Jiǔzhàigōu National Park
The stunning Unesco World Heritage Site of Jiǔzhàigōu National Park is one of Sìchuān’s star attractions. More than two million people visit the park every year to gawp at its famous bluer-than-blue lakes, its rushing waterfalls and its deep green trees backed by snowy mountain ranges.
This minor manufacturing centre roughly equidistant between Chéngdū and Xī’ān is the main hub to get to many of the sights in northeastern Sìchuān. The ancient Shǔdào, or the ‘Way to Sìchuān’ (which impelled Li Bai to brush his famous lines ‘The way to Shu is harder than the way to heaven’ – to translate it roughly) sliced right through what is the modern city.
Huánglóng National Park
A trip to Huánglóng National Park is essentially a very expensive three-hour walk up and down one small valley. The valley, however, is stunning, and its terraced, coloured limestone ponds of blues, turquoises, yellows and greens are exquisite. It’s certainly worth the trip if you’ve got the cash. And it’s perfect picnic territory.