CHINA – Nestled in the embrace of the northern region of Sichuan Province is a true marvel of nature – Jiuzhaigou Valley, also known as Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve.
Considered the “Most Beautiful Water Scenery in China,” this exquisite conservation area boasts prestigious titles such as a UNESCO-recognized World Natural Heritage site, “Fairyland on Earth,” and an outstanding 5A National Park.
However, beyond these accolades, Jiuzhaigou is a world that transcends its reputation, often dubbed the “Photographer’s Paradise.”
Shrouded in mystery until the mid-20th century, Jiuzhaigou managed to evade external intrusion, allowing it to preserve its pristine natural essence.
Every forest, body of water, waterfall, and landscape within its boundaries serves as a testament to nature’s most exquisite craftsmanship, singing praises to the boundless generosity of our earthly mother.
Why Visit Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve?
A Symphony of Watercolors: The captivating essence of Jiuzhaigou lies in its water – the soul of this enchanting kingdom. The crystal-clear waters meander through towering mountain ranges, boasting unparalleled purity and astounding diversity in form.
The panoramic view of over 108 lakes and 3 waterfalls forms the focal point of Jiuzhaigou’s landscape.
Nature’s Palette: Jiuzhaigou resembles a vibrant painting crafted with the most radiant colors of Mother Nature. A visit here is a visual feast, where the wilderness evolves with the changing seasons.
Forests, flowers, and lakes harmonize in a multifaceted symphony: the elegant gray of spring, the lush green of summer, the brilliant gold of autumn, and the pristine white of winter.
A Sanctuary of Rarity: Jiuzhaigou Valley shelters an array of remarkable wildlife. Over 220 bird species grace the skies, while 74 plant species, protected by the state, serve as symbols of resilience.
The surrounding park nurtures 18 endangered animal species, including renowned residents like the Giant Panda and captivating snub-nosed monkeys.
In the heart of Jiuzhaigou, modern travelers tread upon paths shaped by Earth’s processes through the ages. Each step is an ode to wonder, a tribute to nature’s intricate dance.
Here, the mundane world recedes, making room for the extraordinary to manifest. In Jiuzhaigou, life resonates through the crystal-clear waters, whispering tales of beauty, resilience, and timeless connections between humanity and the natural world.
Attractive Tourist Destinations in Jiuzhaigou
Shuzheng Valley – Diverse Lakes and Waterfalls
Entering the heart of Jiuzhaigou, where water weaves its enchanting beauty, you’ll find lakes that stay perpetually emerald amidst rows of ancient trees and blossoming flowers. Shuzheng Valley comprises over 40% of the water area in Jiuzhaigou, a treasury of aquatic wonders.
For a quick tour, immerse yourself in the grandeur of Nuorilang Waterfall, Shuzheng Waterfall, and the path from Tiger Lake to Shuzheng Waterfall. Within 2 to 3 hours, you’ll traverse breathtaking landscapes that will linger in your memories.
- Shuzheng Lakes: Resembling a necklace of emeralds and diamonds, the 19 Shuzheng Lakes welcome you at the entrance of Jiuzhaigou. Trees, lakes, and waterfalls harmonize in an enchanting dance, creating cascading scenes that captivate the lens. A paradise for photographers awaits.
- Shuzheng Waterfall: With a width of 72 meters and a height of 25 meters, Shuzheng Waterfall is the hallmark of Shuzheng Valley. Its elegance is further accentuated by the upper lakes, making the waterfall a captivating and majestic sight.
- Nuorilang Waterfall: Representing the beauty of Jiuzhaigou, the 300-meter-wide Nuorilang Waterfall garners attention from around the world. Admire its resplendent beauty from the viewing platform, and if you’re lucky, catch a morning rainbow painting the sky.
Rize Valley – Jiuzhaigou’s Essence
Rize Valley unveils a tapestry of landscapes that don’t require extensive hiking but provide a feast for the senses. During a short visit, relish the wonders of Panda Lake, Five Flower Lake, Arrow Bamboo Lake, Pearl Beach Waterfall, and Mirror Lake.
With about 2 to 3 hours of exploration, you’ll gather lifelong memories.
- Five Flower Lake: A vibrant masterpiece, Five Flower Lake boasts colors ranging from golden to emerald. Its dazzling algae gave it its name, creating a watercolor painting that leaves viewers in awe from the Tiger Mouth platform.
