I suppose not many travelers from outside of China have heard of JiuZhaiGou. This beautiful place is Waterfall in JiuZhaiGoulocated in Sichuan province, 40 minute flight or 10 hour (pretty spectacular and in some places scary) bus ride, from Chengdu, Sichuan Province. In early 1990 when the place was first being opened up to tourists, the advice that most of us got was that you would need about a week to visit the place as the treck there was “bus or truck” only. Now JiuZhaiGou has an airport, probably one of the higher elevation airports in the world (at about 3500 meters altitude).
So, in 2006, getting to JiuZhaiGou is relatively easy so it is a place a traveller looking for a combination of Tibetan culture and beautiful scenery should visit.
JiuZhaiGou – small village Waterfall in JiuZhaiGou
Once you are there, you can spend several days hiking around the mountains, visit the nature reserve area/park, where you might be able to observe several pandas, and see some beautiful areas including waterfalls and lakes and of course snow covered peaks.
Aside from the natural reserve, plan to spend some time visiting the Huanglong Si (Yellow Dragon Temple) – a valley with many terraced ponds and waterfalls. If you happen to visit in mid-August you might be able to observe a temple fair, which is visited by many Qiang minority traders.
In terms of places to stay, I would recommend the Sheraton. It is clean and conveniently located. With regard to time of visit, it is best (in my opinion) to visit as late as possible in the Fall as that will significantly reduce the crowds. Going in July or August will be tough — too many people. Visiting in the middle of November would be good as that is right before the season closes so you will be able to experience the beauty of the place without having to “struggle” with crowds of tourists. My visit was around 20th of November, and many restaurants and hotels were closing for the winter, but the Sheraton was open and the weather was perfect.
If you have questions about organizing a trip to JiuZhaiGou, please feel free to leave a comment on this site and I will contact you with further information via email. Happy travels!