Best time to travel to China

Huanglong Limestone Terraces in China 2024

Fragile beauty of limestone pools is hidden high amidst forested mountains inhabited by rare wildlife

Best time: September–October

Huanglong Limestone Terraces

Huanglong in Chinese means "yellow dragon". When viewed from the mountains the colourful terraced variously-shaped pools resemble a beast indeed. Also, a legend says, once a giant dragon was flying over the area and dropped his scaled skin into the gorge between these mountains. When all the myths are put aside, and you are exposed to this fairy beauty, a close-up look reveals these are gorgeous and at the same time brittle calcite formations filled with crystal clear turquoise and azure waters. Prevailing colours are complemented with the hues of yellow, orange and green,—that palette is attributed to algae and other bacteria found in these waters.

The name of Huanglong refers to the entire reserve, but the most scenic part stretches from the Benbo temple to the Xishen Cave Waterfalls. It's located at 3,400 m above the sea. To preserve the natural site as it is, a range of bridges and other viewing platforms were constructed along the scenic route in order to allow the visitors to enjoy the best landscapes without stepping into the fragile limestone pools.

Besides, the terraced pools, the area also boasts rare wildlife species in nearby forests, some of the most unique include Giant Pandas and Golden Snub-Nosed Monkeys. Unique local nature has been recognised as UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992.

Tourists come year-round to see Huanglong limestone terraces, still, April to October is the high season, and the entrance fee is naturally higher. Take into account, the period from May to August is marked with morning fogs and evening rains. At last, if you seek for the best weather and best colours, September to October would be the utmost time to visit this place.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit the Huanglong Limestone Terraces in China?

From September to October, Huanglong has perfect weather conditions, and the terraced pools are at their most vibrant colors. Other months are also available, but entrance fees and weather conditions might not be as favorable as the recommended period. Tourists come all year-round, and during this time, the scenic route is at its best, as there is less rain and fog. Show more

Where is the most scenic part of the Huanglong reserve located?

The most stunning area of Huanglong reserve lies between Benbo temple and Xishen Cave Waterfalls, offering a magnificent view of the surrounding green forests, dazzling terraced pools, and clear blue waters. The reserve spans over 700 square kilometers, located in the Minshan Mountain range. Additionally, visitors have access to a sizable number of bridges and viewing platforms designed for tourism purposes. Show more

What is the legend behind the name 'Huanglong'?

Huanglong terraced pools are a result of geological and weather changes happening for thousands of years. Legends also exist, regarding how a giant dragon shed its scales, which became the beautiful Huanglong terraced pools. The unique color schemes of the pools occur due to the effect of algal growth. Nonetheless, myth and reality both attribute to the name, which means 'Yellow Dragon.' Show more

What are the rare wildlife species found in the nearby forests?

Various rare species of animals coexist in the forests alongside Huanglong Limestone Terraces, such as giant pandas, musk deer, Sichuan takins, and Golden Snub-Nosed Monkeys, among others. The management prioritizes environmental protection while promoting sustainability for the local ecosystem. Visitors can not only enjoy the beauty of terraced pools but also observe these unique species in their natural habitat. Show more

What is the altitude of the Huanglong Limestone Terraces?

Huanglong Limestone Terraces are over 3,000 in number, span around 3.6 kilometers. Found at 3400 meters above sea level and designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area is beautiful but high altitude may pose some challenges. Visitors should take precautionary measures while hiking, as the route has several resting stops to avoid altitude sickness. Show more

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