Jiuzhaigou Valley, located in the north of Sichuan province, China, is the world heritage site and national park, also called Jiuzhaigou Natural Reserve. Getting its name from having Nine Tibetan Fortified Villages, Jiuzhaigou features the awesome sceneries of multi-level waterfalls, crystal waters and colorful lakes. Travel in different season, the water in Jiuzhaigou will present various color patterns of white, blue, green, turquoise and emerald.
Being the transition zone between Tibet Plateau and Sichuan Basin, the Jiuzhaigou’s landscape is made up of high-altitude karsts and carbonate rock strata, which caused by earth's crust lifting, glacial and hydrological activity. Due to the glacial effect, Jiuzhaigou has the peculiar waterscape of calcified lakes, waterfalls and travertine beach lands. Featuring in colorful lakes with high concentration of calcium carbonate, and water in Jiuzhaigou is so clear that the bottom can be seen at high depths.
Jiuzhaigou is arranged in the Y shape with a total length of over 50 km. By consisting of three main valleys, called Shuzheng Valley (main gully), Zechawa Valley(left gully), Rize Valley (right gully) and the magnificent Nuorilang Waterfall, Jiuzhaigou has over 100 lakes and waterfalls. Here are the main scenic areas with featured spots to visit:
The main valley of Jiuzhaigou, Shuzheng Valley is about 13.8 km extending from the mouth of the valley to the intersection of Nuorilang. Come all the way in, you’ll find:
Shuzheng Lakes: getting into the gate, you’ll encounter various kinds of small streams, which are called Shuzheng Lakes. Spreading over 5 km, it consists of Sparking Lake, Shuzheng Waterfall, Tiger Lake and about 19 lakes. Go over along the way, you can enjoy the great nature with traditional Tibetan villages.
Rhinoceros Lake: as the second largest lake, Rhinoceros Lake is about 2.2 km long, and 17 meters depth, extending to 200,000 square meters. Visit in Summer, you can view it changing into different green in the different area. There is a saying about its name that a monk riding a rhinoceros was infatuated with the scenery and went to the lake with the rhinoceros. If you are lucky enough, you can see the rhinoceros in the bottom.
Lie in the 2400 meters above sea level, Nuorilang is the junction of the Zechawa, Rize and Shuzheng valleys. As the tourist bus transfer center, it also offers Tibetan restaurants and local village hostels.
Nuorilang Waterfall, as the widest calcified waterfall in China, is about 300 meters wide and 20 meters high. This majestic waterfall can be appreciated in different distance. Tumbling down the side of the mountain in great bursts of foam, you’ll feel a sense of coolness when foaming water splashed on your body; overlooked the in the opposite viewing pavilion, it like a white screen pouring down with a gurgling sound. There is no wonder why it is the symbol of Jiuzhaigou.
About 18 km length, Zechawa Valley is the longest valley. As the south-eastern branch of Jiuzhaigou, it includes the highest altitude Long Lake, Five Color Pond, etc.
Long Lake: surrounded by mountains and trees, Long Lake is the longest and widest lake, located south east of the valley. In the shape of S, the water in Long Lake is melted from snow-clad mountains and never dry up and spill over. With its amazing blue water and green color on the lake, it’s the one of the ideal site to take photos.
Five Color Pond: as the smallest lake in Jiuzhaigou, Five Color Pond riches most colors, also called Jade Lake. Due to the different mineral concentration, the water in different depths create different color spectrum from pale blue through aquamarine to emerald green.
Located in the south-western of Jiuzhaigou, Rize Valley branch with 18 km long is another classic visit route for its various scenic spots sites, including:
Panda Lake: Features curious color patterns of blue and green, this lake was side the land where Giant Pandas came to drink. Surrounded by white stones with several rings of black floral forms scatter naturally underwater and beside the lake, it seems like a shape of panda. What’s more, it is the only lake where have fishes on the bottom. With enough time, you can also take a look at the multi-stream and multi-level Panda Waterfalls.
Five Flower Lake: as the essence of Jiuzhaigou, Fiver Flower Lake features different colors by the different angles of light refraction. Surrounded by yellow and green trees, this blue lake reflects more mixed colors when you view in different sides. With the clear water, you can even see old woods sink on the bottom.
