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Shangri-la Facts

Zhongdian was named officially Shangri-La in 2001. Shangri-La is a name that has worked its way into the English language. Synonymous with utopia, the word was first used in 1933, coined by the English author James Hilton in his novel Lost Horizon.

Shangri-La was a fictitious paradise, characterized by towering snow-capped mountains, lush forests, vast gorges and idyllic lakes. The beautiful scenery described by Hilton made the name stick in popular memory and arouses a certain curiosity and mystery whenever it is heard.

With the endless kilometers of backcountry just waiting to be discovered, this region offers unique hiking and horse trekking chances to those who get the chance to make the journey down to northern Yunnan. At an altitude of 3,200m, Shangri-La is the start of the doorstep of Tibet. But today, the town looks one of the China's next adventure hotspots.

A one-day trip to Shangri-La isn't nearly enough, however it can help make one feel like the turmoil and stress of city life has never been farther away.

Basic Information

Area Code: 0887

Zip Code: 674400

Area: 220,000 sq. km

Geography: Many travelers use the county town as a gateway into Tibet, either travelling many days overland by Jeep to Lhasa, or by flying from the city's airport.

Population: Thirteen ethnic groups including Tibetan, Lisu, Han Chinese, Naxi, Yi, Bai and Hui are living in Shangri-la. Different ethnic groups have different lifestyles, costumes, architecture and wedding customs.

Administrative Division: 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. Shangri-la is located Di Qing  in Yunnan Province, and the mystery of Shangri-la became known.


The rainy season in Shangri-la is from May to July and September to October. When it is rainy, the road condition is not good and it is not an ideal time to go out. In winter, due to the high altitude, the temperature will be dropping to minus seven degrees Celsius, and some hotels are without heating facilities. Mountain paths are difficult to go after snowfall and very slippery, also the icy road that local van driver may reluctant to take you to go to your destination. Therefore, the best time to visit Shangri-la is spring. Bring adequate clothes with you during cold seasons, i.e. autumn and winter. In sunny days, the air will be quite dry and the ultraviolet rays will be so strong, to avoid tanned, sunglasses, sun hat, sunscreen cream are stuffs that must be in your baggage.

The high altitude in Shangri-la can make some travelers ill, to avoid sickness, do not do strenuous exercise, do not drink alcoholic drinks, eat more vegetables and fruits and have enough rest. Bring enough chocolate bars or some other snacks that provide adequate calories. Some hotels have oxygen flasks provided for five RMB each with bottle deposit 20 RMB.