Shangri-La (Zhongdian) Weather & Seasons | Best Time to Visit


Shangri-La (Zhongdian), which means "sun and moon in the heart" in Tibetan, is a county-level city and the capital of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southwest of Yunnan province. It is laying on the southeastern extremity of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, at a high altitude of 3450m, is surrounded by Hengduan Mountains. If you want to see the breathtaking scenery on plateau and experience the authentic Tibetan culture but don’t have time to visit Tibet, Shangri-La would be the place you can’t miss in your Yunnan tour.

Shangri-La is plateau monsoon vertical climate. Local climate presents characteristic of plateau climate, mountain climate and monsoon climate at the same time. With an average altitude around 3450m, the climate alters little between the four seasons with average monthly temperature from -1 ℃ - 15℃, but the temperature varies a lot between day and night. In a sunny summer day, the highest temperature can reach to 29℃ during daytime, but might lower down to 10℃ during night. Influenced by the monsoon climate, Shangri-la has a distinct dry and wet season. The annual rainfall is around 1055mm, with more than 78% of precipitation occurs between June and October.

Best Time to Visit Shangri-La Yunnan

Generally speaking, the best time to go to Shangri-La is from March to October. From March to August, the weather is favorable and the wide flowers are blossom everywhere. September and October are also good times, when the leaves of the trees are ablaze with color and snow-capped mountains glisten in the sunlight. However if you don’t like rainy days, you can avoid visiting Shangri-La during July and August.

In different seasons, you could visit different places and have special traveling experiences in Shangri-La. Tiger Leaping Gorge, Pudacuo National Park, Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, Dukezong Old Town, Meili Snow Mountain, Yubeng Village are all famous scenic spots in Shangri-La. Before planning your Shangri-La trip, please check the weather forecast and know what the weather is going to be like in Shangri-La. 

Recommended Best Shangri-La Tour:

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Average Shangri-La Temperature by Month

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Shangri-La Seasons to Go

Because of the plateau climate, Shangri-La weather alters little between the four seasons with an average temperature around 7.75 °C. Spring in Shangri-La is short from April to May, but it’s the best time to visit with beautiful flowers in their full blossom. Autumn is as short as spring from September to October, it’s the most colorful season and also a good season tour around Shangri-La. Summer is the rainy season in Shangri-La from June to August. The longest season in Shangri-La is winter, which is from November to next year March, lasts for 5 months, the weather is dry and cold. If you are planning to tour Shangri-La during winter, do remember to bring thick clothes with you. Let’s check highlights of each season below to plan your Shangri-La tour!

(Tips: Because of the plateau climate, the weather of Shangri-La is always varied and unsettled. Even in August, you can find a snow flake dropping from the sky. So no matter when you go, you should be prepared with some warm clothes. )

Shangri-La Spring - April to May

Spring is short from April to May. Average daytime temperature is 15°C and nighttime temperature is about 3°C. The average temperature is around 4°C in April, 7°C in May. Spring is a considerably dry season with total rainfall of 87.3mm and only 5 days of rainfall during two months.

Spring Thing to See & Do

Spring is the best season to plan a hiking tour to Tiger Leaping Gorges and appreciate the turbulent Jinsha River. Spring is also the season when everything comes to life. You can appreciate the spring plateau scenery at Pudacuo National Park, see the flowers sea, meet the yaks and ride horses on the alpine meadow.

What to Wear

Even the temperature begins to rise, the weather is still cool in spring. Sweaters and coats are suitable for this season, but dress in layers to adapt to the large temperature changes. Bring some medicine with you to prevent the high altitude sickness.

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Tiger Leaping Gorge Tiger Leaping Gorge
Pudacuo National Park Pudacuo National Park

Shangri-La Autumn - September to October

Autumn is from September to October. It is the most colorful season with a nice and comfortable weather. Average daytime temperature 17.5°C and nighttime temperature is about 5.5°C. Average monthly precipitation begins to decrease during autumn, with 168.6mm in September and 96.8mm in October.

Autumn Thing to See & Do

After a summer of rainfall, all colors are becoming brighter. The azure sky, the fluffy white cloud, the crystal clear water and the changing colored forest and meadow all makes Shangri-La a passionate beauty in autumn, showing visitors its most polychrome side. Autumn is a good season to do outdoor activities, you can plan a hiking tour to Yubeng Village, enjoy the mountains are covered with golden yellow trees, makes you to wonder whether you are stepping into a paradise. It’s also the best season to overlook and appreciate the beauty of the No.1 holy mountain in Tibet - the Meili Snow Mountain.

(Note: Before your departure, please check the real-time weather ahead, some roads are in bad conditions and become sloppy during rainy days, so try to avoid the long distance trips during raining days.)

What to Wear

Long-sleeved tops, wind/water-proofs, and coats are needed due to the changeable weather. Bring some medicine with you to prevent the high altitude sickness.

