Jiuzhaigou & Huanglong National Parks Trip Report Aug 2012
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Nov 12, 2012 1:41 AM Last Post By: mandja
Aug 27, 2012 5:19 PM
Jiuzhaigou & Huanglong National Parks Trip Report Aug 2012We had been traveling south from Xiahe, Langmusi, and Songpan, so we went to Huanglong first since there is a bus from Songpan. If you are coming from the north I highly recommend doing the same rather than doing a day trip to Huanglong from Jiuzhaigou because the bus from Songpan gets you there much earlier in the morning and you will not have as much time sitting on a bus. It left at 6am (although in reality it was a bit later than that for ours) and takes 1.5 hours, so we got to the park around 8am. 28 RMB per bus ticket. We had purchased our ticket the day prior since Emma at Emma's Kitchen in Songpan suggested we do just to ensure we got a spot since it is the only bus to Huanglong each day. There is a left luggage counter, free, in the hotel near the ticket building in Huanglong.
We walked up instead of using the cable car, and when we were there almost no one else was in the park at that time in spite of it being high season. The vendors were the only other people walking up (stands were not open yet). It was a pleasant walk. By the time we got to the top (easily the most beautiful and largest set of pools), there were other people (probably took the cable car) but it was still a very manageable crowd and we took lots of photos of us and the awesome scenery. We took a very leisurely walk down, stopping for the cave ( watch for it- a lot of people seemed to miss it - entrance is near the front of the temple that is close to the top and there is a sign for it there - on the left side) and at various pools and waterfalls. We had brought food for a picnic lunch from Songpan, and I suggest bringing some food along since options in the park are limited. We got to the bottom around 1pm, so we spent almost 5 hours in the park. It could easily be done in less since we took lots of photos and stopped and sat near waterfalls and so on to soak in the beauty of it all. 4 hours would still be fine for taking an unhurried pace. I think 3 would be rushed, but if you use the cable car up then it'd save time.
We then began our search for the bus to Jiuzhaigou. There are 1 or 2 per day ( leave at 3 or 3:30). From the exit, turn right and walk for awhile to get to the parking lot where the buses are. I was a bit worried about finding it when I saw the full lot and lots of buses, but we asked a few drivers we saw milling around (Jiuzhaigou? Jiuzhaigou?) and were quickly directed to the right bus. I had also been nervous about there not being seats since you buy the ticket on the bus and the bus was not there when we got there (there is not a bus ticket booth at Huanglong), so we could not buy an advance ticket, but we were able to get 3 tickets and a woman who came up later got one, too. The last 2 people to buy tickets had to sit on small stools in the aisle for the first hour of the 3 hour ride until several people got off. Then they moved to seats. 3 hour ride to Jiuzhaigou, 45 yuan. There was one other foreigner on the bus when we left at 3:30, and he told us that on the way to Huanglong the bus had been full to the point that people trying to get a ticket from Jiuzhaigou to Huanglong were turned away. We met another couple later who said they couldn't get the bus to Huanglong from Jiuzhaigou either, since it was full when they tried to buy a ticket at 6:00 am for the 7:00 or 7:30 departure. In high season if you want to go to Huanglong from Jiuzhaigou, make sure to buy your ticket as early as possible the day before! We went in the middle of the week, but August is a busy time no matter what. We learned that a taxi to/from huanglong to jiuzhaigou is about 400 each way... I think for a 7-seater, but not sure.
We loved Huanglong. In August all the pools were full and water was flowing all around the walkways. We arrived early enough that it felt uncrowded, and we were lucky to have nice weather. We really enjoyed our visit.
We went to Jiuzhaigou the next day. Beautiful, but absolutely mobbed. Very expensive at 310 for the entrance and bus. I knew it would be crowded but was still a bit stunned by the masses of people near the entry area and bus queue. Once we actually got to the hiking paths/ boardwalks close to the top, though, it was not as bad. It is really beautiful, and I don't think I've ever seen so many waterfalls in one place before. Again, we were glad we had brought in food with us for a picnic lunch. Crowds really died down around 5, and you can stay til around 7. I think staying late may have been better than arriving early in terms of smaller crowds, although there is a lot to see so plan on both early arrival and late departure if you can.
