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Overview

Located at high altitude (aboout 3,200 meters; above 10,000 feet), this remote town on the edge of Tibet in Yunnan Province abruptly changed its name from Zhongian to Shangri-la in 2001, a shameless attempt to cash in on the flood of tourists headed its direction from Dali and Lijiang. In fact, Shangri-La's Old Town, with its shophouses, minority people in costume (mainly Tibetan), and trinket shops, strongly resembles Lijiang's Old Town. In Shangri-La, however, the crowds are sparser, the sidestreets more intersting. The nightly dance in Old Town's main square is attended by as many locals as tourists. Shangri-La's other main attraction, ...

Located at high altitude (aboout 3,200 meters; above 10,000 feet), this remote town on the edge of Tibet in Yunnan Province abruptly changed its name from Zhongian to Shangri-la in 2001, a shameless attempt to cash in on the flood of tourists headed its direction from Dali and Lijiang. In fact, Shangri-La's Old Town, with its shophouses, minority people in costume (mainly Tibetan), and trinket shops, strongly resembles Lijiang's Old Town. In Shangri-La, however, the crowds are sparser, the sidestreets more intersting. The nightly dance in Old Town's main square is attended by as many locals as tourists. Shangri-La's other main attraction, Songzanlin Monastery, is an imposing Tibetan Buddhist complex, the most important in southwest China, with 600 monks in attendance. Shangri-La is the jumping off point for horseback riding, mountain biking, village and private home tours, hot spring treatments, bird watching at Napa Lake, winter skiing on Shika Moutain, and four-day overland bus trips to Lhasa.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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J.D. Brown for Destination Discovery

Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in southern China near the northern boarder of Burma
  • Language: Mandarin
  • Currency: Yuan
  • Research: Shangrila | Shangrila

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring and summer are mild, while winters are chilly.