Shangri-La City is a county-level city under jurisdiction of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and it is also capital of Diqing prefecture. It was originally named “Zhongdian County“, also known as “Gyalthang” in Tibetan
In 1933, in his novel “Lost Horizon“, the British writer James Hilton first described Shangri-La, a place of eternal peace and tranquility in the mountains and ridges of the east. Since then, it has been longed for by the world, and soon it was made into a movie of the same name and won many Oscars, making it even more familiar to the world.
Timeline of finding Shangri La
In October 1996, an expedition to search for Shangri-La in Yunnan was launched.
In September 1997, Yunnan Provincial Government held a press conference in Zhongdian County,capital of Diqing Prefecture, announcing that Shangri-La, the paradise sought by world, is in Diqing
On December 17, 2001, Zhongdian County was renamed as “Shangri-La County” with approval of State Council of China
On May 5, 2002, A celebration was held in Zhongdian County for changing its name to Shangri-La County
Best time to travel Throughout the year
Local climate Plateau, temperate climate
Most popular sites
Haba Snow Mountain Nature Reserve is located in southeast of Shangri-La County, 130 kilometers away from Shangri La city, with a total area of 21,908 hectares. It was established in 1982. Its main peak is 5396 meters above sea level, and the lowest point is Jiangbian Village, which is only 1550 meters above sea level, with an elevation difference of 3896 meters. Above 4000 meters in the entire reserve are steep cliffs and alpine rocky mountains. The landforms are distributed in a stepped manner, followed by subtropical, temperate, cold-temperate, and frigid climate zones. The temperature difference between the foot and top of mountain is nearly 23℃. This reserve is a cold-temperate coniferous forest type nature reserve established to protect vertical natural landscape of alpine forests and the wild animals and plants that inhabit here
Potatso National Park is China’s first national park, located 22 kilometers east of Shangri-La County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. “Potatso” means that to take boat to reach other shore of the lake assisted by god in Tibetan. Potatso now has Bita Lake and Shudu Lake as its main components, with an altitude of between 3,500 meters and 4,159 meters, and is an important part of “Three Parallel Rivers” area. This national park has geological landforms, lakes and wetlands, forests, meadows, river valleys and streams, rare animals and plants, etc. its original ecological environment is well preserved.
Sumtseling Monastery (Guihua Temple in Chinese) is regarded as “Little Potala Palace”. The whole monastery imitates the layout of Potala Palace in Lhasa and is built on hillside. The murals in assembly hall are brightly colored and exquisite in brushwork. They mainly describe historical relics and promote Buddhist teachings. The two main halls of Dratsang and Jikhang were built on the highest point in the center of Sumtseling monastery, and with Chinese architectural style.
Baishuitai is located at the foothills the Haba Snow Mountain, in Baidi Village, Sanba Township. It is 101 kilometers away southeast of Shangri-La County and 2380 meters above sea level. It is the birthplace of Naxi Dongba religion, and a natural wonder formed by dissolution of calcium carbonate in spring water. The spring water containing calcium bicarbonate slowly flows down, the carbonate gradually precipitates, and the mantle is formed over the years, like layers of terraces, called “the fairyland”, covering an area of about 3 square kilometers. It is the largest spring terrace in China
Tiger Leaping Gorge is the largest canyon on Jinsha River, located in the southeast of Shangri-La, about 105 kilometers away. It is divided into three stages: upper gorge, middle gorge, and lower tiger leaping gorge. There are many huge rockes in the river. The water of Jinsha River is sandwiched by two snow-capped mountains, Yulong and Haba. Altitude difference is more than 3900 meters, and the narrowest point is only about 30 meters. According to legend, tiger descends from the mountain and could even Jinsha River with just one stop at the huge rock in the middle of the river. Therefore, it is called Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Dukezong ancient city is the best-preserved and largest Tibetan residential group in China. Around 676 AD – 679 AD, Tubo kingdom established a fort with name “Dukezong” on top of Dagui hill here. Dukezong is a Tibetan word and contains two meanings, one is “castle built on stone”, the other is “Moonlight City”. Later, the ancient city was built around the fort on top of hill.
