So the Jiuzhai Valley has been a desire of my mum’s and a UNESCO sight that everyone who has been highly recommends.
With some spare time on hand before I head back down under, I took my parents with me this time to create some family memories. And simply because they are my two favorite people around and I just want to spend more time with them, when I can.
Age does this to you huh. The young just wants to fly away. The older realize what is important to them was in front of them all along. Staying away for long periods does not seem so tantalizing anymore.
October / November is said to be the best time to visit this gem – The colors of fall and snow in Jiuzhai and Huanglong only added to its beauty. Lower temperatures also meant a somewhat easier hike with more energy, minus sweat, humidity and irritation that comes along with summer’s heat.
It was also a really easy trip to do, and you can definitely DIY it yourself with some planning.
Here’s ours :
– Took a Morning flight from Chengdu to Jiuzhai-Huanglong Airport
– Cabbed to Huang Long National Park (Main spot : 5 colors pond right on the top) / You can also choose the Airport bus if it is not snowing that day.
Tip 1 : Choose an earlier flight, delays are common due to snow storms. We got delayed by an hour and only arrived at Huang Long National Park at 2pm. Which meant we were going to missed the best time when the sun rays hit the 5 Colors Pond (around 3-4pm)
Tip 2 : Take the cable car up and hike down for about 2 – 3 hours.
Tip 3: Should the queue be too long at the cable car, you can hike up. If you are hiking up and it’s already 1 or 2pm, go straight up ( 2 – 3 hours ) to the 5 colors pond and take pictures on your way down. This will save a lot of time stopping in mid way and ensure you see the best – which is the 5 colors pond) – We didnt manage to go all the way up because it was getting dark and the snow was getting heavier. Bummer. But seeing the snow and some ponds along the way was already very beautiful.
– We had an early morning start at 7am into Jiuzhaigou National Park and spent 1 whole day hiking there.
The Park is shaped in a Y, The left side of the “Y” and the right side of the “Y”
Tip 1 : Go to the right side of the park first if you have only 1 day to spare in the park.
On the right side, we skipped premival forest and went straight for all the lakes. We chose to hike down to all the lakes instead of taking the bus to each spot, which you can if you are short on time. Walking however would give you the best views and experience!
Tip 2 : Other Mentionable spots include Long lake on the left side of the park. Really really beautiful when the sun is out.
Tip 3 : Pack your own lunch. You can still purchase snacks such as cup noodles or this self heating rice box (Coolnesss!) along the way but at double the normal price.
Tip 4 : We stayed at Qianhe Yiyuan Hotel which provided the bare minimum, heated water and sheets. It is only a 4 minutes walk away from the park, which was what we wanted so we could walk over easily in the morning and it was situated near enough to dining places.
Favorite spots : Mirrored lake (Best viewed from the carpark area and not the hiking trails), Nuorilang Falls and 5 Flowers Lake, Long lake
– We slept in a little past 8am to recuperate and took a flight out at 1pm.
Tip 1 : Remember to give a 2 hours journey time back to the airport from Jiuzhaigou. Transportation is best arranged the night before with the driver who drove you there or with the hotel.
Some other pointers
– Try to avoid the National Day week (First week of Oct) and the 2 weeks after. Aim for the last week of October or November where tourists lessened considerably. I can only imagine it must be a magical feeling when the whole park feels like it is yours.
-If you are a student, remember to bring your student ID and get the entrance tickets at half the price!
-Cab from airport – Huang Long – Jiuzhaigou : 500-800CNY ( 1 hour to huanglong, 2 hours to jiuzhaigou)
(100 CNY each person on the airport bus. However, it does not operate when there is snow)
-Cab from Jiuzhaigou to airport : 200 CNY
– Entrance tickets into Huang long : 200 CNY (Adults) / 100 CNY (Student)
– Entrance tickets into Jiu Zhai Gou : 200 CNY + 90 CNY (For bus ride) + 10 CNY (Insurance) for adults / 100 CNY + 90 CNY (For bus ride) + 10 CNY (Insurance) for students
– Hotel ( 1 room triple sharing breakfast included) : 80 USD at Qianhe Yinyuan hotel
And because words simply can’t do justice to the whole experience, I will let the pictures do the talking (And even pictures can’t do justice to the beauty of the place, so you have to visit it yourself and see it with your own eyes!)