Hot Tour:

>> 5 Days Shangri-La & Meili Snow Mountain Pilgrimage Tour

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Ganden Sumtseling Monastery in Autumn Ganden Sumtseling Monastery in Autumn

Shangri-La Summer - June to August

Summer, from June to August, is the rainy season in Shangri-La. Average temperature during daytime is about 20°C and 10°C during night time. More than 70% rainfalls of the year happens in summer, the average monthly rainfall is around 182mm.

Summer Thing to See & Do

In summer you can head to “the first national park in China” - Pudacuo National Park to immerse in the full blossom of flower sea, enjoy the astonishing view of pure plateau lakes and emerald pasture. Pay a visit to the largest Buddhist monastery in Yunnan - Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, then wandering around the Dukezong Old Town to feel the strong Tibetan customs.

What to Wear

Summer is the rainy season in Shangri-La, don’t forget to bring rain gears with you. Take a couple of light layers for the daytime, also add a think coat or sweater for early morning and evening. Sunlight is very strong in summer when there is no rain, wear sun protection such as hats, sunglasses and sun block, and drink lots of water. Bring some medicine with you to prevent the high altitude sickness.

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Pudacuo National Park Pudacuo National Park
Ganden Sumtseling Monaster Ganden Sumtseling Monastery in Summer

Shangri-La Winter - November to March

Winter is from November to March. It’s the longest and coldest season around the year. temperatures range from around -9°C to 12°C . The average monthly perception during these 5 months is about 28mm.

Winter Thing to See & Do

If you are planning a winter tour to Shangri-La, you can join the grand religious festival called Gedong Festival which is held annually during Dec.26 to Dec.29 by Tibetan calendar. It is a rare chance in Shangri-La to experience the Tibetan Buddhism culture and religion. During these days, people with the masks of the horse, cattle, sheep, crow, yak come to the square of Ganden Sumtseling Monastery and dance together with a very mysterious atmosphere. If you are not afraid of the cold, winter is also a good season to enjoy the beautiful snow scenery of Meili Snow Mountain and Mingyong Glaciers.

What to Wear

Winter can be very cold in Shangri-La, if you visit during winter, prepare warm clothes such as down jacket and thick sweater. Wear anti-skid shoes, gloves, scarf, and a hat are also necessary. Keep warm and avoid intense physical activities, bring some medicine with you to prevent the high altitude sickness.

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>> 3 Days Best Shangri-La Tour

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Dukezong in Winter Dukezong in Winter

Altitude of Shangri-La City and Surrounding Area

After arriving, because of the high elevation in Shangri-La and surrounding area, you may suffer from high altitude sickness: shortness of breath, chest tightness and dreaminess. At this moment, you must not do strenuous exercise or drink alcohol but should have a good rest and keep warm.

Attractions Altitudes
Shangri-La City Around 3450m
Pudacuo National Park About 3500m ~ 4159m
Ganden Sumtseling Monastery Above 3300m
Tiger Leaping Gorge Above 1800m
Dukezong Old City About 3300m
Yubeng Village About 3000m
Meili Snow Mountain With the highest elevation of 6740m
Mingyong Glaciers 5500m ~ 2800m

How to Plan a Shangri-La Yunnan Tour

Many travelers come to Shangri-La to find the real scene in the Lost Horizon. Usually, it is suggested to visit this earthly paradise for 2 days. Travelers can spend one day losing yourselves in the wonderland of Pudacuo National Park; and spend another day exploring Ganden Sumtseling Monastery and Dukezong Old Town. Of course, travelers can experience the hospitality of Tibetan by visit the local Tibetan family.

Recommended Shangri-La Tour Package:

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Besides, if you have extra 1-4 days, you can have a hiking tour and be close to nature. You can either go to Tiger Leaping Gorge to feel the magnificence of raging river. Or if you prefer more holy mountains, you can drive to No.1 Holy Mountain in Tibet, Meili Snow Mountain catch the rare opportunity to watch the beautiful sunrise at Feilai Temple and trek along the fantastic rails to view the Mingyong Glaciers.

Recommended Shangri-La City & Surroundings Tour Package:

▶ 4 Days Tiger Leaping Gorge Hiking Tour with Shangri-La Highlights

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Shangri-La is always visited after Lijiang tour. If you choose to fly to Shangri-La, you can visit Shangri-La for your first destination in Yunnan, and explore Lijiang for 2-3 days, Dali for 2 days and Kunming for 1 day afterwards. The whole Yunnan trip usually takes 8 days. You can feel free to contact our professional travel consultants to customize your own itineraries which would perfectly suit for your likes and requirements.

Recommended Shangri-La Yunnan Tour Package:

▶ 7 Days Yunnan Ethnic Minorities & Traditional Culture Discovery (Lijiang / Dali / Shangri-La)

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

Shangri-La in Yunnan Shangri-La in Yunnan
Dali City Dali City
Lijiang in Yunnan Lijiang in Yunnan

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Average Temperature & Rainfall of Shangri-La City, Yunnan

Average Temperature & Rainfall of Shangri-La Yunnan

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Temperature(°C) -1 1 4 7 11 15 15 15 14 9 3 0
Precipitation(mm) 20.8 28.1 42.1 25.4 61.9 164.9 185.8 209.1 168.6 96.8 41.2 11.1

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