Jiuzhaigou is an incredible 72,000 hectare national park and nature reserve in China's Sichuan province, about an eight hour bus ride from Chengdu or a short plane trip. We opted for the bus trip, organised by our hostel, Hello Chengdu - the BEST hostel we have every stayed at - read all about it here. Jiuzhaigou is one of the most beautiful places we've visited in China and if you're traveling to Chengdu I really encourage you to visit for scenery like this:
Jiuzhaigou Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a Biosphere Reserve - pretty impressive huh? It's on the border of the Tibetan Plateau and many of the villagers are from minority groups with distinct cultures and histories that are being preserved and shared through cultural shows and exhibitions within the town.
I feel like many people don't realise just how beautiful China is. We have seen only a small piece of it and it is really incredible. Train trips are magic because you get to see so much - from English-looking villages to mountains and forest and waterfalls. Buses are also a great way to get around (although we prefer trains) as you get to see a little more of the villages as you pass through.
Like most tourist attractions in China, Jiuzhaigou is very easy to get around as it is well-pathed and a shuttle bus system is super efficient and transports everyone from place to place although you could walk if you wanted to.
The trick here is to start from the top - so take the bus up to the far end of the park - and work your way back down. You'll be swimming against the tide and it wont be so crowded as most Chinese tourists, and there will be a lot, tend to start at the beginning.
And a word on Chinese people - they are not at all like the stereotype of the tourists you may have seen outside of China. Chinese people are so kind and lovely and only rarely is there pushiness (just like anywhere) and a stern look or comment is enough to stop that! Yes there will be a bit of spitting on the ground, but that's what people do in China so just get used to it.
Both Emmie and I adore China and it's people and amazing nature and we reckon if you give it a chance you'll love it too.
Jiuzhaigou is simply beautiful - forest. crystal clear yet brilliant blue and green lakes and streams, amazing waterfalls and paths through simply gorgeous nature. We spent a day here and I suggest two because we could have spent so much more time exploring and just loving on the beauty with friendly and proud Chinese.
There's a variety of accommodation like the Banyan Tree, the Holiday Inn to the Howard Johnson to smaller, more local style hotels and rooms that are totally sufficient. You can check out a heap of hotels and prices here. I can't remember where we stayed -well I remember it, it wasn't great but it was okay. We had to sneak bath towels when the manager wasn't looking but they fed us and it was okay.
Each evening the Zang Mi Tibetan Culture Show is really great cultural performance by the minority groups at the National Arts Centre in town and is definitely worth seeing too. You can get tickets at the centre, from your hotel, from your driver or if you take a tour it will be included in your ticket. Don't wait til the evening though as the performance we saw was really crowded. It's in a gorgeous old hall and the show is really amazing - I think because it is full of passionate local performers who are fabulous to watch.
So go on, do it! Visit China and make friends, have adventures and explore its beautiful nature. You'll love it!