BACKPACKING GUIDE TO EXPLORE JIUZHAIGOU (九寨沟) NATIONAL PARK IN ONE DAY TRIP

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Jiuzhaigou National Park
“Whaatt ??? 310 RMB for only one day trip ?? That’s so EXPENSIVE !!” I surprisingly said those words when knowing the entrance ticket price.

Arrived safely in Jiuzhaigou National Park, read here how to go to Jiuzhaigou National Park for Solo Travel. Jiuzhaigou is my first stop of my overland #SoloTravel in China. As many people said Jiuzhaigou is one of the most beautiful national park in China. It homes to clear lakes, beauty autumn scenery and Tibetan population on the mountain. I went here at the end of October which is the best season for autumn. Apart of its beautiful scenery, it’s kinda tricky to explore the park, but actually if you do it right, you can cover all of the things in only one day trip in Jiuzhaigou national Park. Take a look at my tips on how you can explore Jiuzhaigou in the right way :


1. ENTRANCE TICKET JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK
I was so shocked as that would be my first expensive national park entrance ticket. Yess it’s 310 RMB or around 48 USD for only one day. You have to pay again if you are going out of the park and planning to come back in the next day ;

- Entrance ticket : 220 RMB (Adult), 120 (student)
- Bus ticket : 90 RMB


There are two ways to buy the entrance ticket :
- Ticket on the spot : Ticket counter opens at 07.00 am. Most of people already get in line at around 06.30 am. So, when you come over 10.00 am, you need at least 1 hour to queue.
- Ticket from travel agent/hostel : Another way to buy the ticket is through travel agent or the hostel where you stay. You usually have to pay extra 10 rmb for the commission. The good thing of buying ticket in advance is, you will get the ticket the day before you arrive, so you don’t have to queue in the locket counter. I paid for 320 RMB for the total in the hostel where I stayed (Friendship Hostel).
Jiuzhaigou National Park
2. WHAT YOU CAN SEE IN JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK
Located in the north of Chengdu City, Jiuzhaigou valley is located on the edge of Tibetan plateu and stretches over 450 km. Inscribed by UNESCO as heritage sites which well known for its many multi-level waterfall and colorful lakes.

- Clear Water Lakes
Jiuzhaigou National Park
You’ll be amazed of the first clear water lake as it becomes the most clear water lake I’ve ever seen ! Visitors are not allowed to swim as those are believed as sacred places. Almost all the lakes couldn’t be reached as it was restricted by the fence. Take a deep breath as you will see more and more clear water lakes after the first one.

“yesss they have a lot of clear water lakes, like a looottttt, make sure don’t be tired of those similar sceneries ;)”

- Waterfall

Waterfall in Jiuzhaigou National Park
There are couple of waterfall along the route, I found 3 kind of waterfalls with Nuo Ri Lang as the biggest one.

- Autumn Vibes
Yess the best season to come is in Autumn on Mid of October until Start of November, as the trees would turn into red and yellow.

- Tibetan Village
Jiuzhaigou National Park used to be the area of Tibetan population as it is located on the edge of Tibetan plateu. Until now, there are still 2 Tibetan villages existed which some of them already becomes a guesthouse.
Tibetan Village in Jiuzhaigou National Park
“YESSS…. you can stay overnight in those Tibetan village, so you don’t have to pay the entrance ticket for another day if you wish to spend 2 days exploring the park”.

They don’t speak English, if you have a plan already, better you just come and ask. They have a couple of rooms and only few people who stay in the village, so should be fine if you do this plan. The price would be around 150 RMB for 1 night including breakfast + lunch + dinner.
Tibetan Village in Jiuzhaigou National Park
The guesthouse that Jerome stayed in Tibetan village inside Jiuzhaigou National Park
3. BETTER TO START EARLY AT 07.00 AM
The park opens at 07.00 AM, you’d start early at 07.00 AM, as there would be thousands of people, yess when I said THOUSAND is the real THOUSANDS of very big group people.

