Ancient tea town & picturesque landscapes
Rugged, natural beauty and vibrant local culture combine in this one-day tour of historic Songpan and the inspiring scenery of Muni Valley in Sichuan. Once a trade hub on the Ancient Tea Horse Road, today Songpan is a charming town known for its unique local Kangba culture that mixes Tibetan, Hui, Qiang and Han Chinese influences. Swap town for country in the afternoon at Muni Valley Park, where a riot of colorful pools, rushing waterfalls and forest scenery awaits.
Minimum adult travelers: 1
8:30 a.m. Depart from Jiuzhaigou hotel
10:30 a.m. Songpan Old Town
Songpan is a relaxed little town of ornate gates and bridges that serves as a gateway to the heavily Tibetan regions of northern Sichuan. Built during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) and later rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), Songpan was an important trading hub for horses and tea between Sichuan, Gansu, Qinghai and Tibet. It was also a military post and in 1935, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai led the retreating Chinese Communist Army through the plateau of Songpan to advance to the northwestern provinces.
In addition to its history and lush mountain scenery, Songpan’s location also contributes to its cultural diversity. The four ethnic groups of Songpan—Tibetan, Qiang, Hui (Muslim) and Han Chinese—have their own culture and customs, but the four overlap in the town’s unique to Kangba Culture.
11:30 a.m. Lunch
12:30 p.m. Muni Valley Park
Consisting of two side valleys housing more than 100 lakes, natural hot springs and waterfalls (including its most popular sights, Zhaga Waterfall and Erdao Lake), Muni Valley presents a stunning landscape to behold. Located in Huanglong National Park, 36 km (22 mi) west of Songpan, altitudes range from 2,800 m (9,186 ft) at the entrance to 4,070 m (13,353 ft) on the mountain peaks.
Spend the afternoon exploring this geological museum of rare karst calcification, which, like nearby Jiuzhaigou, offers a picture-perfect landscape of shimmering, colorful ponds, travertine pools and waterfalls, karst caves, primeval forests, high-mountain meadows, sulfurous springs and rare flora and fauna, interspersed with Tibetan Buddhist temples and villages.
4:00 p.m. Depart Muni Val
5:00 p.m. Return to hotel