Weather: The temperature increases greatly in May. Average daily low and high temperatures are 9 °C (48 °F) and 22 °C (72 °F) in May. There is about 76 mm of total rainfall each May, and precipitation falls on about 18 days of the month.
Despite the temperature increase, great temperature differences remain between day and night, valley and mountainside. The UV Index is extreme. See the current weather and forecast>>
Clothing: It is a good idea to wear a long sleeve shirt to protect against sunburn, but it will probably be warm enough for a T-shirt during the daytime. Check the weather report, and bring rain gear if it looks like it might rain. Wear a jacket or a coat to stay warm at night and in the early morning. Since the paths might be slick, it is important to wear good non-skid shoes.
Altitude Sickness: The airport is at 3,500 meters, and the most visited area of the park lies between 2,000 meters (6,561 feet) and 3,000 meters (9,800 feet). Most people will get altitude sickness in the first day or two. Since walking uphill is difficult at this altitude, you can ride to the points you want to see and then walk downhill. Take precautions if you have heart disease or high blood pressure.
See Rize Valley: In May, you can hike in the upper altitude valley of Rize. It is above 2,400 meters. It is more scenic than its twin valley called Zechawa Valley, and we recommend seeing this first. At this time of year, you'll see verdant growth. Start at the top of Rize Valley and hike down to Nourilang Falls near the junction of Rize and Zechawa.
Nourilang Falls is at the base of Rize Valley. It is at an elevation of 2,300 meters or 7,700 feet. It is only 80 feet high, but it is 300 meters wide. The Chinese crowds generally avoid walking, so you can enjoy the walk in Rize to Nourilang in more solitude, but there will be crowds at the most popular spots where the buses stop.
See Zechawa Valley: Zechawa Valley is the upper left fork of the Y-shaped Jiuzhaigou valleys. If you have time after hiking down Rize Valley, you might enjoy seeing some of the attractions in Zechawa Valley. Starting from beautiful Long Lake, you can see colorful Wucai Pond and continue hiking downwards. You can catch a park bus any time if you get tired.
Hike in Huanglong Valley: Huanglong is another national park that is a UNESCO Heritage site and nature preserve. It is only 50 km south geographicallly, but over 100 km away by circuitous mountain roads. It is a kilometer higher than Jiuzhaigou, and temperatures dip below freezing during the night. But during the day, the weather is comfortable for hiking. Unlike Jiuzhaigou, there aren't park buses, so you'll have to walk. But hiking affords solitude as you walk by hundreds of colorful carbonate ponds with snowy high peaks around the valley. If you are in good shape, it is a great place to see.
May is a moderately high tourist month, so hotel room rates are higher. The prices for flights and train tickets are higher. However, the busy tourist season starts in the fall, so you can enjoy the area while there are less crowds. Many hotel rooms in the area don't get hot water, so check that beforehand, or let us book accommodations for you.
However, expect bigger crowds during the week around the May 1 holidays. It is one of China's main vacation periods. It might be better to avoid the park till later in May.
China Highlights offers various Jiuzhaigou combo packages. You can combine a tour of Jiuzhaigou with major regional attractions such as the Yangtze River where you can tour by cruise ship. Following a mountain hike, you can relax in the sun on a cruise ship.