Qingchengshan-Dujiangyan National Park
Qingchengshan-Dujiangyan National Park (青城山-都江堰国家公园) is in Sichuan province.
Qingchengshan is one of the ancient cradles of Taoism in China. The mountain complex is home to both many Taoist and Buddhist temples and sites along the paths that wind up to its peaks. The area is snow-free all year round and is known for its peaceful quiet (this of course excludes the large quantities of tourists that flock there on major holidays and the incessantly loud blasts of bus horns along major roadsides). The back entrance to the mountain is much less touristy (crowded) and much more quiet and should be visited first by those who have hiking as their priority. It contains many links to over 80km worth of very green and lush hiking paths including even a few small chairlifts.
The Dujiangyan Irrigation system is a marvel of Chinese imagination. Before the completion of Dujiangyan, the plains around the Min River were prone to flash flooding. This was due to the fast moving river flowing down from the mountains and meeting level ground. It was in the Warring States period about 2,200 years ago, that the engineer Li Bing and his son led the construction of the Dujiangyan irrigation system. This allowed the taming of the river and the irrigation of the surrounding lands.
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Wonderful midrange mist covered foothills including lots of bamboo.
Flora and fauna
Influenced more by the surrounding mountains than the Sichuan Basin, the area is subject to frequent rain and fog. Bring rain-gear! Wear layers.
Bus to Dujiangyan bus station. About 1-1½ hours by bus from Chadianzi Bus Station in Chengdu. Buses leave continuously when full - typically every 15 minutes. At the bus station in Dujiangyan take bus 1 to Dujiangyan scenic area, or bus 102 to Qingshengshan. If you want to go to Qingchenghoushan (back mountain) get off at the Qingshengshan railway station to transfer to the minibus for Qingchenhoushan. Otherwise stay on til the end for the front mountain. -Direct bus to Qingchengshan. About 1-1½ hours by bus from Chadianzi Bus Station in Chengdu. The bus drops you off at the front mountain front gate, which is not actually the start of the trails. Irregular service, check at Chandianzi for schedule.
A new express train service now runs from Chengdu's North Train Station, with stops at Dujiangyan and Qingchengshan (about 45 minutes). It is best to buy tickets the day before you depart, as they often sell out ahead of time, even on weekdays. Even if you don't buy tickets ahead, trains leaving Chengdu are not evenly spaced throughout the day so it's advisable to check the train schedule a day in advance. Train costs ¥15.
Buses from Qingchenshan railway station
To Qingchengshan front mountain
Take bus 101 or 102 for ¥2 which takes you about 2 km from the entrance to the mountain. Look for a blue bus. When getting on make sure you ask if it's going to Qingchengshan as some are going the other way to Dujiangyan. These leave on a 20 minute schedule.
To the back mountain (Qingchenghoushan)
Take minibus from the minibus queue to Qingchenghoushan. These depart when full (every ~20 mins during high season typically). Stay on til the end. Ask if you are unsure if it's going there!
To Dujiangyan scenic area
Take bus 101 until the end. Ask if it's going to Dujiangyan since the stop is the same for both directions. From the Dujiangyan railway station you would take bus 4 to the last stop. Bus 4 leaves from the small road passing under the tracks by the train station exit. There is no route sign or clear indication of a bus stop, but you will probably see some buses waiting here.
The Qingchengshan front mountain entrance fee is ¥90, for only the back mountain (Qingchenghoushan) the cost is ¥20. Dujiangyan entrance fee is ¥90 (student 45Y). A combined ticket is 130Y. (2014)
You can either climb to the top which takes around 2-3 hours or take a boat across the lake (¥5) to a ropeway (¥35 one way ¥60 round trip) which will get you there sooner depending on the queue time (which during a holiday could approach and 1½ hours or more). A sedan chair can also be hired for ¥100 or more in which two men carry you up the mountain.
Qingcheng Mountain is known for its Daoist temples. They are located on the front and back mountains, but are more numerous on the front mountain.
If you are looking for more natural beauty then Qingcheng Hou Mountain is where you should head. See the next section for more info on the hiking opportunities there.
Dujiangyan scenic area has a nice pagoda, several temples and lookout areas on the hill, but the main attraction are the dams and different spillways on the river first created around 230BC as part of the namesake irrigation project.
There are shrines for many Daoist masters and Chinese Medicine doctors including Lao Zi and Sun Simiao. If you are expecting a spiritual experiance DO NOT come on a Chinese holiday or the only quiet time you will have to enjoy it will be if you are lucky enough to find a bed in the monastery and wake up at sunrise before the tours get there.
Hiking at Qingchenghoushan. The back mountain has a trail loop that will take you 6-10 hours depending on your hiking speed and how much you stop, although it can be reduced some by taking cable cars. The trail loop leaves from the Tai'An Ancient Town, which is a 15 minute walk from the entrance and the minibus terminus. Look at the map on the back of your ticket - this gives you a general overview of the loop (follow the outside). There are two trails following a river/waterfalls up the mountain. Either one can be skipped by taking the cablecar (Y45 one way, Y80 return) and following the link trail from the cable car terminus over to either river. However if you have the time both river segments are beautiful so I would recommend hiking both. The one on the left on your ticket map includes a section known as the Dragon's Back which offers particularly dramatic vistas. On the trail on the right you will encounter a small lake crossing with a ferry for Y3. There are two small towns at the top of both river trails, which offer food and lodging (at inflated prices of course). You could take the ferry between the towns and go back down (Y45 each way). Better to keep hiking upwards for the ~3 hour trail connecting them which passes under numerous caves, cliff edges. So figure 6-10 hours for the whole hike (subtract 2 hours for every cable car you take). Less crowded than on the front mountain, but still gets pretty crowded. Go early if you can to reduce the crowds somewhat.
Throughout the area there are locals offering small things to eat (for a slightly elevated price).
You can stay at many of the monasteries on the mountain. Some of them have recently been upgraded to 3 star status and accommodations can be in bunk style for around ¥40 to twin private rooms at ¥180. Keep in mind that during the Chinese holidays you may not find a bed or might be stuck with one of the higher priced choices.
Pick up the bus back to Chengdu a little bit downhill of the tourist center in parking lot. "Chengdu" will probably NOT be written in pinyin so you will have to ask the driver. The Chengdu bus is usually closest to the top of the parking lot though and does not leave until it is full. Cost back is ¥20 and may not bring you to the bus station you want to be at in Chengdu.
Another alternative is to take the brand new high speed rail link back to Chengdu. It is much faster and convenient than the bus which cuts your travel time in half and delivers you in first class conditions to the North Train Station. A bargain price of only 15/20 Yuan. A taxi to the train station from the Qingchengshan parking lot will cost around 20 Yuan.
You may want to visit Dujiangyan Irrigation System after a trek up the mountain, which is the last stop for bus number 101 and leaves from the Qingchengshan parking lot. It costs two and a half Yuan and is just a forty-five minute bus ride away. The high speed train bound for Chengdu also leaves from Dujiangyan.