Went with a tour group. Tour bus stopped us at a carpark (no tour buses allowed past a certain point), and thereafter we had to walk for about 15-20min along the sidewalk and through a tunnel to the entrance - my elderly parents found it tiring on the return trip after a long day of sightseeing in Jiuzhaigou.
The natural landscape in Jiuzhaigou is stunning, but perhaps my expectations were very high so it didn't seem as beautiful as I imagined. The special feature of Jiuzhaigou is the colour of its lakes, which I don't think you can find anywhere else in the world. The mountains are OK, nothing fantastic. Nuorilang waterfall didn't have much water going when we visited, Pearl Shoals waterfalls was better.
There were great crowds of Chinese tourists even when I went 1 week before the 1 May Labour Day holiday. There is a cap of 12,000 tourists a day, but this is not enforced I think, and the tour guide says during peak periods, the park can see 25,000 tourists a day. The noise from the crowds (more perceptible at Long Lake and Pearl Shoals Waterfall) and jostling on paths detracts from a lovely holiday experience.
We were brought to a 2 storey cafeteria for lunch. You buy a card for entry to a buffet lunch. We went relatively early, and already there was some jostling at the turnstile to get into the cafeteria. Crowds of tourists arrived 20 min later, and there was a lot of jostling at the food counters to get rice. Some of my tour mates paid more and went to a Korean restaurant near the cafeteria and reported that the food was quite good.
The toilets in the park are quite well-maintained.
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