Insider View

Shangri-La, formerly known as Zhongdian, is famous for its holy monasteries, breathtaking landscapes, and untouched minority villages. For the travel insiders like us, Shangri-La is the best place in China for hikers and nature lovers; also the perfect alternative for Tibet, especially for travelers who don’t want to bother with the Tibet Travel Permit.

If you like the off-the-beaten-path places, you should not miss the Big Circle along Meili Snow Mountain, together with the Songtsam hotels, you can enjoy both the stunning landscapes and Tibetan Hospitality. From 2019, foreigners can travel overland from Yunnan to Tibet, which, even for the local Chinese, is a journey you should never miss.

For luxury travelers, there are Banyan Tree, Songtsam Linka, and Shangri-La hotel.
— Your China Specialists

Songtsam Linka Shangri-La
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Songtsam Lodge Shangri-La
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Banyan Tree Ringha
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Basic Information

Shangri-La is a county-level city in northwestern Yunnan Province, People’s Republic of China, and is the seat of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, bordering Sichuan to the northwest, north, and east.

Shangri-La was formerly called Zhongdian County but was renamed on 17 December 2001 and upgraded into a county-level city on 16 December 2014 as Shangri-La after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the 1933 James Hilton novel Lost Horizon, to promote tourism in the area. The Tibetan population referred to the city by its traditional name Gyalthang or Gyaitang, meaning “Royal plains.” This ancient name is reflected in the Tibetan Pinyin name within Jiantang, the city seat.

In the early morning of January 11, 2014, a fire broke out in the 1,000-year-old Dukezong Tibetan neighborhood. About 242 homes and shops were destroyed, and 2,600 residents were displaced. About half of the old town was destroyed by the fire, half was spared. After the fire, residents were allowed back to their homes and shops. By the end of 2014, rebuilding had started, and tourism started to come back. Generally, tourism was not affected by the fire since the main sights in the old town, such as the prayer wheel and temples were not damaged. Many of the other main sights are located outside of the old town.

Many travelers use the county town as a gateway into Tibet, either traveling many days overland by jeep to Lhasa or flying from the city’s airport. However, the town itself is a tourist destination, primarily due to the nearby Gandan Sumtseling Monastery, Pudacuo National Park, and Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Source: Wikipedia