China : JiuzhaiGou/HuangLong/Leshan/EmeiShan/Hailougou


KurtSin

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Feb 2, 2007
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#1
I just returned from a 10 day round trip around Chengdu areas in the title.

It's a tough round trip, as the places are scattered.

My view :

1. HuangLong. Can skip - it's a long trek in the park like 7.5 to 10 km, and at high altitude. My daughter of 12 and I were feeling terrible - as we need to go over another mountain which I heard is like 5000m, and after that, we kanna mountain sickness even though HL is around 3000m high.

And, the scene is not so spectacular.

2. JiuZhaiGou. This is much easier as there's a bus running in the park, and lower altitude compare to Huanglong. View points are much accessible. If for just photography trip, I will skip Huanglong, and do JZG for 2 days.

3. Leshan. After trekking HL and JZG, we decided to take a boat ride to see the big buddha, as compare to another land trekking. But for photographers, I recommend to trek and view the buddha up close, as the angle from the boat is limited.

4. Emeishan. After Leshan boat ride, we head over to Emeishan. Frankly, if I'm not travelling with my family and my friend's family, I will just walk off the emeishan visit, as the park operating staff are rude and arrogant.

It started at the bus ticketing office next to the Teddybear hotel. When I wanted to buy the park entrance ticket, the counter girl rudely told me off that they don't sell the entrance ticket, but only the bus ticket here. When I asked her where to buy the park entrance, she simply ignored me, and throughout the whole duration, she don't even bother to look at us when talk to us.

Then we were shouted at to board the bus. After a short ride, we reached the park entrance, and then the driver told the ticketing officer that only some of us had bought the entrance ticket, the ticket officer came up and shouted in mandarin, "All those who don't have the tickets, get off the bus!", and he behaved like a gangster, keep yearning and shouting, instead of just inform who don't have the tickets, please alight to buy.

And, then next, is the ticketing office girl at the cable car station. Similarly, she just shouting and screaming, like we are so hard-up to visit Emeishan, and when I asked her the direction to the smaller cable car, as the big cable car is out of order, she just impatiently shouted back the direction.

It's a shame that the signboard says "秀甲天下“,means "most elegant", but the people there just can't make it.

5. Hailougou. The road to HLG is long (7 hours from Chengdu or Emei) too, and there's many mountain pass near HLG. When we were there, we stayed at Moxi for a night, and at base camp 2 hot spring hotel for another night. There's a park bus running from base camps to base camps. The last base camp, 4, is reachable via cable car.

The trek from the base camp 4 to the gracier or to the viewing areas of the mountains are much easier as compare to Huanglong. Go in the morning, when usually the sky will clear up to peek the mountains. It's rather cloudy in the afternoon.


Beside, Emeishan, the park operators at the others are generally more friendly and not as rude. Given the choice, I will not visit Emeishan again.
 

rhema83

New Member
Nov 14, 2010
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#2
I'm going to Sichuan next week. Will be traveling to historic sites near Wenchuan (where the 512 earthquake hit), then Jiuzhaigou for 2 days, then Huanglong.

How was the weather and the colour of the forest in Jiuzhaigou? The red autumn forests are the main attraction of the region at this time of the year. As for Huanglong, did you take cable car uphill then trek down? It's way too tiring for coastal dwellers like us to trek uphill in high altitude.

Anyway always be mentally prepared when traveling in China. Especially if you are on your own. Stay safe!
 

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KurtSin

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Feb 2, 2007
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#3
The forest is getting red - when I was there, there are some yellow and some in red, next week it should be more intense.

Huanglong we took a cable car up and trek downward. Frankly, it's really quite tough, as from the cable car station, it's a long trek up and then down to the temple area. And, the scenery is not as spectacular as the water flow is drastically reduce.

And, when you are wear out, there's no alternate means of transport to exit, but drag yourself out of there.

Seriously, I would rather spend time elsewhere.

Hope you capture the JZG glorious red and yellow in full.
 

justarius

Senior Member
Nov 9, 2003
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#4
Speaking in loud voices is par for the course for any visit to China, together with aggressive queue cutting, ignoring of basic traffic rules such as red lights, and random spitting.

