How to Plan a Shangri-La Tour - Diqing Shangri-La Trip Planning Guide 2024

Shangri-La (or Zhongdian), capital city of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern Yunnan is absolutely a fantastic destination for traveling to China! Drawing worldwide attention and yearning after mentioned in “Lost Horizon”, the famous novel by James Hilton and meaning "Sun and Moon in the Heart” and “Pure Land”, Shangri-La with the dreamy alpine sceneries, holy spiritual belief, coexisting diverse ethnic cultural elements, fancy ancient constructions, and so forth will be your not-to-miss ideal place to discover in Yunnan! So, how to plan a Shangri-La tour? This ultimate Shangri-La tour planning guide will tell you when is the best time to visit, how to get there & around, what to see and do, how to arrange your days there, where to accommodate, suggested tour itineraries, and everything you need to know before setting off! Let’s check all at below!

Shangri-La Weather & Best Time to Visit

Shangri-La has an average altitude of 3,459 meters and temperature there is usually lower than other major destinations in mainland China. Temperature in summer usually ranges between 10-19℃, while in winter, it ranges approximately between -7-8℃. Shangri-La is suitable to visit all around the year.

Commonly, May to July and September to October are the best time to visit Shangri-La with better flowery views and more sunny days.

  • June to September: it is usually the rainy season of Shangri-La with frequently changing weather, when is not suggested for mountain hiking but is good to taste the fresh mushrooms and truffles on the highland.
  • Middle September to tail of October: euphorbia flowers grow in fresh red, and it is also the happy busy time for local villagers around Cizhong Church to harvest and make young red wine. Besides, it is the popular months for hiking along the Three Parallel Rivers mountain range.
  • November to February: it is the winter season and cold, but you can admire the gorgeous Meili Snow Mountain with sunrise and the black necked gulls at Napa Lake. Besides, March to April is the best time to see blooming peach flowers dressing the mountain areas.

Learn More about Shangri-La Weather & Best Time to Visit >>

Popular Shangri-La Yunnan Tour Package:

6 Days Best of Yunnan Tour (Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)

Shangri-La Weather Shangri-La Weather

How to Get to Shangri-La

Flights to Shangri-La

Diqing Shangri-La Airport (IATA: DIG; Altitude: 3287.9 meters) about 20 minutes driving distance (driving 12km) away from Shangri-La city center is the only airport in this prefecture. So far in April of 2020, it has direct flights to and from Chengdu (1.5 hours), Guangzhou (2 hours & 40 minutes), Kunming (1 hour & 20 minutes), and Lhasa (2 hours). From the airport to city center, you can take a taxi or private car for only about 20 minutes. No airport shuttle bus is available and the bus station is very far with long way to walk to. (Warm Tips: When the airport hovers above the city, do not miss great chance to catch the city view, snow mountain ranges and Napa Lake under. Meili Snow Mountain can even be clearly seen if lucky!)

Trains to Shangri-La (Under Construction)

There is no trains available to Shangri-La. And the high speed rail linking Lijiang and Shangri-La is under construction now and is said to be taken into operation in 2021. On the occasion, you can take the bullet train there from Kunming and Lijiang with real speed! (We will update the information according to the official news!)

Coach to Shangri-La

Shangri-La Coach Station has distance coaches from destinations in Yunnan, Tibet, Sichuan, etc., including Kunming (9 hours), Lijiang (4 hours), Dali (6 hours), Daocheng (10 hours), etc. Foreign visitors are not suggested to get there by the long riding except from Lijiang with acceptable 4 hours on the road.

Popular Shangri-La Tour Packages:

3 Days Best Shangri-La Tour

8 Days Classic Yunnan Tour (Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La)

How to Get Around Shangri-La

By Local Taxi, Bus & Bike

Shangri-La City is not very large, and local taxi and buses are available for your transfer between the city center and lots of tourist spots conveniently. However, the taxi drivers usually do not charge by the meter. Also, some bikes can be rent there.

By Private Car

If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you can travel with us China Discovery by our comfortable licensed private vehicle. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you from your hotel/airport or any other places to attractions in Shangri-La with speed, convenience and safety, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on the sightseeing. Please tell us directly if you need any help!

