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Shangri-La
Travel in Yunnan

Shangri-La

Shangri-La (Xiāng gé lí lā 香格里拉) is the "Eden in dream". Since it first appeared in British novelist James Hilton’s Lost Horizon in the 1939, it has been associated with the mystique of a place which could not possibly exist here on Earth. In Tibetan, Shangri-La means the "sun and moon in heart", an ideal home only found in heaven. There the lofty and continuous snowy mountains, endless grasslands, steep and grand gorges, azure lakes and the bucolic villages always leave a deep impression on visitors.

 People in Shangri-La

Located at point where Tibet, Sichuan and Yunnan all meet, Shangri-La County is administered by Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. In the past, Shangri-La was called Zhongdian or "Jiantang" in Tibetan. In ancient times, it together with Batang (in Tibet) and Litang (in Sichuan) was the fiefdom of the three sons of a Tibetan King. In 2002, Zhongdian changed its name to Shangri-La.

At an average altitude of more than 3,000 meters (about 9,843 feet), Shangri-La is very difficult to reach. Without railways leading there, the chief means of transportation is motor People in Shangri-La vehicles. To get there, tourists will typically begin their journey in Kunming, traveling first to Lijiang and then taking the long-distance bus in Lijiang to Shangri-La. It’s about 175 kilometers (108.74 miles) from Lijiang to Shangri-La. On this way, the Tiger Leaping Gorge can be seen.

Shangri-La is inhabited by many different ethnic groups, with the Tibetans comprising the majority of the population. There you will have an opportunity to experience Tibetan life and learn about their lifestyle, religion and cuisine. The unique scenery, highlighted by plateaus, together with the fascinating ethnic culture makes Shangri-La very attractive and charming to visit.

Shangri-La is rich in natural resources from valuable herbs to rich mineral deposits (including gold, silver, copper, manganese and many other rare metals) to abundant animal resources (such as golden monkeys, leopards and musk deer). Shangri-La is a land full of natural wonders.

Shangri-LaAs a Chinese saying goes, "The earliest sunrise is seen in Shangri-La; and the most unique place is also there". Once you visit, you will fully appreciate the meaning of this saying. In addition, the warm welcome of the residents of this land will make you feel at home.


Without a railway line and with only a small regional airport within its boundaries, Shangri-La mainly relies on its roads as the main means of transportation. The Yunnan - Tibet Road, Sichuan - Tibet Road and Xikang - Tibet Road all pass through there, which really brings more convenience to the local land traffic.

Getting There

By Air
Diqing Shangri-La Airport (DIG) is located about four kilometers (2.49 miles) southeast of Shangri-La County and serves the airlines traveling to Kunming, Lhasa, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. After arriving at the airport, you can take a taxi to Shangri-La County and the charge is about CNY15.
If there is no direct airline between your starting point and Shangri-La, you can reach the Kunming Wujiaba International Airport first and then transfer to Shangri-La by long-distance bus or by air.Diqing Shangri-La Airport Inquiry: 0887-8229901

By Long-distance Bus
In Shangri-La, the coach bus is the most important vehicle. Visitors can get to Shangri-La by coach bus from Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Panzhihua. Here is information on buses to Shangri-La.

Shangri-La countyKunming - Shangri-La
Departure station: Nanyao Passenger Transport Bus Station
Location: No.60 Beijing Road, Kunming
Departure time: 08:20
Ticket Price: CNY 171

Departure station: Kunming West Passenger Transport Bus Station
Location: under the overpass near the Kunming West Railway Station
Departure time: 09:00
Ticket Price: CNY171

Lijiang - Shangri-La
Departure station: Lijiang Transport Service Center Bus Station
Location: at Changshui Road to the southwest corner of Lijiang Old Town
Departure time: 07:30, 08:30, 09:00, 10:30, 12:00, 12:30, 13:30, 14:30, 15:00
Ticket price: CNY 35

Dali - Shangri-La
Shangri-La countyDeparture station: Xiaguan North Bus Station
Location: The Tai'an Road (North)
Departure time: 06:20-11:30 (every 30 minutes); 06:30-09:30 (every an hour)
Ticket price: CNY 45; CNY 58 (for sleeper)
The Zhongdian Coach Bus Station is located in Changzheng Road (Middle), Shangri-La, and buses which serve the county operate from here. Here is the local bus information.

Shangri-La - Deqin
Departure time: There will be two coach buses during 07:30 to 08:00
Ticket price: CNY23

Shangri-La - Napa Lake
Ticket price: about CNY8

Shangri-La - Bitahai Lake
Ticket price: about CNY8 (get off at Shuangqiao and then walk or ride a horse to the Bitahai Lake)

Getting Around

By City-bus
Shangri-La In Shangri-La, city-buses are quite few. Apart from the several city-buses, there are some minibuses to the surrounding towns. In the tourism high season, the minibuses will open more routes to the surrounding attractions. Like the Bus No.3, it can take you to reach the Songzanlin Monastery.
Sights of Shangri-La are distant from each other and the regular buses may change sometimes. Therefore, please acquire clearly at the bus station before leaving, including if there are still any buses to you destination and the road condition.

By Taxi
The starting price is CNY5 in Shangri-La. The town seat is not big and taxis are not metered by taximeter. Within Shangri-La County the taxi fare is CNY5. But if you go out of the county, the cost will be higher. For example, the fare is about CNY15 from the town seat to Shangri-La's airport. A round trip to White Water Terraces is about CNY200.
By Chartered Vehicle
You can hire a car to the surrounding attractions. But according to the law, the International Driving License or the foreign Driving License can not be used in China. So you should hire a local driver when you rent a car. Here is some information about car rentals in Shangri-La. Remind that negotiation about the rental ahead of time.

Types of Vehicles Rental for a day
Santana CNY600
Jeep-like vehicle CNY900
Chinese-built six-seat minibus CNY500
Toyota two-seat minibus CNY750

By Horse
In many places, the most beautiful scene of Shangri-La can not be admired without horses, especially the way to Bitahai Lake who hides in the valleys of snow mountain with an altitude of 4,000 meters (13,123 feet). Horses are provided by local Tibetans. Some attractions can not be reached by vehicles easily so it is easier to do so on horseback. For instance, Shangri-La is 32 kilometers (19.88 miles) from Bitahai Lake but the bus can only go as far as Shuangqiao. From there you can hire a horse or walk to the lake. CNY30-CNY60 will be charged for single trip to the lake per person.

Tips: In fact, most of them are mules because they have stronger legs than houses. Take care while horse-riding. You had better ride a horse taken by a stableman, let alone run in the horseback. Get off the horseback if the road is dangerous or in slopes.

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Last Updated on Saturday, 30 May 2009 12:12