Jiuzhai Valley is one of the best places to travel in China. It’s located in north Sichuan Province, consisting of colorful forests, spectacular waterfalls, turquoise lakes and rare bird species. And Jiuzhai Valley is probably also the most well-preserved natural area in China. Chinese people discovered this beautiful place in the 1970s, in 1992, Jiuzhai Valley National Park was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.
The literal meaning of “Jiuzhai” is “Nine Village Valley” in Chinese, it derives from the 9 Tibetan villages along the 50km-plus valley. As a very popular nature’s magical fairyland, the valley enchants tourists with mountains, forests, lakes, waterfalls and teeming wildlife. Lakes around the valley vary in color according to their depths and angles, striking a lively contrast with the blue sky and snow-wrapped peaks.
Jiuzhai Valley is the best places to travel for all seasons.Jiuzhai Valley is located in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. The Aba Prefecture of Sichuan contains 5 National Parks including 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites namely: Jiuzhai Valley National Park, Huanglong National Park and the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries (Wolong and 4 Girls Mountain).
Here is 7 Best Places around Jiuzhai Valley :
1.Huanglong National Park
Huanglong National Park, is only a 3hr bus journey from Jiuzhai Valley.
Through the work of nature over thousands of years of geological evolution, a magical valley as been formed there. Huanglong consists of numerous unique landscapes of geological landforms. Glacial revolution, terrane structure, stratum of carbonic acid rock, tufa water and climatic conditions such as artic-alpine sun light have created this world-famous travertine landscape.
The biggest attraction in Huanglong are these accumulated travertine landscapes which form amazing blue and green ponds that have to be seen to be believed. Azaleas, maple leaves, and various grasses decorate the large and small ponds.
The total length of the travertine is 3.6km, dropping a total of 400m and it is thought to look like a huge golden dragon wheeling through the snow-capped mountains of the valley. The main landscapes are travertine banks, amazingly colourful ponds, travertine waterfalls and travertine caves.
Also in the park is the 5,588m (18,333 feet) Xue Bao Ding Mountain, the summit of the Min Mountain Range. Legend has it that, if one is able to walk one circle around the golden dragon, all his personal prayers on the way will eventually come true.
The main body of water starts from the Ancient Taoist temple at the high southern end, flows down by the slightly newer Benbo Buddhist Temple and ends at the Xi Shen Cave Waterfall in the north with a length of 2.5km and a width of 30 – 170m. The colours of Huanglong’s waters consist of various yellows, greens, blues and browns. Known to the locals as “Golden Sand on Earth”, Huanglong’s travertine bank is the largest and most magnificent in the world. It is also home to the world’s most unique tufa formations.
The ancient city of Songpan was built during Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD) and it was later rebuilt during Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). Songpan was an important military post and economic and trading center for horse and tea exchange between Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet. In 1935, led by Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, the retreating Chinese Communist Army marched through the plateau of Songpan to advance to the north western province.
As well the history and scenery of Songpan the cultural diversity is one of the most fascinating in China. Because of its location, four ethnic groups are resident in the ancient town of Songpan, including Tibetan, Qiang, Hui (Muslim) and Han (Mandarin). This contributes to the unique cultural style of this ancient town. Kangba Culture, a kind of multi-cultural medley of the four different cultural elements in this ancient historical town makes it a rare if not unique example of cultural history in China.
Walking along the bustling ancient streets in the town, some exquisite objects and ornaments can be found in the old stores, such as silver bracelets, silver rings, ethnic costumes and yak horn hair combs! Such cultural diversity gives rise to such unusual and tempting culinary delights as braised male duck with aweto, fritillaria chicken, crispy yam as well as traditional Tibetan, Qiang, Hui and Han treats.
While the ancient city of Songpan itself has plenty to keep you busy, the countryside surrounding the city offers a variety of tourist attractions. The Min Shan mountain range surrounding the city provides such sights as Tibetan cattle and yak herders leading their livestock over rolling grasses, endless valleys, and other beautiful landscapes. The best way to view this authentic side of minority mountain life is through one of Songpan’s many horse trekking excursions.