We bought a bus ticket to get back to Chengdu 1.5 days in advance (as soon as we arrived in Jiuzhaigou). I think there are a lot of buses each day, but it is so busy in high season that it is probably a good idea. It took 12 hours for our bus to make the trip, but 2 of those hours were sitting motionless on the highway waiting for an accident to clear. I think 9-10 hours is the current norm (if there are no accidents) from talking to other travelers we met.
Aug 27, 2012 6:17 PM
Aug 27, 2012 10:05 PM
Aug 28, 2012 1:14 AM
3In Xiahe you can stay at Tara's guesthouse. It's very simple but very cheap (20 for a bed in a dorm), the owner speaks english and the restaurant is not bad. (the hot water is not always working though)
In langmusi, I really don't recommend the hotel recommended in the LP. Very dirty, owner not nice and they put me in a room with a chinese family without telling them. There is a bunch of youth hostels now there, you can check it out here : http://wikitravel.org/en/Langmusi
Aug 29, 2012 6:17 AM
Aug 29, 2012 11:20 AM
Aug 30, 2012 3:35 AM
6Thank you for the detailed report. I am looking at a similar trip next year and this is such helpful information. Where had you been prior to Xiahe?
Sep 2, 2012 12:42 AM
Sep 2, 2012 2:35 AM
8#7 -- Should be much better in late October. No major holidays, plus all the students will be back in school. Families prefer to travel when their children can come along, which means school vacation is always a busy time in tourist spots.
Furthermore, might be extra pretty because the leaves will be turning color.
Sep 3, 2012 12:08 AM
Sep 3, 2012 8:36 PM
10Weekdays should be a bit better than the weekend.
For Songpan accommodation, Emma from Emma's Kitchen should have opened a guesthouse at that time. Keep an eye out for Emma's Guesthouse closer to the time.
Sep 3, 2012 10:36 PM
Sep 17, 2012 7:33 PM
12It depends on what you're looking for. If you want a 5* hotel I'd recommend the Sheraton over the Intercontinental. If you want 4* there are a number of similar ones - Jiu Long, Qian He, Xin Yu. 3* Gui Bing Lou has the best location and is decent. Hostels - all are average apart from MIGU which is bad. If you want an authentic Tibetan experience and where I'd stay is Zhuo Ma's Jiuzhaigou Home-Stay. No en-suites or 7-11's or noisy tourists or buses nearby but they provide transport and its surroundings are beautiful.
Sep 18, 2012 5:53 PM
Oct 20, 2012 4:01 AM
14Writing this report from Jiuzhaigou where I am visiting for the second time (first time was 6 years ago).
The nature remains breathtakingly beautiful, but I have been disappointed in several ways this time around:
- There used to be 3 days passes that were both cheaper and removed the need to queue in the morning to buy tickets, they don't sell them anymore. It seems they have 2 days pass in the low season only where the fee is anyway a lot cheaper and only a part of the park is accessible (what part is unclear to me),
- I was frankly shocked by how rude some Chinese tourists were when lining up to buy tickets or board buses. I am pretty well traveled but have never seen anything close anywhere else in the world, I also do not remember it being that bad 6 years ago. Get ready to start pushing and over taking if you want things to proceed, politely lining up doesn't seem to cut it. Frankly, the park is also very poorly organized which doesn't help people feel that their turn will come timely. Considering the very high price (nearly 50 Euros per day), this is sad,
- It used to be possible to get off the buses at many more locations and some walking paths seem not to be maintained any longer which forces you to either walk on the road (dangerous and probably not allowed, buses drive real fast and are many) or just give up visiting some parts of the park (mostly the upper part of the right section that happens to be one of my favorites). One side effect is that the parts that remain accessible are even more crowded than they used to be. Here also, the value is not as good as it used to be.
As far as crowds go, they still tend to gather around the main bus stops and it is possible to escape a lot of that by walking between bus stops.
- Photographying with a tripod remains a nightmare because of the vibrations being conveyed from other walkers on the wooden path one has no choice but to walk on.
All in all, this is probably going to be my last visit to Jiuzhaigou, at least in the warm season. This being said, the nature really IS amazing and well worth a look. Just be ready for a tiring experience.
Edited by: bernardla
Edited by: bernardla
Edited by: bernardla
Edited by: bernardla
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