Jiuzhaigou walking tour
Walking tour itinerary
Entrance – (by bus) Long Lake – Five Colored Pond – (by bus) Nuo Ri Lang – Nuo Ri Lang Waterfall- (by bus) Virgin Forest – (by bus) Arrow Bamboo Lake – Panda Lake – Panda Lake Waterfalls – Five Flower Lake – Peacock Riverbed – Pearl Shoals – Pearl Shoals Waterfall – Mirror Lake – Nuo Ri Lang – (by bus) Rhinoceros Lake – Tiger Lake – Shu Zheng lakes – Lying Dragon Lake – Sparkling Lake – Jia Wu Sacred Mountain – Reed Lake – Bonsai Shoal – He Ye Village – (by bus) Exit
Jiuzhaigou National Park is huge, but it is possibly to see its mayor attractions in one day. To do that, you will have to spend all day in national park, with a lot of walking. Jiuzhaigou cannot be visited in one day on foot only. On the other hand, from the bus you cannot enjoy the best views and you would miss so much if you stay in the bus all the time. Therefore, it is best to use both, buses and foot. Use buses as a mean of transportation between distant sites within Jiuzhaigou, and wander around attractions on foot.
The suggested walking tour is of moderate difficulty, and can be demanding for some people. In order to completely go through it, you need to spend the whole day in the park. If you feel tired you can skip some attractions by taking the bus, as there are bus stops along the way. Of course, in order to take bus you will have to leave trail and get to the asphalt road. If you decide to skip some attractions, make sure you don’t miss Long Lake, Five Colored Pond, Arrow Bamboo Lake, stretch between Nuo Ri Lang and Arrow Bamboo Lake, and Nuo Ri Lang Waterfall, as they are more spectacular. The most beautiful lakes are on the highest altitudes, so it is best to visit them first, before the crowds.
Get into the park as early as you can. At the entrance, take the bus to Long Lake (长海; Zhǎng Hǎi). This impressive lake is considered as the most splendid and extraordinary, being the largest and the deepest at the same time. Surrounded by the huge mountains, with the length of around 5 kilometers, its dark blue color looks just like the reflection of the sky, leaving a huge impression on each visitor. For locals, this is also the most important lake, since they consider it magical and of a huge historical significance. After you finish enjoying the Long Lake, walk to the Five Colored Pond (五彩池; Wǔcǎi Chí), which will definitely amaze you with its crystal water, and underground landscape of different colors. This is one of the small lakes in this park, but regarding beauty, it can definitely compete with the previous, enormous one. The colors of the lake range from white to dark blue, including bright yellow and turquoise, and the way that nature plays with nuances is just a perfect rest for the eyes of the visitors. From the Five Colored Pond take the bus back to the center of the park to the Nuo Ri Lang (诺日朗; NuòRì Lǎng). At the Nuo Ri Lang there is a road fork; North road will take you to the park entrance/exit, southeast road to the Long Lake, and southwest road to the Virgin Forest. Near the road fork is beautiful Nuo Ri Lang Waterfall (诺日朗瀑布; Nuò Rì Lǎng Pùbù), grand and magnificent, as its name in Tibetan implies. It is about 25 meters tall, and 32 meters wide, being the widest at the same time in the whole national park. Surrounded by numerous trees and flowers, this place is without any doubt one of the most beautiful and serene places. Early mornings here are quite precious, because of the rainbows it reflects when the sun shines on it. After Nuo Ri Lang Waterfall go back to the Nuo Ri Lang and take the bus to the Virgin Forest (原始森林; Yuánshǐ Sēnlín) and explore it for about 30 to 45 minutes. If you feel that all day walking would be too much for you, you can skip Virgin Forest, and from Nuo Ri Lang take bus to the Arrow Bamboo Lake. Virgin Forest covers around the half area of Jiuzhai Valley, and it stands firmly even today in its original condition. In general, it is the perfect place to forget about the reality, being surrounded only by the trees, pacing through the fallen leaves, hearing nothing but the sounds of birds and animals, and breathing the fragrance of the nature.
