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A nature reserve and national park located in the north Chinese province of Sichuan, Jiuzhaigou is known for fabulous scenery such as multi-level waterfalls and snow-capped peaks. Though perhaps the parks best-known feature is its dozens of blue, green and turquoise-colored lakes. The saying that “no more water worthy of appreciating after those of in Jiuzhaigou” can be the true interpretation of its scenery.

But for such wonderful attraction, why do so many tourists miss it? Most simply don’t know how to get there. As the largest city in the southwest China, Chengdu is only about 400 kilometers away, and is your best gateway. From here you have the option of daily flights and buses to Jiuzhaigou.

The difference between choosing a bus or a plane comes down to both time and price. Most of time, taking bus from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou will take 9 to 10 hours, as opposed to the 40 minutes to 1 hour for the journey on a plane. Use the following information to help guide your choice.

The Best Way to Travel from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou – by Bus or by Plane?

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Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu by Bus

Bus is the most common way to get to Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu because it’s the cheapest option. There are two main bus stations in Chengdu that offer long-distance tourist buses, namely Chengdu Xinnanmen Bus Station and Chadianzi Bus Station. No matter which bus station you depart from, the bus fare is no more than 200 RMB and it takes about 9 to 10 hours.

The advantage of taking a bus is that you can go directly to Jiuzhaigou goukou or Jiuzhaigou Town. The scenery along the road is quite beautiful. You will pass by Wenchuan, Yingxiu and Maoxian County to explore the local Tibetan and Qiang culture. However, the long distance journey is not as comfortable as it would be if you were on a flight.

Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu by Flight

The quickest way to get to Jiuzhaigou from Chengdu is by flight. For those considering a flight in for a Jiuzhaigou tour, a 3-day holiday is enough.

There are several daily non-stop flights to choose from. The flight only takes an hour, but keep in mind that Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport is located an approximate 88 km away from Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve and 50 km away from Huanglong National Park, which means you’ll likely spend another hour and a half to get to the national park or scenic area by car.

The price of flights tends to fluctuate throughout the year. In low season (winter), you can expect to pay around 600 RMB, while in peak season, (late September to October is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou) and autumn, this can increase to around 1600 RMB. So we suggest to book your flights in advance, otherwise your only option may be to purchase a ticket in first class, which is usually over 5000 RMB.

Jiuzhaigou waterfalls

Jiuzhaigou

Tips for Visiting Jiuzhaigou

Jiuzhaigou is at a high altitude area, so keep in mind that strenuous exercise is inappropriate. When you’re there, make a conscious effort to eat more vegetables and fruits to prevent altitude sickness.

Inside the Jiuzhaigou scenic area, there are eco-shuttle buses taking you to the major attractions. You can also do a short trek along walkways.

Autumn is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou for the foliage color. But it is suggested to avoid visit Jiuzhaigou in early October, when there are too many Chinese domestic tourists in the National Holiday.

There are also many attractions near Jiuzhaigou Valley, like Huanglong National Park, Songpan Ancient Town, Munigou Valley, Huahu Lake and Langmusi. If you have enough time, don’t miss the change to travel around Jiuzhaigou.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

    16 Comments

  1. I went there a couple years ago. However, you get there, it’s a beautiful park.

    • Awesome Dan! So glad you got to experience Jiuzhaigou :) Totally agree – however you get there, the journey is worthwhile either way :)

  2. Holy cow! That looks amazing! Asia and China in particular has been on our list for some time now. We’ve always said that when we go we’ll try and stay for a longer trip so that we can afford a little more time and hopefully take in some of that bus scenery!

    • It truly is an incredible place! I think China has a lot more in terms of natural landscapes than most people think.

      Hope you do have the chance to organize a longer trip and immerse yourself in these incredible landscapes Jim! The bus is a great way to both save money and enjoy the scenery that you would miss from catching the plane :)

  3. Having had several friends who have visited China and worked with many Chinese students learning English in Canada this is a place my students spoke of and those photos confirm what they told me for years. A definite to go on the bucket list when I get to China and I do really like the fact that it is not a “usual touristy place.

    • I hope you have the chance to visit China soon Faith – so glad that we could confirm the wonderful things you’ve already been told :)

      Happy travels! And yes, absolutely, China is fabulous because it’s definitely more of an off the beaten path experience, and still maintains a lot of authenticity as opposed to your usual touristy place :)

  4. Jiuzhaigou looks like such a lovely place to visit and I soooo wanna see the pandas in Chengdu too – did you see them? I am headed to china next month but sadly only in the south – its such a huge country with so much to see, but I just have 2.5 weeks so can’t see it all, sadly!

    • You’ll absolutely LOVE the pandas in Chengdu when you have the chance to visit! The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding allows you to observe the pandas, though you can also hold a young panda too. And then they’re lesser known experiences, but if you have the time, think about signing up for the half day panda keeper experience, where you can tour the reserve with a keeper and pitch in with taking care of them.

      And there are red pandas here too which are super cute :)

      It really is such a huge country to see, but you’ll have an amazing time in the South too. Just means a return trip at some stage soon :D!

  5. Wow, Jiuzhaigou has a lot to offer when it comes to nature trips. I’d rather choose the plane going there to maximize my time plus I will definitely hike there. Your photos are stunning! Now I have another addition to my hiking bucket list! And thanks for the tip when not to go there.

    • Absolutely – it’s one of the most stunning locations in the country, with some pretty spectacular nature on show! The plane trip definitely saves a lot of time which could be spent enjoying the park :) On the flip side the bus allows you to catch the scenery of the surrounding regions too, but I personally prefer the plane.

      Hope you have an amazing time! Hit us up if you have any follow up questions :)

  6. Wow. I hadn’t heard of Jiuzhaigou before, which is too bad as we have been to and loved Chengdu. The park in Jiuzhaigou is absolutely stunning, the waterfalls and water colour are incredible. Also, I had no idea that fruit and veggies help prevent altitude sickness.

    • Glad we could introduce you! Hopefully you’ll have the chance if you head back to Chengdu :)

      Re altitude sickness, yes, foods rich in potassium are great for acclimating. Some good staples to eat include broccoli, bananas, avocado, cantaloupe, celery, greens, bran, chocolate, granola, dates, dried fruit, potatoes and tomatoes :)

  7. Great article megan, unfortunately when we were heading there from Chengdu the bu was stopped and turned around due to the tourist ban in Tibet.

    We ended up going south from Chengdu and ended up at the beautiful Lugu Lake. We stayed a few days and it was fantastic.

    We then continued Lijiang and then onto Shangrila which is an amazing part of the world. We did a fantastic hike near Meili Snow Mountain and to the little town of Yubeng from Fei Lai Se.

    I hope to return to Jiuzhaigou soon and also visit Lhasa and tibet.

    • Sorry to hear that your bus was stopped on route to Jiuzhaigou. But it sounds like you had an incredible time at Lugu Lake instead!

      I would love to get to Lijiang and Shangrila – so many incredible destinations within China to explore!

      Hope you do have the chance to revisit and take in Jiuzhaigou, Lhasa and Tibet when you do :)

      Happy travels!

  8. Wow interesting to see two Jiuzhaigou posts in a week and seems it would be a great time to go. For me, I would prefer traveling by plane because it seems the easier way to go and it could save more time in transportation. @ knycx.journeying

    • Has to be a sign that you’re meant to go :D! I agree, I used to be a big advocate for the bus, but as I’ve gotten older I much prefer paying extra for the quickest transport time :)

      Happy travels!

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