The lovely Blue Waters of Juizhaigou

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.


Every picture in this post was prefaced by me shoving my way through a crowd like this.

Really super pretty. But don’t expect to recharge from the trials of modern china. If you try you’ll probably get run over.
Juizhaigou's crowds

Seriously those guards had to shove people back a couple of times

But still, really pretty.
Juizhaigou waterfall
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.
It also rained the whole time I was there.... its ok. I don't melt.

It also rained the whole time I was there…. its ok. I don’t melt.

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.

I didn’t alter this photo at all. Totally that blue

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.

Zhouma's homestay

eating fried eggs with chopsticks is tricky.

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.

12 responses to “The lovely Blue Waters of Juizhaigou

  1. Ahhh Juzhaigou! I was there last fall and wow, that water. I also walked instead of taking the bus, and the initial 10 km were so peaceful, so getting to the first bus stop and the huge crowds was a bit of a shock, haha. So worth it though!

  2. I just left you a long comment but I think wordpress ate it!?! Anyway, I am so glad you had a great time at Zhou Ma’s. It is such a fun place to stay and they really look after you! The barley wine was great (and definitely alcoholic haha!). I completely agree about Jiuzhaigou – it was so beautiful and worth going but definitely not a place to get away from it all. We also walked as much as we could, the buses were too crowded anyway!

    • I have no idea why I believed them that there wasn’t alcohol in it…. Thanks for recommending it, I had seen it in lonely planet but wasn’t going to try it, but I’m so glad they did. They also called the bus driver to Chengdu so I didn’t have to go to the bus station but could just get on when they passed. That’s a lot nicer

  3. Judging by the photos and your description I think I would have walked too instead of taking the bus otherwise I might have missed all these beautiful spots and comers that are difficult (if not impossible) to see from a bus. I don’t recall seeing water as blue as that one, it does make you think that it’s artificial if I have to be honest 🙂

    • I heard someone joking that china probably dyes it and now I’m so suspicious, although at Yellowstone in America there are some pretty wild colors, but that’s volcanic so it makes more sense…. someone should investigate it 🙂

  4. I remember reading about this place when we were researching places to visit in China. I would LOVE to go for a wander (both on and off the boardwalk!) one day, but unfortunately we did not make it to Sichuan province during our last visit to China. I always think we need to support the beautiful places in China that the government is actually trying to preserve and protect since that so often seems to be the opposite of their instincts. Juizhaigou truly looks stunning, and while I don’t think it’s not the easiest place to reach, it certainly seems well worth the effort!

    • Yeah, the 11 hour bus ride from Chengdu does make going there a bit difficult. I agree that its important to support any and all efforts at conservation. I think that an appreciation for nature is growing in china, hopefully it will grow fast enough to save more of the landscape

  5. How gorgeous! The blue water is very pretty, but I love that one of your feet over the water too 🙂

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