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Huanglong Scenic Area near Chengdu

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China

Huanglong is best known for its five main attractions – rainbow ponds, limestone sandbars, snow-capped peaks, undulating ravines and virgin forests. Also known as Golden Dragon Valley, Huanglong’s main draw are its tiers of multihued limestone ponds with the silhouette of the 5,588-metre Xuebao Peak in the backdrop.

The sequence of twinkling ponds extends through a basin where yellow-hued calcium carbonate and limestone deposits cause the waters to sparkle best on sunny days, in shades of pink, turquoise, yellow and green. This increasingly popular tourist destination is not as popular as the nearby Jiuzhaigou Park, but is a peaceful and gorgeous scenic area to visit.

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Huanglong National Park

Most visitors to Chengdu are well aware that the nearby Jiuzhaigou Park is the more popular tourist attraction. Entrance prices to both parks are reasonably similar and they’ve both got their fair share of attractions so if cash isn’t a problem then Huanglong National Park should be another stop on your itinerary.

The park is a three to four-hour gentle, roundtrip walk; the altitude ensures nippy weather and the highest pools – sited at 3500 metres – are some of the most beautiful sights in China. You’ll get more bang-for-your-buck if you visit Huanglong between September and October – the temperature is perfect and the sun shines cheerfully throughout the day.

Located behind the Huanglong Temple are the most stunning ponds in the park such as Wuchaichi – also known as the Five-Coloured Pool. Visitors who want to head up to the peaks can hop on board the cable car that will take them on a gentle glide up the mountainside and guarantees a gorgeous view of the rolling mountainside.

History

Huanglong National Park is smaller than the more popular nearby Juizhaigou Park. Found approximately 155 miles away from Chengdu in Sichuan Province, the park rises and falls through the south of the Minshan range in Songpan County. With Xuebao Peak as its backdrop, it is famed for its tiered limestone ponds and is surrounded by untouched forest – it is also known for its beaches, lakes, springs, waterfalls, and caves. The ponds’ waters come from the melted snow of the mountain peaks – the karsts rising from beneath the earth, together with calcium carbonate in the water, give rise to the multicoloured pools.

Huanglong National Park is home to more than a few good attractions; the best time to visit is in the early morning when the air is misty and chilly. Huanglong Temple – also known as Yellow Dragon Temple – is at the foot of Snow Treasure Peak and is primarily used as grounds to worship the Goddess of Mercy. Another one of Huanglong’s great attractions is the Feipuliuhui – also known as the glowing waterfall. From a distance this 14-metre high, 68-metre wide water feature seems to descend from the heavens. The Xishen Grotto is one more not-to-be-missed sight; this bathing pool is said to be a sacred space where immortals bathed to ‘cultivate their virtues’.

Highlights and Features

  • Big Temple Fair: A Big Temple Fair is held on the 15th of every sixth lunar month to commemorate the day when the yellow dragon was said to achieve his Buddha-hood; locals trek up the mountain to pay homage and pray for good fortune.
  • Feipuliuhui: The Glowing Waterfall is a 14-metre high waterfall that rushes through the thick woods and gushes down dozens of terraced rocks.
  • Huanglong Cave: The Yellow Dragon Cave sits behind the Huanglong Temple. Its ceilings have an abundance of stalactites and during the winter icicles and ice waterfalls adorn the interior. It is frequently visited due to the three well-known Ming-dynasty Buddha statues, crusted with calcium carbonate deposit crystals, situated inside.
  • Huanglong Temple: The Yellow Dragon Temple consists of three small buildings which together form an abstract giant dragon. The foremost temple is recognised as the head of the dragon while the centre and rear temples correspondingly mark the waist and tail.
  • Wucaichi/ Five-Coloured Ponds: Located directly behind the Huanglong Temple, at the highest peak of the valley, these ponds are the best known in the park and reflect a distinctive variety of colours.
  • Xishen Grotto: Also known as the Body-Washing Grotto, the one-metre high and 1.5-metre wide grotto has creamy-yellow and milky-white stalactites. Its entrance is a partition of water vapour and this sacred space is said to be the site for immortals to ‘cultivate their virtues’.
  • Yingbin Ponds: Also known as the Guest-Welcoming Ponds, Yingbin consists of approximately 350 oddly-shaped ponds in varying sizes spread out over 9,600 square meters that overlap and emit musical ‘welcome notes’.
  • Zhuanhua Pond: Tucked away amidst alpine shrubs, the Revolving Flower Pond has a number of fountains that spring up from the limpid waters and cause geometric patterns to take shape on the water surface.

Good to Know and What Not to Miss

  • The average temperature around this area is 7°C. The best time to visit is in the mornings when the air is misty and cool. May to August is rainy season.
  • The ‘sightseeing paths’ are the best way to take in the scenery but keep ahead of the crowds or else you’ll lose sight of the beautiful pools and waterfalls.
  • Mobile phones with international roaming will be able to get a signal here.
  • There are also public payphones and internet cafés scattered across the area.
  • Opening Hours: 09:10 – 16:40
  • Price Range: Peak season (April 1 – November 15) – CNY 200
    Off-peak season (November 16 – March 31) – CNY 80
  • How to get there: From Songpan, there is a bus that leaves at 06:00 and 07:00 for Huanglong National Park; the journey takes approximately one-and-a-half hours. From Jiuzhaigou, there is a bus that leaves at 07:00 and 07:30 for the park; the trip takes about three hours but the return trip is tricky.

Huanglong National Park

  • Opening Hours: 09:10 – 16:40
  • Price Range: Peak season (April 1 – November 15) – CNY 200 Off-peak season (November 16 – March 31) – CNY 80
  • How to get there: From Songpan, there is a bus that leaves at 06:00 and 07:00 for Huanglong National Park; the journey takes approximately one-and-a-half hours. From Jiuzhaigou, there is a bus that leaves at 07:00 and 07:30 for the park; the trip takes about three hours but the return trip is tricky.
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