Sichuan Tour: Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong National Parks
Jiuzhaigou: Natural Wonders of Northern SichuanMap
SONGPAN: STARTING POINT OF A JOURNEY TO HUANGLONG AND JIUZHAIGOU
About 400km north of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, there are two of the most spectacular but also most popular national parks in China: Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong. Starting point to the two national parks Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong is Songpan.
The small town of Songpan is located at 2860m above sea level on both sides of the Min River. Songpan experienced its first heyday during the Tang Dynasty, when the city was developed into a garrison city under the Tang Emperors. The city wall still visible today comes from the Ming Dynasty and has been partially preserved in its original state.
Although many of the old houses have disappeared over time, you can still find the "old Songpan" with the hairdresser's shops, small markets and noodle shops in the numerous side streets. Songpan also has many old "wind and rain bridges" that cross the nearby Min River.
The city of Songpan is a good starting point for excursions to the Muni Valley, Huanglong or Jiuzhaigou.
Songpan also has an airport, which is located north of the town, near the town of Chuanzhusi. There are several daily flights to Chengdu and Chongqing to Songpan.
JOURNEY FROM SONGPAN TO HUANGLONG
From Songpan you first travel to the town of Chuanzhusi. Until recently, Chuanzhusi was just an insignificant spot on the map. After the opening of the Songpan airport, countless hotels and guesthouses were built here, which have become a popular place for overnight stays for Chinese tour groups on their way to Jiuzhaigou.
From Chuanzhusi it is a scenic drive to the Huanglong National Park. On the way to Huanglong the winding road crosses a 4'200m high pass from where you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding mountain landscape.
The 7 km long Huanglong Valley is located at the foot of Baoding Mountain at 3550m above sea level. Huanglong literally means "yellow dragon". The Huanglong National Park is famous for its wonderful sinter terraces with the different pools that reflect the water in various colors. These sinter terraces were formed over 250000 years by lime deposits from the water, which flows constantly over the terraces. Since 1992 the Huanglong National Park is on the list of UNESCO World Natural Heritage Sites.
You can easily explore Huanglong on foot. Those who like it more comfortable, can take a ride one way with the cable car to the top and then hike back to the park entrance. In Huanglong there are several overnight accommodations. However, most travelers prefer to continue their journey to Jiuzhaigou right after Huanglong.
SICHUAN TRAVEL: JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK TRAVEL INFORMATION
The Jiuzhaigou National Park is located about 150km north of Songpan. The driving time is a little less than 3 hours. The Jiuzhaigou National Park is probably one of the most beautiful, but also one of the most popular national parks of China.
The name Jiu Zhai Gou (Jiuzhaigou) literally means "The Valley of the Nine Villages" and refers to the nine Tibetan villages which are located in the park. The Jiuzhaigou (Jiu Zhai Gou) National Park extends over three valleys and has a total area of 72'000km2, which is about twice the size of Belgium. The deep blue lakes with crystal clear water, the great waterfalls, the rich vegetation and the wonderful mountains make Jiuzhaigou (Jiu Zhai Gou) one of the most beautiful National Parks in China.
The National Park can only be accessed by mandatory park buses, with which the most popular sights can be easily reached. Private vehicles must be parked at the park entrance.
The opening of Songpan Airport made Jiuzhaigou (Jiu Zhai Gou) National Park one of China's most popular tourist attractions. But one should not be deterred by the oversized entrance gate, the monstrous parking lot and the overpriced entrance fees. Once you are inside the park and then walk a little away from the main attractions, you will find enough quiet, less turbulent spots.
The most popular months for a trip to Jiuzhaigou are September and October, when the park presents itself in its autumn colors. The average altitude of the Jiuzhaigou National Park is between 2000 and 2800m above sea level. In 1992, Jiuzhaigou (Jiu Zhai Gou) was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
"...the trip to Jiuzhaigou was wonderful. Everything was well organized..."
