When in Zhangjiajie, there is a must see, which was nominated as an all- round champion among all other karst caves in China , calling Huanglongdong or the Yellow Dragon Cave.
The Yellow Dragon Cave in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area of Zhangjiajie is an underground karst cave with typical karst landform. The highest point of the cave has a vertical height of 100 meters. It is well known for the broad and high inner space, deep and quiet subterranean river, impending waterfalls and dense stalagmites. The cave was rated as the most beautiful karst cave in China in the year 2005.
☝ Inside Photo of The Yellow Dragon Cave in Zhangjiajie
The Yellow Dragon Cave, also known as the Yellow Dragon Spring, is located in the hillside of the Jiaoerjian Mountain in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area.
It is said that during the Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty, there was a drought and the locals could not find a way to solve the issue but to ask the most respected sorcerer He Junru for help. The old sorcerer He then went in the Yellow Dragon Cave with his followers to do magical practice to pray to God for rain but they never went back. Since no one dared to walk inside the cave again to find out the reasons and the Yellow Dragon Cave has remained mysterious to people there since then.
After the establishment of People's Republic of China, the locals started to abandon the superstition. At the beginning of 1983, a local named Mao Jinchu led a team formed by young militiamen to explore the cave. They went inside and after overcoming several difficulties, found the details about the cave. This definitely has helped the local government to speed up to unveil the mysterious Yellow Dragon Cave to the world.
☝ There is a long corridor to walk from the drop off point to the entrance of Yellow Dragon Cave
The Yellow Dragon Cave is located near the Hekou Village, Suoxi Valley Town, Wulingyuan Scenic Area in Zhangjiajie.
Group tourists can take the buses organized by the travel agency to go to the Yellow Dragon Cave directly from the hotels.
For visitors on their own and for those backpackers, they can go from the Zhangjiajie Central Bus Terminal at the city center to Wulingyuan firstly. The earliest bus operates at 6:30 am and the last one is at 6:30 pm. It departs every 15 minutes. It takes roughly 1 hour for the entire journey and cost is CNY 20 Yuan. Upon arrival to Wulingyuan, visitors can then change to the local bus route 1 from the Wulingyuan Bus Terminal to reach the Yellow Dragon Cave. The number 1 bus route operates from 8 am to 8 pm and it departs every 40 minutes with a ticket price of CNY 2 Yuan. To take a taxi from Wulingyuan Bus Terminal to go to the Yellow Dragon Cave, it takes roughly 15 minutes and cost is about CNY 20 Yuan.
Visitors coming from Zhangjiajie National Forest Park can also take the route 1 bus to go to the Yellow Dragon Cave from the Park's east gate, which is also known as the Wulingyuan Landmark Gate Ticket Station.
The Baofeng Lake, which is the only well known body of water in Zhangjiajie, is 9 km southwest of the Yellow Dragon Cave. To travel between the two places by bus, visitor will have to transfer between bus route 1 and bus route 2. To use taxi, it takes roughly 15 minutes with riding distance of around 9 km.
The Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is located 27 km northeast of the Yellow Dragon Cave. There is no buses between these two spots and it takes roughly 40 minutes to travel by taxi.
Additionally, there is roughly a 10 minutes walk from the drop off point to the entrance of the Yellow Dragon Cave.
☝ the water mills on the square of Yellow Dragon Cave impressed tourists a lot
Opening hours of the Yellow Dragon Cave is from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm Monday to Sunday.
Ticket for the Yellow Dragon Cave is CNY 96 Yuan per person. It is free of charge for those who are under 14 and over 65 years old, as well as for the disabled persons. It also offers a half price discount to those youths who are between 14(include 14) and 18 (exclude 18) years old and, elderly who are between 60 (include 60) and 65 (exclude 65) years old and college students with valid IDs.
The Yellow Dragon Cave has dry and wet caves in four levels and the total area of the cave is 100,000 square meters. It has the tour route of 3.2 km in length including 800 meters on water and 2400 meters on land. Many people would get nervous, thrilled and exited for their first time to have boat cruises in a cave. The water flows underneath and it feels like traveling in another world.
There are two ways to tour the Yellow Dragon Cave. Option one is to go on water firstly and then by land, which is to take the boat to go inside the cave and then walk back. Option two is firstly by land and then by water, which is to walk to go inside the cave and then take the boat out. These two routes are exactly the same for the spots but with different orders. The tour guide is usually the one who decides which order to go. Relatively speaking, the former option takes lots of steps to go to the highest layer of the cave firstly and then walk down from there. It takes lots of energy; the later order is more smooth relatively and is loved by majority of the visitors.
☝ Boat Cruise on the underground river inside the Yellow Dragon Cave
The Yellow Dragon Cave is a well developed tourist spot. Inside the cave, it is large and all the walkways, steps, lights and signs are all well designed. When coming inside the cave, visitors will be able to see different shapes of stalactites, stalagnates, stalagmites, curtains, stone pianos, stone flowers, stone pearls, stone corals and other cave wonders. All these look extremely beautiful under the lights.
Unlike Guilin Reed Flute Cave, Benxi Water Cave and Zhijin Cave of Guizhou, the uniqueness of the Yellow Dragon Cave of Zhangjiajie is its stalagmite columns and the giant cave halls. The Dragon Dancehall, Xiangshui River, Goddess Water, Stone Pillar Street, the Dragon Palace and the Maze, which get names from one of the four great classical Chinese novel The Journey to the West ,are the six tourist areas of the Yellow Dragon Cave. Even though they are closed to each other, each of them is unique in its way.
