of the hotels are typical chain hotels of China e.g. 7 Days Inn, Hotel 8, Hanting. On our visit we stay with Hanting at 139 Yuan per night (during low season), which was great value, so we didn’t look further. Expect to pay more in busier tourist seasons, and availability will be limited during these times so advance bookings maybe advisable (Here for list of nearby hotels). In the station area there are umpteen eating options; noodle shops, coffee shops, street food and for the more adventurous a McDonalds. Check here for our tips on long distance travel in China.