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Huanglong National Park--the fairyland on earth(2010-9-13)

2010-09-17

Huanglong National Park--the fairyland on earth

Yellow Dragon Valley is a national park is located in Songpan county, in the northwest part of Sichuan Province. It is indeed laced with a golden-hued calcium carbonate which, in the right light, certainly could lead one to conjure an altruistic mythical beast.

All the colors of the rainbow are here, actually, the landscape studded with waterfalls and terraced, colored limestone ponds of blue, yellow, white and green. Consequently, it has earned the nickname Wucaichi (Five-coloured Pool). To see the pools in their full rainbow glory, the best time of year to visit is September and October.

The most spectacular ponds are behind Huanglong Temple, deep in the valley and 7.5 kilometers from the road. (The temple was built to honor the dragon). A round trip along a footpath takes about four hours, with the trail returning through dense (and dark) forest. If you do visit, there are no vendors, so bring some water and supplies.

A great time to visit is during the annual Temple Fair. Held here around the middle of the sixth lunar month (usually July), it attracts large numbers of traders from the Qiang minority.

No lodging is allowed in the park anymore, and outside you've got one super-pricey option.

Around 56 kilometers from Songpan, Huanglong is almost always included on the itinerary of the seven-day Jiuzhaigou tours that run out of Chengdu, as well as on the horse-trekking tours out of Songpan. Unfortunately, unless you’ve signed up on a tour, the valley can be difficult to reach. Currently, there is one bus a day from Jiuzhaigou (41 yuan, three hours, 7.10 am) but this would leave you hung up, as the bus returns the next day with nary a cheap pillow for your head.

However, as Jiuhuang Airport has been expanded, more buses may at least operate between the airport and the national park (though you’d still have to shell out 700 yuan just to save money on a bus!).

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