Shangri-La County is divided into two areas: Dukezong Ancient Town and a more modern city-like area. The two areas share Tuanjie Street as the common border. Dukezong, located in the southeast section of Shangri-La, has a history dating back over 1300 years. Almost all the buildings are white in color and feature the Tibetan style architecture. Upon arrival to old town, we recommend you take some time to relax before beginning your tour. A brief introduction to the scenic spots of Shangri-La follows.
Main attractions: Wufeng Mountain, White Water Terraces, Haba Snow Mountain and the Tiger Leaping Gorge
Located three kilometers (about 1.86 miles) southeast of Shangri-La, the Wufeng Mountain is revered as a sacred mountain by the local Tibetans. Since the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the grasslands at the foot of this mountain have been used for horse racing events.
If you proceed southeast from Shangri-La for about 101 kilometers (62.76 miles), you'll arrive at another well-known attraction, the White Water Terraces. The terraces are large limestone steps, built up over the years with calcium carbonate deposited by spring waters which flow down the steps. You can take a bus from the Zhongdian Coach Bus Station to the White Water Terraces, or hire a car to get there.
The Haba Snow Mountain, a natural reserve of rare animals and plants, is about 120 kilometers (74.56 miles) southeast of Shangri-La. Both the mountain and the Tiger Leaping Gorge are located along the Dianzang Road, on the way from Shangri-La to Lijiang.
The north of Shangri-La
Main attractions: Songzanlin Monastery and Shangri-La Gorge Group
Songzanlin Monastery is five kilometers (3.11 miles) north of Shangri-La. First constructed in 1679 during the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it embodies the essence of the Tibetan Buddhist culture, and its architecture exemplifies the features of the Tibetan style. It's the greatest monastery of Tibetan Buddhism in Yunnan Province. The city bus No.3 can take you there.
The Shangri-La Gorge Group is located in the northern part of Shangri-La County. Comprised of a series of gorges, the Birang Gorge is certainly worth a visit. The Birang River flows through the steep gorge and the splashing water from the strong current immerses the entire gorge in mist. There are many rock paintings on the cliffs of the gorge. Much research was done on the paintings and it was determined that they were drawn by migrating ethnic groups in the ancient times. The gorge is on the way from Shangri-La to Xiangcheng County (in Sichuan), about 103 kilometers (64 miles) from Shangri-La. In the morning, there are buses to Xiangcheng that will let you off at the mouth of Shangri-La Gorge.
The northeast of Shangri-La
Main attractions: Bitahai Lake and Shudu Lake
Shudu Lake and Bitahai Lake are two of the more accessible lakes in northeast Shangi-la. Located within 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of each other, legend says these "pearls of the land" are pieces of a mirror broken and scattered by a fairy while she was fixing her makeup.
Tip: Although Bitahai Lake is only 32 km (19.88 miles) from Shangri-La, the bus will only take you as far as Shuangqiao. From there you can either hire a horse or walk to Bitahai Lake.
The northwest of Shangri-La
Main attractions: Napa Lake
Napa Lake is located eight kilometers (4.97 miles) northwest of Shangri-La. Several rivers flow into the lake, including the Naizi and Naqu Rivers. The lake is seasonal in that it is dry in the fall and winter seasons, naturally becoming part of the Yila Prairie. During this time, visitors can see many sheep and cows grazing in the lake bed.
Tip: There are buses which take visitors to Napa Lake or you can take a taxi to get there.
Baishui Tableland (White Water Terraces)
Meili Snow Mountain