It is said that if there should be a paradise on earth, Jiuzhaigou must be one of them. According to Tibetans, there is no equal elsewhere that has overwhelming sceneries as this valley. It combines serene crystal clear lakes, thundering waterfalls, lush green forests, and snowed-capped mountains.
Positioned on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau in northern Sichuan, Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) is famous for its breathtaking landscape. The valley stretches over 72,000 ha from north to south and comprises a series of dramatic karst peaks. Wedged between these snow-covered pinnacles are dense forests, multi-tiered waterfalls, stunningly beautiful lakes, as well as diverse ecosystems.
For centuries, Tibetans and other mountain dwellers such as the Qiang peoples have habited in this remote corner. They form settlements along the jagged valley, hence the name “Jiuzhaigou” (literally Nine Settlements Valley). Yet the mountainous region has only been known to the outside world since 1992 when UNESCO inscribed it as a World Heritage Site. These days, Jiuzhaigou is one of China’s most popular natural wonders, attracting millions of visitors annually.
1. Huanglong Scenic Area
The first stop on my journey to Jiuzhaigou is Huanglong Scenic Area (黄龙). Located 370 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital Chengdu, this valley is renowned for its magnificent travertine terraces. Eon of calcite deposits has formed these step-like geological structures. They stretch for more than three kilometers and create numerous turquoise-colored pools.
Due to these spectacular formations, UNESCO described the area as “unique in all of Asia” and declared it as a World Heritage Site in 1992. The bizarre landscape is flanked by lush forests and the lofty Min mountain range. There is also an ancient temple located right next to the pools, giving the whole scenery a mystical feeling.
From Huanglong, it took several hours on the winding road to reach Jiuzhaigou. The trip is long but the fairytale landscape is definitely worth the effort. In this valley, towering alpine mountains soar above a carpet of green and yellow. They embrace mesmerizing lakes, majestic waterfalls, as well as other limestone structures. Unlike in Huanglong, the water here has an unusual peacock blue color. It is so clear that visitors can even see to the bottom.
Aside from the remarkable sceneries, the myth surrounding Jiuzhaigou is no less intriguing. It began with a mountain deity named Dago who had a crush on the goddess Semo. In order to win her heart, Dago bestowed a mirror that was made of wind and cloud to her. However, unforeseen circumstances brought evils in the lovers’ path and the goddess dropped the mirror inadvertently. The mirror shattered into 118 pieces, which fell down to earth and became 118 sparkling gem-like lakes.
Tips for visiting Jiuzhaigou
- Having your own vehicle is probably the fastest and most convenient way to travel to Jiuzhaigou. The whole trip takes up to 11 hours, including a stop at Huanglong Scenic Area.
- There are regular buses running between Chengdu Bus Station and Jiuzhaigou, depart at 07:00 and 08:00. But you should ask your hotel receptionist to book the ticket in advance.
- Jiuzhaigou has a maximum capacity of tourists per day. So it is recommended to buy the ticket in advance from their website (only available in the Chinese version though) or show up at the ticket office early.
47 thoughts on “Jiuzhaigou: A Journey to the Mythical Valley”
Wow the nature is absolutely stunning here! I did not even know about the existence of this place, so beautiful! When I go to China, I will check it out 😘
Indeed, it is totally contrast to the image of a polluted Beijing. The air here is fresh and the water is so clear you can even see the bottoms of the lakes 🙂
It is indeed 😉 Thanks for visiting
What a beautiful place! did you take photos in autumn or trees are so colorful all the time? 🙂
No no only in autumn. I was there at the end of September, but last year 🙂
Genuinely paradise…Wow the nature is completely staggering here!…
Thanks, for visiting 🙂 I reminded that there was no wind at all. The only objects, which are moving, are us – the tourists. It looks just like a painting.
Somehow I don’t remember China as being so pretty, or human-free! 😉 Definitely postcard perfect in your shots though. Do you mind if I ask what camera you use?
Haha it is never human-free in China, even in this national park. Actually, I was surrounded by a legion of tourists while making this photo. For my camera, I am using the Fuji X30. Relatively small camera, it can fits even in my coat, but the quality is quite ok 🙂
I plan to share your post in my blog https://hellocreativestimes.com. Since you have enabled sharing on your post, I am assuming that you are allowing others to share this post. However, if you have any objection to sharing your post, please let us know as soon as possible. Thank you.
So sorry for my very late response! Akismet somehow filtered your comment. Surely you are welcomed to share my post 🙂 Thank you
So nice to say. Thank you so much. 🙂
🙂 Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!
Have a very HAPPY week 🙂
Thank you 🙂 Have a happy week too!
Great article! 🙂
Thank you very much! 🙂
Thank you 🙂
Your photos are absolutely incredible! What a beautiful place
Many thanks! 🙂
Absolute stunning pictures. Very beautiful and breathtaking place.
Thank you! 🙂
Thank you! 🙂
Your photos are beautiful. I like how balanced the colours are and how they complement each other. Very vivid – it makes me want to visit so I can see it through my own eyes.
Thanks for the very kind word, Viilar 🙂 I really appreciate it.
Thank you! 🙂
It’s indeed looks like heaven.. love the way u describe the places too
Many thanks! 🙂 I am glad that you love it.
Translation apps are definitely needed in China! Pretty much no way to get around without them.
Those apps are real lifesavers! I had studied Chinese before, but it was still a huge challenge for me to get around. I could speak some basic sentence, but I forgot most of the Chinese characters 🙂
My goodness, that’s beautiful! It’s like visual overload, but in a good way 🙂 How did you drag yourself away after you took the photos!?
Actually I was pushed away 🙂 You don’t see it in the photos but there were a massive crowd surrounding me. They don’t mind pushing other people to get a selfie spot.
What a beautiful place and your photos are fantastic! The contrast of colours is really striking!
It’s indeed breathtaking! Thank you for your compliment 😉
Wow! Stunning! Thank you for sharing!
My pleasure! 😉
Wow! That’s a long journey but it looks absolutely beautiful. The fall colours make it even more extraordinary. What part of fall was this?
I was there in October 🙂 I guess it was early autumn because the majority of trees are still green.
What a find! Adding it to our list!
Highly recommended! 🙂
These pictures are stunning!
Many thanks! 😉
Oh my goodness, what a gorgeous place. Thanks for sharing.
My pleasure 🙂 Have a nice weekend, Alison!