Shangri-La is one of the cities under the jurisdiction of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It means the sun and the moon in the heart in the local Tibetan language. This is a rare pure land that perfectly preserves the natural ecology and national traditional culture.
Whether you like natural scenery or humanities and history, you will find something in Shangri-La.
There is extremely diverse primitive natural scenery here: spruce-fir virgin forest, thousand-year glaciers, rare species of Yunnan golden monkey, primitive alpine rhododendron. The memories of thousands of years in the Hengduan Mountains are engraved in this natural world.
There are also rich cultural and historical landscapes-the thousand-year-old city of Dukezong on the Ancient Tea Horse Road, the Nixi black pottery that has been passed down for thousands of years, and the nearly 400-year-old “Little Potala Palace” Songzanlin Temple. All these are engraved with the cultural context left by the ancestors in this land.
Before we introducing the 6 things to be aware of when travelling in Shangri-La, you have to be acknowledged with some general introduction about this pretty land firstly.
Shangri-La City is located on the southern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, in the hinterland of the Hengduan Mountains. It is the intersection of Yunnan, Sichuan and Tibet, as well as the hinterland of the world-famous “Three Parallel Rivers” scenic spot. There are towering snow mountains, vast grasslands and deep river valleys. There are 470 snow-capped mountains above 4000 meters above sea level.
The climate is divided into wet and dry seasons. From June to October, affected by the warm and humid southwest air current, the seasonal rainfall accounts for 80% of the annual rainfall, which forming a wet season. From November to May of the following year, there are more sunny days and enough light to form a dry season.
There are many high mountains and deep valleys in this county and the climate changes with the elevation, which forms a typical climate of “one mountain divided into four seasons”. There is no summertime throughout the year, but the air layer above the plateau has high transparency and strong solar radiation. It leads to a rapid increase in temperature during the day and intensive temperature drop at night, which results in a large diurnal temperature difference.
Diqing is the only Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Yunnan. In addition to the main ethnic minority of Tibetans, Shangri-La is also inhabited by 25 ethnic minorities including Naxi, Lisu, Bai, and Yi. All ethnic minorities have maintained their own characteristics in traditional customs such as lifestyle, clothing, residential buildings, and wedding etiquette, forming unique customs of each ethnic group.
According to the climate of Shangri-La, May to October is the best season to go to Shangri-La, when Gesang flowers bloom, meadows are evergreen, and the scenery is full of poetry.
There are many scenic spots in Shangri-La. If you want to appreciate the essence of Shangri-La’s scenery, it will take at least half a month, because the scenery in Shangri-La is so rich. You can selectively visit some of the main attractions according to your time and interests. If you only have 2 to 3 days, it is recommended to focus on the scenic spots around Shangri-La County. If you have a week or so, you can add Tiger Leaping Gorge and Feilai Temple to watch Meili Snow Mountain.
The most popular touring attractions in Shangri-La includes Songzanlin Monastery, Pudacuo National Park and Napahai Lake. You could enjoy both rich natural and cultural experience here by visiting these spots. Besides the pretty sightseeing, there is also a chance to entertain your appetites. You cannot miss the most representative Su You Cha, the local Butter Milk Tea, and Yak meat dishes as well as the Ci Ba, the fried barley noodles, which is also a typical daily food for Tibetans.
The most famous local speciality foods include cottage cheese, yak meat, matsutake, barley wine, etc. Besides the local foods, handcrafts like beads, silver knives, wooden bowls, wooden boxes, silver Buddha boxes, Tibetan incense, etc., are also good choices as a souvenir.
Based on the above general introduction, we have the 6 things to be aware of when travelling in Shangri-La summarized for your reference:
The first thing you have to be aware of is to bring enough warm clothes and prepare some commonly used medicines in case. The sunlight and ultraviolet rays are strong here, so when you are outdoors for a long time, you should protect your skin by wearing a hat and applying sunscreen.
The second thing to be aware of is travelling timing and duration.
When travelling in high-altitude areas, you should pay attention to avoiding intensive exercise, not drinking alcohol, and should intake more vegetables and fruits to prevent altitude sickness.
If you are in poor physical condition, you can rent a small oxygen cylinder in the hotel in advance, and prepare some high-calorie energy supplement food for emergency needs during the journey.
When buying local speciality and souvenir, it would be better to go to a larger local supermarket or a store introduced by the tour guide. The price will be much fairer. Shops in tourist attractions and commercial areas are expensive and the quality of goods is poor. If you buy a Tibetan silver knife, remember to take it home by posting a parcel.
Diqing is located at the junction of Yunnan, Tibet and Sichuan. It is the core area of the “ethnic corridor” in anthropology. This geographical feature makes the local culture present the characteristics of inclusiveness. During the journey, please respect the lives and beliefs of local minorities and avoid conflicts with local residents. Locals are mainly communicating in Yunnan dialect and Tibetan dialect, and most people in the ancient city can speak Mandarin. If you can speak Mandarin, it will greatly convenient your travel.
“The first place where the sun shines is Jiantang in the east, and the most extraordinary place on earth is Shangri-La on the banks of the Milky River.” James Hilton wrote so in his book. The white snow-capped mountains, the vast expanse of grassland, the bright red datura metel and the mysterious lamasery all constitute the most beautiful scenery here. The Tibetan transliteration of Shangri-La is “Shamballa”, which means “the bright moon in the heart”, which also refers to an ideal lifestyle. In English, it is Shangri-La, which means paradise. It is indeed a paradise, a paradise on earth. The city of Shangri La is situated in the centre of the sacred region of the three rivers: the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Salween. It used to be named as Zhongdian or Gyalthang in Tibetan until 2001.