- Arrow Bamboo Lake: Towering bamboo reeds, the favorite treat of pandas, grace the shores of Arrow Bamboo Lake. Witness the swaying mountains and bamboo in their mirrored reflection—a seductive scene reminiscent of a hero’s tale.
- Panda Lake: Once a haven for pandas, the crystal-clear waters of this lake reveal a diverse world of fish species. Even the rarest species find refuge in this pristine habitat.
- Pearl Beach Waterfall: Pouring forcefully from a rock shaped like a scoop, the symphony of cascading water and the roar of Pearl Beach Waterfall create a captivating aquatic spectacle. Follow the boardwalk to witness its grandeur up close.
Zechawa Valley – Where Grandeur Unfolds
Zechawa Valley stretches over 18 kilometers at the pinnacle of Jiuzhaigou (3,101 meters). The star attractions here are Long Lake and Five-Colored Lake, a duo well worth 1.5 hours of your time.
- Long Lake: This elevated gem lies beneath snow-capped peaks and vibrant fir trees. Walking along the boardwalk reveals a vast, tranquil expanse reflecting mountains, clouds, and flora—a vivid oil painting come to life.
- Five-Colored Lake: Known as Jiuzhaigou’s jewel, this small yet radiant lake exhibits a multitude of colors. Sunlight, algae, and sediment combine to create a kaleidoscope of deep blue, turquoise, pale green, gold, and red that evolves with the changing seasons.
In Jiuzhaigou’s valleys, nature’s palette unfolds, inviting you to witness the symphony of color, water, and life. The curtain rises, the journey begins, and each step leads to a different wonder.
Explore more: Fascinating attractions in Chengdu.
Optimal Itinerary Guide in Jiuzhaigou
Operating Hours and Ticket Information
Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve is open from 8 AM to 5 PM during the peak season (April 1 to November 15), and it extends by half an hour during the low season (November 16 to March 31).
Ensure you enter the park by 2 PM to make the most of your visit. A one-day ticket costs 280 CN¥ (38.4 USD) during the peak season and 160 CN¥ (22 USD) during the low season.
Your ticket includes the convenience of shuttle buses circulating between three valleys—Shuzheng, Zechawa, and Rize—from 8 AM to 5 PM.
However, please note that the service to the highest point (Zechawa) stops around 2 PM. During the bustling peak season, anticipate potential waiting times for the shuttle buses. To avoid queues, consider arriving earlier.
During the off-season, fewer shuttle buses operate.
Maximize Your Visit
With limited time in a day, focusing on the main highlights, utilizing the shuttle bus service, and carefully planning your itinerary are essential for a complete experience.
For those looking for a more leisurely exploration or embarking on a photography journey, we recommend choosing the 2-day tour. A 2-day ticket costs 465 CN¥ during the peak season and 280 CN¥ during the low season. Dive deep into the suggested itinerary below:
Day 1: Zechawa Valley and Shuzheng Valley
Commence your adventure by immersing yourself in the enchanting Zechawa Valley and Shuzheng Valley. Meander through the tapestry of nature’s wonders and allow the landscapes to weave their allure.
Day 2: Leisurely Exploration of Rize Valley
Relax on the second day with a leisurely journey through the mesmerizing Rize Valley. Let the beauty of the surrounding environment unfold at your own pace, allowing you to savor each moment.
The Best Times to Explore Jiuzhaigou
Jiuzhaigou, aptly named the “Valley of Nine Villages,” reveals its true splendor in the autumn, captivating travelers with warm days, cool nights, and a symphony of vibrant colors reflecting on its clear blue lakes.
Autumn (September to October): A Radiant Canvas
Temperature: Highs average around 18°C (64°F) and drop to below 8°C (46°F) at night.
During this peak season, Jiuzhaigou transforms into a masterpiece of nature. Brilliant orange leaves, golden birch trees, vivid red maple foliage, and dark red wild fruits stand out against the landscape.
The delicate interplay of light and shadow creates a mesmerizing, almost surreal, panorama, resembling an oil painting. To fully enjoy the magic of autumn, consider booking accommodations, flights, and guides well in advance due to high demand.
Spring (March to May): Mountains Awaken, Flowers Bloom
Temperature: Ranging from 9°C (48°F) to 18°C (64°F) during the day, with an average of 6°C (43°F) at night.
