Jiuzhaigou Travel Guide - How to Plan a Trip to Jiuzhaigou
Jiuzhaigou or Jiuzhai Valley is a picturesque fairyland, featuring charming natural scenery of colorful lakes, spectacular waterfalls, and mountains.
Located in the mountainous region of southwest China, Jiuzhaigou is not as built-up and busy as the tourist cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Its quiet environment and fresh air attract visitors who are eager to enjoy a beautiful and natural scenic area.
Jiuzhai Valley National Park - a Fairyland
The Jiuzhai Valley National Park is an extravaganza of natural wonders, a pure unspoiled land with waterfalls, alpine lakes, tranquil grasslands, snowy mountain views and Tibetan villages. You'll not believe the fairyland beauty of the area until you've been there and seen it for yourself.
The park takes its role in conservation and sustainability extremely seriously, and has sister-park relationships with the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, and the Yosemite, Yellowstone and Olympic National Parks in the USA.
For a more detailed introduction, see Jiuzhai Valley National Park.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
In 1992 the Jiuzhai Valley National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 1997 it was awarded the status of UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve. Since then, it has received much other well-deserved acclaim.
What to See in Jiuzhaigou
A Colorful Forest
Covered by 200,000 hectares of forest, Jiuzhaigou is filled with a sense of a primeval forest that’s isolated from any hustle and bustle. As the seasons change, the forest presents a variety of fantastic looks.
The orange sumac, golden birch leaves, red maple trees, and dark red wild fruit - all of these dark and light colors splashed across the mountains and valleys comprise a dizzying oil painting. Jiuzhaigou is a gorgeous sea of colors.
Jiuzhaigou is a world filled with water and is a kingdom of waterfalls. Almost all of the waterfalls there rush out of the dense forest, resembling green looms continuously weaving white silk.
The must-see waterfalls in Jiuzhaigou include Shuzheng Waterfall, Pearl Shoal Waterfall, and Nuorilang Waterfall.
Jiuzhaigou has always been famous for its water but the other side of it is the snowcapped peaks that silently guard this fairyland. Every winter, Jiuzhaigou becomes quiet and filled with a poetic and artistic atmosphere.
The whole valley and all of the mountains are covered with snow. The ice of the waterfalls and lakes is pure and clean, and the thin streams of water produce a refreshing “music”.
When winter arrives, the flowing waterfalls over the steep rock faces seem to have been affected by the magic of nature, solidifying into a series of stunning ice sheets, ice balls, or icicles.
Due to the way the light scatters, the ice – which should be as white as jade – becomes transparently blue. The various forms of blue frozen waterfalls, snowcapped peaks, and clear blue lakes comprise a beautiful and magical snow world.
It is said that the blue ice phenomenon is very rare. It appears only at the end of January and early February every year for about a dozen days.
Jiuzhaigou is a world filled with water, which gives it an enchanting beauty and is its true soul. The lakes in Jiuzhaigou are crystal clear and green all year round, surrounded by ancient trees and flowers.
As the light changes and the seasons go by, the lakes take on different hues and tones. The colorful pools are the result of the cooperation between sunlight, algae, and sediments.
With colors of goose yellow, black green, russet brown, magenta, and emerald green, these lakes are like a stretch of multicolored brocade.
Best Time to Visit Jiuzhaigou - Autumn
Jiuzhai Valley is particularly picturesque in autumn when the mountains, valleys, and lakes are splendidly robed in autumnal colors. Warm days, cool nights, and great vistas of saturated yellows, reds, and greens reflecting off the blue lakes are typical of autumn there.
Jiuzhaigou also presents beautiful scenery in spring, summer, and winter. Each season has special characteristics:
- Spring in Jiuzhaigou: The snow begins to melt and flowers begin blooming. You can feel the warmth of the spring sunshine and enjoy the sunlight on the beautiful lakes.
- Summer in Jiuzhaigou: With cool weather, it is the best time to see the waterfalls and green lakes.
- Autumn in Jiuzhaigou: It is the best time to appreciate the colorful forest, beautiful lakes, and waterfalls.
- Winter in Jiuzhaigou: It will turn into a snow world. It is the best time to see snowcapped peaks and frozen waterfalls.
Transportation to Jiuzhaigou
Transportation to Jiuzhaigou is relatively convenient, with flights and buses available. There are no trains, however. You can fly from Chengdu, Beijing or get there by long-distance bus.
Read more about Transportation to Jiuzhaigou.
- 6-Day Essential Chengdu and In-Depth Jiuzhaigou Tour
- 7-Day Chengdu, Mount Emei and Jiuzhaigou Scenic Tour
Accommodation - Small Inns to International Hotels
Outside the park there's a range of accommodation, including 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels and international hotels such as the Sheraton, InterContinental, and others. Most hotels feature Tibetan-style houses, which are equipped with modern facilities.
Note that most hotels in the area are not equipped with air-conditioners, for the weather is cool. In winter, electric blankets are available in every hotel to help keep you warm at night. Air-conditioners are available in the high-end hotels for heating.
Possible Altitude Sickness
The altitude varies a lot in different areas of Jiuzhai Valley. For example, the entrance to the valley is at about 2,000 meters, while the airport is at about 3,500 meters.
Vulnerability to altitude sickness varies from person to person, so it's suggested you consult your doctor prior to your trip. Anyone with heart disease or high blood pressure should be careful and take precautions when traveling to Jiuzhaigou.
While there, it's advisable not to do any really strenuous exercise, or to drink wine. Keep warm and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Take some everyday medicines with you, or a small oxygen bottle just in case.
Traveling Independently vs. with a Tour Guide
Since Jiuzhai Valley National Park is quite far from any city center, you may easily run into difficulties with transportation and/or communication.
The park is very large with many attractions. If you travel alone, you probably need to spend more than 2 days to see the main highlights. A tour guide can help you make the best use of your time and focus on the highlights in the park. So we recommend you travel with a guide.
Popular Jiuzhaigou Tours
If you're interested in visiting the fairyland in person, why not browse our popular tours below for inspiration?
- 3-Day Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong Highlights Tour: Walk alongside streams, waterfalls, and limestone landscapes in the Huanglong Scenic Area. Enjoy breathtaking views in the Jiuzhai Valley National Park.
- 6-Day Essential Chengdu and In-Depth Jiuzhaigou Tour: Enjoy wonderful views in the Jiuzhai Valley National Park and see lovely pandas in the Panda Breeding and Research Center.
Not interested in the above tours? You can tailor-make your own unique tour by telling us your interests and requirements. We'll help you design the perfect trip.