China National Parks

China National Parks in Autumn Colors

China

  • Walking
  • Autumn
15 Days
3 Flights
Child friendly

This unique autumn trip begins and ends in two of the best-known China national parks. The first is Jiuzhaigou, internationally recognized as one of the most beautiful nature reserves in the world, and the latter is Zhangjiajie which was brought to the public attention as it served as the background for the Hollywood hit movie, Avatar. These two China national parks consist of dense forests, and thus, when autumn arrives, stand in beautiful autumn colors. In between these two parks travel along the foot of the Tibetan Plateau, where communities of Tibetans managed to avoid the political turmoil often associated with the people of Tibet. Keeping out of harm’s way, these communities managed to strongly preserve Tibetan heritage and traditions, and visiting them provides the travelers with a unique insight into a culture which is rapidly changing.

Trip dates indicated below are chosen in order to see the best of the autumn foliage of China national parks. However, this trip is available all year round, and we would love to arrange it at any time for your convenience. The regions visited throughout this trip offer amazing sights all year round, each season with its own unique characteristics.

Recommended dates to travel China national parks: May, August, September and October (please refer to the list of Chinese national holidays below during which these rates do not apply)

Gallery


Itinerary

DAY 1, 10 OCTOBER 2020. ARRIVAL IN CHENGDU AND FLY TO JIUZHAIGOU

  • Dinner

Arrive in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province. Lying at the heart of a region commonly known in China as the “Country of Heaven”, Chengdu is thought to be of significant strategic location to various cultures for more than four thousand years. With the fertile plains surrounding the city, it is often referred to as “Nature’s Storehouse”.
Chengdu’s airport located pretty far from the city center, but if possible, based on flights schedule of the day, a short tour of the city center might be possible. At the evening board the flight to Jiuzhaigou, where one of the world’s highest-altitude airports is located at 3,448 meters (11,312 feet) above sea level. Arrive in Jiuzhaigou, at the northern edge of Sichuan province, meet the local guide, and drive straight to the hotel to check-in and have a good night’s rest.

DAY 2, 11 OCTOBER 2020. EXPLORE JIUZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner

Spend the entire day taking in the marvels of Jiuzhaigou (Nine Villages Valley). This nature reserve and its superb and breathtaking landscapes are extremely attractive on account of the karst scenery, the large number of lakes, and spectacular waterfalls. The name Jiuzhaigou derives from the nine Tibetan villages scattered throughout the valley. Its attraction lies in its simple, idyllic beauty; it is primitive, natural and still in a pristine state. With majestic and unrivalled emerald lakes, layered waterfalls, colorful forests, snow-peaked mountains, and Tibetan folk villages, all blending in harmony with each other, it is a jewel of nature set in spectacular mountain scenery. Jiuzhaigou lies in a transitional area where northern and southern flora and fauna meet. A natural botanical and zoological garden, it is home to densely growing conifers and broadleaf trees, and to rare and endangered animal species such as the giant panda, golden snub-nosed monkey, and white-lip deer. Spend the day with easy walks throughout the nature reserve, and in the evening revert to the hotel for a second night in Jiuzhaigou.

DAY 3, 12 OCTOBER 2020. HUANG LONG NATURE RESERVE

  • Breakfast

Check out of the hotel, and drive to the nearby Huang Long Nature Reserve. Huang Long literally means ‘The Yellow Dragon Valley’ and it is commonly known to the Chinese people as ‘The fairyland on Earth’ for its undeniably breathtaking landscapes. The valley was added to UNESCO’s Natural World Heritage List in 1992, and to date still is considered as one of the most stunning China national parks. Running along the southern slopes of the Minshan mountain range, the valley is a true wonder of nature, with stunning limestone formations, some 3400 ponds of all shapes and colors, stalactite caves and beautiful waterfalls. In addition, several ancient temples dot the landscape. All these features, together with the snowcapped peaks of the Minshan in the background make up a beautiful day for anyone willing to make the journey. In the afternoon drive to Songpan, a mainly Tibetan inhabited town. If time permits, visit Songpan old town, with some of its buildings dating back to the Tang Dynasty era.

