I made the deliberate plan to stay in the Jiuzhai Valley area for four full days, or basically four full days since my flight out was at 2130 at night on my fourth day in the valley. Since I had my activity planned for my final day, I had an open day for visiting something else in the area. When I was doing deeper research on the Jiuzhai Valley, I discovered the Fairy Pond Scenic Area, which wasn’t mentioned in my China guidebook. Upon further investigation, it sounded like a beautiful place to visit and an ideal day trip from the Jiuzhaigou village I was staying.
The Fairy Pond Scenic Area is only about 49 kilometers (30 miles) from Jiuzhaiguou village, but it takes about 90 minutes to get there by car. It is certainly possible to take a bus to the area, but it honestly seems like more trouble than it is worth. So your two basic options to visit the Fairy Pond are to do a tour group trip, or hire a taxi on your own to take you. I chose the latter since it gave me freedom of movement and the ability to set my own schedule. Since I don’t speak Mandarin, the front desk manager was kind enough to book a taxi for me. She didn’t really speak English, but she spoke better English than I did Chinese, and combined with some basic phrases and Google Translate, we were able to communicate.
So my taxi driver for the day showed up at the pre-arranged time (400 yuan for a full day) and we headed off for Fairy Pond Scenic Area. Even though the actual distance isn’t that far, it still takes a while to get there. The road is narrow and winding, and we had to cross a very high mountain pass (3604 meters or 11,825 feet) to get to the Fairy Pond on the other side of the mountain. We stopped for a few minutes at the top of the pass to marvel at the beautiful mountains below us. Some of them were laced with morning fog, and some of them were peeking out.
Admission to the Fairy Pond Scenic Area is 100 yuan and then you are pretty much free to roam about. It’s about a 15 minute walk from the entrance area to the start of the scenic area. There are stairs on both side of the scenic area and you can walk up either side and walk down the other. At the base of the valley is the Gold and Silver Beach with is a wide trickling waterfall built up with calcium deposits and a blend of gold and silver colors, hence its name.
I elected to walk up the right side of the valley so I would walk down the left side of it and get the most comprehensive view of the valley’s sights. As I walked up the stairs, I followed the gently flowing water. The bottom of the valley was a very wide, golden calcium carbonate travertine and the water rippled slowly over it and produced a delicate, beautiful shimmering effect.
The first travertine pool was Jasper Lake and it was easy to walk among and over the lake via the wood planked boardwalk. These pools weren’t the first travertines I’ve visited (that would be Pammukkale in Turkey), but that didn’t stop me from appreciating their unique beauty. The calcium deposits were a delicate golden color and the water was an iridescent turquoise blue, and I marveled that such stuff can exist in nature, and took thousands of years to get to the point they are at now.
The path was a wood planked set of stairs and kept going up and up, with occasional stops for different sights. The path itself is very easy, and the ascent is rather gentle with plenty of sights to see along the way. The lakes were beautiful colors of blue and green and they were so clear. I imagine the area would be even more beautiful in full overhead sunlight, but even with the smattering of clouds, Fairy Pond was still colorful and beautiful. Blue Dragon Pool was a beautiful blue and the still water was a perfect reflection of the trees resting underneath the water’s surface.
About midway up the stairs, the view stops at Multi-Lotus Reflecting Pools. The travertines were a beautiful contrast of pure white or bright golden calcium deposits and very bright turquoise blue water, all set among the green trees and looking out over the faraway mountains.
The path ends up at the top of a colorful flag pavilion. It’s a small open air pavilion festooned with colorful prayer flags. The pavilion provided some shade and welcome coolness from the hot air and a good place to rest.
The path downward was easy with more sets of stairs. This way allows you to see the same sights as the hike up, but on the opposite side to provide a different perspective.
All told, I was at the Fairy Pond Scenic Area for a leisurely couple of hours. All the sights you want to see are clustered in this valley and the park is set up real well to facilitate an easy visit.
Fairy Pond Scenic Area makes for a great day trip from Jiuzhaigou village. Now if you are only in the area for a few days, I suggest you spend two days in Jiuzhaigou National Park and another day at the Huanglong Scenic Area. But if you have another free day, Fairy Pond is very much worth your time.