Jiuzhaigou is a Magical Place straight from the movies
There are hundreds of kilometers of walking trails inside Jiuzhaigou national park and at every turn there are stunning sights to behold, such as Five Flower Lake. Zhang Quansheng / For China Daily
Jiuzhaigou literally means the valley of nine villages, which are scattered throughout one of the most beautiful national parks in China. Deep blue-green lakes, multi-level waterfalls, colorful forests, snowy mountains and Tibetan culture are the attributes that make Jiuzhaigou world famous.
The beauty of the valley has attracted film directors and Zhang Yimou was one of them. His movie Hero starring Jet Li was shot inside Jiuzhaigou.
"You might not remember the plots of this movie, but you can never forget the breath-taking scenes of two men fighting on the surface of a tranquil lake," Zhang said.
The Pearl Shoal in Rize Valley is covered by running water that flows from a nearby waterfall. Provided to China Daily
Jiuzhaigou is also home to more than 220 bird species as well as a number of endangered plants and animals, including the giant panda and the Sichuan snub-nosed monkey. In 1992 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located on the edge of the Tibetan Himalayan Plateau, Jiuzhaigou is a natural reserve in the north of Southwest China's Sichuan province, 435 kilometers from Chengdu, the capital city of the province.
The elevation of the valley ranges from 2,000 meters above sea level at the entrance to more than 4,500 meters on the mountain peaks.
Jiuzhaigou has a subtropical to temperate monsoon climate.
Valleys are warm and dry, while the middle mountain slopes are cold and damp. The enchantment of Jiuzhaigou is that all of its four seasons have a very unique and special charm. Here are five locations worth visiting:
1. Pearl Shoal
The shoal lies in the Rize Valley, which is in the southwestern part of Jiuzhaigou and is the valley that contains the largest variety of tourist sites.
Pearl Shoal is a wide, gently sloping area of active calcareous tufa covered with a thin sheet of flowing water.
Water flows from the famous Pearl Waterfalls, which drop 28 meters into a 310-meter wide curtain of water. This film of water is often illuminated by sunshine and viewed from a distance, the shoal appears like a stream full of pearls, hence its name.
2. Mirror Lake
The 1,000-meter long Mirror Lake lies at the end of the valley and is wrapped by colorful vegetation. The mountain on the opposite side is like a huge stone screen.
At dawn, the lake is as smooth as a mirror and the blue sky, white clouds, mountains and trees are all reflected in the lake.
Amazing images of fish swimming in the reflected sky, and birds flying in the lake attract millions of tourists every year.
Near the lake, there is a tall tree with long vines twisting around it giving it the appearance of two lovers. Therefore, locals also call Mirror Lake as Love Park.
3. Nuorilang Falls
The falls are located in the Shuzheng valley, which is the northern branch of Jiuzhaigou. The 20-meter high and 320-meter wide waterfalls are reportedly the widest highland waterfalls in China and are one of the most beautiful symbols of Jiuzhaigou. Nuorilang means grand and magnificent in Tibetan language, and the waterfalls welcome visitors with the thundering sound of water splashing upon the rocks. When there is sunshine in the morning, a rainbow can be seen across the falls.
Opposite the waterfalls, there is an observation platform where visitors can take in the whole view of the falls.
4. Zharu Valley
This valley runs southeast from the Shuzheng valley, and is the home of eco-tourism at Jiuzhaigou.
Local guides accompany tourists through the valley, sharing their knowledge about the unique biodiversity and local culture of Jiuzhaigou.
The valley has 40 percent of all the plant species that exist in China and it is the best place to spot wildlife inside the park.
Visitors can also take a tour on horseback along the Zharu Bridle Path.
5. Virgin forests
About 52 percent of Jiuzhaigou is covered by virgin forests and the largest forest is located at the end of the Rize Valley.
It is a preserved woodland surrounded by spectacular views of mountains and cliffs, including the 500-meter high blade-shaped Sword Rock.
Visitors from the city can take a walk through the forests and smell the fragrant