Around 100km northeast of Songpan, the perpetually snow-clad Min Shan range encloses Jiuzhaigou – “Nine Stockades Valley” – named after it was settled by Tibetans several hundred years ago. The reserve forms a Y-shaped series of valleys clothed in thick alpine forests and strung with hundreds of impossibly toned blue lakes – said to be the scattered shards of a mirror belonging to the Tibetan goddess Semo. Jiuzhaigou’s landscape looks spectacular in the autumn when the gold and red leaves contrast brilliantly with the water, or at the onset of winter in early December, when everything is dusted by snow.

Despite its remote location, Jiuzhaigou is the target of intense tourism – packages are offered by every travel agent in Sichuan – so don’t come here expecting a quiet commune with nature, as the park clocks up over a million visitors annually. The best you can do is to get in when the gates open at 7am and try to stay one step ahead of the hordes.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

Hong Kong floats between old China and the west; its futuristic harbour has become one of Asia's most famous views but you'll also find pockets of traditiona…

28 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

Even 20 years ago China was not a conventional tourist destination. Despite the allure of its beautiful landscapes and history-filled cities, politics, poverty,…

13 Jan 2017 • Simon Frank insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month