Learn More about How to Get to & Around Shangri-La | Shangri-La Maps 2024 >>

Shangri-La Private Transfer Service

Top Attractions & Things to Do in Shangri-La & Around

1. Songzanlin Monastery

Reputed as the “Little Potala”, Ganden Sumtseling Monastery built in 1679 AD against the hill is the prime Tibetan temple cluster to soak in the rich Tibetan religious atmosphere in the grand palace constructions. Still well preserving the precious bronze statues of 5th and 7th Dalai Lama and other treasures like Tangkha, pakm leaf manuscripts, etc., this temple is the not-missing place to go for anyone’s Shangri-La tour!

  • Altitude: 3,300 meters
  • Recommended Visiting Time: 2-3 hours
  • Transfer from City Center: 15-20 minutes by car (8km)
Shangri-La Songzanlin Monastery

2. Dukezong Ancient Town

Meaning “Moonlight City”, Dukezong Ancient Town built based on the Shambala Utopia in Buddhist texts is once the best preserved and largest Tibetan dwelling complex. Being one of the key markets in Tibetan region along the Tea Horse Road, it still keeps some horse traces on the old paved path, it holds the best proof for your imagination of the past horse caravan. Walking up to Guishan Park is the must-do to catch the panorama of the old town.

  • Altitude: 3,300 meters
  • Recommended Visiting Time: 1 hour
  • Transfer from City Center: 15-20 minutes by car (7km)
Shangri-La Dukezong Old Town

3. Pudacuo National Park

You shall not skip this pollution free fairy tale world with peaceful views of birds, flowers, clear water, blue sky, soft wind and more lovely animals. As the important part of the “Three Parallel Rivers” recorded as the UNESCO World Natural Heritage, Pudacuo National Park is the paradise for nature lovers and shutterbugs to immerse into various sceneries all year round, including spring flowery alpine grassland, summer satisfying emerald mountains, autumn stratified forest colors, and winter white snow covering sapphire lakes.

  • Altitude: 3,500-4,159 meters
  • Recommended Visiting Time: half day
  • Transfer from City Center: 30-40 minutes by car (23km)
Shangri-La Pudacuo National Park

4. Meili Snow Mountain

This is one of the four great holy Tibetan Buddhist mountains. With 13 peaks over 6,000 meters high and the main peak - Khawa Karpo rising 6,740 meters being the no.1 highest in whole Yunnan, Meili Snow Mountain is the sacred mountain for all Tibetan believers in Yunnan. Most famous for its image of “golden mountain under sunrise” in winter, unique snow sceneries, alpine lakes, luxury forests, etc., it draws many visitors to explore every year.

  • Altitude: 2,700-6,740 meters
  • Recommended Visiting Time: 1 day
  • Transfer from City Center: 4.5-5 hours by car to Feilai Temple (213km)
Shangri-La Meili Snow Mountain

5. Yubeng Village

Under Meili Snow Mountain, Yubeng Village is a fantastic fairyland with incredible mysterious mist hovering above the flourish alpine lake, waterfall, meadows and forests under the snow-capped peaks backdrop. Trekking in this peaceful little village like the real land of idyllic beauty is the best and most popular way!

  • Altitude: 2,150-3,900 meters
  • Recommended Visiting Time: 2-4 days
  • Transfer from City Center: 4.5-5 hours by car (213km)
  • Shangri-La Yubeng Village

    6. Tiger Leaping Gorge

    Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the most famous trekking trails around the globe. It is also well-known and appealing because of the representative precipitous road condition side above the Jinsha River running torrentially under the squeeze of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain. No matter classic or professional, you can enjoy the wide and elegant landscape of the gorge along the trail!

