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3 Key Questions and Answers about a Trip to Jiuzhaigou

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Our recent trip to Sichuan, a western province in China, was my first “vacation” in China. Well, I had a road tripjiuzhaigou with college friends 10 years’ ago in Xinjiang province. But that wasn’t really a vacation (if you know what I mean). This time, we only had 4 days in the destinations: jiuzhaigou, songpan and huanglong, so our desired experience was to see the best natural beauty of these places. Not culture, not people, though they are something unique and special to experience, we just don’t have time. These tips are most usefully when you are in our similar situation, who have some budget concern (don’t want to be ripped off) .

#1. Where to Go?

Jiuzhaigou in FallWhat? Having said that the destination is Jiuzhaigou doesn’t mean you can go to Jiuzhaigou directly. You can fly to Jiuzhaigou or take bus or hire a private driver or drive yourself there. There are flights from 6 cities in China to Jiuzhai-huanglong airport which is built in the altitude of 3200+ meters. Chengdu, Chongqing and Xi’an are the major connection city to Jiuzhai airport. So you can plan in advance to visit one of these cities before flying to Jiuzhaigou.

There are more than 20 flights every day departed from Chengdu v.s. 6 from Chongqing. In theory, you can get cheaper tickets by fly in from Chengdu. But in peak season when Chengdu is a HOT destination, the theory doesn’t work. So I got at least 20% cheaper tickets by flying in from Chongqing.

If you are taking bus (120RBM/person) or hire a private driver by road (around 800RMB one trip), the trip from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou takes about 10hrs (without traffic in Chengdu downtown). From north such as Langmusi, it this the same hours due to bad road condition according to Man Man Zou’s Jiuzhaigou Park and Chengdu trip in 2006.

#2. When & Where to Buy Air Tickets?

New online travel sites/service providers are helping to get cheaper and cheaper tickets for consumers inJiuzhaigou, Pearl Shaol waterfall, jiuzhaigou valley, Sichuan, China China. So don’t be surprised if your tickets are 80% off. It is not a spam! I will strongly recommend for ticket booking. It is a meta search engine like sidestep. Its competitor is Qunar, found by 3 American. I prefer Kooxoo for its clean simple interface design.

I booked my tickets about 3 weeks before departure date at a quite satisfactory rate. And later a travel buddy told me she got a 20% cheaper ticket a week later. So it is not always the earlier the better. Travel agents say 14-day-advance is the best. My other friend claims that 2-day-advance is the best (in non peak season week days). I will test her theory. 🙂

#3. Where to Stay?

I made at least 20 phone calls to hotels to quote hotel room rates and book hotel. That means there are very limited data about hotel rooms in jiuzhaigou on the Internet. I collected the phone numbers from the websites that ask for an extremely unreasonable price of hotel rooms. At last, we stayed at a hostel recommended by a lot of young travelers. Because most of the hotels won’t tell me the rate until check in which made me feel very “unsecured”. They usually reserve most of the rooms for tour operators or travel agents. If you book through elong or ctrip (Chinese expedia and travelocity), you can get a confirmed, but very HIGH rate.

We arrived at jiuzhaigou on Oct. 7, the last day of national holiday. We shared a private car with a couple from Songpan to Jiuzhaigou. They didn’t book any room, but easily find a nice hotel room in walking distance from the park entrance. The biggest learning is: in 99% of cases, you don’t need to book your hotel rooms in advance if you travel to a place like Jiuzhaigou. Go there and shop for hotel room as you shop for gifts.

jiuzhaigou, five-flower lake

My previous posts about this trip:

4-Day Trip to Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Songpan of Sichuan, China (Part I)

My coming & dream travel destination: Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China

My coming & dream travel destination: Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I am planning a trip to Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan province, the home to panda.

A quick overview about this place:

Jiuzhaigou Valley (Simplified Chinese: 九寨沟; Traditional Chinese: 九寨溝; Pinyin: Jiǔzhàigōu; lit. “Valley of Nine Villages”; Tibetan: Sicadêgu(gZi rTSa sDe dGu)) is a nature reserve in northern Sichuan province of China. It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls and colorful lakes, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. It belongs to the category V (Protected Landscape)in the IUCN system of protected area categorization.

more from wikipedia .

Fairy Pool

Our current itinerary is:

  • D1: fly from Shanghai to Chongqing at night, stay at a hotel [¥128/night, double bed] near the airport. [note: China national day holiday, aks Golden Week, is from Oct. 1 – 7. Our flight is on Oct 5. Chongqing is a less popular travel destination so we can get better price of the tickets. ¥ 600/person b4 tax.]
  • D2: fly from Chongqing to Jiuzhaigou – huanglong airport in the early morning. (first flight at 6:50am, arrive at 7:50 am. So we have a whole day to start with. ¥590/person b4 tax.]
  • D2: visit an acient town called “song pan”松潘 which is about 50 km south from the airport. Join a tour to visit a much less crowded valley called “mou ni gou” 牟尼沟. This place is only accessible by horse.
  • D2: Camp with the tour at the valley or go back to “song pan”松潘.
  • D3: Plan 1,back trip from 牟尼沟 to 松潘 if we stay in Valley for the night. Plan 2: Visit Fariy Pool, which is about 10-20km away from Jiuzhaigou Valley in the morning and go to jiuzhaigou downtown in the afternoon.
  • D3: Stay in jiuzhaigou downtown. Budge hotel rooms are around ¥150-200/night in peak season like Oct.
  • D4. D5: visit Jiuzhaigou. [Note: Usually, the ticket is allowed twice entrance to the park. But during Golden Week, the admission ticket is only allowed ONE time entrance. So we have to wait until Oct. 8.]
  • D6: Take a bus or rent a private car back to Chengdu. Plan to visit “home of panda” wolong 卧龙 on the way.
  • D7: Relax in Chengdu city and go hunt for some great Sichun food. Fly back to Shanghai at night. Ticket will be 50% more expensive!
Here is the best MAP resources i can find on the Web: (sorry, in Chinese only)

Sounds good, hum?  I will updat the other travel tips when we are back.