Located in the northwest of Yunnan Province, Shangri-la has an average altitude of 10,761 ft (3,280 m). The special location makes its transportation different from other areas in China. The only airport in this area, Diqing Airport, operates limited flights every day. No rail line leads to this area yet. However, the Lijiang-Shangri-la rail route is under construction and is expected to operate in six years. Buses are the most common transport means in and around this area. Aside from buses, taxis, chartered cars and horse rides are widely used by local people and visitors.
Around 5.4 km from the city center, Diqing Airport is the largest airport in the east Tibetan area. Direct flights to/from several domestic cities are available, including Kunming, Chengdu, Lhasa, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Beijing and Shanghai. As it is close to the downtown area, passengers usually take a taxi to the airport.
The Lijiang-Shangrila Railway is under construction. After the completion, it will take six hours from Lijiang to Shangri-La.
- Long-distance Bus
In Shangri-La, long-distance bus is the most important vehicle. Visitors can travel by coach between Shangri-la Long-distance Bus Station and Kunming, Dali, Lijiang and other destinations. Here are some route lines for your reference:
- Kunming to Shangri-La
About 720 kilometers from Kunming, tourists can take long-distance bus from Kunming West Bus Station to Shangri-La, which will pass by Chuxiong and Dali, and last for 12 hours.
2. Lijiang to Shangri-La
The long-distance bus from Lijiang to Shangri-La will drive 187 kilometers in total, which departs every half an hour from 7:00 to 18:00 in Lijiang Passenger Bus Station (Telephone: 0888-512162,5121106).
3. Dali to Shangri-La
Tourists can take bus in Dali North Bus Station(Yuhua Road, Xiaguan), which need 8 hours to run. The overnight bus will departs from 16:00.
4. Daocheng to Shangri-La
The bus from Sichuan Daocheng to Shangri-La will drive about 300 kilometers, which has to climb across big or small snow mountain on the way. Passengers may appreciate Shangri-La Grand Valley on the bus. However, the road may be closed to traffic because of heavy snow in winter. There will be bus everyday in tourist season, lasting for 12 hours.
5. Tibet Lhasa to Shangri-La
If tourists choose to take long-distance bus from Tibet Lhasa to Shangri-La, you should make a mental preparation for the tough and long-time driving because it may take three days and two nights. The whole distance is about 1700 kilometers.
- City Bus
There are six city bus lines in town. Please note that bus No. 2 take passengers to the local Long-distance Bus Station and No. 3 leads to Songzanlin Monastery. To take a city bus, it is suggested to prepare CNY 1 loose change in advance.
Taxis in Shangri-la are in service for 24 hours. As the town is not large, many taxi drivers don’t charge by meter. Usually the fare is no more than CNY 10 if shuttling within the town. If you insist in paying according to the taximeter, the starting rate is CNY 5 for the first 3 km , and it costs CNY 1.8 for each subsequent kilometer. CNY 2 fuel fee is required for each ride.
- Chartered Car
The scenic cities in Yunnan are usually far from one to another. To avoid tiring bus travel, many people prefer to charter a car or van. By doing this, they can not only have a good rest, but also freely appreciate the nice scenery on the way.
In many places of Shangri-la City, the most beautiful scenery cannot be admired without horses. For instance, the way to the Bitahai Lake is much easier by horse than car. After getting to Shuangqiao by car or bus, most tourists choose to hire a horse to the scenic spot. The horses are provided by local Tibetans. They will tell you how to ride as well as any dos and don'ts.