From the Virgin Forest, take bus to Arrow Bamboo Lake (箭竹海; Jiànzhú Hǎi), which got its name from tall bamboo canes that grow around it, with the perfect reflection on the water. Surrounding mountains are also reflected on this lake, so it seems to be the perfect mirror for the nature around. It covers an area of around 170,000 square meters, and is 6 meters deep. From Arrow Bamboo Lake walk back all the way to the Nuo Ri Lang. On the way you will see serious of natural wonders, first of which is the Panda Lake (熊猫海; Xióngmāo Hǎi). As the name itself implies, this lake the main place for pandas, since there are also bamboo around it, being their favorite food. It covers an area of 90,000 square meters and its depth is around 14 meters. This green lake is full of different fish, and its transparency make it possible to enjoy the view under it. An important part of the lake are Panda Lake Waterfalls (熊猫海瀑布; Xióngmāo Hǎi Pùbù), with the longest drop in the valley of nearly 78 meters. The breathtaking beauty of this site will astonish you. The next thing you will see is Five Flower Lake (五花海; Wǔ Huā Hǎi), since it is connected to Panda Lake Waterfalls through a 3 kilometer long board road built along cliffs. The colors of the lake are quite amazing, and since it is transparent, the old fallen tree trunks can be visible, in the part of the lake named Peacock Riverbed (孔雀河道; Kǒngquè Hédào).
Pearl Shoals (珍珠滩; Zhēnzhū Tān) and Pearl Shoals Waterfall (珍珠滩瀑布; Zhēnzhū Tān Pùbù) are also not to be missed when visiting this National park, especially the waterfall with a width of about 163 meters and a height of 21 meters. The name pearl was given to these sites because of the small droplets and the sparkling effect they produce, completely resembling the small pearls. One more spectacular site is the 1000 meters long Mirror Lake (镜海; Jìng Hǎi), where, just as the name itself says, the sky, clouds, mountains and trees completely reflect, and the lake seems to be a huge, natural mirror. Once you go there and see the view, you will definitely not regret, since the clear water offers serenity and calmness. Further on, from the Nuo Ri Lang take bus to the Rhinoceros Lake (犀牛海; Xīniú Hǎi). This is the largest lake in the Shuzheng Valley, and the only one where yachts are offered to tourists, in order to enjoy sightseeing. Many legends are related to it, and one of it is related to its name, claiming that a lama dwelled in with his rhinoceros. From Rhinoceros Lake walk north to the He Ye Village. The first attraction you will encounter on this way is Tiger Lake (老虎海; Lǎohǔ Hǎi), being set on 2,298 meters above the sea level. Regarding its beauty, it can definitely compete with everything you have already seen in this National park. There are many stories related to how it got its name, but one of the most usual ones is that the sound of nearby Shuzheng Waterfall completely reminds of tigers’ roaring. Right after the mind-blowing Tiger Lake, you will come across Shu Zheng lakes (树正海; Shù Zhèng Hǎi), of course, first seeing the beautiful, 15 meters tall waterfalls. The nature here is extraordinary, seems to be untouched and completely preserved, so the greenery around, trees and clear water are heaven like. In the same line of the lakes, there is also the Lying Dragon Lake (卧龙海; Wòlóng Hǎi), which is one of the lowest lakes of the area, with the depth of only 20 meters. The way how it got its name becomes pretty much obvious when you come closer, since it resembles the lying dragon. The next lake you will come across is the Sparkling Lake (火花海; Huǒhuā Hǎi), also one of the smallest ones, with the depth of 9 meters. The sparkling surface of the lake contributed the way it got its name, and the light blue color in combination with the green forest around creates a unique experience. The near Jia Wu Sacred Mountain (宝镜崖; Bǎo JìngYá) is also of a huge importance, especially for the locals, since it still keeps the ruins of a Buddhist pagoda, which are today regarded as the sacred altar. Reed Lake (芦苇海; Lúwěi Hǎi), right beside the mountain, being covered with reeds seems to be quite specific and slightly different of the other lakes. It is 1,375 meters long, and the turquoise color of the water is a perfect contrast to the green, at autumn even yellow reeds. Bonsai Shoal (盆景滩; Pénjǐng Tān) is the next site you will definitely fall in love with. Again, the combination of the water, trees and plants cannot leave you indifferent. This is the place where the water flows through the woods, grass, pines, cypresses, and other bush. He Ye Village (荷叶寨; Hé Yè Zhài) is one of the seven inhabited Tibetan villages, and one of the rare ones which are accessible and friendly to tourists. Located along the main road, it is quite convenient, since here you may buy food, drinks, some of the local souvenirs and handicrafts. After He Ye Village take the bus to the entrance.
Walking tour in two days
If you have two days for Jiuzhaigou, you can allow yourself peaceful exploration of this magnificent national park. Jiuzhaigou definitely deserves it.
On the first day you can visit southeast (to the Long Lake) and southwest (to the Virgin Forest) forks from the Nuo Ri Lang. Second day explore the stretch from Nuo Ri Lang to entrance or vice versa. Additionally, you can spent some time in off beaten trails in Zharu Valley, southeast near the entrance. There are no buses going along the Zharu Valley.