Echoing this is “Niwangzong” which was established on top of a hill the Naizi River with meaning “Sunshine City” in Tibetan. Niwangzong is no longer there, there is now just a white pagoda left
Geography and climate
Shangri-La City is located in northwestern of Yunnan Province, on the southeastern edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and northern end the southern section of Hengduan Mountains. It covers an area of 11613 square kilometers.
Shaluli Mountain Range enters Shangri-La City from Garze Prefecture, and encloses its east and west from two branches. Jinsha River enters Shangri-La City from Tuzhaobi, and flows south to between Sasubi village of Jinjiang Township and Shigu village of Lijiang, and then turn northeast to Luojijihan village and entering into Sichuan Province, encircling southern part of Shangri-La City
Shangri-La’s topography is high in northwest and low in southeast. Its terrain is deeply cut. The highest point is Balagezong 5545 meters above sea level, the lowest point Luoji Jihan is 1503 meters above sea level, and altitude difference is 4042 meters, which is huge. There are 470 snow mountains above 4000 meters above sea level With averagre altitude of 3459 meters above sea level,
The landform of Shangri-La City can be divided into mountains, plateaus, basins, and river valleys.
Shangri-La City is located in a high-altitude and low-latitude zone. The climate changes with increase in altitude, and six climatic zones appear in sequence. It is a typical “three-dimensional agricultural climate”, and its climatic characteristics are:
–1. Monsoon climate: Under the alternate control of the southwest monsoon and the south branch westerly jet, the dry and wet seasons are distinct.
From June to October, the weather is cloudy and rainy, and the rainfall accounts for 10 to 80% of the annual precipitation, forming a wet season.
From November to May, there are many sunny days, sufficient sunlight, and large evaporation. The rainfall accounts for 10-20% of the annual precipitation, forming a dry season.
–2. Three-dimensional climate: Snow mountains are high, valleys are deep, and climate changes with elevation. From the Jinsha River Valley at an altitude of 1503 meters to the top of Haba Snow Mountain at an altitude of 5309 meters, there are in turn —
- North subtropical zone of river valley
- Mountainous warm temperate zone
- Mountain temperate zone
- Mountain cold temperate zone
- Alpine subfrigid zone
- Alpine frigid zone
–3. Plateau climate : Shangri-La City is in close to Tropic of Cancer 3°25′. Shangri-La Plateau, which is dominated by Zhongdian field, has an average elevation of 3450 meters. It has sufficient solar radiation throughout year. Annual temperature difference is small. There is no summer throughout year. Average temperature is 5.5°C. Atmosphere here has high transparency, strong solar radiation, intense temperature increase during the day, and rapid cooling at night, with a large daily temperature range. The daily temperature range in dry season can reach 30°C.
–4. Microclimate affected by Topography, Shangri-La’s topography is low in south and high in north. Its south is greeted with warm and humid air currents. The rainfall is relatively abundant and the climate is humid, while the north is relatively dry. Shangri-La’s topographic structure is complex, and various climate types are intertwined. Within the same vertical zone, there are forest climate, grassland climate, lake basin climate and other single small terrain climates.
Population and ethnicity
As of 2016, Shangri-La has a total population of 178,000, of which Tibetan population accounts for about 78.82% of total population.