DAY 4, 13 OCTOBER 2020. WALKING THROGH MOUNIGOU SCENIC AREA

  • Breakfast

This morning drive out to visit Mounigou Scenic Area, a World Biosphere Reserve, and a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. Although the entire area comprises of stunning landscapes, it is mainly known for two of its main features, Zhaga Waterfalls, and Erdaohai Lake which are hidden in the midst of a beautiful forest. At the afternoon take the approximately 150 km (93 miles) of winding mountain road to Wenchuan. The city of Wenchuan is known throughout China as the epicenter of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake which claimed the lives of nearly 70,000 people, and left nearly 5 million people homeless. With 80% of its buildings collapsing on this horrific night, Wenchuan is now newly built.

DAY 5, 14 OCTOBER 2020. TAOPING FORTRESS VILLAGE AND BIPENGOU SCENIC AREA

  • Breakfast

After a short drive out of Wenchuan, stop at the village of Taoping. This well fortified village is inhabited by the Qiang people, an ethnic group which traditionally lived on the border between the Tibetan people to the west, and the Chinese Han people to the east. As a site of constant tensions for centuries, the hills surrounding the village still bear the remains of walls that goes back to the Three Kingdoms Period, in the 3rd century AD. The village itself is very much fortress-like, with three distinct guard towers rising above it, and maze-like crisscrossing narrow streets within it. The village is also known for its underground water-system, which supported the village during lengthy sieges. All these features were necessary in order for the Qiang to maintain their cultural identity amidst the two neighboring regional super-powers. Another rather short drive ends at the Bipengou Scenic Area. This incredibly diversified nature reserve consists of pristine forests, glaciers, lakes, crystal clear streams and waterfalls, and a beautiful wetland. This area is known as one of the best spots to view autumn foliage. Late in the afternoon drive to the city of Maerkang, at the foot of the Quanya Snow Mountain. If time permits, pay a visit to one of several ancient Tibetan temples on the hills overlooking the town, which is stretched along the riverbed.

DAY 6, 15 OCTOBER 2020. VISITING ZHUOKEJI TIBETAN VILLAGE

  • Breakfast

Begin the day with a visit to Zhuokeji, considered to be one of the most beautiful and best-preserved Tibetan Villages in the region. The village was first established during the reign of the Qing Dynasty as a Tibetan outpost, and later the seat of the Tu Si, the ruler of the Yi people in China. In more recent history, the village was famed for being the place at which Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and Zhou De have stopped for a week during the 1935 Long March, one of the most prominent events shaping modern-day China. Visit the ancient palace and the remains of the impressive watchtower before heading down south, for a visit to Supo village, and then on to the town of Danba.

DAY 7, 16 OCTOBER 2020. THE ANCIENT WATCHTOWERS OF DANBA

  • Breakfast

For most of the day, explore the surroundings of Danba. The area is inhabited by Gyarong Tibetans, and is famous for its stone-made watchtowers. The watchtowers date back all the way to the very beginning of the 18th century, and it is said that they could shelter a family during times of war for up to 15 days. Travel Danba’s vicinity, stopping by the towers, and visit the Jiaju Residential House, a magnificent display of typical Kham Tibetan architecture. From here continue past the small town of Bamei to Tagong, a Tibetan town in the historical Kham Tibetan region, and home to the most important monastery in the region. Explore Tagong Monastery, built during the Qing Dynasty era. The monastery has miraculously escaped destruction during the Cultural Revolution, and thus, the murals painted on its walls are exceptionally preserved. Late in the afternoon continue driving, arriving at Xinduqiao in the evening.

DAY 8, 17 OCTOBER 2020. AUTUMN COLORS OF XIDUQIAO

  • Breakfast

After breakfast spend few hours roaming the vast lands surrounding Xinduqiao, which are regarded as a photographer's paradise. The area between Zheduoshan and Xinduqiao features plateau pasture scenery of rolling chains of mountains, river valleys dotted with poplars, grassland, and Tibetan villages. Take the time to explore the area, and enjoy its magnificent autumn colors. Late in the afternoon drive on the narrow road along the mountain’s foot, past picturesque Tibetan villages, to the city of Kangding.

DAY 9, 18 OCTOBER 2020. HIKING AROUND MUGECU LAKE

  • Breakfast

Some 26 km (16 miles) north of Kangding, nestled within the Zheduo Mountains, lays Mugecuo scenic area. Take the one-hour drive from Kandgding to Mugecuo Lake, the biggest alpine lake in Sichuan, located some 3,800 meters (12,460 feet) above sea level. From here embark on a three hours’ hike down the beautiful valley, and past the 7 colors lake, to a cluster of steaming hot springs. Late in the afternoon drive to Hailuogou, one of the least visited, yet most astounding China national parks. The park is located well over 2,000 meters (6,560 feet) above sea level, and lies on the eastern slopes of the Gonggar Mountain. 31 square kilometers (12 square miles) of the park are covered in marine glaciers. The park offers stunning views of virgin forests in lush green valleys beneath snow-capped mountain peaks. In the evening reach the hotel in the park’s vicinity, and set here for the night.

