7 hours away from Chengdu by bus, Jiuzhaigou bears a great reputation of natural beauty. It is famous for its amazingly colorful lakes up in the Tibetan mountains in western Sicuan. After a couple of days stay in Chengdu, I made my way to Jiuzhaigou with my friend Ramon, who I met at the hostel, we took an early bus and arrived 5 pm in a same day. I did some homework on what to do and how to do in Jiuzhaigou. It is basically a natural park divided into 4 sections of tourist route. Entrance ticket allows a 2-day entry with inner buses included, the inner buses run from one view spot to another in circles, tourists get on and off the bus without paying extra. Make sure to plan your itinerary well up ahead.
There was no high speed train from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou at the time I visited there, but on the bus, I saw some bridge construction above ground that looked like high speed train rail way going on, so I figured I'd ask around to see if it was what I thought it was. Later I was told that this new high speed rail way would connect Chengdu and Lanzhou with a few stops along the way, one of them is Jiuzhaigou. It would be finished by the year 2019, then traveling from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou would only take about 2 hours, what a progress!
This was one of the places our bus stopped for toilet, and also a place where the ancient Tibetan King, Songzanganbu met the princess Wencheng sent by her father to marry the king from Changan, capital of Tang dynasty. This event was a big deal to people at that time. Now, we even have a statue to memorize the great marriage.
A Tibetan girl vendor fed a goat.
There were 4 sections in the park, we planned on hiking to cover 2 sections a day, but it turned out that we miscalculated the distance, a huge mistake. Hiking is possible to do in the park, but it would take much more time than using the inner buses. Not very recommended unless you have your camping gear and plan on spending more time more days in the park. Entering the park, a crystal clear mountain stream came into sight, which was a great pleasant to see.
My friend, Ramon from the US and I in front of a Tibetan temple.
The first section, hiking trail started first left after that entrance gate, the second was straight, the third was straight and left, the fourth was straight and right. We hiked about 3 hours in the first section, then we realized it was too long to just walk and the first section we did was not very popular with tourists that they closed the buses in the low season, so we had to double back to where we made the first left turn and then started the second section, it was a long while in the second section we couldn't see anything before the real great lakes appeared, so for anyone doesn't have much time hiking in the park, taking a park bus is necessary. For what it was worth, my friend and I we did see some nice scenery along the first section, less tourists, nothing to complain with.
By the time we were able to see some parts of the second section, it was getting dark, fortunately, the view just got better and better, the water in the river and lakes were getting more interesting with the change of their colors.
Ramon, in the hiking, sun almost down. Wasn't as beautiful as what it was with the full daylight on. We decided to go back and visit the third and fourth sections the next day, might be along with some parts that we missed in the second section the first day.
Animals encounter in the first section, cows, boards, a yak that looked like a human being inside, and a while horse, didn't know if it was wild or not. Had a pretty fun day in the first section, but we did't get to see many awesome lakes there, we believed that the real adventure continued the next day...