The hunting for Shangrila has been one of the favorite sports of Chinese travel literature in recent years.

The title of “real Shangrila” was played at the end by three towns, Bingzhongluo, Deqen (Diqing or Deqing), and Zhongdian. In the end, apparently, it was the latter who snatched this name. Shangrila was in fact only a symbolic place created by the British writer James Hilton in the 1933 Lost Horizon book.

In the book, “Shangri-La” is a mystical place, a harmonious valley, led by wise monks near the Kunlun mountain range. By the time, the term has also taken on the meaning of a heavenly place, isolated from the rest of the world. Zhongdian or Gyalthang in Tibetan, in any case well interpreted the idealized Shangri-la literary features. Although this analogy today has made it an even more desirable destination for the Mainland tourist groups and has been widely sold to boost this resource.

Deqen map

Deqen – Diqing 迪庆

“It is in the oriental Jiantang that the sun shines the earliest; it is in Shangri-la beside the Naizi River that people enjoy the most leisurely life.” “Shangri-la” is the the transliteration of the Tibetan language, meaning “the sun and the moon in the heart” which symbolizes an ideal living place.The most spectacular and rare low latitude mountainous glaciers and snow mountains are distributed in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Thirteen peaks of the Meili Snow Mountain, ranges after ranges, span the whole prefecture. Kawagebo Peak located at an elevation of 6,740 meters, is still a “virgin peak”, ranking the first among the 8 Tibetan Buddhism holy mountains. There are lots of big or small grass pastures and plains on which the local people live and multiply. Over there the quietly flowing water pooled in lakes—-among which the Bita Lake, Napa Lake, and Shudu Lake are the most attractive. The monasteries including Gedan Songzanlin Monastery and Dongzhulin Monastery are especially majestic and holy.

Bita Lake, Deqen county
Bita Lake, Deqen county

Best tour time

From April to July, you may appreciate azaleas of 160 kinds in red, yellow, white and purple, etc, which only grow on the snowy plateau and see diversified creatures in Shangri-la. From May to September, it is the best season to visit the colorful grassy marshland. You may enjoy the wonderful sight of flowers, yaks, and goats. From September to October, you may view the golden autumn scenery,plateau red,a flower also named Langdu, blue sky, white clouds and bright starry sky on the snowy plateau similar to Chinese watercolour paintings. From November to April of the next year, the winter in Shangri-la is spectacular, Mingyong Glacier is undulate, Kawagebo Peak glitters in the sunshine in the early morning, the primeval forest is dressed in white snow, the grassy marshland becomes a silver white world. Then Shangri-la is a fairyland in winter.

Meili snow mountain, Yunnan
Meili snow mountain, Yunnan

On Tour

Diqing is 706 kilometers from Kunming.

Air: From Kunming to Shangri-la, the total fare is ¥700. Five flights every day. 50 minutes are needed for the air travel.

Highway: 1. It is 709 kilometers from Kunming to Shangri-la County by bus. It passes by Chuxiong and Dali. The tourists may take buses to Diqing from Kunming. There are 4 couchette buses every day with the fare of ¥145, departing time13:00-18:00. There are 3 buses at Panjiawan Buses Station and 1 bus at Nanyao Station. You may first take a plane to Dali or Lijiang, then take buses to Shangri-la County. The tourists may take a plane to Shangri-la County from Kunming if you are in a hurry.

  1. It is 180 kilometers from Lijiang to Shangri-la County. There are 3-5 buses from 7:00-15:00. You may take couchette bus to Dali from Kunming. There are 30 buses in each large transport station of Kunming from 18:00-22:00.
  2. It is 300 kilometers from Dali to Shangri-la. It costs ¥75 to take a middle bus.

4.the railway from Sichuan to Diqing: No.117/118(the West Station of Beijing)and No.203/204 (Chongqing) express arrive in and depart from Panzhihua, No.165/166(Kunming-Xi’an)and No.207/208(Kunming-Chengdu) express pass by. Four expresses altogether.

  1. the highway from Sichuan to Diqing: It is 470 kilometers from Panzhihua to Shangri-la County, the fair is ¥120 for a night bus and ¥80 for a seat. Couples of buses depart from Panzhihua(Jinjiang) Railway Station.