☝ Curtains and waterfalls
Follow the order by first walking in and then taking the boat out, we firstly come to the hall of the Dragon Palace located on the top layer (the fourth layer) of the cave. As the oldest and the largest hall of the Yellow Dragon Cave, the Dragon Palace is the place where the stalagmites grows the best. The cave hall was formed 200,000 years ago with an area of 14,000 square meters and an average height of 40 meters. There are in total 1,705 stalagmites inside and the density is 0.12 per square meter. Among these, there are 516 stalagmites that are higher than 1 meter. the Sea Suppressing Needle , Throne of Dragon King as well as the Cedar of Ten Thousand Years are the three most interesting places inside the Hall of the Dragon Palace.
As the tallest stalagmite of the Yellow Dragon Cave, the Sea Suppressing Needle is 19.2 meters tall growing on a collapsed slope. The stalagmite column is pretty slim in the middle with the most slim part has only a diameter of 10 cm. For this reason, the Sea Suppressing Needle looks fragile. You may feel as if it is breaking in the middle at the first sight. However, it is actually at puberty stage and is still growing. Scientists estimated that it took nearly 200,000 years to reach this height today. Scientists also predicated that it would take another overwhelming 60,000 years for it to grow another 6 meters to reach the ceiling based on the current growth rate. The Sea Suppressing Needle is an iconic spot to the Yellow Dragon Cave. To prove its value and to raise tourists' awareness to protect it, the management team of Yellow Dragon Cave Scenic Spot has bought it an insurance of up to 100 million Chinese Yuan dating back to 1998.
☝ the Sea Suppressing Needle
Walking down from the highest layer to reach the second layer of the cave by the Huangtu High Slope, visitors will reach an underground river called as Xiangshui River. They will then be able to take the jet boats to continue the tour to the Yellow Dragon Cave. The Xiangshui River is 2,800 meters long with an average depth of 6 meters. The temperature of the water is roughly 16 Celsius degrees all year around. It is where the protected animal at national level, the giant salamander and the glassy fish live. The boat cruise is one part of the entire trip and is 800 meters long. It takes 10 minutes. While on the boat, the movement of the boat on the dark river together with the twinkling lights on both sides makes visitors feel like going back to the mysterious ancient times. Along the Xiangshui River, there are many wonders such as the Golden Helmet of the Dragon King and the Goddess Bridge.
The Maze located at the deepest part of the Yellow Dragon Cave is roughly 1,600 square meters. It represents the best part of the entire Yellow Dragon Cave. For other caves, there are usually protective railings surrounded so that visitors are not able to get close to see things inside. However, after having bought entry tickets to the Maze, visitors are allowed to walk through the cave to see objects closely. The stalactites in the Maze are different in shapes and are very dense. Unlike other caves that are heavily oxidized, the stalactites, curtains, cave flags, cave pearls and so on here still remain their original color, looking extremely beautiful. In the Maze, there is also a cave flower that has been here for 380 million years, and it is the treasure of the Yellow Dragon Cave.
The entire tour to the Yellow Dragon Cave takes roughly 2 hours.
☝ Things inside the Yellow Dragon Cave
The tour to Yellow Dragon Cave has tight schedule. It requires lots of physical exercises such as stepping up and down the stairs inside the cave. Sometime it even takes long time to queue up to wait the boat. What's more, as the infrastructures inside is very simple, it has no toilet and it's not bright enough, it is suggested that children who are less than 6 years old, elderly people and disabled persons do not participate in this trip. In general, the target group of this tour is for those energetic, physically capable young people and people in middle ages.
The best seasons to travel to the Yellow Dragon Cave is Spring, Summer and Fall, spanning from March to November every year. It is specially worth mentioning that the Yellow Dragon Cave is the top choice for visitors in the summer to avoid the heat. Every summer there are more than 500 thousand visitors coming to the Yellow Dragon Cave to escape the heat. Therefore, July and August, the two months of summer vacations became the busiest months during the year to Yellow Dragon Cave. During these two months, the scenic area will provide diverse cultural events, such as the Yellow Dragon Music Festival to welcome visitors from all over the world.
Since it is very cold inside the cave in winter, you are not advised to visit Yellow Dragon Cave during this period of time.
There is no special weather requirement for visiting the Yellow Dragon Cave. The scenery inside the cave remains the same even at night or in rainy days. Since the visibility in the mountain area of Zhangjiajie is relatively low when it rains or fogs, thus, it is a good idea to visit the Cave during a time when the weather is not that great so that you can leave time with good weather to tour the mountain.
☝ Things inside the Yellow Dragon Cave
➊ The tour to the Yellow Dragon Cave is quite long. It is recommended that before entering the cave, visitors go to the toilet beforehand as there is no toilet available inside the cave.
➋ The Yellow Dragon Cave is very large. There is no cell phone signal and the light is not bright enough inside the cave. When visiting, it is a good idea to keep an eye for your travel mate(s) and don't get separated as it is very hard to find your people while you are in the cave.
➌ There are places to store the luggage near the ticket office. However, they are rather for the small luggage instead of the big ones. To store the luggage that are big in size, please go to the small shops at the entrance of the Yellow Dragon Cave.
➍ Traveling around the Yellow Dragon Cave usually requires lots of walking. It also takes lots of energy walking upstairs and downstairs. In general, the difference of temperature inside and outside the cave is not that much and it could almost be neglected. However, when visitors first enter the cave, they could feel cold. For elderly and young children who are not that physically strong, it is recommended to add a jacket before entering the cave. It can protect them from getting cold. In addition, the elderly should keep in mind while walking, as steps inside the cave can be quite slippery.