Some of my favorite places in the world are America’s national parks. Zion is the single most amazing plaze I’ve ever seen. I loved being on top of cadillac mountain in Acadia and getting to see the first light of dawn touch the east coast. Glacier’s icy peaks were the hardest and best hikes of my life. The national parks are places where you can remember how small you are and how big the world is. Places of solitude and rest where you can recharge from modern life.
Juizhaigou is not that kind of park.
Really super pretty. But don’t expect to recharge from the trials of modern china. If you try you’ll probably get run over.
But still, really pretty.
I had been warned, by absolutely everything ever written about the park, that it is intensely crowded during the summer. Its also not a hike, is all boardwalk paths that you cannot deviate from (spoiler alert, I did).
Juizhaigou is a national park in northern Sichuan and popular destination for those visiting my beloved province. The cost to get into Juizhaigou is 220rmb and then its 90rmb to use the shuttle buses (So its over $50 to get into the park, that’s nuts). Everyone I know who has gone there told me not buy a shuttle bus ticket because they don’t check it when you get on the bus. This is entirely true, they don’t check it. I bought one though…. because I felt guilty not doing it but if you don’t have a hyperactive conscience then don’t bother. Also online there are rumors you can buy a two-day ticket, you can in winter, but not in the summer.
I got into the park at 7am and rode the bus all the “ancient forest” which, coincendentally was a foggy mossy section of pine trees that made me feel like I was in New England. There were few people who stayed there, because not everyone is super into hanging out with trees (you got to be super cool for that). This is when I went rogue and actually hiked into the woods until I couldn’t hear people and just sat and chilled out. If you ever travel in china you may understand that you will do sometimes do weird things to be alone.
Anyways, the guide books all encourage to utilize the buses to go from sight to sight in the park so that you can see as much of it as possible since you’re probs not going to pay that admission price twice. Riding the bus a lot is a smart way to maximize your time.
So I walked the whole time. I meant to use the busses but everything was so pretty. The water is really really clear! There are also pools of very blue water, supposedly its this blue because of high levels of calcium carbonate run-off. Honestly I’ve tried to research it a bit but can’t find a lot of info about it (maybe cause they dye it) There are also at least 5 significant waterfalls in the park, a lot of colorful lakes, some Tibetan villages and temples and miles and miles of paths. It was so beautiful, even with the crowds that I was quite content to keep walking.
Another thing to note is that the park closes at 6:30 but around 4:30 they start trying to push people out of the park. So when park workers started trying to block me from a waterfall saying it was time to leave, I just basically pretended I couldn’t understand them (they were speaking English so it was a bit a of stretch) but no one chased me and I planned on being in the park for the full time it was open. Because I walked so much, I definitely did not see it all. If anyone does go I would recommend skipping the shopping section since it all seemed like stuff you can buy anywhere, and the Tibetan villages seemed touristy and inauthentic ( just go see some tibetan villages not inside a national park). I did not see everything, but I loved what I saw and I don’t regret doing it the way I did.
I am absolutely in love with where I stayed, and its all thanks to Joella from This Beijing Life, since I contacted her after the worlds grossest hostel and asked for a recommondation. Zhouma’s Homestay was amazing. They asked for 180rmb a night, and considering I had been paying 30-50 for a room it seemed high, but they provided rides, 3 meals a day, and really nice environment. My first nice there were 8 guests and we had such a good time eating a communal meal and swapping bizarre china stories (most of us lived in china). They also served homemade barley wine, which I was told had almost no alcohol. Well after several glasses and some unfortunate international texts, let me set the record straight. It HAS plenty of alcohol in it.
Juizhaigou is a lovely place to visit, it is not a place to escape into the woods, but there are plenty of places like that in China. I would actually love to go back to Juizhaigou in the winter when its a bit less crowded and I suspect it would look amazing with the snow. So many beautiful places to see in China.