Either ignore/get used to the rude behaviour, or just shout back. Most of all, don't take it personally... ;)
 

tonychua

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Jan 9, 2005
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#5
I was there is June this year and the first day is up HuangLong. I fell so sick on coming down and i have to skip JGZ the next day. HuangLong .... not really that impressive.
 

tomcat

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Nov 7, 2003
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#6
I went to Huanglong in end Oct 2008 during my Jiuzhaigou trip. Contrary to some of the others' experiences here, I loved the place. It was very tough climbing up very well built walkway to the top due to the lack of oxygen but the scenery was spectacular. I didn't even make it to the temple because our tour guide kept hurrying us to return to the entrance so that we can depart in time.
 

Daoyin

Senior Member
Nov 25, 2008
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#7
Speaking in loud voices is par for the course for any visit to China, together with aggressive queue cutting, ignoring of basic traffic rules such as red lights, and random spitting.

Either ignore/get used to the rude behaviour, or just shout back. Most of all, don't take it personally... ;)

I agree. The trick is to ignore such displays and not to take it personally.
 

roamfree

New Member
Dec 14, 2010
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#8
I did both Huanglong and JZG. Maybe becos of the weather, but I did prefer Huanglong to JZG. For Huanglong, we trekked up, meaning to take the cable car down. We ended up trekking up and almost running down, because we did not know that the cable car stops accepting people from 5pm. It was 5.05pm when we wanted to step onto the bridge leading to the cable car station and got stopped by the staff.

I find the walk quite beautiful walking up. We stopped many times for pictures. The blue sky with a bit of white clouds plus the pools made very good pictures. If you had been walking down, you probably will not be able to see the "calcium pools against the blue sky" moments unless you keep turning your head back. Also, there were so much beautiful wild flowers along the walkway up. I don't think it is that difficult to walk up to the top of Huanglong, esp if you stop frequently for pictures or rest. And the drive to Huanglong is one of the most beautiful one i had for my trip.

I was unlucky to be in JZG on a wet day, hence, every was cloudy and drab. You can catch the reflecions of mountains in the ponds, but they are probably not as spectacular as it shld be on a good day. Also, i see much less variety in flora in JZG compared to Huanglong.

I guess whether Huanglong is worth doing or not, really depends on individual.
 

rhema83

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Nov 14, 2010
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#9
I just came back from JZG and HL. It was a tiring and somewhat dangerous trip. There was an earthquake the first night I was in JZG, and the mountain pass to HL was snow-covered. But both destinations are well worth the long drive from Chengdu and the physical exertion. JZG has the most beautiful water I've ever seen; and HL combines white snow, emerald-colored pools and golden rocks. Fortunately I didn't experience any mountain sickness. But I will probably take a few days to recover and go through the hundred of pictures I took. Will post a more detailed review later. But all in all these are wonderful nature destinations that rival or even outclass the well-known ones like Yellowstone.
 

DJ9900

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Oct 5, 2004
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#10
For those who has posted in this thread, did you travel by tour group or you went on you own? Appreciate your reply. Thanks.
 

#11
We were in JZG/HL from 27 Oct to 1 Nov spend 3 days in JZG and 2 days in HL, and all by self service not by tour group.

You can do home stay in JZG but still have to pay the bus fare each morning. :(

hth.
 

rhema83

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Nov 14, 2010
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#12
DJ9900 said:
For those who has posted in this thread, did you travel by tour group or you went on you own? Appreciate your reply. Thanks.
We designed our own trip. We hired a car, a driver and booked accommodation through a tour agency in Chengdu as their prices are even lower than CTRIP. But for all practical purposes we were on our own.

We saved about 50% (including air travel from Singapore) compared to going with a tour group. And we stayed at good hotels and spent quality time at the destinations instead of being brought by tour guides to souvenir shops. There is no reason for anyone to pay more for a poorer experience with tour groups.
 

Aug 29, 2011
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#13
Totally agree. That is the way to travel and I had rented cars (always come with driver as no driving licence other than those issued in China is recognised) and ventured out from Chengdu. However, I wouldn't bother to book accommodation through a tour agent in Chengdu and as long as the lodging provides clean bed and proper toilet and shower facilities, the choice of accommodation is not important for me. When you travel this way, you do thing as you want and are not bound by any constraint. Jiuzhaigou is a very beautiful place indeed and is certainly worth more than a visit but it is over commercialized and is usually very crowded. Sichuan is a very beautiful place and there are many many other destinations in this province and I would suggest photographers who like beautiful sceneries check out alternative places. To name a few, consider places like Yading (亚丁), Daocheng (稻城), Mugecuo (木格措) and last but not least Xinduqiao (新都桥), which has been given the nickname the Photographers' Paradise. From Chengdu, you can either go the clockwise route that will first take you in the direction of Hailuogou (海螺沟) and then the beautiful city of Kangding (康定), or go the anti-clockwise route that will take you to Yinxiu in Wenchuan, the epicentre of the May 12, 2008 earthquake now rebuilt into a really beautiful town, and then Wolong before going and passing by Mt. Siguniang (really beautiful scene from far). Next
up is the small town of Xiaojin (小金), nice and friendly people, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thereafter it is Danba (丹巴), where you should not miss a visit to the famed mountainous Tibetan village (甲居藏寨), before making your way further west before turning south and heads for Xinduqiao. Yading and Daocheng are to the southwest and close to the Tibetan border. Be more adventurous and you will know there is much more than Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong.

