Welcome to Shangri La, a world apart on your trip to Yunnan, the “lost world” as described in James Hilton’s novel. If more and more travelers venture into the region, it remains here as a taste of the end of the world, a unique and distant atmosphere partly due to the local Tibetan minority, which gives the region a foretaste of Tibet. Although located in Yunnan, Shangri La and its region is actually Tibetan, even more than in administrative Tibet. There are still many authentic Tibetan villages with an intense rural life, which is less the case in Tibet where the populations are more and more grouped in the cities. We really advise you to include Shangri La in your Yunnan tour program. If the altitude of the 3200m region scares you, then insert this step at the end of the tour, with previous travel destinations in Yunnan will have allowed you to acclimatize to the altitude smoothly.
What to see and do in Shangri-La ?
The city of Shangri La (formerly called Zhongdian or Gyalthang in Tibetan) is located in the center of the sacred region of the 3 rivers: Yangtze, Mekong and Salween. Upon arrival in Shangri La, head to the Tibetan Gedan Songzanlin Monastery, located just outside the city, to soak up the local Tibetan atmosphere. The monastery has undergone many renovations in recent years. Zhongdian Old Town is also worth a visit. Partly ravaged by fire on January 11, 2014, it is rebuilding quickly. It’s nice to see the locals dancing every night on the main square in the old town.
Guests can also explore Shangri La’s surrounding area on foot or by bike, from one Tibetan village to another. The possibilities of walks are numerous. A popular place is China’s first national park, Pudacao, home to the lakes of Napa and Shudu. The Napa Season Lake is just outside the old town of Shangri La / Zhongdian.
Songtsam Tour from Shangri La
Your visit to the region can be complemented by a superb loop from Shangri La or by connecting Lijiang, including the Deqin region and the sacred Meili Mountains for an even deeper immersion in the Shangri La, and beautiful hikes in the high mountains . A stop will be made on the way to the village of Benzilan, where you can discover the beautiful monastery of Dongzhulin and a neighboring nunnery. You can then continue from Deqin to the amazing Tibetan Catholic village of Cizhong, then Tacheng, where you can visit a park where the golden Yunnan monkeys are, protected species. This off-the-beaten path loop is possible with a high level of comfort with the creation a few years ago of the beautiful Songtsam Lodge, located first in Shangri La, then Benzilan, Deqin in front of the Meili, Cizhong and then Tacheng mountains.
Shangri La tour video
When to visit Shangri La ?
Clearly, the winter is still pretty rough in Shangri La, and several restaurants and hotels are closing at this time of the year. However, for those who are not too cold and do not fear the negative temperatures in the evening and the night in Shangri La in winter, to see Shangri La and the monastery of Songzanlin under the snow remains magic! Summer is very pleasant in the area, but sometimes rainy. If you can, focus on the period from mid-April to mid-June, if not mid-September to early November. You can find more detailed information on the climate in Shangri La on the page Weather Shangri La.
Choice of accommodation in Shangri-La
There are many options, from homestay accommodation, to a yak meadow tent or a luxury hotel like Banyan Tree Ringha. What is certain is that you will be able to taste in each of these options to the Tibetan charms! We like proposed bed and breakfasts within the old city of Shangri La as Hazel Tibetan Home or Timeless Inn. For a higher level of comfort, especially in winter, guests can opt for Arro Khampa in Shangri La Old Town, or Songtsam Lugu Lodge or Songtsam Retreat, both in a rural setting. near Songzanlin Monastery, 4km outside of Shangri La. Charming and exclusive rural options exist, contact us for these secret addresses well guarded!