Shangri La (Zhongdian) Travel Guide

Shangri-La, previously known as Zhongdian, is located 5 hours’ drive north of Lijiang, Yunnan. As a small Tibetan town, the name ‘Shangri-La’ literarily means the sun and moon in heart in Tibetan, which refers to a literal heaven on earth.


Shangri-la ethnic customs.
Shangri-la ethnic customs.

Located in the midst of three rivers, Shangri-La is a home of remote thrilling scenery with majestic mountains, colorful flowers and crystal lakes. On the southeastern brim of the world’s rooftop Tibetan Pelateau, Shangri-La is also a start point for you to discover the Tibetan culture and life. The picturesque Tibetan villages, the elaborate Tibetan Monasteries, with the background of the peaceful and beautiful nature landscapes, take you to the utopian, keeping from the troubles of outside world.

What to See in Shangri-La

1. Bitahai Lake

Bitahai Lake, the essential part of Shangri-La and the center of the Nature Reserve, is a fault lake with 3 kilometers in length and 1 kilometer in width. In the local Tibetans legend, the Bitahai Lake was a dropped miracle mirror from a fairy lady. The name ‘Bita’ means a place with a dense oak forest in Tibetan and ‘Bitaihai’ means a quiet lake. Surrounded by mountains covered with ancient pines, oaks and rhododendrons, Bitahai Lake is like an emerald in the heart of the mountains.


Bitahai Lake
Bitahai Lake

The best time to visit is later spring and early summer, when flowers bloom profusely in the meadows, the glorious colors shine like twinkle stars in a sky of fresh green grass.

2. Shuodu Lake

Shuodu Lake, located in the Pudacuo National Park, is the paradise for photographers. You can walk around the lake on a wooden walkway, which is totally 3.3km, with lots of photo taking opportunities. Around the lake, there are dense forests of fir spruce and birch. Every spring and summer, herds of yaks and goats graze beside the lake while shepherds shelters can be seen as spots sporadically dotting the grassland. Next to the lake one can feel the quiet and leisurely life of high-land people.


Shuodu Lake
Shuodu Lake

Best Weather to Go

In Shangri-La, the plateau on 3300 meters about the sea level, the four seasons are not karkedly different, but the temperature here changes much between day and night. So even you visit Shangri-La in summer, please still remember to take some warm clothing for cold night.

Autumn (September to October) is said to be the best season for the most beautiful scenery of the year with finest temperature of about 5-30 c. Summer is the rain season with the highest temperature and most rainfall. The lowest temperature in Winter is always below freezing, but can reach up to 20 c in the day time. Though the snow melts in spring, the temperature is still cold. So it is not good for you to trip Shangri-La during winter and spring due to the bad weather and inconvenient road conditions.


Shangri La Tours
Shangri La Tours

Travel Tips:

  • The weather in plateaus is always changeable, so you are suggested to bring jacket for cold night, sunscreen and sunglasses for day travel and rain gear for sudden rainfall.
  • Shangri-La is located in Diqing, which is at the altitude over 3000 meters. It is unfavorable to do vigorous exercises or drink too much wine on the plateaus. Eating more vegetable and fruit can help to avoid altitude sickness. You can also rent a canister of oxygen with you if it is necessary.

Recommended Short Stay Tours in Shangri-La

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