Jiuzhaigou Valley is a spectacular nature reserve in Sichuan Province in Southwestern China. Characterized by picturesque mountain lakes, awe-inspiring displays of wildflowers, snow-capped peaks, and unparalleled tranquility, Jiuzhaigou Valley is reminiscent of the mythical kingdom of Shangri La.
The Jiuzhaigou Valley runs from the North to the South of the national park and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Jiuzhaigou, meaning ‘Nine Village Valley’, contains 9 Tibetan settlements scattered amongst the region’s famous blue and green lakes, cascading waterfalls, and the MinShan mountain range on the edge of the Tibetan plateau. The pristine natural environment of Jiuzhaigou is home to more than 220 species of birds and a range of endangered plants and animals, including the iconic Giant Panda and the rare Golden Monkey.
Despite being relatively remote, Jiuzhaigou Valley has several fantastic hotels and a nice range of good-quality restaurants to enjoy. Hidden away in the mountains, the region’s Tibetan population has managed to retain much of its traditional culture intact. This means that while in Jiuzhaigou you’ll be able to try authentic Tibetan food and see Tibetan dances and performances during your stay.
Jiuzhaigou Valley is one of China’s most overlooked destinations but in recent years its reputation has started to spread among savvy world travelers. With incredible natural scenery and a delightful cultural heritage, Jiuzhaigou is the perfect destination for couples, adventurous solo travelers and families who want to explore some of China’s most stunning mountain landscapes.
How Do You Get To Jiuzhaigou Valley, China?
The most convenient way to reach Jiuzhaigou is to fly to the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU). You can reach the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport directly from many major international travel hubs or by flying into another Chinese airport, such as Shanghai Pudong International Airport, and then catch an onward domestic flight.
After you’ve arrived in Chengdu, you’re just a short way from Jiuzhaigou Valley. The quickest way to reach the nature reserve is by flying from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou Huanglong Airport. From Jiuzhaigou Huanglong Airport, it’s just a 40-minute drive to many of Jiuzhaigou’s best hotels.
Alternatively, you can catch a bus or hire a private car from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou. This will take about 8 to 10 hours, but along the way, you’ll have lots of time to savor the breathtaking scenery.
Lastly, you can join a guided tour of Jiuzhaigou. Most tours will either pick you up at the airport in Chengdu or from any number of other locations in the vicinity, including your hotel.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Jiuzhaigou Valley, China?
Jiuzhaigou Valley is a fantastic area to visit at any time of the year. Even so, as the seasons change, the character of the natural environment transforms from one magical vista to another. Generally speaking, the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou Valley is during the autumn, when the leaves are brightly colored, or between April and May, in the spring.
During the autumn and spring, the weather is pleasantly warm and you’ll either be treated to vividly colored autumn leaves on the trees around the lakes or by vast fields of wildflowers during the springtime.
The summer months are also a great time to visit the park although it is the peak season for Chinese tourists. As a result, the park will be more crowded than during the quieter shoulder seasons in spring and autumn and you can expect hotel prices to be a little higher as well.
What Is There To Do In Jiuzhaigou Valley, China?
Stay At The Banyan Tree Jiuzhaigou.
This luxury mountain resort is perfectly situated for exploring the Jiuzhaigou Valley and the surrounding nature reserve. Just 40 minutes drive from the Jiuzhaigou Huanglong Airport, the exclusive hotel in Boahua Town has more than 200 lovely guestrooms and suites with picturesque views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.
The Banyan Tree Hotel’s amenities include a 24-hour concierge service, a pool, a private golf course, a fitness center and a yoga room. There is also a fully stocked bar, lounge, coffee shop and on-site restaurant that serves a lovely range of local and international cuisine.
While you’re staying at the Banyan Tree hotel you can join guided tours of Jiuzhaigou Valley as well as visit nearby attractions such as the Jiuzhaigou National Arts Center, the Jianyuan Virgin Forest and the Baihe Golden Monkey Natural Reserve.
A convenient way to see all the top sites within Jiuzhaigou Valley and the nearby Huanglong National Park is to join a private 3-day tour. You’ll be picked up at your hotel in the nature reserve – or at Jiuzhaigou Huanglong Airport if you prefer – and enjoy an action-packed tour of the Jiuzhaigou Valley.
As well as experiencing the natural wonders of the area, the tour also includes lunch, entrance fees to local attractions, and an English-speaking guide. The private 3-day tour is the ideal way to see the Jiuzhaigou Valley without having to worry about making your own arrangements. After the tour is finished, you can choose to be dropped off at the airport or back at your hotel in the nature reserve to continue your vacation in the mountains.
Visit The Jiuzhaigou National Arts Center.
If you’d like to learn about the unique Chinese-Tibetan culture of the region then the Jiuzhaigou National Arts Center is a must-see. The cultural heritage of this part of the Tibetan Plateau is like nowhere else and at the arts center, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in live dance and singing performances.
The performers wear traditional Tibetan clothing and throughout the performance, they tell stories about their culture and religion. The cultural events are a lot of fun and completely family-friendly, so just right if you’re visiting with your children.
Eat At The A Bu Lu Zi Tibetan Restaurant.
The A Bu Lu Zi Tibetan restaurant serves a delicious range of heartwarming dishes that you simply have to try while you’re in the Jiuzhaigou Valley. Some of the highlights on the menu include Tibet’s national dish, Tsampa, as well as dried meat, sausages, Tibetan Momo, noodles, Cheser Mog rice, butter tea, and refreshing Tibetan yogurt for dessert.
Tibetan cuisine is very varied and is suitable for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike. The restaurant has a warm atmosphere and if you need some advice about the best Tibetan food on the menu you can always ask the waiting staff for a few tips.