DAY 1 : AIRPORT – HUANG LONG
Snow Storm earlier, hence, we got delayed by 1 hour. Do book an earlier flight as delays are common in winter time.
Simply breath taking.
It weirds me out thinking how so many places in this world resembles each other. I was in Guatemala once and thought it reminded me of Yangshou China. I stood here thinking it reminded me of the french alps. Guess the world isn’t so different after all, or that China really has so many diverse sights, if you know where the gems are.
Folks and I. My favorite people. Proud of them for hiking 4 hours on the first day and more than 10 hours on the second day!
Guess they didn’t know what they were in for. A good positive surprise, of course 🙂
So many people! still beautiful nonethless:)
DAY 2 – JIU ZHAI GOU
We woke up and set off at 7.15am where the sky was beginning to just light up. And boy, there were hoards of tourists! Thousands and thousands of them already! When we got out at the end of the day at 6pm, my dad estimated a good 60,000 tourists entered that very day!
Bought our tickets obediently, lined up and were in luck when the bus decided to just stop beside us.There was of course the mandatory pushing by the Chinese tourists onto the bus and off we went for about ten minutes to the junction of the “Y”, or middle of the park, where you could choose either to venture up the left of the “Y” or the right of the “Y”
We were short on time as we only had 1 full day to spare and decided to hit the more popular ones on the right side.
The wooden walkways in the morning were quite slippery due to the frost so bring good shoes to avoid falling every few steps! It got much better when the sun came out to melt the ice away.
Not to miss :
Right side of “Y” – Mirrored lake, 5 flowers lake, Nuorilang Water fall.
Left side of “Y”- Long Lake, 5 color pond (Aim to reach before 3pm when the sun’s ray can reflect off the pond to reveal the colors) and the tibetan village.
If you want to take it slow and really hike it all, then 2 days will be more sufficient. Do note entrance tickets are only valid for 1 day and you have to re purchase another one. What a bummer. More money for China yo! And for the upkeep of the parks of course, which I must say is very well taken care of with western style toilets and trash bins peppered along the trails.
Considering this is China, where the worst toilets are found..everywhere, this was pretty good. Thumbs up China!
Right Side of the Y
5 Colors Pond, Panda Lake, Nuorilang Lake, Mirrored Lake
Lunch was cup noodles, some canned chow and milk tea. Quite yummy in fact.
Left side of the “Y”
5 Colors Pond at 4.30pm. The sun was already blocked by the snow capped mountains, hence, no rays were reflected.
Look at my dad, he was so delighted that it was the 2nd last spot for the day.
Our last stop at 5pm, concluding our day adventure at ZhuiZhaiGou National Park – The Tibetan village !
There was also the ancient Tibetan Mastiff lying on the pasture! It was only a baby and was already the size of a Tiger!
Owners mentioned the chain needs to be changed every 3 days from the pulling. Makes me wonder how they trained these Mastiff from young and if they employed any Cesar Millan’s techniques from the Dog whisperers, or simply whipped them into obedience.
Still, I would love to see this species of Mastiff on the Dog Whisperer!
Can’t believe 9 days went by so fast. It’s strange that I seem to enjoy my memories of the place more than I did at that moment, probably due to many factors such as the millions of tourists and a little exhaustion. Regardless, it is a must visit on anyone’s list who loves the mountains, the lakes, the grassland.
Every decision comes with some things that you have to let go or give up.
But are the reasons for going through with the decision valid enough?
Are the things that you will have to give up in exchange, worth giving up?
The mountains and water have no answer when you travel and come across them, only for you to tightly embrace the beauty and peace of the moment
To take it all in like a camera, to savor the moment and will your senses to remember them all.
Travel, to remind your future self, that like those beautiful moments, every path you have chosen
Can be beautiful, Can possess some sort of goodness too.
So really, embrace the future’s moments of beauty and goodness.
Don’t let them pass by living in the past or thinking crazily about what ifs.
If it’s the path you have chosen, walk it bravely, walk it to enjoy it.
One life, Live it.