HuangLong (literally “Yellow Dragon”) is the lesser known companion to Jiuzhaigou. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to their scenic and historic interest.
HuangLong contains a wide variety of geological formations, but the most unique is the famed travertine landscape.
Travertine is a form of limestone, often deposited in hot springs. Sichuan’s volcanic mountains make it a perfect place for creating travertine, and the air here gives it the vivid colours. This is the same material that makes up Yellowstone National Park in the US and Plitvice Lakes in Croatia.
In HuangLong, the travertine has formed natural dams creating a long series of lakes, waterfalls and pools reaching 3.6km down the mountainside. These are said to look like a golden dragon winding its way through the mountains. It really doesn’t in any way, but that makes it no less spectacular.
The travertine deposits start up at the Buddhist temple at the top of the valley and continue downhill to the waterfalls near the entrance.
HuangLong Visitor Tips
The pools are on top of a small mountain, so you have the choice of walking up the steps or taking a short cable car ride. The entrance fee is 200rmb, plus 80 to take the cable car one-way.
Once at the top there are more steps to reach the upper pools.
There will be a lot of steps no matter which way you go, but the easiest is to take the cable car up, walk round to the top of the pools and walk down the stairs.
The official guide said it was possible to visit the whole park up and down on foot in 4 hours. We took the cable car up and walked down, yet still took over 5 hours due to numerous photo opportunities.
Overpriced and underwhelming food and drinks are available near the top. The only other stores are outside the gates, so take drinks and snacks.