Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) is a county famous for its breathtaking natural scenery in Sichuan Province, about 460 kilometers away from Chengdu (for more details on Chengdu, read my previous post here! :D). You can travel there by air or by land from Chengdu. A flight takes around 40 minutes while a ride may take 8-10 hours depending on road conditions. Due to the winding mountain roads, drivers have to be more careful on rainy or snowy days.
As Jiuzhaigou is located around 2000 m above sea level, some people may feel uncomfortable or even suffer altitude sickness. Therefore, people prefer driving to flying there in order to prevent sudden altitude change by slowly adapting to it. In this journey, we opted for a drive. The scenery along the valleys throughout the journey was wonderful and spectacular as well!
Along the way there from Chengdu, we passed several small towns which had their own unique architectures and minority tribes. As this area is just on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, Tibetan villages and cultures can easily be found here. We made regular stops along the way and visited places like the Songpan Ancient Town and Diexi Lake. It made our 8-hour journey less tiring and more enjoyable!
Long story short, we arrived at our hotel, Howard Johnson Tianyuan Resort, in the afternoon and had our rest. Since we visited Jiuzhaigou during its off-peak season (Nov-Mar), there were limited hotels available for tourists. Moreover, we found out that most restaurants along the way and at Jiuzhaigou itself were closed for business during the off-peak season. Therefore, if you decide to visit Jiuzhaigou during this period, you might need to do more planning beforehand!
So, after a good night’s sleep, we started our journey to Jiuzhai Valley National Park early in the morning. It was freezing with an average temperature of -10 degrees Celcius (Chengdu was around 8 degrees). Nevertheless, it was totally worth it when we stepped into the nature’s winter wonderland!
Jiuzhai Valley is a national park located in the Min Shan mountain range with three notable valleys containing various sites. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit every single site and some parts of the park were closed for safety reasons in winter. However, we visited the highlights and it was magnificent!
Overall, it was a wonderful experience to be close to the nature and be amazed by it. The locals said that Jiuzhaigou’s landscape differs every season, with autumn as the best time to visit. Well, that was what they told everyone, so be prepared for the crowds! Nevertheless, the landscape of winter at Jiuzhaigou was still remarkable and worth-visiting. It’s no wonder that they dub Jiuzhaigou as the fairyland and winter wonderland of China! The scenery was just as pretty as a picture, and even more beautiful in reality!
Jiuzhai Valley National Park Opening hours: 7:00am to 7:00pm (May 1 – November 15) 8:00am to 6:00pm (November 16 – April 30) Peak Season : April 1 – November 15 Off-peak Season: November 16 – March 31