Getting there & away
To Chéngdū can be done in 11 to 13 relatively painless hours. From Chéngdū’s Chadianzi bus station there are four daily buses to Jiǔzhàigōu (Y92 to Y103, 7.20am, 8am, 8.40am and 2pm); Xinnanmen station also has one (Y92, 8am). If you’re coming from Gānsù via Zöigê, you will have to go through Sōngpān. From Sōngpān to Jiǔzhàigōu (Y28, three hours, three times daily), the road goes up and over some gorgeous scenery.
From Jiǔzhàigōu to Sōngpān (Y28, two to three hours) there is a daily bus that leaves the park itself at 7.20am; otherwise, flag down buses which start from Nánpíng but don’t stop at this station (bus station staff will let you know when!).
Between October and April, snow often cuts off access to Jiǔzhàigōu for weeks on end. Even at the best of times, transport is not plentiful. Hitching to Jiǔzhàigōu on tour buses has supposedly happened, but it’s a rare occurrence indeed.
Buses for Jiǔzhàigōu (Y45, 1½hr) wait at the airport for arrivals and leave when full. This means that you might have to wait around for a while, as most of your fellow passengers will be hopping off the plane and straight onto a tour bus.
Returning to the airport is much easier as a scheduled bus leaves from near the Lántiān Bīnguǎn.
Occasionally buses leave from the airport to Huánglóng (Y22, one hour) but only if there are enough people.