Should you start in Hyjal or Vashj'ir in WoW Cataclysm?

WoW cataclysm hyjal or vashj'ir - a player is flying on a dragon close to the firelands raid in a lake of lava
(Image credit: Blizzard)

If you're wondering whether it's best to go to Hyjal or Vashj'ir in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Classic, then you're likely ready to start your journey to level 85. Cataclysm continues the tradition of offering a choice of initial leveling zones in a new expansion, though one of them is surprisingly easy to miss.

If you're not paying close attention you might not realise you have a choice, as the MMO offers up Vashj'ir without really letting you know there's another, less-watery option in Hyjal. Both zones are unlocked with a short quest chain, and I'll explain how to access each below. With all that being said, here's what to know about both areas so you can choose where to start stacking up XP.

WoW Cataclysm: Hyjal or Vashj'ir? 

While there's no real benefit to be gained from choosing one zone over the other, there are a few things—other than the climate—you should bear in mind before you decide. You can, and should, go through both zones to unlock the daily quests in each eventually, so it's more a case of personal preference when deciding which to tackle first. The zone you don't choose is probably best left until you hit level 85. 


(Image credit: Blizzard)

Vashj'ir is an underwater zone and you will spend the majority of your time there swimming from place to place. Shortly after you arrive, you'll pick up a quest that tasks you with collecting items to allow you to breathe indefinitely while underwater, and a short time later, you'll gain access to a seahorse mount to make travelling faster.

The rather damp setting of Vashj'ir makes it occasionally difficult to navigate. Not only do you have to watch your immediate surroundings at eye level, but you have to be aware of what's above and below you too. Because of this, it can make avoiding enemies and locating quest objectives tricky.

Vashj'ir is a place you'll either love or hate but if you've never been, it's well worth having a look around—there's really no other zone like it.

How to get to Vashj'ir:

You should get the quest "A Personal Summons" as soon as you hit level 80 and enter your faction's capital city. Follow the short quest chain and take the boat to Vashj'ir. 

Mount Hyjal

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Hyjal will be much more familiar than Vashj'ir, in that it's above sea level. That's not to say it's not without its perils, but it is a much more traditional zone with regards to layout. It's also the home of the Firelands raid, and you'll get to see Deathwing and Ragnaros when you journey to the zone for the first time.

Hyjal also has the benefit of being more steeped in lore from as far back as Warcraft 3. Night elf fans will enjoy this zone, as will anyone with a proclivity for lava and fiery lords.

How to get to Hyjal:

Head to the Warchief's Command Board in Orgrimmar (Horde) or Hero's Call Board in Stormwind (Alliance). You should find the breadcrumb quest—aptly named "Mount Hyjal"—there. From here, you can take a portal to Moonglade and then a flight on to Hyjal.

Sarah James
Guides Writer

Sarah started as a freelance writer in 2018, writing for PCGamesN, TechRadar, GamingBible, Red Bull Gaming and more. In 2021, she was offered a full-time position on the PC Gamer team where she takes every possible opportunity to talk about World of Warcraft and Elden Ring. When not writing guides, most of her spare time is spent in Azeroth—though she's quite partial to JRPGs too. One of her fondest hopes is to one day play through the ending of Final Fantasy X without breaking down into a sobbing heap. She probably has more wolves in Valheim than you.