Jiuzhaigou

Jiuzhaigou in China: The Lesser-Known Lake District of The World


Last Updated on January 22, 2020 by Soumya

And where the green could be simply green and the blue could be solely blue; It was a beautiful place on the earth, a place called Jiuzhaigou!

A generous splash of blue and green, a never-ending trail of winding paths and an amazing concoction of towering mountains, fragrant alpine forests, and crystal clear lakes: this was how Jiuzhaigou presented itself to me.

Jiuzhaigou is a nature reserve in the north of the Sichuan province in southwestern China and is not very frequently visited by international tourists even though locals throng it in large numbers. I would have never known about it hadn’t K (my super trip-planner husband) put it as a permanent fixture on our Chinese itinerary.

We arrived in Jiuzhaigou after having explored the vibrant city of Chengdu and the Chengdu Panda Base. I hadn’t the faintest idea of what I would see in Jiuzhaigou and carried in my heart a sense of uncertainty. But, today as I look back, I am thankful to K for taking me to a place so beautiful, a place straight out of my dreams.

We took a flight from Xian to the Jiuzhai Hualong Airport. Sadly I have always had a bad experience with flights in China, either the flight departs late or the baggage turns up hours later. We were delayed quite a bit in our departure from Xian that day. But we arrived in Jiuzhaigou alright, albeit a bit late, and got into a taxi to take us straight to Uncle Jiang’s guest house, the place where we would stay the next couple of days. The cab that picked us from the airport dropped us midway at the mercy of another cab driver. We felt lost amidst the Mandarin blabber and continuous puffs of smoke. But the new driver was kind, ushered us into his car and drove us straight to Jiang’s guest house.

Uncle Jiang's Guesthouse
Uncle Jiang’s Guesthouse

Mountains silhouetted by wispy clouds, lush green foliage that you cannot take eyes off and wildflowers that bloom right out of nowhere greet you when you step into this quaint little town of Jiuzhaigou. It is more like a village where people here have built their livelihoods around the nature park and the tourism industry that it supports.

My first glimpse of Jiuzhaigou
My first glimpse of Jiuzhaigou

We went home, slept and woke up really early the next day for our first view of the national park. You have to reach the gates really early to get an unadulterated view of the pristine lakes without all the swarming human heads. It gets pretty crowded if you get in late. The ticket counter was chaotic but we managed to wiggle in, thanks to our Indian habits ;). And then we were on the bus and off to see some of the most beautiful lakes in the world.  We dumped our stuff in a small room at the guest house, showered and then went out to explore. We wandered about the village a little bit and then decided to have dinner. In an attempt to play safe we decided to try out the Chinese restaurant at the Sheraton in Jiuzhaigou with the hopes of an English menu. The menu was very much English, Chinglish I would say. It was difficult to make out what exactly the dishes contained and none of the waiters understood a word of what was written on it. An American Chinese family sitting at an adjoining table were happy to help with the translation and we were so grateful. We had an amazing and filling Chinese dinner.

I decide not to bore you guys with my ramblings anymore about how beautiful the lakes were, how much we liked being within the national park and how we would like to go back there again and again. Rather, I will let the pictures do the talking here.

Here are a few pictures that I clicked en route.

The Panda Lake
The Panda Lake
The Rhinoceros Lake
The Rhinoceros Lake
The Five Flowers Lake
The Five Flowers Lake
The Mirror Lake
The Mirror Lake
The Long Lake
The Long Lake
The Arrow Bamboo Lake
The Arrow Bamboo Lake

I came upon a number of wild and not so wildflowers in the forest, pictures that I have attached below. But, strangely, I did not see much of fauna except for these pretty ducklings in one of the lakes.

The nature park also has numerous rapids and waterfalls along the way. Gurgling water and mossy green waterbeds make the place an artist’s fantasy.

The trail ends at a colorful Tibetan village called Shuzeng. The Tibetan monastery there is worth taking a look at. If you wish to shop for Tibetan trinkets, you can find plenty of them at small shops in the village premises.

Jiuzhaigou was very aptly the lesser known lake district of the world for me. Mythology has it that a princess dropped a mirror accidentally from the skies to create the many pretty lakes in Jiuzhaigou. From the skies, it must be, for Jiuzhaigou seemed out of the world to me. I carried with me sweet memories of the trip for long afterward. Amiable people, unparalleled natural beauty. and a harmonious fusion of  Chinese and Tibetan cultures were what the place offered to us and we made sure we devoured it all.


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Soumya is an acclaimed travel writer who has traveled to 30+ countries and lived in 8 while pursuing her passion for history and culture. Her writings have been published in BBC Travel, Architectural Digest, National Herald, and many more. She loves exploring world heritage sites and has a deep affinity for everything ancient, especially the lost civilizations of Mesoamerica!

3 thoughts on “Jiuzhaigou in China: The Lesser-Known Lake District of The World

  1. I have never heard of Jiuzhaigou in China before. This is a beautiful lake district I must say. The pictures are mesmerizing. Those first views are so captivating. It can be difficult to get not-so-good cab drivers in a new place and that too late at night. Thankfully the 2nd driver was good. Interesting mythological stories make the places even more special. Trail ending into a Tibetan village must be such a peaceful experience. I think you have shared about a gem here which many people would not know about! Thank you.

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