As spring arrives, life returns to Jiuzhaigou. Snow melts at Long Lake, blossoms awaken at the park’s entrance, and charming cherry blossoms sway by the lakeside. The valleys adorn themselves with a fleeting display of vibrant wildflowers, creating a subtle beauty.
Summer (June to August): Escape the Verdant Heat
Temperature: Daytime temperatures range from 20°C (68°F) to 25°C (77°F), dropping to about 10°C (50°F) at night.
During the embrace of summer, Jiuzhaigou turns lush and green, with its lakes sparkling in deep shades of green. The rainy season brings powerful water flows, enhancing the grandeur of waterfalls and lakes.
After a refreshing rain shower, the mountain air creates a pleasant sense of tranquility, making Jiuzhaigou an oasis for modern travelers seeking solace.
Winter (November to February): Snowy Wonderland
Temperature: 0°C (32°F) or lower.
Winter blankets Jiuzhaigou in glistening snow, transforming the landscape into a silvery spectacle. Snowflakes adorn trees like delicate ice flowers, and even waterfalls seem frozen in time.
The azure sky enhances the brilliant blue of the lakes. As an off-season destination, winter offers a serene elegance, fewer crowds, and favorable prices, though some attractions may occasionally close.
Jiuzhaigou’s allure is a symphony of seasons, each bringing a distinct harmony of colors, textures, and emotions. Whenever you choose to visit, nature’s canvas awaits, eagerly painting marvelous wonders on your heart.
Learn more about temperature, climate, and weather: Best Time to Visit Chengdu.
How to Get to Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve
Sichuan Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport serves as your gateway to Jiuzhaigou, located approximately 88 km (about 2 hours by car) from the Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve.
Google Maps Location: https://goo.gl/maps/weyXhmDpFJdeq78s8
Here’s how you can travel from the airport to the valley center:
Airport Shuttle Bus: The airport shuttle bus offers an economical and convenient option, running along a route between the airport and the Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve. The fare is approximately 45 CNY (6,18 USD) per journey.
Please note that the shuttle bus may wait until it reaches full capacity before departing, and it may make brief stops before the journey begins.
Taxi: For a more direct approach, taxis provide one-way rides to the valley with an estimated cost of around 200 CNY (27,47 USD). Be cautious of “black taxis” as unauthorized operators may overcharge or take unnecessary routes.
To address this issue, consider negotiating the fare in advance or seek reliable private transportation services through us.
Private Car: A hassle-free and optimal choice, a private car ensures smooth transportation. Upon arrival, local guides and drivers will greet you, leading you directly to your destination.
This route also provides the opportunity to learn about Jiuzhaigou’s nuances from your guide, including recommended restaurants, shopping spots, and ideal timing.
Getting to Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu: The Road to Serenity
Chengdu, located 400 km (about 250 miles) from Jiuzhaigou, serves as an ideal starting point for your journey to this natural wonder.
Air Travel: The Quickest Flight
Commencing a 1-hour flight from Chengdu is a miniature picture of comfort and speed, taking you to Jiuzhaigou with ease. Presently, Chengdu has 1 or 2 direct flights to Jiuzhaigou daily, ensuring a seamless connection between these two alluring destinations.
Long-Distance Bus: The Scenic Route
For those looking to explore and save on a budget, long-distance buses offer an affordable route to the Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve, with an average fare of around 198 CNY (27,19 USD).
Departing mainly from Xinnanmen Bus Station and Chadianzi Bus Station before 9 a.m., these daily trips provide an opportunity to admire the landscape along the way. While it takes more time—approximately 9 to 10 hours—the scenic journey is an option for those who value the experience.
Future Railway Connectivity: The Road Ahead
Although current trains do not reach Jiuzhaigou, there is great anticipation for railway construction. Upon completion, the envisioned landscape will transform, allowing travelers to reach Jiuzhaigou via high-speed trains from Chengdu in just 2 hours.
Learn more about: Traveling to Chengdu.
Can I visit Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve year-round?
While Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve is open year-round, each season offers a different experience. Plan according to your preferences.
Are there suitable long-distance trekking trails for beginners?
Yes, there are long-distance trekking trails with varying difficulty levels, including options suitable for beginners.
How do I obtain the necessary entry permit?
Entry permits can be obtained through travel agencies or at the entrance to the scenic area.