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Shangri-La (Zhongdian), North Yunnan

Shangri-La (Zhongdian) North Yunnan is one of those travel destinations that over the years became very popular. In the late 1980's Shangri-La was totally off limits for travelers. The road was bad, the chance you would be caught and send bad with a heavy fine was significant and locals were not much willing to bring you in the forbidden zone.

Vultures eating a yak carcass
Vultures eating a yak carcass on the way to Shangri-La

By the mid 1990's Shangri-La was officially open to tourism. It was for many travelers who would not go to Tibet their chance to see some of the Tibetan culture. At the time the town was small, the now modern main street was no more then a dirty street.

There were a few reasons why people would visit Shangri-La. The first was one was of course the monastery a few kilometers outside the town: the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery.

The monastery itself is beautiful located, surrounded by farms and has quite a few monks in active service.

Getting there

Ladies in Zhongdian at the Tibet HotelVisit our getting there page for Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La for more info how what to expect when you cycle to Shangri-La.

There are daily flights from Kunming to Shangri-La which about 1 hour.

You can take a bus Shangri-La from Kunming if this is more convenient. There are two buses a day from Kunming and several buses from Dali and Lijiang.

Getting around

Shangri-La in north Yunnan is a relatively small town so you can easy go around on foot. There is a local bus every once in a while to the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, a few km north of the town but it is just as easy to get a taxi.

Hotels in Shangri-La

Gyalthang Dzong Hotel

Gyalthang Dzong HotelThe Gyalthang Dzong Hotel is a typical Tibetan building but with a unique architecture in Tibetan Lamasery- style.

It's a small and cozy boutique hotel. One of the better choices in town. You can book with Hotelscombined or Tripadvisor

There are other options in town, like Ge Sang Garden, Rainy Sunshine, Hong Fu or Lamtin Youth Hostel. Check for more hotels, hostels and guesthouses:

Near the bus station you may be able to get some rock bottom guesthouses.

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The old town is still an atmospheric and tranquil place even though every street corner seems to be filled with either hotels or tourist shops. Nevertheless, Lijiang is a place to visit, not only the town, take your bicycle and go around in the valley. It's a great place


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