Jiuzhaigou Sichuan Province, is approximate 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Chengdu and is regarded by many as a fairy-world of mountains, great trees, wildlife, waterfalls, and stunning lakes. With the area of just over 23,000 square miles (60,000 square kilometers), the name of the park, Jiuzhaigou (“9 Village Valley,” “Dzitsa Degu” in Tibetan), is derived from the nine villages where Tibetans once lived near the ravine. Rising about 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level, Jiuzhaigou is covered by the dense virgin forest which is home to 108 lakes.
In 1992, the Jiuzhaigou National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was given the status of UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1997.
The beauty of Jiuzhaigou revolves around these lakes. The waterfalls cascade into a tranquil pond which make for a glistening turbulence. The scenic nooks in the waterfall are veiled by curtains of water.
In the 1970s, Jiuzhaigou was discovered by several lumberjacks by chance. In 1975, a team from the Agricultural Department made a comprehensive exploration and concluded that Jiuzhaigou is rich in wildlife, water, and minerals, and is a rare natural sight to boot.
With a forest covering over 7,700 square miles (20,000 square kilometers), Jiuzhaigou is the home to various types of wildlife. It shelters many kinds of rare and endangered animals like giant pandas, cloud leopards, lesser pandas, and golden cats. Jiuzhaigou also boasts a rich variety of flora with over 3,000 species and subspecies of trees and plants including more than 60 kinds of pine trees and 70 kinds of medicinal herbs.
The scenic area of Jiuzhaigou includes Baojingyan, Shuzheng, Rize, Jianyan, Changhai and Zharu, among which Rize and Shuzheng are the most famous. The Mirror Lake has more than 40 lakes which reflect light as well as mirrors. Shuzheng’s main scenery in Rize lies in the number of waterfalls such as Pearl Shoal Waterfall, Panda Waterfall, High Falls, and others. High Falls is the highest waterfall in Jiuzhaigou.
The main valley of Jiuzhaigou is Shuzheng, which is about 8.5 miles from the entrance of the valley to the Nuorilang Waterfall. Shuzheng Waterfall, Sparkling Lake, Tiger Lake, and many other small bodies of water are spread out across 3 miles of classical Tibetan villages.
In the same valley is Rhinoceros Lake, over a mile long, and 50 acres in size, and glistens in different shades of green during the summer months. If you look closely, you might be able to see the rhinoceros at the bottom of the 50-foot deep lake.
The main scenery in Shuzheng is Potted Landscape Shoal, Shuzheng Waterfall, and Reed Sea. At 8 and half miles (13.8 kilometers) long, Shuzheng is the gate of Jiuzhaigou, which is considered a miniaturized version of Jiuzhaigou.
The Zechawa, Rize, and Shuzheng Valleys all meet at the beautiful Nuorilang Waterfall, where you can also find local hostels and Tibetan restaurants. At more than 60 feet (20 meters) high and almost 1,000 feet across (300 meters), this impressive calcified geological feature is the symbol of Jiuzhaigou.
More than 11 miles long (18 kilometers), Zechawa Valley is the longest in the area at the south-eastern part of Jiuzhaigou. Long Lake can be found in this valley: enveloped by forested hills, it is incredibly photogenic with its azure blue waters formed from snow melt.
Nearby Five Color Pond is much smaller, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in sheer amazing displays of different colors ranging from pale blue to emerald green thanks to its varying depths and concentration of different minerals.
Rize Valley contains some of the most iconic spots in the greater Juizhai Valley. Tranquil Panda Lake is where pandas once came to drink of its blue-green waters, and is the only lake containing fish. like Five Color Pond, Five Flower Lake takes on a different shade depending on the angle at which you look at it.
Jiuzhaigou has four distinctive seasons with charming views, making just about any time of year and ideal time to pay a visit to the park. When bright blossoms erupt in spring, the whole of Jiuzhaigou bursts into color. In summer, Jiuzhaigou is veiled under the lush shady trees. Colorful lakes like pearls sparkle in the green. Jiuzhaigou presents another view in autumn when the leaves turn red and float on the lakes after falling from the trees. Jiuzhaigou in winter is covered by the snow, becoming even more tranquil and picturesque.
You can fly into Jiuzhaigou National Park from Xian, Chengdu, Beijing, or Shanghai, or take one of several bus routes. No trains go through Jiuzhaigou, however.
High-quality hotels can be found just outside the park such as the Sheraton Resort, InterContinental Resort, Hilton Resort, and others which typically meld-traditional Tibetan-style residences with modern facilities. Thankfully, most hotels make electric blankets available for those colder nights.
The valley entrance to Jiuzhaigou itself is roughly 6,500 feet above sea-level, so during any stay in Jiuzhaigou, take measures to prevent altitude sickness. This means avoiding strenuous activity and not consuming excessive amounts of alcohol. If you experience heart palpitations and a headache, seek medical attention.
Admission Fee: 220 RMB (from Apr. 1st to Nov. 15th ); 80 RMB (from Nov.16 to Mar.31 of the following year). Discounts on the entry fee are offered to those 6 to 18 years old, and those between 60 and 70. Children under 6 and seniors over 70 can enter the park for free. Visitors are required to take the Jiuzhaigou sightseeing Bus in the aftermath of a serious earthquake which shook the region in August 2017. The bus ticket costs 90 RMB.
Hours: May 1 – November 15 – 7:00am to 7:00pm
November 16 – April 30 – 8:00am to 6:00pm
Peak Season – April 1 – November 15
Off peak – November 16 – March 31