4. BUS INSIDE JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK
There will a bus to ride to explore the national park. We have to pay the ticket bus for 90 RMB in the entrance gate. The first bus starts to operate at 07.00 am from the park entrance. The bus will go straight for around 40 minutes to the central of tourist center, and continue to the right side (see the maps), if you wish to go to the left side first you have to get off at the central and take another bus heading to the left side.

“But, what’s the best route to take ? see my recommendation in the next point”

The bus ticket you paid for 90 RMB will be your free pass to every bus inside the park. You can take bus anytime, anywhere as long as you still keep the ticket (remember ! don’t throw it). There will be so many scenic spot to stop, and the bus will stop in every halte that heading to those spot.

“How if we prefer to do trekking instead of taking the bus ?”
 
Yess you are absolutely able to do trekking. If you see the maps, the yellow colour line is the walking path, and the black one is the bus road. The walking path is really visible to walk, it was made of wooden path and stairs with the fence on left and right side.

4. THREE OPTIONS TO EXPLORE JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK


Jiuzhaigou National Park has a “Y SHAPE”. We will start at the center before divided by two paths. I discovered 3 ways to cover all of the park :


- OPTION 1 – NOT BUY BUS TIKCET (WALKING). If you don’t plan to spend 90 RMB for the bus ticket, It will take around 3,5 hours to walk from the entrance park to the first bus stop. The fact that you will not be able to use the bus for the whole trip inside the national park sounds horrible, but looking at those hundred experience of tourists,  the staff wouldn’t check your bus ticket once you already get inside the park. If there is any staff check your ticket, that would be the most unlucky moment of your life. You can start walk at 07.00 am and reach the first bus stop at 11.00 am (on this track there wouldn’t be any bus stop). Take a break and having your lunch and continue taking the bus to the right side and then to the left side. But this is my insight for you guys taking this option :
There will be pretty much things to see on the right side rather than from park entrance to the first bus stop. It’s just too pity if you spend many hours to walk from park entrance and only has a few hours to spend for the right side. Otherwise, you have 2 days to explore would be totally fine, but for one day trip, I suggest you to spend that 90 RMB for the bus ticket and explore earlier morning on the right side (read the route that I took on option 3 )

- OPTION 2 – COVER ALL OF THINGS IN ONE DAY IN EASY WAY
Take the bus from the entrance park at 07.00 am and go to the right side as early as you can. Those big chinese group people will start their trip usually at 10.00 AM. There wouldn’t be anything to see at the highest spot of the right side, so I recommend the highest spot is Grass lake, take your first photo there and then going down walking (there will be a wooden track) to explore other spots.
As the day getting late, the stairs wooden path would be filled by so many people and it will make you walk slower as you have to share the 1 meter path to those hundreds people. If you feel tired, you can take the bus at the nearest bus stop.

- OPTION 3 – THE ROUTE THAT I TOOK
The route that we took was a little bit hardcore as me and my hiking partner (Jerome, see this post to know more about him) was trying to getting out of those people’s crowd. We took the bus from the entrance park, and stop at
1.   our first stop at Mirror Lake at 07.30 am to photograph the mirror lake before too many people coming.
2.   Then we continue walking up the path (yes we walked up when people went down, we were the only one who climbed the stairs, this could be an option to keep walking fast and avoid queue in the stairs, but yess prepare your stamina as you will walk uphill for 4 hours)
3.   We kept climbing the stairs to Panda Lake as the end which took around 4 hours to did it.
Mirror Lake  in Jiuzhaigou National Park
4.   And we took the bus from Panda lake bus stop heading down to Nuo Ri lang waterfall to have our lunch in the middle of the forest.
Having our lunch in the forest in Jiuzhaigou National Park
5.   After lunch we took the bus heading to Tibetan village. There are 2 tibetan villages, and we went to the second higher one as Jerome will stay overnight at the village.



