If there were a magical place on earth, it would have to be Jiuzhaigou. The scenery is breathtaking with its lakes, spectacular waterfalls, lush forests, towering mountains and unique wildlife. The hues and shapes are always changing, coming together to make this landscape a masterpiece of nature.
Jiuzhaigou consists of 3 main valleys in the shape of a “Y”. All 108 lakes here are linked to each other through waterfalls, lakes and rivers. All scenic points are accessible by roads, wooden boardwalks and small pavilions. The boardwalks are built to preserve and maintain the natural look of the landscape for the many visitors, tourists and buses that throng the Jiuzhai National Park throughout the year.
Multi-Coloured Lakes and Mirror-Like Ponds
The Jiuzhai Valley is best-known feature is its dozens of stunning blue, green and turquoise-coloured lakes. The water is so clear that the bottom is often visible even in very deep water. The lakes vary in colour and aspect according to their depths, residues and surroundings. The mirror-like reflections from the lakes make it quite difficult to distinguish the line between land and water! After looking at these unique waterscapes, I felt that it was well worth the long journey and lack of sleep from the previous day.
No private vehicles – not even bicycles, are allowed inside the park. Buying a bus pass gives you access to an efficient hop-on hop-off bus transport system inside the park. A second option to view the natural scenery is to walk on the wooden boardwalks that run through the lakes and forests. Do note, however, that the distance from one scenic spot to another can vary between 90m and 4000m (4km)! In the interest of time, it’s best to combine walking with taking the bus if you are spending only one day at the park. If you are in a group, it might make sense to charter a bus. In this way, you are guaranteed that all must-see spots are covered.
There is a cafeteria serving buffet lunch at the intersection of the Y. Although hot and cold drinking water was available, no drinking cups were provided. I suspect it is common practice to bring your own drinking bottles and re-fill from the dispenser. As I didn’t carry a water bottle with me, I had to use a rice bowl as a cup!
One final point. The visitor maps are all in Chinese. Most of the service staff and bus drivers do not speak English. If you are like me – can’t read Chinese, it is best to download an English map of Jiuzhaigou and bring it along with you. Trust me. It will save you a lot of time, frustration and disappointment.