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How to plan a trip to Yunnan Shangri-la?

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Why Visit Shangri-la

Shangri-la, the closest place to the heaven

Shangri-la is no doubt to be an amazing place in Yunnan Province, the meaning of its name in Tibetan language refers to the sun and moon in the heart. With an average altitude of nearly 3459 meters above the sea level, Shangri-la is regarded as Pearl on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which has the beauty so out of ordinary that one could find no other place as wonderful as Shangri-la in the world, a heaven existed in reality.


Shangri-la, a Worldly Paradise

This fairyland is a dream world to people no matter in China or in the world, full of mystery and tranquility. As what James Hilton wrote in his book Lost Horizon, surrounded by snowcapped mountains, lush green forests and beautiful blue lakes, so harmonious and fairness, it’s a real Shangri-la, a true paradise existed in the world.


Shangri-la, a kingdom of flora & fauna

With a boundless stretch of grassland and varieties of flowers, Shangri-la is a kingdom of flora & fauna. There are thousands of plant species in Shangri-la, what worth aprreciating are the rhododendrons and the alpine meadow from May to June, and the Euphorbia flowers during September and October.


Read more about Shangri-la facts.

Best Time to Visit Shangri-la

The best time to visit Shangri-la is from May to October, especially from the end of May to the beginning of June. At that time all the rhododendrons are at their full blossom, you could watch a sea of beautiful flowers in Shangri-la. The autumn view is good as well, very suitable for photography.

Weather Features: with no extinct seasons but you may experience four seasons within one day because of the big

                               difference in temperature

Rainy Season: From June to September

Crowded Season: Late Jan. or early Feb. (Chinese Spring Festival);

                               first week of May (Labor Day);

                               first week of October (National Day)

Read more about the Best Time to Visit Shangri-la.

Recommended Tour You Might Like

4 Days Best Shangri-la Tour

Potatso National Park, Songzanlin Lamasery, Napa Lake (Napahai Natural Reserve), Dukezong Ancient Town

Tailor-made your personal Shangri-la Tour: Free Online Tailor-made Tour


Best Things to Do in Shangri-la

Have a splendid view of Meili Snow Mountain

Meili Snow Mountain, known as the most beautiful snow mountain in the world, and also famous for being rich in kinds of rare medicinal herbs, is the highest peak in Yunnan Province and one of the grand four holy mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. What we have to mention is the sunrise above Meili Snow Mountain, with the sunlight going through the clouds and reflecting on the snow, the summit of the mountain changes its pure white color to golden, which only lasts for about 20 minutes, really rare to see during a life time.


Explore the natural beauty of Potatso National Park

Potatso National Park is the first national park in mainland China. The well-preserved geology and geomorphology, pure clean lakes and rivers, dense forests and lush alpine meadows, plenty of rare animals and plants form a specific national park with the perfect sceneries designed by the Mother Nature. Potatso National Park has different but wonderful views for each season which awaits you to explore.


Experience Tibetan Buddhism at Songzanlin Monastery

Songzanlin Monastery is the largest monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Yunnan province which is built in 1679 and well preserved until now. With a similar construction style of the Potala Palace in Tibet, Songzanlin Monastery also owns the reputation of the little Potala Palace in Yunnan. Each year during 26th to 29th of November in the Tibetan calendar, it’s the Gedong Festival in Shangri-la, you could experience a grand ceremony of Tibetan Buddhism. The best spot to take panorama pictures of the monastery is the Ramjangzo lake facing Songzanlin Monastery.


Go for a ride along Napahai Natural Reserve

Napaihai Natural Reserve is the largest grassland in Shangri-la, connected to the Yila Prairie. Napaihai Lake is a seasonal lake on the plateau, the best time to enjoy the grand lake view is from late summer to early autumn while a herd of sheep, cattle and horse add more attractive features to the wide stretches of grassland and pure clear lake under the blue sky. Rent a bike to go cycling along the lake, you’ll experience the serenity and harmony from the nature. Or you can ride a horse to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful view.


If you are planning to stay in Shangri-la a longer time, you could also take other attractions into consideration. Go to Dukezong Ancient Town if you are into historical sites. Visit Haba Snow Mountain and the Mingyong Glacier if you are fans of snow mountains. Have a look at Blue Moon Valley and the Balagezong Spot if you are fond of water views. All kinds of wonderful views are waiting for you to discover in Shangri-la.

Blue Moon Valley
Blue Moon Valley

More information about Attractions in Shangri-la.

Best Food to Eat in Shangri-la

The best food in Shangri-la are characteristic plateau food, such as Highland Barley, Butter Tea, Yak meat, Yogurt and Tsampa, for those you can have a chance to eat on the plateau area in China. And more special food we want to mention is Tricholoma Matsutake, mainly produced in Shangri-la, which is a rare species of wild plants with abundant nutrition. And the Pipa Meat is also worth trying, it’s a kind of bacon in Tibetan style which looks like Pipa, a traditional Chinese instrument.

Tricholoma Matsutake

Where to Stay in Shangri-la

As Shangri-la is well-known to the world these years, more and more people come to this fairyland for a visit. There are plenty of hotels you could choose, rather modern or with traditional Tibetan style, just pick the one you like the most during your trip in Shangri-la, since a suitable hotel may make your days on the plateau more comfortable.