We designed our own trip. We hired a car, a driver and booked accommodation through a tour agency in Chengdu as their prices are even lower than CTRIP. But for all practical purposes we were on our own.

We saved about 50% (including air travel from Singapore) compared to going with a tour group. And we stayed at good hotels and spent quality time at the destinations instead of being brought by tour guides to souvenir shops. There is no reason for anyone to pay more for a poorer experience with tour groups.
 

AdyH

New Member
Mar 8, 2005
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#14
We designed our own trip. We hired a car, a driver and booked accommodation through a tour agency in Chengdu as their prices are even lower than CTRIP. But for all practical purposes we were on our own.

We saved about 50% (including air travel from Singapore) compared to going with a tour group. And we stayed at good hotels and spent quality time at the destinations instead of being brought by tour guides to souvenir shops. There is no reason for anyone to pay more for a poorer experience with tour groups.
Bro mind to share the tour agency u used in Chengdu?

Thanks
 

rhema83

New Member
Nov 14, 2010
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#15
AdyH said:
Bro mind to share the tour agency u used in Chengdu?

Thanks
I do not recommend the agency I used as its only advantage is price. The quality of service was abysmal and I should've just gone on my own.
 

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rhema83

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Nov 14, 2010
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#16
Nikonmaniac said:
However, I wouldn't bother to book accommodation through a tour agent in Chengdu and as long as the lodging provides clean bed and proper toilet and shower facilities, the choice of accommodation is not important for me.
Truth be told, the standard of accommodation in that region is generally poor. Make sure you do your homework and check the hotel reviews in Daodao.com (Chinese version of TripAdvisor.com). You need to rest well each night because a lot of walking at high altitudes is involved.

Nikonmaniac said:
Jiuzhaigou is a very beautiful place indeed and is certainly worth more than a visit but it is over commercialized and is usually very crowded.
Again, I can't stress enough the importance of doing homework. We almost never ran into the crowds as we planned our route contrary to the norm. For example we did Shuzhenggou (the lower half of the Y shape) early in the morning when the crowds headed up to the top two branches of the Y.

Nikonmaniac said:
Sichuan is a very beautiful place and there are many many other destinations in this province and I would suggest photographers who like beautiful sceneries check out alternative places. To name a few, consider places like Yading (亚丁), Daocheng (稻城), Mugecuo (木格措) and last but not least Xinduqiao (新都桥), which has been given the nickname the Photographers' Paradise. From Chengdu, you can either go the clockwise route that will first take you in the direction of Hailuogou (海螺沟) and then the beautiful city of Kangding (康定), or go the anti-clockwise route that will take you to Yinxiu in Wenchuan, the epicentre of the May 12, 2008 earthquake now rebuilt into a really beautiful town, and then Wolong before going and passing by Mt. Siguniang (really beautiful scene from far). Next
up is the small town of Xiaojin (小金), nice and friendly people, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Thereafter it is Danba (丹巴), where you should not miss a visit to the famed mountainous Tibetan village (甲居藏寨), before making your way further west before turning south and heads for Xinduqiao. Yading and Daocheng are to the southwest and close to the Tibetan border. Be more adventurous and you will know there is much more than Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong.
I totally agree. Sichuan and Tibet are beautiful adjacent states in China. If you can afford the long period of time away from work or school, they are well worth it. Another choice destination IMHO is Yunnan. Starting from Kunming you can head up to Lijiang, pass by Meili mountain and Yulong mountain, and end up in Shangri-La. But let's stay on topic...
 

DJ9900

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Oct 5, 2004
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#17
Thanks longkangman, rhema83 and Nikonmaniac for your valuable inputs.

