Things to Do in Shangri-La (Zhongdian)

Located in the midst of the Three Parallel Rivers, Shangri-La in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is a sacred scenic region blessed with majestic mountains. Therefore, there are countless things to do in Lost Horizon Shangri-La.

Classic Must-see Sights: Tiger Leaping Gorge, Garden Songtsam Monastery, Bita Lake, Shudu Lake, etc.
Nearby Attractions in Deqin County: like Meili Snow Mountain
Insider Local Haunts: Tibetan local family visit and more...

How do you decide? Our travel experts have handpicked the best things to do in Shangri-La to help you discover authentic, local experiences. You just need to start with our travel guide and get your favorite Shangri-La attractions and featured activities.

Shangri-La Attraction Map

Garden Sumtsaling Monastery

No.1: Garden Sumtsaling Monastery (Songzanlin Monastery)

Type: Religious Sites

Distance from Shangri-La County: 5 km

Garden Sumtsaling Monastery, also known as Sungtseling and Guihua Si, is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery situated 5 km from Shangri-La at elevation of 3,380 meters. Built in 1679, the monastery is not only the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, but also the most important monastery in southwest China. Sometimes it is referred to as the Little Potala Palace.

This spiritual place invites you to discover the mystery and traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Know some history about the Fifth Dalai Lama; see the famous eight gold-covered sculptures of Shakyamuni Buddha; visit the two major lamasery buildings - Zhacang and Jikang; and if you are lucky enough, have a conversation with a young Lama is indeed an interesting experience. Besides, the most important festival here is Gedong Festival. It is held in the precincts of the monastery annually on 29 November when devotees from the region attend to worship and also to witness the religious mask dances - the Cham dance - that are performed by the monks in colorful costumes depicting deities, ghosts and animals

Dukezong Ancient Town

No.2: Dukezong Ancient Town

Type: Historic Sites

Distance from Shangri-La County: 0 km

Dukezong Ancient Town, with 1300-year-old history, is the largest and best-preserved Tibetan city among China’s 147 Tibetan counties. It is also site of the largest ancient Tibetan community. As a key stop on the Ancient Tea-horse Road and a focal point for Han-Tibetan exchanges, it has experienced both the flames of war and prosperity of frontier trade.

Dukezong Ancient Town's authentic Tibetan dwellings, majestic prayer halls and pagodas, winding lanes offer sanctuary to all those seeking refuge from the bustle city. As long as you reach this land of love, peace and sunshine, you’ll get to know why it is called the “footstep of Shangri-La”, “City of White Stone”, and “City of Moonlight”. ( Please note: In January of 2014, a huge fire broke out destroying most of the town. A number of cultural relics, precious Thang-gas and Buddhist artworks were burned in the fire, plus some Tibetan-style buildings and precious historical sites. Since April 2014, this old town begins recovery.)

Tortoise Hill & Golden Prayer Wheel

No.3: Tortoise Hill & Golden Prayer Wheel

Type: Historic Sites

Distance from Shangri-La County: 0 km

The Tortoise Hill is located in the very center of Dekezong Ancient Town. It offers a wonderful vantage point for overlooking for the old city of Shangri-La County.

The 21-meter-tall, 60-ton Golden Prayer Wheel siting on Tortoise Hill have attracted lots of people to visit. Though it was built recently for the sake of tourism, it has become an authentic item because local Buddhists now climb the hill to spin it to submit their prayers. If you have about 10 friends with you, the prayer wheel which is like known you’ve ever seen can be spun but only in a clockwise direction as religious tradition dictates.

Pudacuo National Park

No.4: Pudacuo National Park

Type: National Parks, Bodies of Water, Nature/ Wildlife Areas

Distance from Shangri-La County: 22 km

Pudacuo National Park is the first national park in China. This national park preserves many classic features of China’s southwestern region together with various aspects of traditional nomadic Tibetan plateau life. It is mainly comprised of Shudu Lake and Bitahai Lake.

Shudu Lake is a famous pasture in every spring and summer, herds of yak and goat grazing beside the lake the shepherd’s shelters dots on the grassland. People can hear the sound of flute comes from afar. Staying beside the lake, you can deeply feel the quiet and leisurely life of high-land people. Bitahai Lake, regarded as a pearl of the Plateau, is an intact natural attraction with outstanding landscapes. In the nature reserve the plants are flourishing and the lake water is crystal clear. In May every year an azalea forest on the lakeshore is in full blossom, stretching several kilometers.