DAY 10, 19 OCTOBER 2020. THE GLACIERS OF HAILUOGOU NATIONAL PARK

  • Breakfast

Today hop on a shared ECO bus. These buses have been designed to drive through China’s most fragile biospheres, so they have very low impact on the environment. Drive through Hailuogou Park to marvel the unparalleled views. Then take the cable car to an astounding view point some 3,500 meters (11,480 feet) above sea level, for a view over the Hailuogou Galcier, and the Gonggar Shan rising 7,500 meters (24,600 feet) above sea level. In the afternoon visit Moxi, where Han Chinese, Tibetan and Yi people live together with the mighty and holy mountains, serving as a backdrop to the tranquil ambience this small town has to it. This is yet another important place where the Chinese Red Army, led by Mao Dzedong, stopped during the famous battle of Luding Suspension Bridge, one of the most heroic and well-known sagas of the Long March. In the evening revert to the hotel for a second night.

DAY 11, 20 OCTOBER 2020. WALKING THROUGH BIFENGXIA PANDA RESEARCH CENTER

  • Breakfast

With a very early beginning of the day, descend from the high mountainous region, and drive back to the lowlands of west Sichuan. First head to Ya’an, and on to Bifengxia Nature Reserve. As well as being the biggest conservation and research center of the endangered Giant Panda (after Wolong Nature Reserve was shut down following the Wenchuan earthquake), this is also a beautiful nature reserve, consisting of running rivers, marvelous mountain peaks and lush green forests. Take few hours to walk in the Panda Research Base and the Nature Reserve before proceeding to Chengdu for the night.

DAY 12, 21 OCTOBER 2020. FLY FROM CHENGDU TO ZHANGJIAJIE

  • Breakfast

With an early wake up call, drive to Chengdu’s airport for the morning flight to Zhangjiajie. Upon arrival meet the guide and drive to the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, one of most beautiful China national parks. This magnificent natural gem has been brought to the world’s attention as the place in which much of the Hollywood motion picture Avatar was filmed. The park is considered to be one of China’s most spectacular scenic spots, featuring unique rock formations, clear streams, caves and waterfalls. Begin with a visit to the northern part of Wulingyuan Park. A UNESCO World Natural Heritage site since 1992, Wulingyuan boasts some 3,100 quartz and sandstone peaks which appear spectacular, lofty and elegant. This, along with the mysterious deep valleys and grottos, offers numerous fantastic views. Upon arrival visit the famous Glass Bridge, perched 300 meters above the Wlingyuan canyon. When first opened to the public, it was the world’s longest glass bridge at a length of 430 meters (1,410 feet), a title taken from it with the opening of the Hongyagu Glass Bridge at the end of 2017. Continue to the Golden Whip Stream, probably the best-known landmark in the entire park, and take here a beautiful yet easy hike. After a long day enjoying the marvels of the park, head to the hotel at Wulingyuan.

DAY 13, 22 OCTOBER 2020. EXPLORING ZHANGJIAJIE NATIONAL FOREST PARK

  • Breakfast

The day is dedicated to exploring Yuanjiajie Scenic Area. Upon arrival in the park, take a shuttle bus to the cable car station, for a ride up to Tianzi (son of heaven) Mountain. Considered to be the jewel in the crown of the entire nature reserve, the mountain is named after a local farmer who led his comrades into successful revolt, and thus adopted the epithet traditionally reserved only for the emperor. Hop onboard another shuttle to Yuanjiajie, a natural platform that faces giant rocks, rising from deep valleys and surrounded by higher mountains. Unique in their shapes, and covered with pine trees, these rocks resemble a vivid Chinese painting. On to Tian Xia Di Yi Qiao, or literally, ‘the first bridge of the world’, for a walk over a naturally made bridge, featuring more stunning views of this magnificent nature reserve. Afterwards take the Bailong Elevator, a 330 meters (1,080 feet) tall, glass-made elevator built on the side of huge rock, down to the vehicle. End this eventful day at the Ten-Miles Gallery. Though only 5.8 miles (13.6 km) long, this gallery, nestled at the foot of Tianzi Mountain, runs along the beautiful Suoxi Valley Scenic Spot, and offers yet another unique perspective on the park’s breathtaking scenery. In the evening drive back to the hotel at Wulingyuan.

