The more popular and famous Geopark in Zhangye is the Qicai Danxia translated as colourful valley. The official name of the park is Zhangye Danxia Geopark. This park is located very near to the Binggou Danxia and can be accessed by the same public bus number 4 from Zhangye West Bus Station for CNY¥ 15. This park is so famous you probably see many of the pictures online ( My cover picture is taken from the official site) You can also read my post on the Binggou Danxia Park here
The suggested entry point for the park is from the West entrance as you will get to travel from viewing platform 1 all the way to platform 4.
The ticket hall is huge with many ticket counters to cater to large amounts of tourist they get all the time. The ticket price is at CNY¥ 60 for adults and can be different if you book through an agency or online. Since there are not many washrooms within the park itself, you can go to the washroom here before entering the park.
From the ticket counter, you will pass the ticket check counters
From the ticket checks, you will get to the ferry bus station where you board buses to bring you to the main viewing platform. The buses are inclusive in the ticket price and take only 15 mins to reach the 1st platform
There are basically 4 different viewing platforms within the geopark and the entire park covers 322 square kilometres in size. Each platform offers slightly different views of the park although there are some with much better views than others.
This is the first platform which is called Colorful Meeting Fairy Platform. This is where you first get wowed by the colourful mountains although you do not really see many colours here. There are only 3 – 4 main colours and only a few mountains where you see the splendid colours and some of the other valleys are mostly still greenish in colour. This platform stop is extremely crowded since it is smaller and as the first stop, everyone is fighting for the same stop for photos.
This is the slope to climb up to the 2nd platform which is called Colorful Sea of Clouds Platform. The slope is a 5 – 8 mins climb but for the less fit like me, it took me close to 10 mins to climb to reach the platform. This platform is much bigger than the first one with plenty of spaces for tourist to space out and sit around for picnics or just to rest before proceeding to the next stop.
This is the view at the 2nd platform and you can find many photo-taking booths where professional photographers will offer you their services to take the perfect picture. One tip is to go to where you find these booths since they would set up shop at the best spot to take nice pictures. This platform has a large area to see the rainbow mountains but the colours are a bit muted in my view. The sun is extremely glaring and hot at this platform so drink plenty of fluids and prefer loads of sunburn preventions like sunscreen and sunhats.
With the extreme heat and advice from our guide, we decided to skip the 3rd platform which is called Called Colorful Embroidered Platform. The reason we skipped the 3rd stop is that the views are not impressive and the walk to the viewing platform after alighting the bus is very far. We decided to proceed to the final 4th platform which is called Colorful Clouds Platform. This platform is supposed to have the best stunning view of the park and most visitors will congregate here during sunrise and sunset for the best pictures
Farther away from this platform, you can also see people taking the motor paraglide as well as hot air balloon to get an aerial view of the entire park.
This is the view of the 4th platform which is indeed breathtaking as the colours are much more intense and defined. While it is still different from the ones you find from the Internet which I suspect is highly photoshopped, the sight itself is still very picturesque.
The best spot for a perfect sunrise or sunset view is the platform right on top of the hill in this picture. You can see the stairs that lead up to the platform. Since it is the best spot, visitors start to gather and cramp at the platform for the best spot as early as 5.30 pm for the sunset even though the sunset happens around 7 pm. If you are coming into the park just for the sunset, do note the last entry of the park is 6 pm. You can take the same bus back to the main entrance to leave the park.
Generally, it takes 2 to 3 hours to complete the tour of the entire park and if you are visiting in the afternoon it is extremely hot in the park so do be prepared beforehand with drinking water as well as sunburn prevention. Personally, I definitely recommend visiting the Qicai Danxia Geopark as it is a beautiful work of nature and cannot be found elsewhere. Even if the real thing is not like some of those extreme colourful pictures we see online, seeing it with my own eyes is still an astonishing thing and there is no regrets visiting the park at all.