Local food:

ghee tea, Pipa Pork, the Tibetan cakes, highland barley liquor, oil fried China Cordyceps, oil Matsutake Mushroom, cheese, yak meat, buckwheat pancake, Zanba, Tuotuo Pork, corn porridge, oil fried rice ball, Paca, Weixi Beancurd, liver with chilly, mushrooms, edible wild herbs, medicinal dishes

What to see in Deqen

Dharma Cave or Damo Patriarch Cave (达摩祖师洞) is located on the Elephant Trunk Mountain in Qizong Village of Weixi County. The temple of Dharma Cave It is said that Dharma had visited here and understood the doctrines to be Buddha after facing...
Cizhong Catholic Church (茨中天主教堂) is located in Cizhong Village 80 kilometers from the south of Deqin County. It is a French Catholic church, first established in the 6th year of Tongzhi in the Qing Dynasty (A.D.1867). The church is constituted...
Dongzhulin Monastery (东竹林寺) is located in Benzilan Township, Deqin County, and 105km from the seat of Shangri-la County. It was built in 1667 and named Gedan by the fifth Dalai Lama. It is the largest one of the three Gelu Sect...
Situated where Yunnan borders Sichuan and Tibet and in the abdomen of Three Parallel Rivers National Tourist Region. Lanyue Valley Scenic Region in Shangri-la (香格里拉蓝月山谷景区) lies in the core area of Shangri-la, in the south of Shangri-la County Town. Lanyue...
Meili Valley (澜沧江梅里峡谷) is famous not only for its deep and long valley but the swift river current. The drop is 504 meters in the 150 kilometers flow. It is magnificent that mighty waves on the narrow river beat the...
Napahai (纳帕海) means “the forest beside the lake”, being located 8 kilometers northwest of Shangri-la County Town. It is a plateau lake on which many precious birds dwell, among them, black-necked cranes in the list of Class-A animals under state...
Mingyong Glacier (明永冰川) is located half way up Kawagebo Peak, the highest peak of Meili Snow Mountain. Mingyong Glacier is 4 kilometers long and 30-80 meters wide. The glacier extends down along Mingyong Valley to 2650 meters above sea level. The ecology...
“Haba” means golden flower in Naxi language. Haba Snow Mountain (Haba Snow Mountain Nature Reserve 哈巴雪山自然保护区) namely Golden Flower Snow Mountain is located in the southeast of Shangri-la County, being 120 kilometers from Jiantang Town, the capital seat of Diqing...
Baimang Snow Mountain (白茫雪山) is located in Deqen County. The mountain is a National Nature Reserve. Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys, which are under Class-one state protection, inhabit in the Baimang Snow Mountain is the kingdom of azaleas. The high mountainous azalea forest...
Baishuitai (白水台) is one of the largest sinter terraces in China. Baishuitai of Sanba Township is 101 kilometers in the southeast of the Shangri-la county. Apart from its picturesque scenery, Baishuitai is also the place of origin of the Dongba Culture...
In Tibetan Buddhism, Meili Snow Mountain (梅里雪山) is the holiest among the 8 sacred mountains of the Tibetan-inhabited regions. 6,740 meters in height, Peak Kawagebo is one of the top 10 magnificent mountains in China and the highest peak in...
Gedan Songzanlin Monastery (噶丹·松赞林寺) is located in the north of Shangri-la County town, initially established in Ming Dynasty and extended in 1679 under Emperor Kang Xi’s authorization, and finally built in 1681. The fifth Dalai Lama named the temple “Gedan...
Potatso National Park (香格里拉国家公园—普达措, Pudacuo National Park) is the first national park in mainland China and was inaugurated on June 21, 2007. Pudacuo National Park is located in the central zone of the World Natural Heritage, Three Parrel Rivers in the...
The Three Parallel Rivers (云南三江并流) is a national level tourist area located in Deqen (Diqing) Tourist Zone. Diqing Scenic Zone is in the northwest of Yunnan. It connects Sichuan in the north and northeast, and Tibet in the northwest, with...
The hunting for Shangrila has been one of the favorite sports of Chinese travel literature in recent years. The title of "real Shangrila" was played at the end by three towns, Bingzhongluo, Deqen (Diqing or Deqing), and Zhongdian. In the end,...
Mission to the Land of the Three Rivers (1933-1952) In 1035, St. Bernard of Menthon built a hospice on the Mont Joux, the most ancient pass through the Alps. Related: Lamas performing Cham Dance in Tibet The hospice was run by a...

Photos: Oliver Huang

 

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