Deqen County, also known as “Deqin County” OR “Dechen County“，is a county under Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. “Deqen” means “extreme happiness and peace” in Tibetan. It was firtly called “A-dunzi” by locals. Later, it was renamed as “Deqen” in 1935 with the sound of “Deqen Ling” in 1935 (“Ling” meaning monastery in Tibetan)
Deqen County used to be part of Weixi Susu Autonomous County. It is an important town connecting Tibet Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province on the Ancient “Tea Horse Trading Road“. It is located in northwestern of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Shengping Town, the county seat of Deqen County, is 3400 meters above sea level, about 182 kilometers away from Shangri-La City — Diqing prefecture’s capital, and 889 kilometers away from Kunming — Yunnan provincial capital.
Deqen County borders Weixi Susu Autonomous County and Gongshan Dulong Autonomous County to southwest; Markam County, Zogang County, and Zayu County to northwest, and adjacent Batang County, Derong County, and Shangri-La City in southeast acrossing Jinsha River. It is with an average elevation of 4270 meters, making it the highest county in Yunnan Province.
Deqen County is located in southern extension of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, in middle section of Hengduan Mountains, in hinterland of “three rivers (Nujiang, Lancangjiang, Jinshajiang) flowing in parallel”.
There are many snow-capped mountains, winding rivers, vast forests and deep canyons, it is hometown of China’s most precious Yunnan golden monkey.
The main peak of Meili Snow Mountain is Kawagarbo (Prince Snow Mountain in chinese), which is 6740 meters above sea level, which is the highest peak in Yunnan Province. There are also 13 peaks of Meili Snow Mountains with an average elevation of 4800 meters or more, and they are called “Prince Thirteen Peaks”.
Mingyong Glacier extends from snow line of more than 6000 meters at foot of Kawagarbo to subtropical virgin forest at an altitude of 2660 meters. It is 11.7 kilometers in length, and is a rare low-altitude oceanic modern glacier
Due to its unique geographical location, Shengping Town, the capital of Deqin County, has become an important place for tea-horse exchanges since Tang dynasty and Song dynasty. Commercial trade is extremely developed, and it has reputation of “Snow Mountain Market”
In winter, urban area of Shengping Town is often filled with clouds and fog, and sometimes fog enters houses. The town is surrounded by mountains, the terrain is steep, and the buildings are built on the mountain and are distributed in a trapezoid shape.
Climate in Shengping Town is most pleasant at the end of autumn and the beginning of winter each year. At this time, Tibetan Buddhist believers from Gansu province, Qinghai province, Tibet and other places often come to worship Kawagarbo in groups, and Shengping Town is a place where pilgrims must pass.
Best time to travel
Cold temperate mountain monsoon
Most popular sites
Meili Snow Mountain is the most spectacular snow-capped mountain group in Yunnan, with hundreds of miles of snow ridges and peaks, accounting for 34.5% of total area of Deqen County. The Prince 13 Peaks are all over 6000 meters above sea level. The main peak, Kawagarbo, is 6740 meters above sea level and is the highest mountain in Yunnan.
Cizhong Church was originally in Cigu Village, and formerly known as “Cigu Church”, about 15 kilometers south of Cizhong Village. It was built in 6th year of Tongzhi period in Qing Dynasty (1876 AD). In 31st year of Guangxu Emperor of Qing Dynasty (1905 AD), an expelling foreign religion occurred in Deqen County, and Cigu Church was burnt down. It was rebuilt in 1909 and completed in 12 years. After the church was completed, it became Bishop’s Auditorium of Yunnan District. It has been well preserved. The government allocated special funds for maintenance in 1989.
Baimang Snow Mountain National Nature Reserve, since its establishment in 1983, the reserve has been aiming to protect the rare and endangered wild animals and their habitats, as well as biodiversity of Hengduan Mountains. As of 2014, the reserve has an area of 281,640 hectares. There are about 13 natural groups of Yunnan golden monkeys, in total 1,000-1,500 golden monkeys, distributed in a narrow strip area between Jinsha River and Lancang River. Among them, there are 6 groups of nearly 700 golden monkeys in Deqen County, which is core area of Yunnan golden monkeys distributed in Yunnan province
Mingyong Glacier is one of long glaciers under Kawagarbo Peak. This is a low-latitude tropical monsoon oceanic modern glacier, the top of which does not melt all year round. Because snow line where Mingyong Glacier located is low, the temperature is high, so that it melts quickly, and survives on precipitation, so its movement speed is fast. In winter, its ice tongue can extend from 5,500 meters above sea level to 2,800 meters above sea level, directly on bank of Lancang River, only 800 meters around away from surface of Lancang River.