Pearl Shoal: Known for its stunning views of wide waterfall, caused by water flowing from Pearl Shoals and falling at end of the cliffs. As the name suggested, under the sunlight, the water crashing rocks like a rope of pearl. When coming to the cliff, those pearl drops converge into mighty torrent gushing down to the valley. You could see the waterfalls from different angles to capture different views.
Mirror Lake: like a mirror, the Mirror Lake reflects the surrounding peaks, plants into its quiet lake surface and changes the inverted images more beautiful than themselves. Request highly for the weather and light, the best time to visit Mirror Lake is on sunny day before 9:00 and 17:00 before sun set.
▶ Please Note：The visiting route from Panda Lake to the Virgin Forest (The Panda Lake, Arrow Bamboo Lake, Swan Lake, Grass Lake, Sword Cliff Hanging Spring, Virgin Forest) has been temporarily shut down for nature conservation.
★ Recommended Jiuzhaigou Tours
With the Y shaped landscape, the Jiuzhaigou’s three main valleys are distracted in three branches, centered on the intersection of Nuorilang. Nearby the gate, Shuzheng Valley is the first/last to visit. For the Zechawa Valley and Rize Valley, you need to backtrack to Nuorilang to visit one after one. According to your time, you can plan your Jiuzhaigou tour for one or two days. The more time you stay, the better you will enjoy.
Take tourist bus from the gate to Nuorilang to view the symbols of Jiuzhaigou. Then transfer to Zechawa Valley to visit the Long Lake, Five-Color Pond and Seasonal Lakes. Later, go to the Rize Valley to visit the Panda Lake, Five Flower Lake, Pearl Shoal and Mirror Lake. Finally, you’ll transfer back to gate from Nuorilang, during the way, you can view the Shuzheng Lakes including Tiger Lake and Rhinoceros Lake. This one day Jiuzhaigou Tour is a little bit rush and you may visit a few of typical lakes.
Day One: in the morning, take tourist bus from gate to Nuorilang, then transfer to the Long Lake spot of Zechawa Valley to enjoy the biggest and deepest lake of Jiuzhaigou. Along the way back to Nuorilang, you can appreciate the Five-Color Pond and Seasonal Lakes. Then you may take a close look at Nuorilang Waterfall, where you have lunch. In the afternoon, take bus directly to the gate and stop at each spot of Shuzheng Valley, such as the Rhinoceros Lake, Sparking Lake, Shuzheng Lakes and so on to finish your todays’ trip.
Day Two: Go straight to Rize Valley (transfer from Nuorilang) and visit the Arrow Bamboo Lake, Panda Lake, Five Flower Lake and Pearl Shoal. In the late afternoon, leaving Jiuzhaigou.
★ Recommended Jiuzhaigou Tours
Known for the stunning nature, Jiuzhaigou is definitely the heaven of photographer. With the eye popping waterscape of various lakes and waterfalls, the most scenic spots for photographing are Long Lake, Five-Color Pond, Mirror Lake and Five Flower Lake.
With a viewing platform close to Long Lake and a sidewalk around Five Flower Lake, it is convenient for photographers finding an advanced point. As for the Mirror Lake’s surface lake scenery and the different colored Five-Color Pond attract thousands of visits to record their beauty through the lens. >>Jiuzhaigou Photo Gallery
Other than that, the Nuorilang Waterfall, great site to present the dynamic charm of Jiuzhaigou, is fascinating to photographers.
Best seasons to go: In Summer, the enough bright sunshine will contributed to take great photos; And Autumn is the best season to visit Jiuzhaigou, when the groves around the lakes are a depth of diverse tints and the landscape is covered with colored leaves.
With more Jiuzhaigou shooting sites & tips, read about >>Jiuzhaigou Photography Guide.
Jiuzhaigou County, like a sequestered nature land, is full of wonderful landscapes of tourist scenic spots. 144km away from Jiuzhaigou Valley, the Huanglong National Park and Mounigou Valley are worth to visit.
Huanglong National Park: also called Huanglong Valley, the Huanglong National Park is known for its magic landscape of lime formations, and the multi-colored Terrace Ponds, especially the Five-Color Ponds. Featuring the scenery for the limestone valley, Huanglong is another tourist attraction together with Jiuzhaigou to experience different landscapes of water land.
