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Home >> China City Guide >> Yunnan >> Shangri-La travel information and tour

Shangri-La, Zhongdian

Zhongdian Shangri-La
Zhongdian Shangri-La

Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, deep gorges and rushing rivers, the beautiful land known as a Shangri-la nestles against the edge of the Tibetan plateau. The name "Shangri-La" was used in 1933 by the American novelist James Hilton in his book Lost Horizon that depicts a land eternally reigned by peace and tranquility. In Hilton's book, Shangri-La was a fictitious land which was free from the turmoil of the earthly world and had snowy mountains, deep valleys, shining temples full of mysteries, calm lakes surrounded by forests, and vast pastures with grazing sheep and cattle. The Yunnan city of Zhongdian evokes all the features in Hilton's book. Coincidentally, Shangri-La is also a Tibetan word from the Diqing area that refers to the most ideal place to live and the noblest realm pursued by Tibetan Buddhists. In 1997, officials in Yunnan Province declared that Shangri-la is Zhongdian in the Diqing Tibetan Ethnic Minority Autonomous Prefecture, which caused a worldwide sensation. With the development of tourism, Zhongdian has become one of the hottest tourist cities in China.

Zhongdian Geographic Features

Zhongdian is the capital of Diqing Tibetan Ethnic Minority Autonomous Prefecture. It covers an area of over 11,600 square kilometers, resting 3,280 meters above sea level. This area is the junction of Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet. The Balagengzong, Haba and Langdu Mountains reach towards the clouds, while the Jinsha (Golden Sand) and Lancang (Mekong) Rivers crisscross the landscape, flanked by overhanging cliffs. Spring and summer are the best seasons with moderate temperatures, though the temperature can vary greatly within the space of one day. The average annual temperature is 5.6 degrees Celsius, and the average rainfall is 634mm.

Zhongdian People

Zhongdian's population is 120,000 with 13 ethnic minorities including Tibetan, Lisu, Naxi, Yi, Bai and Hui. These ethnic nationalities preserve their own traditions of lifestyle, dress, architecture, folklore, wedding ceremonies and etiquette. This region's people are very hospitable to visitors. The government language is Mandarin. The major religion here is Buddhism.

Zhongdian History

Historically, Zhongdian has been a vital transportation and trading point between Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet. In 1933, James Hilton described an eternally peaceful and quiet place among mountains called Shangri-La in his novel Lost Horizon. Two characters in the novel survive a plane crash and were taken to Shangri-La by local people. They record their experience in a civilization where people lived up to more than one hundred years old and lived peacefully and harmoniously with the other people and animals. According to actual historical records, an American transport plane crashed in the town of Zhongdian in 1944 while flying the Sino-Indian air route.

Zhongdian Travel Attractions
Zhongdian Shangri-La
Baimang Snow Mountain
Baishui Terraces
Bitahai Nature Reserve
Songzanlin Monastery
Haba Snow Mountain
Meili Snow Mountain
Napahai Nature Reserve
Shudu Lake
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