Deqen Moon Bend is located between Deqen County and Derong County. This bend is part of Baimang Snow Mountain Nature Reserve and part of World Natural Heritage “Three Parallel Rivers”. Although it is near 214 National Highway, however, due to its hidden location, so that a local people whom knowns the road is needed in order to find moon bend. Rare solar halos occasionally occur in this area.
Feilai Temple covers an area of 1,500 square meters. It was first built in 42nd year of Emperor Wanli of Ming Dynasty (1614 AD) and was built on ground of mountain. It is one of the best places for enjoying panoramar view of Meili Snow Mountain
Geography and climate
Deqen County is about 188 kilometers from north to south and 68 kilometers from east to west, with a total area of 7,596 square kilometers.
Deqen County has Yunling Mountains in east and Nushan Mountains in west, all mountains run north to south. Its terrain is high in north and low in south; Deqen county is wide in south-north and narrow in east-west in a shape of knife
According to the altitude difference, Deqen’s terrain can be divided into three categories,
—Valley area, located between 1800 meters and 2400 meters above sea level, distributed in Xiaodian and gentle slopes along Jinsha River and Lancang River;
—Mountain area, located between 2400 meters and 3000 meters above sea level,
—Alpine mountains, the areas over 3000 meters above sea level,
The highest elevation of Deqen County is Kawagarbo with altitude of 6740 meters, which is regarded as a sacred mountain by Tibetan. The lowest elevation is 1841 meters on Lancang River in south of Yanmen Township.
Climate of Deqen County is greatly affected by altitude. The influence of latitude is not obvious. As the altitude increases, temperature decreases and precipitation increases. In most areas, four seasons are unclear. Winter is long and summer is short. Normally, dry and wet seasons are distinct.
Average annual rainfall is 633.7 mm. Rainy season from May to October accounts for 77.5% of annual rainfall. Average annual rainfall in northwest is below 660 mm, and average annual rainfall in southeast is about 850 mm.
Annual average temperature is 4.7℃, annual extreme maximum temperature is 25.1℃, the minimum temperature is -27.4℃, and sunshine hours are 1981 hours. The frost period is generally 236 days per year, and frost-free period is only about 129 days
Population and ethnicity
As of 2010, Deqen County has a total population of 600,81 people, of which Tibetan population accounts for 80.31% of total population.
In addition, there are other ethnic groups including Han, Lisu, Naxi, Bai, Hui, Yi, Zhuang, Miao, Hani, Nu, Dai, and Pumi pople
Recommend Hotels in Deqin
Benefited by rapidly developed tourism, Hotel Accommodation and restaurants are both well established in this small and remote town; below listed are recommended hotels in Deqin county
Deqin High Mountain Resort
Add: Fei-lai-Si Village, by G214 Road
Phone: +86 887 8566888
Jun Yi Botique Meli Hotel
Add: No. 35, Xia Street, Sheng Ping Community
Phone: +86 887 8566777
Meli Holiday hotel
Add: No.28, Fei-lai-Si Road, by G214 Road
Phone: +86 887 8416288
Meri Snow Mountain Travel hotel
Add: Near View-platform of Fei-lai-Si, by G214 Road
Phone: +86 887 3062888
Once Upon a Time In Meili hotel
Add: Near Fei-lai-Si View-platform, by G214 Road
Phone: +86 887 8416617
View Paradise Grand Hotel
Add: in the Fei-lai-Si Scenic Area, by G214 Road
Phone: +86 887 8419888
How to get Deqen
There are two airports are located in this Three Parallel Rivers region, and near Deqin county.