DAY 14, 23 OCTOBER 2020. FLY FROM ZHANGJIAJIE TO CHENGDU

  • Breakfast

Begin the last day of the trip at Zhangjiajie with a cruise over Baofeng Lake. Then continue to Tianmen Mountain, which is the highest peak in Zhangjiajie, rising 1,517 meters (nearly 5,000 feet) above sea level. Then board the longest mountain cable car in the world, stretching for nearly 7.5 kilometers (4.66 miles) to the foot of the 999 stairs leading to the magnificent Tianmen Cave, seen traditionally by the Chinese as the gateway from our world to the higher worlds. Then board the vehicle for a ride over the Heaven-Linking Avenue, the picturesque name of the famous 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) winding road which connects the foot of the mountain to the Tiananmen Cave. Wrap up the visit in the region with the Junsheng Sand Painting Academy, a display of a unique local art form. From here continue to the airport for the flight back to Chengdu, and upon arrival transfer to the airport hotel for the night.

DAY 15, 24 OCTOBER 2020. DEPARTURE FROM CHENGDU

  • Breakfast

In the morning transfer back to Chengdu airport for the international departure flight out of China.

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Dates & Pricing

Trip rates for this China national parks tour valid for two confirmed travelers and above.

Note: China national parks tour rates are valid all year round, but are not valid for tours that occur (in whole, or in part) during Chinese national holidays:
New Year (1-3 Jan 2021)
Chinese Spring Festival (11-17 Feb 2021)
Qingming Festival (4-6 Apr 2020, 2-4 Apr 2021)
Labor Day Holiday (1-5 May 2020, 28 Apr-2 May 2021)
Dragon Boat Festival (25-27 Jun 2020, 12-14 Jun 2021)
Mid-Autumn Festival (19-21 Sep 2021)
National Day Holiday (1-8 Oct 2020, 1-7 Oct 2021)

Note: Direct flights from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou and from Zhangjiajie to Chengdu might not be available at all times. Please check with us prior to booking this trip, to check flight availability.

[email protected] reserves the right to change China national parks tour prices and programs due to changes in flight schedule, changes in airfares, and other local circumstances.

Prices are based on twin share occupancy.

Discounted rates for groups of 4 travelers and above:
4 travelers- US$4186/ person
6 travelers- US$3800/ person
8 travelers- US$3551/ person

  • Applicable only for travel groups of 4 people or more booking their trip together.

10th October, 2020–24th October, 2020

  • $5,630 Per Person (From 2 people)
  • $951 Single Room Supplement

Variations

Trip dates as shown in the program for this China national parks tour are chosen in order to see the best of the autumn foliage in these regions. However, this tour is available all year round, and we would love to arrange it at any time for your convenience. The regions visited throughout this trip offer amazing sights all year round, each season with its own unique characteristics.


Additional Information


Inclusions
  • Domestic flights as per program
  • Accommodation at hotels selected including breakfast
  • Transfer by private A/C vehicle
  • Meals as indicated in the program (B&B basis)
  • English speaking guide for each area as per program
  • Entry fees for all sightseeing as mentioned on the program

Exclusions
  • International travel to and from Chengdu
  • Travel insurance
  • Chinese tourist visa
  • Excess luggage
  • Gratuities
  • Expenses of personal nature (food and drinks beyond those provided, laundry, etc.)
  • Anything not clearly mentioned in the program

Accomodation
  • Jiuzhaigou – New Jiuzhai Hotel 4-star
  • Songpan – Fanfang Silu Hotel 4-star
  • Wenchuan – New Wenchuan Hotel 3-star (best available)
  • Maerkang – Jinjianglong Hotel 4-star
  • Danba – Jimei Hotel 4-star
  • Xinduqiao –Gonggazong Manor Hotel 4-star
  • Kangding – Gesanghua Hotel 4-star
  • Hailuogou – Gongga Shentang Hot Spring Hotel 4-star
  • Chengdu – Tibet Hotel 4-star
  • Zhangjiajie – Pullman Hotel 5-star
  • Chengdu (last night) - Chengdu Airport Hotel 4-star

Note: the listed hotels are tentative. Final hotel list shall be confirmed upon placing a booking and paying a deposit.


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