Hidden gems in China: ‘Avatar’ mountains and minority villages 13 days

Zhangjiajie peaks

This China tour takes you off the beaten track to Hunan province, one of the highlights being the stunning landscape of Zhangjiajie with its thousands of karst peaks, a truly impressive sight. Amongst Chinese Hunan is famous being the birthplace of Mao Zedong but it’s little known to most foreigners. It is a very green province as the Yangtse river delivers plenty of water which has created lively, picturesque rivertowns like Fenghuang and Dehang. Many of the small towns consist of simple wooden houses but some became rich and wealthy families built stone houses decorated in the distinctive classic Chinese style. Going down south the landscape is green and hilly and you will meet the Miao and Dong in their wooden villages overlooking the ricepaddies. Overnight stays are in small villages in great walking areas.

Changsha- Taoist mountain Hengshan- Shaosong, Mao Zedong’s birth house- Zhangjiajie– Furong- walk to waterfall- Biancheng- Dehang Miao Village- Fenghuang- Hongjiang- Xiaoshajiang- Wanfo mountains- Huangdou- Chenyang- Yangshuo– Hong Kong or any other Chinese city

Day 1 arrival at Changsha airport

Day 2 daytrip to the Taoist mountain Hengshan with the bullettrain from Changsha

Day 3 Changsha- Shaoshan- Changsha
Daytrip to Shaoshan and visit Mao Zedong’s birth house, the museum, the dripping water cave and Shao peak

Day 4 Changsha- Zhangjiajie by public bus

Day 5 Zhangjiajie National Park: the Avatar mountains
Take the 7.4 km long cableway to the top of the highest mountain, Tianmen (1520 m) and walk across the spectacular glass walkway which is not for the faint hearted! Spend the rest of the day hiking to various scenic spots and viewpoints amongst which sub-primitive forests. Visit Tianmen Temple (the Buddhist centre of Western Hunan) and Tianmen cave.

Day 6 Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
A full day hiking in Zhangjiajie National Park. Take the cablecar up to Tianzi Mountain, visit Yangjiajie and Yuanjiajie on foot and go down taking the Bailong elevator.

Day 7 private car Zhangjiajie- Furong- walk to waterfall-to Biancheng
Biancheng is a real hidden gem, a peaceful, small town along the river with authentic Chinese old streets.

Day 8 private car Biancheng- Dehang Miao Village
Dehang has a stunning location, wedged between the mountains. It’s tiny and has two streets and a square. There is no entertainment but it’s a great area for walking.

Day 9 private car Dehang- Fenghuang
Fenghuang sees a lot of tourists for a good reason, the location on the river is fantastic and the old authentic streets remind you of days gone by.

Day 10 private car Fenghuang- Hongjiang- visit Huayao minority around Xiaoshajiang
Hongjiang is an old opium town, the old part is small but worth a short visit. Then drive through a sparsely populated area, green and hilly, passing ricepaddies and small villages. Xiaoshajiang is not the most charming village but makes a good base to explore the nearby Huayao minority villages.

Day 11 private car Xiaoshajiang- Wanfo mountain- Huangdou Dong village
Today you will pass several small Miao and Dong villages, most of them with wooden houses. Wanfoshan is a pleasant area with lower mountains and great views and still peaceful, an undiscovered gem.

Day 12 private car Huangdou- Chenyang
Chengyang is one of the largest Dong villages in this area. It has wooden houses and old wind- and rainbridges. Admire the the biggest roofed bridge and have easy walks to villages along ricefields.

Day 13 private car Chenyang- Yangshuo

From Yangshuo you can take a fast train or flight towards Hong Kong or other Chinese cities.

Price: on request

Other (non-touristy) (day)trips:
Dali trip to Yi market
Dali – Lijiang – Shuhe car via Shaxi & Shibaoshan temple
dali: car around Erhai
Dali: car to Yi market
Lijiang bike trip
South China
China highlights
Yunnan trekkings
Family trips
Non touristy daytrips
Dali: Jim’s Tibetan hotel
City tours
Tibet tours

Hunan Fenghuang

Old lady window

Wind and rain bridge