In 2011 we made a scouting trip to this part of northern Sichuan, and in 2012 we made our first group visit to the area. It wasn't the smoothest first visit – we had a lot of problems with flight cancellations and changes about a month before departure, and ended up making it a five-day trip instead of four.
We visited the beautiful blue lakes of Jiuzhaigou National Park and Huanglong National Park, and explored two of the ancient towns in the area. In this part of Sichuan there are a lot of Tibetans, and the Qiang ethnic group and Muslims have also lived here for a long period of time.
On the first day we were in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, where we visited Wuhou Temple and Huanglongxi ancient town.
The next day we flew out to Jiuzhaigou, travelling on the next day to Huanglong and Songpan.
Songpan is an ancient town was first settled during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), and rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD)
This was our first time travelling to northern Sichuan province, to visit its most beautiful blue lakes and interesting towns in Sichuan: Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong and Songpan, which were originally built during the Tang Dynasty 618-907 AD, and rebuilt in the Ming dynasty 1368-1644 AD.
On the extra day of the trip, we made a visit to Munigou National Park to take a look at the waterfalls and forests there, and then it was back to Chengdu for our flight to Beijing.
Huijie took a lot of photos on the trips; below you'll find her favourites.
We spent some time in Chengdu, and visited Wuhou Temple on the first day of the trip. In this photo we're listening to our tour guide's explanation about this temple.
Red walls along the path and green bamboo outside the walls.
Wuhou Temple features large gardens full of greenery.
One of the main temple buildings.
Two Tibetans were shopping at Chengdu's Jinli food street.
Colourful shadow puppets.
We took a walk about the ancient town of Huanglongxi, and spotted an old lady was selling some flowers.
Small shops line this street in Huanglongxi.
An old lady with prayer beads, outside of her house at dusk.
We took a break by this nice-looking building.
We visited in the afternoon, and it seems we were about just as school finished for the day. We saw a lot of local kids and their families walking home – quite interesting to see the life of regular folks in the area!
A family heading home with the bike.
Next stop: Huanglong National Geological Park
Behind Huanglong National Park is the Minshan Snow Mountain, over 5,000 metres high at the peak.
This is what Huanglong is famous for: travertine terraces and pools, filled with impossibly clear water.
One of the park attendants, wearing traditional Tibetan clothes.
After a day in Huanlong, the next stop was the Jiuzhaigou National Geological Park.
What clean water!
Jiuzhaigou's Blue Lake.
A fallen tree submerged in clean, blue water.
A beautiful landscape – autumn colours behind Blue Lake.
The blue colour comes from deposits of minerals in the water.
A wild bird we spotted.
The gates of Songpan's ancient town.
A stone carving on the city wall.
Local Tibetan ladies, wrapped up against the cold.
Perhaps the young one is getting an early start at learning his father's trade.
A nice group picture in front of the largest waterfall at Munigou National Park.
Another shot of the waterfall.
Hikers enjoying the view.
Neil is getting to know the locals.
A farmer plowing with his two strong yaks.
The farmer's house.
On the left, our birthday girl! One of two people to have their birthday on this trip.
We took a group picture at a restaurant on our way back to Chengdu.