Songpan’s horse treks range anywhere from half day to 12 day treks. The best way to view this authentic side of minority mountain life is through one of Songpan’s many horse trekking excursions. experienced guides who look after the horses, cook your food and set up your camp while you can relax and take in the breathtaking views – or you can help the guides if you would prefer. The horse trekking companies are about 40m from the bus station on the left, just before Emma’s Kitchen (Western & Chinese restaurant) as you walk towards the main city’s northern gate.
Wolong Panda Reserve is part of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Wolong Reserve ranges from 1,200m (3,937 feet) to 6,250m (20,505 feet) above sea level and it is home to over 4,000 plant species. The Wolong reserve is home to the world’s largest captive panda population and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries which is home to the largest population of giant pandas in the wild.
The Wolong Panda Reserve has not been open to tourists since the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Wolong is currently being re-constructed and the new multi-million dollar reserve due to be opened in 2011 will be the world’s biggest and best panda reserve.
4. red plain Grasslands
The spectacular Hongyuan (red plain) Grasslands was so named because the Red Army, over the course of a year, passed through here during the famous Long March in 1936. A plateau at over 4,000m (13,123 feet) above sea level (the highest point being 5,000m or 16,404 feet), stretching for over 8,400 sq.km., the Hongyuan Grasslands is said to be home to over 300,000 herded yak, 20m herded sheep and over 20,000 horses.
The four seasons bring unique dramatic sceneries ranging from a snow covered expanse during the winter to endless flowering meadows in the spring and summer.
In order to get to Hongyuan you can get on the Nanping – Ma Er Kang bus in Jiuzhai Valley. It should take approx 6 hours to arrive in Hongyuan town. If you’re adventurous and able enough a bicycle tour along these grasslands would be perfect!
Aba county attracts hundreds of thousands of Tibetans every year. It is said that Aba county reserves the most original living style of Tibetans. This is the largest county in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture and is the second largest Tibetan Buddhist gathering site after Lhasa. It is known as the “Little Potola Palace” and is home to 42 monestaries. It is estimated that one third of the 60,100 population are monks!
Aba County is an excellent place to experience Tibetan culture. There are numerous festivals and activities throughout the year.
There are some buildings that are over 1000 years old will give you a taste of the past and of the local Tibetan culture. Accommodation options range from home stays to cheap hotels to 3* locally run hotels.
Bus connections are available through Songpan and Ma Er Kang.
6.four Girls Mountain
Located in Xiao Jin County in the Aba Prefecture, Si Guniang Shan (4 Girls Mountain) is part of the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries UNESCO World Heritage Site. Si Guniang Shan covers and area of 450 square kilometres. The peaks of the Si Guniang (the four girls) rise to 6,250m (20,505 feet), 5,335m (17,503 feet), 5,454m (17,894 feet), and 5,664m (18,583 feet). It was established as a national park in 1996 and in 2006 the Si Guniang Shan National Park Administration Bureau was established to manage and conserve the landscape and biodiversity of this protected area. Si Guniang Shan is one of China’s most popular sites for climbers and the magestic snow-capped peaks also make it a photographer’s delight.
7. the Dagu Glacier
“Da Gu” literally means glacier in Tibetan. Part of the 632 sq km Sichuan Dagu Nature Reserve in Heishui County, Dagu Glacier Park has a sightseeing area of 210 sq km. Some of the highlights inclide modern and fossil glaciers, primeval forests, alpine meadows, snow covered mountains, Tibetan villages, and rare flora and fauna.
Between May and October each year the thick snow melts to reveal the icy surface of the glacier. Dagu Glacier Park is home to numerous lakes and waterfalls that are fed by the snow melt from the higher mountains.
Over the centuaries the Dagu Glacier has reduced in size due to global warming. Sites of interest today are 13 modern alpine glaciers a glacial U-shaped valley, glacial cirque, glacial lake and a glacial waterfall.
Dagu Glacier Park is home to more than 1,000 varieties of wild plants and some 150 wild animals, including a dozen rare animals such as the Sichuan golden monekey, Sichuan takin, mountain sheep, and flying squirrel.
There is no direct transport from Jiuzhai Valley to Dagu Glacier Park (Dagu Bing Chuan in Chinese). To get there you will have to get a bus to Mao Xian, then Hei Shui. Dagu Glacier Park is 9km from Hei Shui. You could also get a bus to Ma Er Kang and then to Hei Shui but this would more than likely add a day onto your travel plans.