Jiuzhaigou གཟི་རྩ་སྡེ་དགུ། 九寨沟

The miraculous Jiuzhaigou Valley was hidden from development and most people till 1975. Once inhabited by Tibetans, the valley has been “reclaimed” by large flocks of Chinese tourists and the development that comes with them. For locals, the incredible interest and growing popularity for this valley has seen incomes soar and development grow. The valley itself is a protected area, which is only accessible from the entrance by your ticket’s inclusive buses (you can also opt out of the bus, but it may be almost impossible to get through the place and back before closing time as you can not stay inside the park). The entry fee is steep like almost everywhere else in China, but the park is immense.

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Once entered a bus (which hopefully will soon all be run on natural gas or electric), you will find yourself all the way at the furthest end of the park. There isn’t much here except for tourist shops, so you will soon have to make your way down. The buses have information on the best way to see the park and actually from the top it is better to just take the bus down a stop or two. After returning down a stop or two, you can start walking down. The bus really isn’t that useful when you make it to the lakes, and it isn’t so difficult to just keep walking down and hit all the spots.

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There are many lakes strewn across the area. Finally at the fork in the road is the Administration/Tourist Trap Information Station. Here you can take yet another bus to the Zechawa Valley. It isn’t so interesting at a certain point, because the lakes are seasonal and could be dried. The final lake at the top is usually filled and quite impressive. It’s all part of your ticket so might as well see everything. The route back from Tourist Information Station is most interesting. Once again the park is immense, so you must pick and choose where you want to walk and where you want to take the bus. There are many fake Tibetan villages in the way back you can check out.

Buses go back and forth to Chengdu throughout the day. There is also an airport if you can’t handle the 8 hour journey (a new road has made the journey quite shorter).

More Info: Official Site

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