In downtown Shangri-la


  • With all kinds of hotels, inns and hostels for you to choose.
  • Have more choices for eating and shopping.
  • Convenient transportation to main attractions in Shangri-la.

In Dukezong Ancient Town


  • The largest and the best-preserved town of Tibetan group, you could have a chance to stay in the home of the local people or choose featured inns with Tibetan style.
  • With a long history of more than 1300 years, you could experience the cultural and historical atmosphere inside the ancient town.
  • Close to the downtown, convenient for eating and shopping, but much quieter than staying in downtown Shangri-la.

How Long to Stay in Shangri-la

Usually tourists will start their Yunnan trip from Kunming to Dali, Lijiang and then Shangri-la, considering the increase of the altitude. If you only want to visit the main attractions in Shangri-la, 2 to 3 days may be enough.

What to do for 2-3 days

  • Explore the natural beauty of Potatso National Park
  • Experience Tibetan Buddhism at Songzanlin Monastery
  • Have a view of Napahai Natural Reserve
  • Take a walk in the Dukezong Ancient Town
  • Try local food like Highland Barley, Butter Tea, Yak Meat, Yogurt and Tsampa


What to do for 4-7 days

  • Explore the natural beauty of Potatso National Park
  • Experience Tibetan Buddhism at Songzanlin Monastery
  • Go cycling around the Napa Lake
  • Ride a horse on the grassland
  • Enjoy the splendid view of Meili Snow Mountain
  • Take a walk and experience the local culture in the Dukezong Ancient Town
  • Start an adventurous trip to the Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Try local food like Highland Barley, Butter Tea, Yak Meat, Yogurt and Tsamp


How to Get to Shangri-la

By Airplane

Since there is no train to Shangri-la, most people travel to Shangri-la by plane or by car. Diqing Shangri-la Airport is the only airport in Shangri-la, there are flights to Shangri-la from some cities in China, such as Kunming, Xishuangbanna, Chengdu, Lhasa, Chongqing, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. If you don’t want to travel all the way by air, you could take high-speed train to Kunming then transfer to Shangri-la by plane which takes around one hour.

By Car

Highway is the main transportation in Shangri-la. You can rent a car or take bus to Shangri-la. Many people would like to go to Shangri-la by bus for they could have a different experience of the views along the way. There are buses to Shangri-la from Kuming, Lijiang, Dali and Deqin in Yunnan Province, Panzhihua, Daocheng Yading and Xiangcheng in Sichuan Province, and also Lhasa from Tibet.

City Kuming Lijiang Dali Deqin Panzhihua Daocheng Yading Xiangcheng
Distance 720km 187km 300km 184km 470km 300km 220km
Duration 12h 4-5h 8h 4-5h 9-10h 7-8h 7-8h


Getting around in Shangri-la

Taxi: flexible for your time.

Local bus: run to some counties around Shangri-la and some main attractions in Shangri-la.


Read more about Transportation in Shangri-la.

What to Prepare for a Tour to Shangri-la

What to Take

  • Get ready for your Visa, and do remember your passport.
  • Prepare for your SIM card to make sure the internet use in China.
  • Take some medicine with you for emergency use, especially if you are easy to get altitude sickness.
  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses and hats for the strong ultraviolet ray on the plateau.
  • Don’t forget your umbrella and rain gear during the rainy season.
  • Pack suitable clothes, windproof jacket and thick coat are suggested, outdoor clothing will be good.

What to Know

  • Read some basic information about Shangri-la and China so that you could understand the local culture better.
  • Know some tips you should pay attention on the plateau in order to help you with the altitude sickness.
  • It’s not suitable to have intense exercises because of the high altitude.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits may help you to adjust to the climate in Shangri-la.
  • Learn some basic words and phrases in Chinese so as to communicate with local people easily if you have interests.

Basic Chinese You Might Need

Chinese Pinyin English
你好 Nǐhǎo Hello/Hi
再见 Zàijiàn Bye/See you
谢谢 Xièxie Thank you.
不客气 Búkèqi You’re welcome.
对不起 Duìbùqǐ Sorry
请问卫生间在哪里? Qǐngwènwèishēngjiānzàinǎlǐ? Excuse me, where is the restroom?
多少钱? Duōshǎoqián? How much?

Learn more about Survival Chinese Phrases.

Special Ethnic Festivals in Shangri-la

Horse Racing Festival

Date: 5th, May (Chinese Lunar calendar), usually near Dragon Boat Festival, lasts for 3 days

Place: Mt. Wufeng Racecourse in Shangri-la County

Activities: Horse racing; equestrian performance; ethnic music and dance performances; campfire party; Yak Racing


Gedong Festival, a religion festival

Date: 26th to 29th of November in the Tibetan calendar

Place: Songzanlin Monastery

Activities: Dance to the Tibetan God with masks of Tibetan style; Chanting scriptures


February Eighth Festival of Naxi Nationality

Date: 8th of February (Chinese Lunar calendar)

Place: Baishuitai in Shangri-la

Activities: Grand gathering; offer sacrifice to the heaven and their God; ethnic music and dance performances