    • Altitude: 3,300 meters (average)
    • Recommended Visiting Time: half-3 days
    • Transfer from City Center: 2-2.5 hours by car (106km)
    Shangri-La Tiger Leaping Gorge

    7. Napa Lake & Yila Grassland

    Napahai Nature Reserve is a picturesque and miracle wonderland. Flocks of sheep, cattle and horses love this land with changing lake and alpine grassland for their pleasure grazing. carpet-like green grassland in May, colorful blossoms dress in June and July, anaimal’s theme park in August, playground of black-necked cranes, etc., no matter when you visit, Napa Lake with Yila Grassland is beautiful like a piece of landscape oil painting. Biking around is very popular for your try!

    • Altitude: 3,266 meters
    • Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours
    • Transfer from City Center: 30-40 minutes by car (13km)
    Shangri-La Napa Lake

    8. Balagezong National Park (Shangri-La Grand Canyon)

    Also as an important part of “Three Parallel Rivers” listed into the UNESCO World Natural Heritage record, Balagezong is a terrific place to mainly admire the forceful alpine gorge and towering cliff. Visiting the wide view, hidden alpine village, natural stupa, ancient banyan, etc. with rich Tibetan custom is particularly a perfect extension to seek the soul of “Shangri-La”.

    • Altitude: 2,000-5,545 meters
    • Recommended Visiting Time: 3-4 hours
    • Transfer from City Center: 1.5-2 hours by car (83km)
    Shangri-La Balagezong National Park

    9. White Water Terraces (Baishuitai)

    Baishuitai meaning the growing flower really looks like a white blossom. Standing side or walking in, you will enjoy a view of layers of spring water flowing down along the white curving terraces formed by deposits of calcium carbonate. As the holy place for Naxi minorities, it is the site to celebrating the “Er Yue Ba” festival on every lunar February 8th with singing, dancing, feasting, and other activities.

    • Altitude: 2,380 meters
    • Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours
    • Transfer from City Center: 2.5-3 hours by car (99km)
    Shangri-La White Water Terraces

    Besides, if you are interested in more natural wonders and cultural charm in Shangri-La and Diqin, you can extend to visit Nixi Tangdui Black Pottery Village, Shika Snow Mountain, Baima Snow Mountain, Little Zhongdian sea of flowers, Mingyong Glacier, Cizhong Church and the red winery, Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey National Park, Dongzhulin Monastery, and so on.

    Learn More about Top Attractions in Shangri-La | Top Things to Do in Shangri-La | Top Attractions in Deqin >>

    How Many Days to Stay in Shangri-La

    Visitors usually spend 2-3 days in Shangri-La to discover the natural and cultural essence at the downtown and surrounding. Besides, some others planned 4-7 days to discover more wide landscapes in Diqin Prefecture further.

    If you have 2 days:

    Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
    Plan A Day 1: Songzanlin Monastery + Nixi Pottery Village + Dukezong Old Town (Guishan Hill); + Dukezong Old Town (Guishan Hill);
    Day 2: Pudacuo National Park + Local Tibetan Family Visit
    Best savory of Garden of Eden in Shangri-La 3 Days Best Shangri-La Tour

    If you have 3 days:

    Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
    Plan A Day 1: Songzanlin Monastery + Napa Lake; Day 2: Dukezong Old Town + Feilai Temple;
    Day 3: Meili Snow Mountain sunrise + Mingyong Glacier
    Classic discovery of Shangri-La and Diqing natural & cultural essences Contact us for tailor-made itinerary

    If you have 4 days

    Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
    Plan A Day 1: Songzanlin Monastery + Nixi Pottery Village + Dukezong Old Town (Guishan Hill); + Dukezong Old Town (Guishan Hill);
    Day 2: Pudacuo National Park + Local Tibetan Family Visit;
    Day 3: First Bend of Yangtze River + Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge;
    Day 4: Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge
    Shangri-La highlights with Tiger Leaping Gorge hiking 4 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour with Shangri-La Highlights
    Plan B Day 1: Songzanlin Monastery + Pudacuo National Park + Dukezong Old Town;
    Day 2: Dongzhulin Monastery + First Bend of Yangtze River + Feilai Temple;
    Day 3: Meili Snow Mountain;
    Day 4: Meili Snow Mountain + Yangtze River Grand Canyon + Baima Snow mountain
    Shangri-La Extensional discovery with Meili Snow Mountain 5 Days Shangri-La & Meili Snow Mountain Pilgrimage Tour

    If you have your own ideas, interests and requirements about your Shangri-La trip, you can feel free to contact us to customize a trip on your own.

