8-Day Western Hunan Adventure Tour

This trip takes you deep into the heart of western Hunan province, to give you a glimpse of the old Xiangxi. After experiencing the crowds of tourists in Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang, you will embrance the chance to drift peacefully along the Mengdong River, to bike through the countryside around Fenghuang, to hike through the rice paddies around Xiaoshuilong village and to enjoy some traditional Miao hospitality.

Tour starts/finishes: Zhangjiajie
Fitness level required: Moderate
Time of year available: March-November
Time of year recommended: March-April, mid-May to October

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Zhangjiajie National Park (L, D)
Meet up with your guide. Transfer to the Zhangjiajie National Park. Take the cable car up to Yellow Stone Mountain and hike to  numerous lookout points for stunning vistas over the limestone peaks. After coming down the mountain, take a 2 hour relaxing stroll along Golden Whip Stream. Overnight in Wulingyuan.

Day 2: Zhangjiajie National Park (B, L, D)
Spend a full day sightseeing in the Zhangjiajie National Park. First, take the cable car up Tianzi Mountain, sightseeing West Sea Sandstone forest and Imperial Brush Pen Peaks. Go by shuttle bus to Yuanjiajie. Visit the Enchanting Stage (Mihun Tai) and the “No.1 Bridge on Earth”(natural bridge formed by two mountains). Take the Bailong elevator back down the mountain. Overnight in Wulingyuan.

Day 3: Yellow Dragon Cave- Zuolong Gorge (B, L, D)
In the morning visit Yellow Dragon Cave, a large underground complex of  subterranean chambers, passageways, waterfalls,  rivers and hundreds of thousands of stalagmites and stalactites. Then drive to Zuolong Gorge near Furong Ancient Town. Take a 2-3 hour adventurous hike along metal chains and up ladders through this beautiful forested gorge. If it’s hot, stop for a dip in the naturally-formed pool at the end of the gorge. Overnight in a small guesthouse in Zuolong Gorge.

Day 4: Zuolong Gorge-Fenghuang (B, L, D)
Drive to Fenghuang Ancient town. After lunch, we will hire bicycles and ride through the countryside to the Great South Wall, which was built in the Ming Dynasty to prevent the Miao minority group from rebelling. For dinner we will sample some local delicacies in a stilt restaurant overlooking the brightly-lit Tuo River. Overnight in Fenghuang.

Day 5: Fenghuang-Laojiazhai-Xiaoshuilong (B, L, D)
In the early morning have a walk around the streets and alleyways of Fenghuang. Then drive for 1 hour to arrive in Laojiazhai, an old village where the houses are made from piled stones. Hike for approx. 1 hour to arrive at Xiaoshuilong Village, another stone village with the atmosphere of “old Xiangxi”. Overnight in basic homestay accommodation.
Note: Husbands and wives do not share rooms in this area, therefore guests are always arranged in single sex rooms in respect of local customs.

Day 6: Fenghuang-Dehang Miao Village (B, L, D)
Drive to the Dehang Scenic Area, a gem of a valley tucked between soaring karst peaks. Climb to the top of the “Questioning the Heavens Peak” (2-3 hour return trip).  Enjoy some cultural shows, demonstrating the traditional costumes and marriage customs of the Miao people. Overnight at Mingzhu Dajiudian.

Day 7: Mengdong River -Zhangjiajie (B, L, D)
Set out early for the 1.5 hour drive to Mengdong River. Here you will embark on a 3 hour mostly gentle trip down the river, enjoying views of towering canyon walls, clear waters, lush forests and some spectacular cascades. If you’re lucky you might even see some monkeys scrambling away as you drift by. Drive on to Zhangjiajie for overnight.

Day 8: Tianmen Mountain (B, L, D)
Take the 7.4km long cableway to the top of Tianmen Mountain, the highest mountain in Zhangjiajie (standing at 1520 metres). See sub-primitive forests, Tianmen Temple (Buddhist centre of Western Hunan) and Tianmen Cave, made famous by Russian stunt pilots who flew through the 30 metre wide natural archway. Come down the mountain in the afternoon. If there’s time, visit the Junsheng Sandstone Gallery and the Tujia Folk Museum before transferring to the airport for your evening flight home. Tour concludes.

Tour prices

The following table shows the price per person for groups of varying sizes. This trip uses private transportation for the duration of the tour and 3 star standard hotels where they are available. If you would like to use public transportation for your trip, or stay in hotels or guesthouses of a different standard, please contact us for a revised itinerary and quote.

2 people 3 people 4-5 people 6-7 people 8 + people
Single supplement
Price per person
6850 CNY 5250 CNY 4650 CNY 3900 CNY 3500 CNY 950 CNY

Price inclusions

  1. Accommodation: 4 nights in 3 star standard hotels/guesthouses, 2 nights in guesthouses, 1 night in homestay
  2. Entrance tickets : Zhangjiajie National Park (248 CNY), Yellow Dragon Cave (80 CNY), Zuolong Gorge (70 CNY), Laojiazhai Village (30 CNY), Dehang Scenic Area (65 CNY), Mengdong He River Rafting (158 CNY), Tianmen Mountain (258 CNY), Tujia Folk Museum (25 CNY)
  3. Cable car tickets: Yellow Stone Mountain ascent (48 RMB), Tianzi Mountain ascent (52 CNY), Bailong Elevator descent (56 CNY)
  4. Transportation:  Transportation for all transfers is by private 9 seater business vehicle (up to 6 people) or an 18 seater Jinlong bus (7-10 people)
  5. Activity fees: Bike hire in Fenghuang
  6. Meals : 7 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 8 dinners as indicated on the itinerary. Lunches and dinners will be standard Chinese food including rice and a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Breakfasts will be a combination of Chinese breakfast foods (noodles, steamed buns, eggs) and western breakfast food where available.
  7. Guide: An experienced English speaking tour guide

Price exclusions

  1. Snacks, drinks and western food
  2. Travel insurance
  3. Personal expenses such as phone calls or laundry fees
  4. Entrance ticket to Fenghuang Ancient Town (only needed if wanting to visit places of interest in the town)


  1. Surcharges will be charged for peak travelling times such as Chinese New Year, May Day (May 1st-7th) and National Day (October 1st-7th). For tours at these times please contact us for a customized quote.
  2. The prices quoted are to be used as a guide only. A final tour quote will be provided to you at the time of enquiry which may be higher or lower than the price listed above.


Kirsten McGarigal writes…..

‘We really enjoyed our time in Hunan.  What an amazing place!  So much to see – it was really like 2 trips in 1!  I am glad that we had already done the other trips before this one.  It is much more “Chinese” than Dali, Lijiang, Yangshuo and the Rice Terraces.

We all really enjoyed staying out in the Miao Village.  The couple that hosted us were lovely and very generous.  I wish we could have communicated with them to find out more about their lives. It isn’t set up for tourist or even for trekkers so smaller groups would be best.  We maxed them out!  It was a very authentic experience of rural China.

We loved the gorge hike.  We could have spent more time hiking there.  It was an adrenaline rush!  The parks were spectacular.  I think that this could be 2 different trips – one focusing on the national parks (the 3 different ones we saw were amazing) and one that focused on the culture of the area.  I am glad we got to see both but it was a lot to process.

Overall the trip was amazing – power packed but amazing. Ian (my son) said that this was the “best vacation ever”. I am looking forward to our next adventure with Backroads!’


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