The limestone terraces in the Huanglong Valley were formed over thousands of years by the washing out of rainwater and now present themselves in immensely colourful ponds, springs, caves and waterfalls. With lush vegetation all around, the beauty of the valley is almost kitschy to behold.
Huanglong is a small village with about 800 inhabitants in the northwest of the Chinese province of Sichuan. The village itself is not as interesting for tourists as its surroundings, the Huanglong Valley, which is almost 4 kilometres long. UNESCO added the limestone terraces around Huanglong to its list of World Natural Heritage Sites in 1992. The beautiful natural spectacle is also on our list of the top 10 sights in China.
Most expensive sight in China
The Huanglong Valley lies in the middle of an area of sandstone and limestone that has been worked by rainwater over thousands of years. Over time, calcite terraces and basins have formed, filled with crystal clear water in supernatural appearing shades of gold, blue, turquoise and green.
Small waterfalls splash over these limestone terraces and make the whole area shine with enormous beauty. As the valley winds through the snow-covered mountain peaks like a dragon, it was also named after him: Huanglong translates as "Yellow Dragon", yellow due to the colour in which the sandstone basins shimmer from high above.
The skies, clouds, forests and mountain peaks around the valley are reflected in the countless ponds and springs and fill every guest with wonder at the art of nature. It is not for nothing that the valley is described with terms like "wonder of the world" or "fairyland" and the entrance fee is accordingly high. In fact, the Huanglong Valley is the most expensive sight in the whole of China. China.
In spring, the breathtaking landscape becomes almost kitschy when the flowering trees and meadows still do their part to add to the blaze of colour, the birds chirp and butterflies flutter among the visitors.
On the way through the basins of the Huanglong Valley
The calcite pools can be walked through via wooden walkways, the hike takes about 3-4 hours. The end of the colourful walk is a Buddhist Huanglong temple, next to which there is also a water basin whose iridescent colourfulness is unsurpassed.
On the way through this wonder of nature, the visitor is offered a number of attractions. Ponds, caves, springs, waterfalls, Buddha figures entirely covered with sintered lime crystals and the Huanglong temples. The most famous are the Bonsai Pond, the Mirror Pond, the Rododendron Pond, the Jade Plant Pond and the Flower Transformation Pond.
Tip: The average temperature in the Huanglong Valley is around 7°C all year round. In the morning and evening, the landscape is often covered in fog due to the high amount of water, and it can be rainy from May to August.
The Huanglong Valley is also important for religion, culture and folklore, as many legends and myths surround its waterfalls and sinter pools. The Xishen Pubu, the waterfall of body purification, for example, is said to have healing powers because the god Xuannu once bathed in it. Numerous endangered animals still have a habitat there, such as the giant panda and the golden snub-nosed monkey.
The surroundings of the Huanglong Valley are also extremely worth seeing. Snow-capped mountain peaks alternate with young forests and winding valleys, such as the Muni Valley. There you will find the largest lake in the area, Lake Erdao, into which the Zhaga Waterfall flows, the largest limestone waterfall in all of China.