Mounigou Valley: located in the southwest side of Songpan County, about 3 hours driving from Jiuzhaigou, Mounigou Valley features the beautiful lakes, splendid calcified waterfalls, groups of Karst caves and pearl hot springs. The main scenic spots of Zhaga Waterfall and Er’daohai, including a series of lakes with crystal clear water and the magnificent layered waterfall await you to visit.
Getting to Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu by air is the fast way and convenient for only 40 minutes, about over 7 daily flights available to Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.
Located between Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong scenic area, the Jiuzhai-Huanglong Airport keeps distance from them for 88 km and 40 km respectively.
(1) By flight from Chengdu, you can directly to Jiuzhaigou Valley (1.5 hours bus);
(2) Or you may visit Huanglong first (1 hour bus driving) and transfer to Jiuzhaigou Valley for another 2 hours.
To save money, taking bus from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou Valley is a popular way for about 8-10 hours. During the long distance bus trip, you can appreciate the authentic beauty of Tibetan villages and the natural scenery to kill time.
Jiuzhaigou is located in the high altitude and tourists should notice your body condition to avoid the altitude stress, which present symptoms of headache and palpitation, or ever worse.
It’s a rule for most Chinese tourist sites to list two charging standards for busy-season or off-season, Jiuzhaigou Valley is no exceptional. Check the table below to find out the different charges of the busy-season (April 1 to November 15) and the off-season (November 16 to March 31) in Jiuzhaigou:
|Ticket||169 RMB||80 RMB|
|Tourist Bus Fare||90 RMB||80 RMB|
(a) The tourist bus fare is compulsory and only last for one day. The operate time is from 7:00 to 17:00.
(b) Normally the ticket is last for one day, if one day is not enough for you and want to get in on the next day to appreciate thoroughly, you need to buy the ticket again when travel in busy-season; or you may only pay extra 20 RMB during the off-season.
Visit Jiuzhaigou in different seasons, you can enjoy the different sceneries. In Spring, you’ll encounter the ice melt water land with everything is blossom; travel in Summer, you’ll immersed in the furious lakes reflecting their sparks through the dazzling sunshine and the tendering wind; as for the Autumn, Jiuzhaigou welcomes you with its best colorful lakes and all tinged mountains; in Winter, the ice-covered peaks, the frozen waterfall and the placid lake present you a sense of tranquility.>>Learn More about Jiuzhaigou Weather
Living in the Jiuzhaigou Valley is not comfortable with only basic facilities and not allowed. Therefore, we recommend some hotels nearby Jiuzhaigou Valley for you to stay in comfort and convenient for you to get to Jiuzhaigou scenic spots, including Sheraton Jiuzhaigou Resort, Jiuzhaigou Qianhe Hotel and Jiuzhaigou Xingyu Grand Hotel. .>>Learn More about Where to Stay in Jiuzhaigou
Comfortable shoes, sunglasses, appropriate dressing to avoid the summer heat and cold winter are quite enough for you to have a pleasant tour here. Besides, it is advisable to take some water and snacks to appease hunger.
Usually, 2 or 3 days are needed to explore the highlights of Jiuzhaigou Valley and Huanglong Valley excluding the arrival and departure days. Most travelers transfer to Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu by flight or driving. Some other cities also have flights to Jiuzhaigou, such as Beijing, Chongqing, etc. After arrival, spend a half day to tour the Huanglong Valley, and another full day to visit Jiuzhaigou. If you want to take a walking or photography tour, we recommend spend one more day.
Besides Jiuzhaigou and some other attractions around it such as Huanglong, Songpan, Mounigou, and Ruoergai, you can also travel Jiuzhaigou with other hot destinations in Sichuan, such as Chengdu, Mount Emei, Leshan Giant Buddha, etc.
★ Recommended Jiuzhaigou Tours
Picturesque Jiuzhaigou Scenery
Top 3 Jiuzhaigou tours chosen by most customers to explore Jiuzhaigou in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.
Chengdu / Huanglong / Jiuzhaigou
Chengdu - Huanglong - Jiuzhaigou
Chengdu / Huanglong / Jiuzhaigou / Chengdu
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