Martha, United States
"...especially our Sichuan guide was very nice and knowledgeable..."
Pete from Canada
Day 1: CHENGDU - FLIGHT JIUZHAIGOU - HUANGLONG - JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK
Early morning pick up at your hotel in Chengdu. Transfer to the airport and flight (1 hour) to Songpan/Jiuzhaigou. Pick up and drive to Huanglong National Park.
On the scenic journey to Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) you cross a 4'200 m high mountain pass, from where you have a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.
The Huanglong Valley is located at the foot of Baoding Mountain at 3550m above sea level. After arrival you take the cable car up to Wanlongping. From here a beautiful, 6 km long hiking trail leads back to the park entrance. The hike takes you past the many highlights of the park, including the limestone terraces with their numerous pools of different shapes and colors, which were formed over 250,000 years by limestone deposits from the water that flows constantly over the terraces. Since 1992, the entire Huanglong Valley has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the afternoon drive to Jiuzhaigou.
After arrival in Jiuzhaigou check-in at the hotel. Overnight accommodation is at Jiuzhaigou.
Day 2: EXPLORE JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK
Short drive to the park entrance of the Jiuzhaigou National Park. The Jiuzhaigou National Park extends over 3 valleys and has a total area of 72'000 km².
"Jiuzhaigou" means "the valley of the 9 villages" and refers to the 9 villages which can be found in the park.
According to legend, the goddess Semo accidentally dropped her mirror here, from whose shards the 100 shimmering turquoise lakes were created. Jiuzhaigou has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992.
The untouched nature, the deep blue, clear lakes and the wonderful waterfalls are breathtaking. We explore the park partly by public transport and take short hikes between the most famous sights.
Overnight stay in Jiuzhaigou.
Day 3: TRAVEL FROM JIUZHAIGOU TO MOUNI VALLEY AND SONGPAN
Drive south to Songpan. Shortly before Songpan you make a detour to Mouni valley, which is located about 35 km west of Songpan.
The Mouni Valley consists of two side valleys, more than 100 lakes and natural hot springs, with the most spectacular landscapes being the Zhaga Waterfall and Lake Erdao.
The surrounding mountains tower over 4,000m into the dark blue sky. Return to Songpan.
The small town of Songpan is located at 2860m above sea level on both sides of the Min River.
Take a walking tour through the picturesque old town of Songpan. You will visit the remains of the city wall as well as one of the numerous "Wind and Rain bridges" preserved in their original state.
Overnight stay in Songpan.
Day 4: SONGPAN – MAOXIAN – TAOPING
From Songpan your Sichuan journey to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong continues south along the G213 via Maoxian and Wenchuan to Taoping.
In May 2008 the area around Wenchuan was almost completely destroyed by a severe earthquake. At that time, 4.8 million people had to be resettled. The reconstruction made the Wenchuan earthquake the second most expensive earthquake in history.
Due to the new infrastructure, many of the old villages appear to be somewhat "sterile" at first glance.
You visit the village of Taoping. The village of Taoping is home to the Qiang Tibetans. Characteristic for many Qiang villages in the area are the "Gudiao" ("Qiang Towers"). Some of these stone towers are up to 1000 years old and reach heights of up to 30 meters. They served as defensive towers to protect the villagers from enemy attacks.
The overnight stay takes place in a very simple guesthouse with a local family.
Day 5: TAOPING – DUJIANGYAN – CHENGDU
Drive south largely along the Min River towards Chengdu.
On the way, stop at Dujiangyan. You will visit the famous irrigation system of Dujiangyan, which was built in the 3rd century BC by the architect Li Bing with the purpose of taming the wild Min River and at the same time using the water to irrigate the often dry Chengdu plain.
This ingenious irrigation systen was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
You will also visit the "2 Kings Temple" and take a walk through the adjacent park with its countless temples and pavilions.
Drive to Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province in China. End of your tour to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong. Book one of our connecting travel programs. We will also be happy to assist you with your accommoation in Chengdu.