Top 5 Self-driving Routes in China (II)-Western Sichuan Circuit
Last time, we have discussed the landscapes along Fujian Coastline, today, Joy China Tour is excited to share the second self-driving travel routes in National Holiday besides Xinjiang: Western Sichuan Circuit. Follow us to check out more!
That’s a bad underestimate to take the Western Sichuan circuit as only a supplement to the Tibetan circuit. From snow mountains and glaciers to the valleys and meadows, the Western Sichuan Circuit almost covers all the Tibetan landscapes in Sichuan, especially the charming ethnic villages dotted on beautiful land. The updated No. 350 National Highway and the new No. 212 Provincial Highway make your journey more comfortable with better road condition.
Siguniang Mountain National Geological Park includes “three gullies and one mountain” distributed in the east-west direction. You will be struck by those clean Haizi (refers to lakes) hidden in the Haizi Gully at the first sight, walking forward along the ridge, looking up, you will be excited to have a glimpse of the face of the “guniang”.
The well-developed Changping Gully is a popular option for travelers. Enter the scenic area and take the shuttle bus to the Lama Temple, go forward along the walkway, pass the Kushu Beach, and reach the end of the way. Afterward, ride a horse from there to Hongshi Beach and Muluozi (at an elevation of 3,800 meters). Shuangqiao Gully could be explored more comfortably as the shuttle bus is always available inside the scenic area.
Danba County at an elevation of only 1,780 meters, is a gathering place of Jiarong Tibetan distributed around the Mo Er Duo Mountain. The unique Tibetan folk custom together with the dotted watchtowers and Tibetan villages is the first aim for travelers to come here.
Jiaju Tibetan Village (entrance ticket: CNY50) is rated as the top of “the Six Most Beautiful Ancient Towns of China” by Chinese National Geography. The viewing platforms in the village provide you the best angle to overlook the whole villages.
~~On the way
The highway from Danba to Eight Beauties can prove that “the most beautiful scenery is on the road”, The first section passes through the Yak Valley, known as the “natural bonsai”, with a total length of about 40 kilometers. In late autumn, you can see the colorful forests in the mountains. Above the valley is Dingguo Mountain on which you can overlook the snow mountain and visit Pengcuoling Temple.
Moving forward, you will pass through a red pebble beach, and take a bath in a hot spring pond to relieve fatigue. After driving out of the valley, the Yala Snow Mountain can be seen. After going down the mountain road and passing through Huiyuan Temple, you can see a landscape of alpine meadow. The whole road is less than 90 kilometers, but you can spend half day there to enjoy yourself!
Located on the north-south main road of Sichuan and Tibet, the Kangba town deserves the name of “Eight Beauties”. Tagong Grassland in the south, Yak Valley in the east, Longdeng Grassland in the north, and Daofu dwellings are indeed beautiful sceneries in all directions.
Huiyuan Temple in Xiede township is called the “Lotus Holy Land”. It was built for the seventh Dalai to avoid the Zhungeer rebellion in the Qing dynasty. The 11th Dalai was also born in Xiede, so Huiyuan Temple is particularly noble in Tibet.
On the left of Provincial Highway 215 in the direction of Tagong, you can see the black stone forest spreading thousands of miles. The most beautiful section has been built a bran-new black stone park (entrance ticket: CNY60). Driving into the stone forest valley entrance and walking along the wood trestle, you can see the “mylonite forest”. This is a unique stone forest formed by ancient seabed sedimentary rocks rising with the movement of the earth’s crust, crushed by strong ground stress, and finally formed by wind erosion and rain erosion for thousands of years. Its colors are also very special.
This prairie town above 3700 meters above sea level is surrounded by 8 sacred mountains, including Haizi Shan, Xiagudongqing Mountain, and Manjushri Hill. On the vast grassland, the dazzling Muya Gold Tower in the vicinity echoes the Yala Snow Mountain in the distance. This golden pagoda was built to commemorate the tenth Panchen. It is said that more than 100-kilogram gold was used for the top.
If you want to shoot the HuYang Summit in the Golden Light of Yala snow mountain, you must arrive before 4 pm, otherwise, the sun will be blocked by the snow mountain behind.
The best shooting spot is located in the Tagong Grassland. It costs 10 yuan/person to enter. If you want to go deep into the grassland, you can rent a horse in front of the Gold Tower (100 yuan/time).
This place serves more as a transit point for passing in and out of Tibetan areas. The restaurants and inns in the town center do not have many characteristics, and the facilities are generally old.
While the scenery of Waze village (Yingguanzangzhai), 2 kilometers to the east, is much better. The hotels are newer and most of them are equipped with restaurants. On the hill on the north side of the town, there is a viewing platform of Gongga Snow Mountain (entrance ticket: CNY10), which can overlook the snow mountain.
As the “king of Shushan”, Gongga Mountain at an altitude of 7556 meters is the best choice for pilgrimages to the snow mountain on the southern Sichuan-Tibet line. In addition to the main peaks, there are many 6000-meter-class snow mountains, such as Xiaogongga, Jiazifeng, and Riwuqiefeng, which are very charming. The best places to view the peaks and can be reached by car are the Yaha and Zimei Passes.
In addition, along the way, Quanhua Beach (entrance ticket: CNY25), Gongga Temple (entrance ticket: CNY20), Bawang Sea, and Lotus Lake all have charming scenery. If you need to stay the night, there are some general homestays in Gonggashan village, Shangmuju, and Zimei village. Only Xinduqiao and Shade have gas stations around the mountainous area, so you’d better fill up the gas before entering the mountain.
The prosperous level of Jiulong will definitely make you wonder that you are no longer in a Tibetan area. The small county town is clean and tidy. The Tibetan, Yi, and Han sculptures on the central square indicate that this is the “Tibet-Yi Corridor.” Wuxu Sea, 24 kilometers away from Jiulong (tickets are 60 yuan in peak season and 40 yuan in low season) has the natural landscapes. Whether you are climbing to overlook the sea, or enjoying waterfalls and hot springs at the foot of snow mountains, you will not be disappointed.
On the 4th day of the lunar calendar, the Sea Tour Festival is very lively by the locals. The Lieta lake in the northeast with the legendary “water monster” (50 yuan for tickets and 35 yuan for sightseeing car) is slightly cold.
Time: From July to October.
Best photography point: Zimei pass. Driving up the Zimei pass at sunset, and the scene that the snow Gongga main peak is emitted with golden sunlight is unforgettable.
Best climbing point: Siguniang Mountain. Different peaks have different climbing difficulties, which can satisfy the original mountaineering desire of various travelers.