I too agree that prefer to hire a car and travel on a small group of 2 to 4. Do share with everybody any good contacts for driver, lodging, do and don'ts or itinerary? Many thanks.
 

rhema83

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Nov 14, 2010
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#18
DJ9900 said:
Thanks longkangman, rhema83 and Nikonmaniac for your valuable inputs.

I too agree that prefer to hire a car and travel on a small group of 2 to 4. Do share with everybody any good contacts for driver, lodging, do and don'ts or itinerary? Many thanks.
Here is my itinerary:

Day 1: Arrived at Chengdu Int'l Airport at noon. Driver picked us up and we travelled to Dujiangyan (都江堰). This is where ancient Chinese engineers diverted the river to control floods and provide water to the city year round. After quick sightseeing, we bought a case of bottled water plus snacks. This is very important for the long drives ahead! After that, we travelled to Wenchuan (汶川) and stayed for the night. Allow more buffer time for this leg as the road to Wenchuan is congested and the road condition is still poor due to frequent landslides and ground movement after the 2009-5-12 quake. The remains of collapsed buildings and road bridges dotted the landscape and reminded us of the immense power of nature.

Day 2: We visited Taoping (桃坪) Qiang settlement (羌寨) about 30 mins away. The Qiang people live in interconnected buildings which aggregate into a giant fort of sorts. They also sell very fresh apples there for cheap. After that we drive back to Wenchuan and took another road to Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟). Along the way we visited Songpan (松潘) ancient city (松州古城) and passed by Chuanzhusi (川主寺) where the road splits to Huanglong (黄龙). We reached the hotel after dark.

Day 3: We entered Jiuzhaigou very early at 7 am. We first took the bus to Mirror Lake (镜海) to capture the reflection on the water. This should be done early morning before the wind blows. Most people will then take the bus up to the top Primal Forest (原始森林) and walk down from there. To avoid the crowds, we walked up Rize River (日则沟) instead until we reached Five Flowers Lake (五花海). This is where we met the crowd that moved down Rize River from the top. So we took the bus up to the Primal Forest and ate packed lunch there. We then walked down to Swan Lake (天鹅海), followed by bus to Arrow Bamboo Lake (箭竹海) 5 km downstream. More walking ensued till we reached Five Flower Lake again. By that time the rangers were chasing tourists out so we left.

Day 4: We took the bus to Shuzheng Settlement (树正寨) and walked from there all the way down to the lowest attraction Potted Plants Shoal (盆景滩). Then we took bus up to Nuorilang Centre (诺日朗中心) to see the nearby Nuorilang Waterfall (诺日朗瀑布). To skip a long walk we took the bus down to Rhinoceros Lake (犀牛海). We started walking again until we reached Shuzheng Settlement. This time, we took the bus up to Nuorilang Centre and switched bus to go up the Zezhawa River (则渣瓦沟) to the endpoint Long Lake (长海). The altitude there is high and the air is cold, so avoid exertion! Following Long Lake we went to the nearby Five Colour Pool (五彩池) which is the smallest and most colorful water body in Jiuzhaigou. It was an impressive end to our tour of Jiuzhaigou. We met the driver back at the entrance and headed to Chuanzhusi where we stayed the night.

Day 5: We left early morning for Huanglong. The altitude is even higher and the mountain pass was snow and fog covered. At Huanglong, we take the cable car uphill on strong advice from various sources. That was followed by a long trek through snowy forests to the Ancient Huanglong Temple (黄龙古寺). Note that the temple's facade looks different from various angles! From the temple, we walked further uphill to Five Colour Pools (五彩池) against a background of snowy mountain tops and evergreens. The path is a loop which leads back to the temple. From there downhill is linear. Just make sure you take the sightseeing path (观景道) instead of the express path. After we reached the bottom we immediately started our long drive back to Chengdu.
 

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DJ9900

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Oct 5, 2004
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#19
Hi Rhema83,

Thanks for your time in providing the detail information.

:thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

mayhemics

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Apr 28, 2009
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#20
visited jiuzhaigou 23-27 oct this year.

planning is particularly key if you're tight on time.

find a map of the park online and plot a route that will give you the best sunlight. the weather can change quite quickly within half an hour so even if you get grey skies/rain, if you're at a good spot it might be worth waiting it out for a while.

i also found that most people start from the top/middle of the park and move down, thus if you start from nearer the gate you're less likely to have people interfere with your shots. especially if you're using tripod and doing long exposures -- virtually all the important paths are wooden boardwalks and the vibration from just one person walking can be super annoying.
 

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