Chengdu Travel Guide
Nine Villages Valley
One of China’s most scenic reserves and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Jiuzhai Gou (Nine Stockades Gully) covers 280 sq miles (720 sq km) of mountain valleys dotted with Tibetan villages. Beneath the snow-capped mountains, the valley floors are strung with extraordinarily blue lakes, said to be the broken slivers of the Tibetan goddess Semo’s mirror. Broad waterfalls, heavily encrusted with lime deposits, connect many of the lakes. Aside from herds of yaks, birds are the most evident wildlife, including rare mandarin ducks; a panda sighting is unlikely.
Shuzheng Zhai (2)
A Tibetan stockaded village, replete with Buddhist shrines and water-powered mills, sits halfway along a string of deep blue pools and reed beds.
Nuorilang Falls (3)
Jiuzhai Gou’s most renowned cataract is best seen in full flood in late spring, when the water foams wildly in multiple ribbons over its stony outcrops.
Five-colored Pool (6)
Surrounded by a fringe of ferns and dark woods, this pool’s kingfisher-blue depths are enhanced by green algae in the shallows, and milky-white swirls that seep in after rain.
Tips for walkers
Getting around: buses are included in admission. Hiking follows roads and boardwalks. Nuorilang is a convenient base.
When to go: Avoid summer weekends. Sep–Oct has autumnal colors and fewer crowds. Winters are well below freezing with deep snow.