    Learn More about: All Itineraries & Recommended Tours in Shangri-La >>

    Where to Stay in Shangri-La

    Staying in Shangri-La on the plateau is not a problem. There offers lots of accommodations for your choice. For the discovery of the downtown, you can accommodate at Dukezong Old Town and the new downtown area. International brands and more 5-star, 4-star, 3 star and boutique hotels and hostels can easily found. Some resident house inns are also great to enjoy more local features. Songzanlin Monastery area and suburb region offers a few hotels from various levels, which help you to enjoy the pleasant countryside view once you get up, and some advanced hotels and resorts are usually located around this area. If you have a plan to admire Meili Snow Mountain, Deqin County with many hotels and hostels with common equipment is the best choice. Feilai Temple boasting the best viewing angle also has some hotels, but the prices are much higher. Apart from that, Tiger Leaping Gorge has some basic guest houses along the trail for your hiking days. Accommodations in Shangri-La usually have lower prices than those in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu, and the equipment and services many not match that high level, but you still can enjoy comfortable stay in the downtown and basic environment for resting in the wider hiking areas.

    Learn More about Recommended Luxury Accommodations in Shangri-La | Comfort Accommodations in Shangri-La | Economy Accommodations in Shangri-La >>

    What to Prepare for Visiting Shangri-La

    Valid travel documents including passport, air tickets or train tickets (round trip), cash (CNY), clothes of the season, sun block, hat, credit card, necessary digital device like mobile phone, camera, etc., are not to be missed to pack. Usually, we suggest you book the hotel 1 month in advance, and follow the weather 1 week before your setting off.

    Useful Tips for Traveling to Shangri-La

    Altitude Sickness

    Shangri-La’s altitude ranges from 1,503-5,545 meters, with the average one about 3,450 meters. Altitude at the city downtown is about 3,200 meters. So, to help you avoid or release the altitude sickness, avoid strenuous exercise after arrival. Besides, sleep well, drink enough water and keep a calm mood to release your body, which is also helpful.

    Wearing Tips

    Coats, dawn jackets, pants, comfortable walking shoes, etc. are always suggested for a trip to Shangri-La for the lower temperature at night and many walks. Sweaters, gloves, hats, etc. are suggested for going after October. For the strong UV rays and dry air, sunblock, sunglasses, hats, lip balm and moisturizer are highly advised any time. Besides, it is best to pack your rain gears in rainy seasons from June to September.

    Ethnic Festivals

    Shangri-La as the harmonious family of Tibetan and other several ethnic minorities has many featured festivals to enjoy around the year. Following are the top popular festivals recommended to enjoy:

    Gedong Festival November 29th (Tibetan calendar)Songzanlin Monastery Chant Dharma assembly, mask dance
    Buddha Welcome FestivalJanuary 15th(Tibetan calendar)Songzanlin Monastery and other templesBuddha welcome ceremony, wheel praying
    Horse Racing FestivalMay 5th (Lunar calendar)Wufeng Mountain Horse Race Course Horse Racing, Guozhuang Dance, Singsing
    Dengba FestivalJuly 15th (Lunar calendar) NiruSacrifice, Horse Racing, Guozhuang Dance
    Er Yue BaFebruary 8th (Lunar calendar)Baishuitai Scenic AreaSacrifice, singing, dance

    Extend Your Shangri-La Tour

    Travel with Lijiang

    If you got an about 5-day holiday, you are suggested to travel Shangri-La with beautiful Lijiang together as many other travelers. Spend your first 2 days in Lijiang to discover the famous old town, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Naxi ethnic culture, followed by an exciting Tiger Leaping Gorge hiking experience. then, spend the last 2-2.5 days in Shangri-La to immerse into the earthly paradise with nice visiting of the holy monasteries and lovely landscapes.