Napa Lake

No.5: Napa Lake (Napa Hai Nature Reserve)

Type: Bodies of Water, Nature/ Wildlife Areas

Distance from Shangri-La County: 8 km

Napa Lake is a state-designed wetland area, situated about 3270m above sea level. The lake fills up a valley surrounded on three sides by mountains. This wetlands area is a true paradise for all types of birds, most especially for water fowl like black-necked crane.

Napa Lake is a seasonal lake. In dry season, the lake area turns to a swamp that provides open ground for horse riding and an ideal location for migrant birds. In rainy season, with a backdrop of green mountains in a distance and blue sky, it offers quite a few photogenic opportunities. There are a number of small to medium-sized Tibetan villages in the vicinity of Lake Napa. You can get a close-up view of life as it is lived today in a Tibetan village.

Xiagei Tibetan Culture Village

No.6: Xiagei Tibetan Culture Village

Type: Waterfalls; Fountains

Distance from Shangri-La County: 15 km

Xiagei Tibetan Culture Village, the No.1 village of Shangri-La, is located along the same road that takes you to Pudacuo National Park. The village is made up of more than 20 Tibetan families whose houses are all well preserved in authentic Tibetan style. It is the village that exhibits the colorful Tibetan culture, costumes, foods, music and festivals.

Shudugang River winds its way through the village encircled by the forests nearby thus giving birth to picturesque views. Setting foot on Xiagei Village, you can find here and there Marni Stones, Stupas, Sutra Flags, Dorji (Heavenly Guardians) Columns and Praying Wheels etc, all of which are endowed with the mysterious Tibetan cultural connotations.

White Water Terraces

No.7: White Water Terraces (Baishuitai)

Type: Waterfalls; Fountains

Distance from Shangri-La County: 103 km

White Water Terrace, or Baishuitai in Chinese, located at the foothills of Haba Snow Mountain, is one of the most attractive destinations in mysterious Shangri-La. It is also the largest such set of terraces in China.

White Water Terrace is a large, milky-white series of limestone terraces, built up over thousands of years as lime-rich water cascaded down the hillside. Besides the picturesque natural scenery, it is the birthplace of the Dongba culture of the Naxi Minority Group. It is considered a holy spring and is honored by the local Naxi People with painted wooden stakes implanted around its edge. On the eighth day of the second month of the lunar calendar each year, the Naxi people sing and dance around the Baishuitai to entertain God.

Haba Snow Mountain

No.8: Haba Snow Mountain

Type: Mountains; Forests

Distance from Shangri-La County: 120 km

Haba Snow Mountain is a mountain rising above the northwest side of Tiger Leaping Gorge. It rises opposite the higher Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and towers 3500 meters above the river. The main peak of the mountain is 5396 meters which is capped with snow all year round.

Called the Kingdom of Plants, it is good to see the flowers from April to June. At this time, you will be surprised to find that there are so many varieties of azaleas. More than 200 hundred kinds of azaleas are distributed from the bottom to the top of the mountain. What’s more, it is the ideal destinations for travel fans to climbing the mountain. November and December are the best times.

Nixi Pottery Village

No.9: Nixi Pottery Village

Type: Historic Sites

Distance from Shangri-La County: 40 km

Nixi Pottery Village, a small Tibetan village in Shangri-La County, is the most "Shangri-La" part of Shangri-La. A tiny village standing by green grassland on which flocks of yaks, sheep and horses graze gives a sense of timeless tranquility. That’s the amazing natural beauty of the village.

This village is well known for the century-old art, making pottery. The pottery items made here include pots, jars, stoves, basins, teapots and some others. Around 70 out of the 100 families in the village are engaged in this traditional art. Many of them have built pottery workshops. When visiting Shangri-La, you could make a stopover here, perhaps buy some pieces or just watch how the locals deal with their ancient art.

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.

Songzanlin Monastery
4 Days Best Shangri-La Tour

Shangri-La

Ashima Featured Limestone Rock
5 Days Kunming & Shangri-La Essence Tour

Kunming / Shangri-La

Pudacuo National Park
5 Days Lijiang & Shangri-La Highlights Tour

Lijiang / Shangri-La

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