Shangri-la Overview

Shangri-La is the "Eden in dream". Since it first appeared in British novelist James Hilton's Lost Horizon in the 1939, it has been associated with the mystique of a place which could not possibly exist here on Earth. In Tibetan, Shangri-La means the "sun and moon in heart", an ideal home only found in heaven. There are the lofty and continuous snowy mountains, endless grasslands, steep and grand gorges, azure lakes and the bucolic villages always leave a deep impression on visitors. As a Chinese saying goes, "The earliest sunrise is seen in Shangri-La; and the most unique place is also there". Once you visit, you will fully appreciate the meaning of this saying. 

‣ Where is Shangri-La

Located at the intersection where Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan all meet, Shangri-La County is administered by Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. It borders Daocheng and Muli of Sichuan Province to the east, and connected Deqin County to the north.

‣ Basic Information of Shangri-La

● Chinese Name: 香格里拉

● Key Words:  Paradise for Photograph, Utopian Place, Eden in Dream

● Area: 11,613 square kilometers

● Population: 174,585

● Zip code: 674400 

‣ Climate of Shangri-La

Shangri-La is about 3,300 meters above sea level and has a plateau humid climate. The climate alters little between the four seasons, but the temperature varies a lot between day and night. The temperature can soar above 30 Celsius on sunny days; however, during the morning and at night, people may feel a winter-like chill. So, when tourists visit Shangri-La, they should bring overcoats with them. 

‣ Administrative Division of Shangri-La

In 1996, the government of Yunnan Province of China set up an investigation group to do a research on the Shangri-La topic. They had a conclusion after a year of hard work. Until 2014, Shangri-La City has 4 towns: Jiantang Town (建塘镇), Xiaozhongdian Town(小中甸镇), Hutiaoxia Town(虎跳峡镇), Jinshajiang Town(金沙江镇).

‣ Story about Shangri-La

In China, the poet Tao Yuanming of the Jin Dynasty described a kind of Shangri-La in his work the Tale of the Peach Blossom Spring. The story goes that there was a fisherman from Wuling, who came across a beautiful peach grove, and he discovered happy and content people who lived completely cut off from the troubles in the outside world since the Qin Dynasty. In modern China, Zhongdian county was renamed Shangri-La City in 2001, to attract tourists.

A popularly believed physical inspiration for Hilton's Shangri-La is the Hunza Valley in northern Pakistan, close to the Chinese border, which Hilton visited a few years before Lost Horizon was published. Being an isolated green valley surrounded by mountains, enclosed on the western end of the Himalayas, it closely matches the physical description in the novel. The Hunza Valley, however, lacks Tibetan culture and the Buddhist religion, so could not have been Hilton's cultural inspiration for Lost Horizon.

‣ Shangri-La Attractions

Shangri-La tour caters to different kinds of visitors because it has towering snow mountains, long rivers, vast grasslands, deep valleys, and mysterious Tibetan culture.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

It is on the Jinsha River of the upper reaches of the Yangtze River is located 105 kilometers south of Zhongdian County. It is one of the deepest gorges in the world. 

● Ganden Songzanlin Monastery

Being the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, Songzanlin Monastery, also known as Guihua Monastery, is one of the famous monasteries in the Kang region.

● Three Parallel Rivers Natural Reserves

In the high mountains of southwest China's Yunnan Province, three rivers – the Jinsha, Nujiang and Lancang – all originated from the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, run roughly parallel, north to south for some 170 km. 

● Meli Snow Mountain

As a holy land of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists, Meili Snow Mountain is characterized by the usual four distinct seasons.

‣ What to Eat in Shangri-La

Shangri-La's population is composed largely of Tibetans together with many ethnic minorities. This provides the opportunity to be immersed in beautiful scenery while tasting local food and drinks Tibetan Cake (sweet and crisp), Zanba, Pipa Meat, Saimi Lamb, Guoben Hot Pot, butter tea, yogurt, and Suolima (a kind of Tibetan Liquor brewed with the highland barley) are the most popular.

‣ Shangri-La Transportation

At an average altitude of more than 3,000 meters, Shangri-La is very difficult to reach. Without railways leading there, the chief means of transportation is motor vehicles. To get there, tourists will typically begin their journey in Kunming, traveling first to Lijiang and then taking the long-distance bus in Lijiang to Shangri-La. It's about 175 kilometers from Lijiang to Shangri-La. On this way, the Tiger Leaping Gorge can be seen.

‣ Recommended Hotels in Shangri-La

There are some hotels, which enjoy high reputation, such as Shilily Hotel Samzhub (诗莉莉泛蜜月· 桑珠藏文化精品酒店), Blossom Hill Inn Shangri-La (香格里拉圣地花间堂), Banyan Tree Ringha (香格里拉仁安悦榕庄), Tian Jie Shen Chuan Hotel (Paradise Hotel) (香格里拉天界神川大酒店), all are 5-star hotels. 

‣ Festivals in Shangri-La

Most Tibetans of Shangri-La celebrate the Chinese New Year (Chinese Spring Festival) and they also have the Tibetan New Year. Furthermore, there are some other festivals celebrated there, such as Horse Racing Festival in Shangri-La, Dengba Festival in Shangri-La, Gedong Festival in Shangri-La.