On August 15, 2012, in China Attractions, Nature Scenery, Temples, by Jack Li

The word “Shangri-la” comes from James Hilton’s 1933 novel “Lost Horizon” and describes a utopian lamasery in the middle of the Himalaya. But did you know that you can include Shangri-la in your Chinese Tour? Yes, since 2001 the Zhongdian County is called “Shangri-la” and it’s the closest place you can find in your China trip for the description of Hilton’s Shangri-la.

Shangri-la (or the Zhongdian County) is situated in the Tibet, and the Tibetans still refer at this place as Gyalthang (Royal Plans), the climate is chilly but not severe (although at some winter nights it can reach -15ºC), most of its territory is occupied by a National park.

This National park, called Pudacuo, was the first one in China to achieve international standards and to be declared world heritage, it also incorporates another area of the region called “The three parallel rivers of Yunan” and its fauna is mostly Himalayan, with monkeys, leopards, deer…

The Shangri-la County includes a handful of cities and townships, being the most important and capital Jiantang, but there is also Hutiaxoia that is famous because it’s in the end of the famous “Tiger Leaping Gorge” and it’s a stop for most buses going to Jiantang.

Another important city in the County is the Luoji Township, and it’s a very important place for Chinese energy because there will be a hydroelectric power plant that supplies with energy all the Yunnan region, this improvement will reduce a lot the contamination of the region and will be a huge improvement on the quality of the nearby Park.

Apart from all these attractive one of the most important advantages on visiting Shangri-la is that is not crowded, you just have to take a plane to the Diqing airport from Lhasa or Kunming (or a bus) and you will be able to have the Tibetan experience without all the fuss and stress that are implied in more popular places.

The gastronomy is also remarkable, and you can’t leave without a bit of incense or Tibetan medicinal Herbs, the region most famous souvenir, although they are also known for jewelry, pottery and yak tails.

Shangri-la (or the Zhongdian County for most of the population there) is a nice place to go on your China Trip if you want to go to a place off the beaten track and have a pleasant stay where you will be able to visit lots of different places, either natural or man-made.

Jack Li
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