    Most Popular Lijiang Shangri-La Tour Package:

    5 Days Lijiang & Shangri-La Best Highlights Tour (Lijiang / Shangri-La)

    To More Destinations in Yunnan

    In fact, most visitors prefer to travel to Shangri-La in a longer Yunnan tour and usually arrange it as a middle stop or ending part. To enrich your travel experience, you are highly recommended to do as the others to enjoy a classic week long vacation in Yunnan starting from Kunming the provincial capital. You can spend 2 days for getting to Kunming and visiting Stone Forest and the city highlights, take a bullet train to Dali and spend 1-2 days there discovering the beauty of Erhai Lake and historical culture of the past Nanzhao Kingdom, transfer to Lijiang to meet the best essences within 2 days. After trekking at Tiger Leaping Gorge, enjoy another 2-4 days in Shangri-La for last pure land exploration to end your memorable trip!

    Besides, if you are fond of nature beauty, you can extend to Yuanyang to marvel at the unbelievable magnificent Yuanyang Rice Terraces, to Puzhehei to relax at the pleasant wonderland of lotus blossoms, to Luoping to be fond of the golden sea of rapeseed flowers, to Xishuangbanna to feel the enthusiastic Dai ethnic people and the lush tropical forest, etc.

    Most Popular Shangri-La Yunnan Tour Packages:

    8 Days Classic Yunnan Tour (Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La)

    6 Days Best of Yunnan Tour (Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)

    11 Days Amazing Yunnan Tour (Kunming / Yuanyang / Jianshui / Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La)

    Lijiang Old Town Lijiang Old Town
    Dali Three Pagodas Dali Three Pagodas

    To More Destinations in China

    Moreover, as the top favored Tibetan region with fancy sightseeing and cultural charm, Shangri-La is also popular to be planned with other top Tibetan destinations such as Daocheng Yading (3-4 days) and Tibet (3-8 days) for people visiting China for the second and more time.

    Moreover, lots of visitors also like to explore Shangri-La and the vast Yunnan with more places around China to savor more amazing landscape, culture, history, ethnic minority customs, food, etc. in one go, such as Guilin with Karst landform wonders, Guizhou with wonderful ethnic beauties, Chengdu with adorable giant pandas, Beijing with profound ancient royal Forbidden City, Shanghai with modern cityscape, Xian with impressing Terracotta Warriors, Zhangjiajie with incredible Avatar Mountains, and more like Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Yangtze River, Lhasa, etc. If you have any idea about planning your Dali China trip, please feel free to contact us for help!

    Most Popular Shangri-La China Tour Packages:

    10 Days Classic Sichuan & Yunnan Highlights Tour (Chengdu / Leshan / Mount Emei / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)

    9 Days Meet Yunnan Nature & Culture from Hong Kong by Bullet Train (Hong Kong / Kunming / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)

    10 Days Yunnan & Guizhou Amazing Minorities Tour (Shanghai / Zhangjiajie / Kaili / Kunming / Lijiang / Shangri-la / Kunming)

    Daocheng Yading in Sichuan Daocheng Yading in Sichuan

    Travel Shangri-La with China Discovery

    To enjoy a relaxing and joyous trip experience, you can choose our private transfer service for traveling in and around Shangri-La. Our professional local guide and driver will escort you from your hotel, train station, airport to all attractions with comfortable private car with speed and safety and let you catch the highlights of every site and this city, so you can get really relaxed on the way and focus on what you are interested. Please contact us directly to tell your needs if you are interested!

    If you are considering a personal trip to Shangri-La and other destinations in China but do not want to do the detailed planning of every transportation, hotel and connection of each attraction, you can feel free to contact our travel expert for professional advices and recommendations, and we will help you sincerely to plan your Shangri-La tour, Shangri-La Yunnan tour or customize your own one according to your interests, needs and budget!

    Recommended Shangri-La Tours

    Top 3 Shangri-La tours chosen by most customers to explore Shangri-La in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

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    5 Days Lijiang & Shangri-La Best Highlights Tour

    Lijiang / Shangri-La

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    5 Days Kunming Exploration & Paradise Trip to Shangri-La

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