The Avatar Mountains – Zhangjiajie National Forest Park

If you’ve seen the movie Avatar, you’ve already seen Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – but don’t let that stop you seeing them in real life. These mountains were the inspiration behind the Hallelujah Mountains in the mythical world of Pandora in the movie Avatar, and it’s easy to see that when you visit.

In fact, the government has even changed the name of one of the mountains in the park to “Avatar Mountain”. The park, however, does offer so much more than just that one set of mountains.

Zhangjiajie National Park

Zhangjiajie is located in the west of Hunan Province, over 1,000 kilometers from both Shanghai and Beijing. Zhangjiajie National Park isn’t actually located in the city of Zhangjiajie, and to reach it, it will take a 30 kilometres or 50 minutes drive to Wulingyuan.

There are a lot of interesting places in the park: caves and authentic local villages. But using a drone inside the caves, even the biggest ones, turned out to be quite impractical.

Everyone who visits the park has a choice: either take a walk on the lower lanes between the 400-meters tall vertical rocky pillars gazing up at themor climb the mountain with the help of 360-meter tall Bailong elevator. You can take the bus and observe rocks from the top.

The park itself is not actually Pandora with its flying rocks, lianas, waterfalls and even dragons. But if one mentally turns the whole picture upside down, the similarity will be obvious

The Zhangjiajie Park is a part of Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area. It is declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and the Zhangjiajie Park itself was listed as a UNESCO Global Geopark. The distances are impressive: sometimes there can be no connection between the parts of the park.

But every section has its own charm: the rock pillars of different height, pagodas, pavilions, rivers, arches and bridges. Lanes lead you from the hillside downwards: it will take you quite a long time to follow such a lane.

Zhangjiajie National Park

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Footbridge

The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Footbridge is also home to the highest public bungy platform in the world with a drop of 250 meters. The central suspension span is spectacular not only for having glass panels along its entire length but also for the tapered deck that is 15 meters wide at the ends of the bridge before narrowing to a width of only 6 meters in the center.

The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Footbridge is one of several attractions within the privately owned park that is located just 20 minutes east of the famous Zhangjiajie National Park that inspired the look of the Avatar movies. Other attractions include a cliffwalk, mountain elevator, slide, waterfalls, caves, a smaller low level glass bridge, zip line and a boat ride.

For most visitors, the visual highlight of a trip to the Zhangjiajie Glass Bridge will be viewing the gorge between their toes through glass panels 2 inches thick. But for those few who are brave enough to take their thrills to the next level, the ultimate fall awaits them on two separate platforms located several meters below the main deck.

Tip: Please keep away from monkeys on mountains. Don’t bring out food in front of them.

Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Footbridge

Tianmen Mountain

Tianmen Mountain is located in Zhangjiajie, in the Hunan Province of China. Most people travel to Zhangjiajie to visit Zhangjiajie National Park, where the landscape served as the inspiration for the movie “Avatar”. Tianmen Mountain is a beautiful, thrilling place to visit and it is worth an extra day on your itinerary if you have the time.

There are two ways to journey to the top of Tianmen Muntain: The first way is Tianmen Shan Cable Car, spanning 7 kilometers and takes 30 minutes to travel from the city of Zhangjiajie to the top of Tianmen Mountain. The cable car passes over the edge of the city and then over farmland.

About halfway into the journey, the cable car begins its ascent. Tianmen Mountain looms in front of you, and from the cable car you have a perfect view of Heaven’s Door, the oval opening in the side of the mountain.

For another way, walk the narrow plank paths tenuously attached to the side of Tianmen Mountain. It is a poured concrete walkway with a railing. There is nothing underneath of the pathway except for air. It is long way down to the ground below. In fact, the walkway sits 1,400 meters off of the ground.

Tip: The best time to visit Tianment Mountain is between September and November when temperatures are pleasant and the weather is dry.

Must know: You will see red ribbons were hanging on the trees. People always write their wish on the ribbon and hang it from the tree.


Mandarin Oriental Launches New Spa Treatment to Celebrate the Chinese Lunar Year of the Earth Dog

The Earth Dog year is said to be one of action, requiring planning and energy in order to succeed. To celebrate Chinese New Year, which beings on 16 February 2018, Mandarin Oriental has launched the Year of the Earth Dog Spa Experience to ground and relax guests while rebalancing energy for both body and mind.

Available year-round at many of its spas globally, the treatment has been designed to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and ease pain and muscle tension during the year of the Earth Dog.

The 1hour, 20-minute Year of the Earth Dog Experience was inspired by the elongating, grounding yoga pose of the downward facing dog, and is designed to bring about a feeling of contentment, restoration and happiness.

Guests will be encouraged to connect with their core and feel grounded. The treatment utilizes the powerful effects of the Group’s bespoke Flourish Oil, which contains a blend of lemongrass, cardamom and coriander, to deliver an elongating, full body treatment, together with hot, healing stones, and a soothing abdominal massage; all designed to soften and release tension and revive the mind.


Hotel Peninsula Beijing

Hotel Peninsula Beijing – State of the Art

A modern hotel makeover in Beijing honors the Imperial City’s past.

In China’s capital city, fifteenth-century palaces stand beside modern skyscrapers, and a quick stroll separates high-end shopping malls from more traditional outlets. The 230-room Peninsula Beijing’s recent three-year renovation emphasizes this juxtaposition with a mix of high-tech amenities and thoughtful elements honoring the city’s imperial history. Hong Kong-based designer Henry Leung commissioned several artists for the $123 million overhaul, and the result is a soothing respite of traditional feng shui and contemporary appeal. Here are a few highlights from the makeover.

Night at the Museum

Museum of Contemporary Art Beijing

Museum of Contemporary Art – Beijing

A soaring three-story lobby welcomes guests with ornate Palisandro marble work and abstract ink art. Beyond, dozens of contemporary sculptures, paintings, and photographs by acclaimed artists such as Zhang Du and Qin Feng are scattered throughout the property, and a new third-floor gallery displays rotating collections curated by Museum of Contemporary Art Beijing executive director Michael Suh. The Peninsula hopes to foster new work, too: An artist-in-residence program provides a purpose-built studio for local artists, which guests are welcome to visit.

Bigger is Better

The hotel decreased its room count from 525 to 230, allowing it to double the size of each. (Starting at 645 square feet, its guest rooms are now the largest in the city.) The subtle gray and cream palette complements Italian furnishings by Cassina, and the hotel’s art theme continues within its rooms with paintings inspired by the Ming dynasty and framed architectural photos of the city’s newest buildings. The 17 Beijing Suites include living areas and family-friendly cinema rooms with 80-inch televisions.

Fresh Ambitions

huang ting beijing

Huang Ting Restaurant – Hotel Peninsula, Beijing

The farm-to-table concept is relatively new in China, so it’s impressive that executive chef Dominique Martinez spent months sourcing the local fruit, vegetables, and meat used in the hotel’s updated restaurants. Those ingredients shine at Huang Ting, which serves authentic Cantonese cuisine, and at Jing, which offers more European-influenced fare.

Traditional Touches

All of the classic Peninsula flourishes are here: smartly dressed doormen, afternoon tea accompanied by performing string musicians, and a fleet of limos at the ready. It’s also one of the first hotels in China with 24-hour check-in and checkout. “The Peninsula Beijing is always included in my recommendations because of its history, location, afternoon tea, and more,” says Houston-based Virtuoso travel adviser Laura Woo. “It’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city.”