{Travel} Jiuzhaigou National Park – Plus Ate Six

We spent Christmas Day on the edge of the Tibetan plateau in the far North West of Sichuan. I know this because when we arrived at our hotel it was 1C in the room with the heating on full blast so Rich decided to google our location because I had to admit to having no idea where we were on the map.

When it comes to planning trips it turns out I’m really good at flights and food and the rest of it I just wing it. Not the best of times to have an epiphany especially as I’d told Rich he wouldn’t need his ski gloves, hat or thermals and they were back in Shanghai…..

So where were we? On Christmas Eve we flew to just over three hours west to Chengdu and then took a forty minute connection northwest to Jiuzhaiguo. Famous for it’s blue and green lakes, waterfalls and wildlife, Juizhaigou National Park is UNESCO World Heritage listed and for very good reason.

The scenery is spectacular and it is very high up. Rich delighted in informing me the park ranges in elevation from 1990m above sea level at the entrance to peaks of 4764m {yes, that ski gear would have been useful}.

The park itself is surprisingly very well organised and easy to navigate, especially if like me you have done zero research and have no idea what to expect or where to go.

Upon entering the park at the ticket office we boarded a shuttle bus and decided we would go as far as we could and then walk back.

As we moved further into the park the scenery was breathtaking and we were delighted to see walkways all along the lakes and through the forests so we thought walking back would be a doddle – and the fact that we couldn’t see anyone else on the paths was a bonus too.

The bus stops at various  scenic spots along the way and you can get on and off as you wish and take as many selfies as you wish. We asked someone to take this one – I have no idea why Rich took his hat and gloves off for it:)

At a couple of particularly beautiful spots you may need to utilise your elbows and you might want to take ear plugs too. Although we were freezing, we were thankful we were visiting in low season because as stunning as the hillsides and lakes must be in spring and autumn it has the potential to be uncomfortably busy too. The shuttle buses run every minute or so and the carparks are huge at each scenic spot – you have been warned.

The walkways and infrastructure are remarkably sympathetic to the environment. It was a crying shame though that the walkways were all closed – the signs told us it was because it was fire season but I’m pretty sure it was because of the snow. We were so disappointed. The whole point of travelling out there in the first place was to get into nature and to walk – not to get on and off a bus.

Our luck turned though towards the bottom of the park around Tiger Lake and the walkway was open for around 3km. We  lost the crowds and it felt like we had the park to ourselves. There were moments we just stood and took it all in.

It all came good in the end – we both agreed it was a magical way to spend Christmas Day and we’re glad we made the effort to get there.

What you need to know:

From the airport a taxi will cost 300RMB and it takes an hour to get to the Intercontinental where we stayed.

From the hotel to the park takes approx 30 minutes and the pick up and return will cost 150RMB.

Entry to the park is 80RMB and bus ticket is 80RMB – you will need both. Park opens 7am-5pm.

You can plan your day better than us by checking this website out.

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