Set at an altitude of 3,200 metres and blessed by stunning countryside consisting of snow-capped mountains, glistening lakes and verdant pastures, the beautiful natural surroundings spell adventure and exploration on the doorstep of Shangri La. If culture and history is more for you, the atmospheric old town, restored after a devastating fire in 2014, provides a significant window back in time, reinforced further by a range of colourful temples dotted throughout the town.

Split between a thriving modern city and the old town with its charming and authentic architecture and winding alleyways, the layout of Shangri La is compact, ensuring it is easy to navigate on foot, though to explore the nearby Tibetan villages and dramatic landscapes, you’ll need to swap your feet for some wheels. This is especially true for the likes of the Pudacuo National Park, Tiger Leaping Gorge and Meili Snow Mountain, where lovers of the great outdoors will be particularly rewarded.

One of the most famous nearby attractions, located just a few kilometres north of town, is the Songzanlin Lamasery. A breathtaking Tibetan Buddhist temple complex, originally built in 1679, this is the largest of its kind in the Yunnan province and is the most important monastery in Southwest China.

This fabled mountain town is a slice of Tibet in mainland China. It’s utterly charming and the surrounding countryside is spectacular – a great place to get away from it all.

Rachel O'Leary
Travel Designer

What to do

  • Visit the Songzanlin Lamasery
  • Explore the rebuilt old town
  • Hike in the Pudacuo National Park
  • Be left in awe by the striking Tiger Leaping Gorge
  • Learn about the traditions of Tibetan culture

When to go

From March through to October, spanning spring summer and autumn, Shangri La is a rewarding place to visit, but due to its altitude, it is recommended that you pack for both warm and cool conditions. The winter period from November through to February is best avoided, as much of the town's tourist infrastructure shuts down.


Accommodation in Shangri La

Here are some of our travel designers' favourite options