Jiuzhaigou National Park Szechuan Province
Cox & Kings Far East expert Neil Davis recently travelled to Szechuan in China.
I recently had the good fortune to travel to Jiuzhaigou National Park in China’s SouthWest province of Sichuan. While the Olympics has helped to boost tourism to China, Jiuzhaigou National Park remains off-the-beaten-track to most visitors.
Jiuzhaigou National Park is only a 30-minute flight (or an 11-hour drive!) from Chengdu and can be easily combined with a trip to see some of Sichuan’s most famous residents – Panda’s.
The park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Sight in 1992, and its Alpine-like scenery of waterfalls and colourful lakes are famed throughout the rest of China.
Although not officially discovered by the government until 1972, this remote region was inhabited by various Tibetan and Qiang peoples for centuries and you can visit one of the local Tibetan villages during your time in the park.
On arrival at Jiuzhaigou airport, located in the mountains and one of China’s three plateau airports, I was met by my local guide and driver and was presented with a traditional neck scarf. We soon departed the small airport across the barren landscape and headed for our lunch stop at the Mingaiangyuan Hotel in the local valley. After tasting some of the local delights we headed for the ancient walled city of Songpan, where we would take a stop en route to the National Park.
Songpan, or Songzhou, is a historical border town that is often referred to as the ‘Gateway to West Sichuan’. The history of this town stretches over 2300 years, during which time Tibetans, the ethnic Qiang, Hui, and Han people have all inhabited this area. Walking around this fantastic town, I was able to see some of the ‘Eight Sights of Songzhou’; The Spring Tide of Ancient Bridge, Sunset Glow of Jinpeng Mountain, Dragon Pool mirroring the moon, Dawn cooking smoke of Lu Peak, Great Mercy Buddhist Bell, Ancient Relic of Chi Pine, Autumn of Fengdong Pass, and the Brightening Sky after rain of Xuelan Pass.
After spending a considerable amount of time in Songzhou, it was time to get back on the road, and complete our scenic journey to The Jiuzhai Paradise Hotel, my home for the next two nights.
The following morning after a 30-minute drive from our hotel I was at the main entrance to the Jiuzhaigou National Park. Once our tickets had been checked and we were through the entrance, a full day of sightseeing lay ahead. Public transport moved me effortlessly around the park’s highlights, which consist of a high number of brilliantly coloured lakes, flanked by mountains and colourful alpine trees, and an array of natural waterfalls. A day here and I could really see why it is so popular throughout China, but really got me wondering why it isn’t more popular for overseas tourists.
On my final morning at Jiuzhaigou, I awoke to find that we had received a blanket of snow overnight. This really drove home what a beautiful area of China this is to visit at any time of the year.
Cox & Kings offer 14-night tour to China's some of most breathtaking landscapes including Jiuzhaigou, Shanghai, Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall. Please click here >>for more details or call 020 7873 5000 to speak to a Far East expert.
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