6.   Got out of the village, we walked down explore the lakes and waterfalls like (Rhinoceros lake, Tiger lakes, Reed lake, Dragon lake, which mostly located on the side of the road)

Struggle is real to get beautiful photo :"
7.   At 04.00 pm, as we still had time, we decided take the bus to the left side, and reached the highest lake of Jiuzhigou National Park, Long Lake)
8.   Finished all the things at 05.00 pm and take the bus heading back to the park entrance while Jerome went back to the Tibetan village to stay 2 nights inside the national park.

5. FOOD INSIDE JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK
I discovered the best invention of my life, it’s MAGIC BOX.“It was named Magic Box because its ability to serve the warm food in portable lunch box without a fire or machine or even microwave”.
Magic Box, the best chinese invention that i've ever seen
Magic box is basically a lunch box that consists of Rice, the meat with sauce flavor (you can choose any flavor), heater and water. It comes to be a magic when we put the heater and pour the water to let the heater drowning, put the rice above it and close it with the cover, and put the meat sauce under the box. Wait for a minute, and there the magic comes out !! The lunch box will be boiling for 5 minutes which make the rice and the meat sauce becomes warm. The normal price of this magic box is 16 USD, you can buy in any supermarket, or the hotel where I stayed (Friendship Hostel). You can also buy at the national park with price USD 24. Don’t worry, there are also a couple of restaurants inside the park, but as you know, foods in tourism places must be 5 times more expensive, it’s your choice now !

6. WEAR PROPER CLOTHES, IT’S REALLY COLD
Jiuzhaigou sits between 2000 masl – 4.500 masl, start the day earlier would be very cold. Wear proper jacket, and comfort shoes as you’ll walk many times. But it’s still funny to know the fact that

“I found some girls using high heals and short skirt just because for the beautiful stylish pictures, oh girrlll…..

7. HOW TO GET THERE (Read here how did i get to Jiuzhaigou in backpacking way)


FROM XI'AN TO JIUZHAIGOU
- Take the train to Guangyuan Station
- When you get off of Guangyuan Station, follow the direction to long-distance bus terminal where located next to the railway station (the sign board are in english and chinese, so dont worry)
- Buy the ticket to Jiuzhaigou for 90 rmb on the ticket counter (just say jiu-zhai-gou, or show them this chinese language (九寨沟)
- The bus will stop at the city center of jiuzhaigou which is 40 km from Jiuzhaigou national park.
- When you get off of the bus, there will be so many people asking you to go to Jiuzhaigou national park. Take the sharing car for 40 rmb/each, just show this chinese language to the driver or say Jiu Zhai Gou (九寨沟) , or if you already have the address of your hostel, show the chinese address. It will take around 1 hour to go to pengfeng village.

FROM CHENGDU TO JIUZHAIGOU
- You also can reach Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu with bus for 8 hrs ride.
- The bus go 3 times in a day
- It's better to buy at the hostel you stay, just ask the reception desk, and they will buy it for you.
- The cost is 150 rmb for  one way ticket, and the bus will stop directly in Pengfeng village.
- Going back to Chengdu From Jiuzhaigou is same.

8. ACCOMODATIONS :
I stayed in Friendship hostel which has good reviews and good rates in booking.com and hostelworld.com. The staffs speak English so fluent, and there was an electric bed to make it warm, as the weather in Jiuhaigou would be around 4-6 celcius in daytime and below 4 at night. The rates is 60 rmb/nights. Foods are all delicious !! they serve western and chinese foods as well.

My first #SoloTravel destination in china has done ! To check out my instagram posts about my Solo travel in China, please click this hashtag #KadekariniChina

NEXT POST OF #SOLOTRAVEL IN CHINA : CAN WE DO SELFIE WITH PANDA IN THEIR HOMELAND, CHENGDU ?

Cheers,
kadekarini
 

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