In addition, there are other ethnic groups including Han, Naxi, Yi, Bai, Dai, Zhuang, Miao, Hui, Li Su, Lahu, Wa, Yao, Jingpo, Bulang, Buyi, Achang, Hani, Xibe, Pumi, Mongolian, Nu, Jinuo, De’ang, Shui, Manchu, Dulong people
There are more than 200 hotels, including luxury hotel, 4 star hotel, boutique hotel, and also economy guesthouse or hostel available; whether you have small budget or wanting to enjoy a luxury experience, you will find the one that fits your needs, below listed are some recommended hotels:
Add : No. 1, Chicika Road
Contact : +86 887 899-8998
Add : Hong Po Village
Contact : +86 887 828-8822
Add : No. 92, Chicika Road
Contact : +86 887 887-6999
Add : No. 15, Chicika Road
Contact : +86 887 822-9788
Add : Xiangbala 3rd Road
Contact : +86 887 898-5555
Add : Entrance, Xiangbala Zhen
Contact : +86 887 822-6888
How to get there
Di-Qing Airport is the only airport that serves Shangri La City, and is about 5 kilometers from the downtown area. There are flights to Kunming, Chengdu, Lhasa, Xishuangbanna, and Shanghai, Beijing; There will be more flights to more cities of China. The previous isolated small Tibetan town Shangri La has been well connected with outside world
By Public transportation
Shangri La city is located at the center of triangle area, it connects three provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, and Tibet;
Kunming – Shangri La: 720 km, it takes 12-14 hours with rate RMB 171 per person
Lijiang – Shangri La: 200 km, it takes 3-4 hours with rate RMB 25 per person
Dali – Shangri La: 300 km, it takes 4-5 hours with rate RMB 35 per person
Panzhihua city – Shangri La: 470 km, it takes 7-8 hours with rate RMB 90 per person for sleeper; RMB 60.00 per person for hard-seat
Address: No. 1, Shen-Ying Road
IATA Code: DIG
Altitude: 3,280 meters
Contact: +86 887 822 9916
Address: Xiangbala Avenue
Phone: +86 887 822-3501
Altitude: 3,080 meters
Working hours: 06:00 am – 19:00 pm
Distance from Shangri La to
- To Benzilan: 80 kilometers, about 1.5 hours’ drive
- To Deqin : 175 kilometers, about 3.5 hours’ drive
- To Zogang: 550 kilometers, about 11.5 hours’ drive
- To Xiangcheng: 210 kilometers, about 6.5 hours’ drive
- To Daocheng: 315 kilometers, about 9 hours’ drive
- To Litang county: 410 kilometers, about 10.5 hours’ drive
In Han Dynasty, Shangri-La area was land of Qiang people
In Jin Dynasty, it was land of Ma’ergan tribe
In Southern dynasty and Northern dynasty, Shangri-La 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, Shangri-La area was under jurisdiction of Jianchuan Jiedu.
In Song Dynasty, Shangri-La area was land of Shanju County
During Yuan Dynasty, Shangri-La area was called “Da-dan-dang”, belonged to Tubo High Pacification Commissioner’s Office
After the mid-Ming Dynasty, it was called “Zhongdian”, belonged to Lijiang Military and Civilian Mansion of Yunnan Chief Secretary.
During reign of Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty, Zhongdian was awarded to Dalai Lama as Dalai Lama’s fief
In 4th year of Emperor Yongzheng of Qing Dynasty (AD 1726), it was placed under Lijiang Mansion.
In 21st year of Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty (AD 1756), Zhongdian Hall was set up in Zhongdian
In 2nd year of Republic of China (1913), Zhongdian Hall was changed to Zhongdian County
In 31st year of Republic of China (1942), it belonged to 7th administrative Inspection District of Yunnan Province with locattion of Lijiang County
In 37th year of Republic of China (1948), it belonged to 13th Administrative Inspection District of Yunnan Province with locattion of Weixi County
In 38th year of Republic of China (1949), it belonged to 10th Administrative Inspection District of Yunnan Province with locattion of Heqing County
In 1956, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was planned to be established, and its capital is located in Zhongdian County.
In 1957, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture was officially established.
On December 17, 2001, Zhongdian County was officially renamed as “Shangri-La County”
On December 16, 2014, Shangri-La County was abolished, and the county-level Shangri-La City was established