One is Qamdo Bangda Airport (BPX， 4,334m), which 550 kilometers approximately up north. It takes more than 11 hours to cover this distance,
Be advised: due to permit and travel restriction on foreign visitors, this airport is not recommended;
Another airport is Diqing Shangri-La Airport (DIG, 3,280m) which is only about 180 kilometers southward, it takes 3-4 hours drive to cover this distance. So assuming taking a flight to arrive Diqing Shangri-La Airport around early afternoon , say 14:00 pm – 15:00 pm, you would be able to arrive in Deqin for dinner around 19:00 pm
There are 4 daily buses departuring from Shangri La Long-distance Bus station to Deqin at: 08:20 am, 09:20 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 14:30 pm, With Rate: RMB 67.00; and bus ride is about 4 – 5 hours
Due to wonderful view along drive from Shangri La to Deqin, it is recommended to rent a vehicle for this ride, which allows you to make stop appreciate nature view;
For referrence: based on sharing cost, and on shoulder travel season, it usually costs RMB 100 – 150 per person for a 6 – 7 seats mini van
Shangri La Airport
Address: No. 1, Shen-Ying Road
IATA Code: DIG
Altitude: 3,280 meters
Contact: +86 887 822-9916
Shangri La Bus station
Add : Zhongxiang Road
contact : +86 887 822-3501
Altitude : 3,280 meters
Working hours : 07:30 am – 18:30 pm
Deqin Bus station
Add : Nanping Stree, Deqin
contact : +86 887 841-3322
Altitude : 3,400 meters
Working hours : 08:00 am – 18:30 pm
Distance from Deqin to
- To Zogang : 375 kilometers, about 8 hours’ drive
- To Shangri La : 175 kilometers, about 3.5 hours’ drive
- To Benzilan: 95 kilometers, about 2 hours’ drive
- To Daocheng: 430 kilometers, about 10.5 hours’ drive
In Han Dynasty, Deqen area was land of Qiang people
In Jin Dynasty, it was land of Ma’ergan tribe
In Southern dynasty and Northern dynasty, Deqen area belonged to Dangxiang Tribe
In Sui Dynasty, it belonged to General Administration Office of Nanning Zhou
At beginning of Tang Dynasty, it was part of Yurui, which belonged to Tubo kingdom
In Middle and end of Tang Dynasty, Deqen area was under jurisdiction of Jianchuan Jiedu.
In Song Dynasty, Deqen area was land of Shanju County which was under rule of Dali kingdom
During Yuan Dynasty, Deqen area was called “Xiao-dan-dang”, belonged to Lijiang region
In 5th year of Emperor Hongwu of Ming Dynasty (AD 1372), it was under jurisdiction of Markam and Batang Wanhu Mansion
In 4th year of Emperor Zhengde of Ming Dynasty (AD 1509), Deqen area was occupied by Muding of Naxi tribe
In 12th year of Emperor Chongzhen of Ming Dynasty (AD 1639), Deqen area was controlled by Mongolian Heshuote regime
In 5th year of Emperor Shunzhi of Qing Dynasty (AD 1648), Deqen area was under jurisdiction of Tibet.
In 58th year of Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty (AD 1719), Batang was under the control of Qing Dynasty, and Deqen returned to be managed by Batang.
In 4th year of Emperor Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty (AD 1726), Qing government determined the boundary between Sichuan Tibetan areas and Yunnan Tibetan areas, and Deqein under jurisdiction of Batang of Sichuan Province was placed under Lijiang Prefecture of Yunnan Province
In 3rd year of Emperor Guangxu of Qing Dynasty (AD 1877), when one local official resigned, whom erected a “Deqen” monument. In the inscription, the town of Deqin was named “Shengping Town”, which means “singing and dancing”
In 34th year of Emperor Guangxu of Qing Dynasty (1908), Adunzi Suppression Committee was set up to be controlled by Minister of Frontier Affairs of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces
In 6th year of Republic of China (1917), Weixi County established Adunzi Administrative District, which belonged to Tengyue Dao (county)
In 21st year of Republic of China (1932), Adunzi Administrative District was reorganized ,and Adunzi Administrative Bureau was established
In 24th year of Republic of China (1935), Adunzi Administrative Bureau was renamed as “”Deqen Administrative Bureau” with the sound of “Deqen Ling”
In 31st year of Republic of China (1942), it belonged to 7th administrative inspection district of Yunnan Province with location of Lijiang County
In 38th year of the Republic of China (1949), it belonged to 10th administrative inspection district of Yunnan Province with location of Heqing County
In 1950, a county-level organization-Deqen County Governance Bureau was established, which was subordinate to Lijiang District Commissioner’s Office.
In 1952, DeqenCounty Governance Bureau was abolished, and Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Region was established
In 1955, DeqenTibetan Autonomous Region was abolished, Deqen County was setup
In 1957, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture and Deqen County were both officially established, and Deqen County was placed under jurisdiction of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
In 1959, Benzilan Office (county level) was abolished and it was placed under Deqen County.
In 2002, Benzilan Village was abolished, and Benzilan Township was established