Hainan

Sanya

Hubei

Three Gorges Dam

Shanghai


Sichuan

Chengdu
Huanglong
Jiuzhaigou


Chengdu

PedestriansThe atmosphere in Chengdu is so different than most of China–people are relaxed, there are many parks, few high-rises, and the city is much cleaner. Foreigners are a much more common sight here as it is a hub of backpackers who travel across Sichuan. When I visited this summer there were many English-speaking youths waiting at the train station touting international hostels. I had read many positive things about Sim’s Cozy Guesthouse in some forums, and sure enough, it was a great place to stay. The staff was very friendly and the owner, Sim and his wife often talked with us, offering assistance for anything we needed. There were a number of foreign guests staying there from Europe, the US, Japan, and Taiwan.

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Huanglong

Huanglong poolsHuanglong Nature Reserve, about five hours north of Chengdu, sees only one bus a day. The bus’ main stop is the nearest city, Chuanzhusi. At the Nature Reserve there is nowhere to stay, so the bus waits for you while you visit. Huanglong is much smaller than Jiuzhaigou, about four kilometers long, but certainly equally attractive. Some people even prefer Huanglong because it can easily be done in four or five hours and has fewer tourists. Huanglong is also a valley, but higher up than Jiuzhaigou. Thoughout the valley are many fascinating rock formations formed by the water that constantly flows from the melting snow of the surrounding mountains. One peak that approaches 6,000 meters tall is always clearly visible at the top of the slanting valley. In the summer there was no snow visible in Jiuzhaigou, but in Huanglong there were several snow-capped peaks. The temperature difference could also easily be felt, but with a bright sun out the coolness of the air was very refreshing.

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Jiuzhaigou

Jiuzhaigou lakeAccording to many guides Sichuan province has enough travel destinations to last months. But most of them point to Jiuzhaigou as the number one must-see. Isolated by a ten hour bus ride from Chengdu and with the most expensive ticket price in China, Jiuzhaigou is a place frequented by many dedicated travelers. There is a small airport about two hours away from the park, but it was closed when we went this summer. The bus ride was mainly uphill and very curvy. As we ascended the sky got bluer and the temperature dropped. Light jackets were necessary at night. We stayed at a cheap hotel next to the Sheraton, which is not cheap. There are barbeque restaurants outside selling whole roasted lambs and yak meat. Half a kilo of mutton was 30 yuan (about $4).

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