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Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture Ngawa Travel Guide

The Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture or Ngawa is located on southeastern rim of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and northwestern part of Sichuan Province. 

Ngawa is mainly inhabited by the Tibetan and Qiang ethnic groups. Under its jurisdiction, there are 13 counties: Wenchuan, Lixian, Maoxian, Jinchuan, Xiaojin, Maerkang, Aba, Ruoergai, Hongyuan, Rangtang, Songpan, Jiuzhaigou, and Heishui.

Aba or Ngaba is famous for its beautiful scenery, distinctive ethnic customs, and abundant tourist resources. Famous scenic attractions include the Jiuzhaigou, a fairy tale world, Huanglong, a state-class scenic zone; the Wolong Nature Reserve, China's largest natural habitat for giant pandas; Siguniang (Four Girls) Mountain, a state-class scenic zone; Aba is also home to many precious and rare wildlife, including giant pandas, golden monkeys, deer, roe deer, bear, and leopards.

Major Attractions

Jiuzhaigou Valley

Picture of Jiuzhaigou Valley

Known as the "Fairyland on Earth", it lies between the southwest margin of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and at the north foot of Duo'erna Mountain Range, with an average altitude between 2,000 and 3,000 meters, and a distance of about 435 kilometers from Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province.

Jiuzhaigou covers the Shuzheng Valley, Rize Valley and Zechawa Valley that form a "Y" shape, in the Minshan Mountain Range. Inhabited by Tibetans, the nine villages and alpine lakes, affectionately called "Haizi", are like reflecting mirrors or crystal jade blocks inlaid in snow mountains and forests.

The valley, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, is covered with luxuriant primitive forests and dotted by more than a hundred lakes and ponds of various sizes. At the bottom of the clear blue lakes, stones and waterweeds twinkle in the sun, producing a rainbow of colors.


Picture of Huanglong

Huang Long, meaning "Yellow Dragon", lies in the south part of Min Mountain in Song Pan County of Sichuan in southwest China. It covers an area of about 700 square kilometers and has two parts: Huang Long and Muni Gorge. Huang Long includes Huang Long Valley, Danyun Gorge, Snow Treasure Peak, while Muni Gorge comprises two scenic spots: the Zhaga Waterfall and the Erdao Lake.

The Huanglong Scenic Area is famous for its colored ponds, snow mountains, and fascinating canyons and forests. The Yellow Dragon Valley is in a glaciated alpine valley at an elevation of above 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet), which is the heart of the scenic area, best known for its limestone formation landscape. Water is the soul of Huanglong. The melting snow water from the mountain enriched with the limestone water from underground flows down the valley. The over 3,000 colored ponds in the valley are not only formed by deposition of the calcium carbonate of the limestone water on the rocks and branches, but also brought into life by the live sparkling streams.

Wolong Nature Reserve

Picture of Wolong Nature Reserve

Wolong Nature Reserve is a key nature preservation area designed primarily to protect and reproduce the grand panda. It contains about 10% of the world's wild panda population. Today, the Wolong Giant Panda Reserve Centre has been turned into the Giant Panda Breeding Centre focusing on research works on breeding and bamboo ecology.

The Centre has two types of accommodations for giant pandas - the Captive Cages and the Semi-nature Enclosures. Most of the giant pandas in the Centre stay individually in the captive cages, which are in fact large enclosures, each consists of an in-door room and an out-door courtyard. The semi-nature enclosures are very large wild areas but protected by border fences. Those giant pandas that will soon be released back to the wild will be put in the semi-nature enclosures for a long enough period of time for them to adapt to the natural environment.

Siguniang Mountain

Picture of Mountain Siguniang

The Siguniang (four sisters, oriental Alps) Mountain scenic zone is a national grade nature reserve which is well-known throughout China.

It covers an area of 450 square kilometers, and consists of the Siguniang Mountain, Shuangqiao Gulley, Chanping Gulley and Haizhi (lake) Gulley. The Siguniang Mountain has four peaks which stand side by side like four sisters at the end of Qionglai Mountain Ranges on the Aba Plateau. They rise 5355, 5454, 5664, 6250 above the sea level, and the fourth girl is the tallest.

The Siguniang Mountain is honored as the "queen of Sichuan's mountains", enjoying the fame with the king of Sichuan's mountains-Gongga Mountain of 7556m-high. It was said by the local people that these four peaks were originally four beautiful sisters of the mountain god.

Delicacies You Can Not Miss to Visit Ngawa

Aba Zhou Yangpai - Ngawa Lamb Chops is the dish originated in the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan of west China, where people typically use many herbs and spices. Lamb chops from the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, marbled with fat, are marinated in herbs and spices including funnel, cumin, onion and ginger.

They are then coated with soy sauce and finally deep-fried with Hong Tang made from spices such as chili, star anise, funnel, Chinese cinnamon and cardamom. The taste is intense and spicy. It's crisp outside and juicy and flavorful inside, with a long, complex aftertaste.

How to Get in?

By Plane

In 2003, Jiuzhaigou-Huanglong Airport set up in Aba or called Ngawa. Flights to Jiuzhaigou Valley are availalbe from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming, Chongqing, Xi'an.

By car

It's convenient to take bus from Chengdu to get there. Ngawa is closed to Gansu, from some cities in Gansu, there are also some buses there.

Best Time to Visit Ngawa

Ngawa is quite abundant of touristy sources, so different sceneries of Ngaba show their best in different seasons although visitors can visit this wonderland at any time. For instance, the best time to Jiuzhaigou is from September to October and to the Four Maidens/Girls Mountain or Mt. Siguniang is in July and August.

When you want to see the autumn leaves in Jiuzhaigou Valley, seeing an ocean of tourists can definitely diminish the pleasure. However, it's the most beautiful time in Ngaba. Here it's a visually dazzling red, red, red, gold, gold, gold, with sapphire-blue sky and white clouds. When the wind blows the leaves shimmer in shades of red and purple.

The spectacle lasts for just a few brief weeks.

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