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Shangri-La attractions
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The perennial snow-capped Baimang Snow Mountain (Báimáng Xuěshān, 白茫雪山) is located in the midst  of the Hengdgun Mountain range between deep canyons carved by the Jinsha and Lancang rivers.   Baimang Mountain spreads over 187,977 hectares (464,501 acres) with the main peak rising 5,640 m (18,504 ft) above sea level. As the name implies, the mountain is topped by snow all year around. Surrounding the mountain is Yunnan's largest and highest national reservation area, the Baimang Mountain Nature Reserve, where forests, lakes, canyons, plants and wildlife abound. In the summer months the mountain is carpeted with azaleas.  The area is also the main habitat of Yunnan golden monkeys, a rare animal under national protection. About 82 km (51 mi) north along the Yunnan-Tibet Highway is Songtsam Benzilan, the ancient gorg... more >>
Admission: RMB 40
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The decade-long contruction of Cizhong Cathedral (Cízhōng Tiānzhǔ Jiàotáng, 茨中天主教堂) by the Langcan River (Láncāng Jiāng, 澜沧江; known as the Mekong when it flows into Vietnam) began in 1909. It was built by French missionaries who brought Christianity with them to the region at the end of the 19th century and is one of few churches in Tibet to have survived the Cultural Revolution. Some Tibetans converted to Christianity from Buddhism and passed down the tradition to present generations. Every Saturday and Sunday, Catholics from Tibetan, Naxi, Han and Li villages pray here in the Tibetan dialect. In Cizhong (Cízhōng, 茨中) alone, there are over 400 believers out of the 1,000 or so people who live here. The Cizhong Cathedral's architecture is influenced by typical Han and Tibetan folk art. Located among the remote mountain ranges and valleys, ... more >>
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The 13 majestic peaks of Meili Xue Shan (Méilǐ xuěshān, 梅里雪山; meaning "Meili Snow Mountains") divide Tibet from Yunnan in the far northwestern reaches of the latter province. This is a serious mountain range. Effectively a far-eastern spur of the mighty Himalayas, Yunnan's tallest peak, Kawagebo (Kǎwǎgébó, 卡瓦格博; also known as Kawa Karpo and Taizi Shan), which tops out at 6,740 m (22,113 ft) above sea level, the Meili Xue Shan range is something that most visitors simply gaze upon from a safe distance, usually the beautiful Tibetan Feilai Temple (Fēilái Sì, 飞来寺), though it is possible to head up to the 12 km (8 mi) long Mingyong Glacier (Míngyǒng Bīngchuān, 明永冰川) which flows off Kawagebo. Anything beyond that, and you'd better be an accomplished mountaineer with all the right equipment—and don't expect to get anywhere c... more >>
Admission: RMB 63 (Mingyong Glacier admission)
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Dabao Temple (Dàbǎo Sì, 大宝寺) is built on a rugged green hillside at an altitude of 3,300 m (10,827 ft) and is one of the earliest Tibetan Buddhist temples built in Zhongdian (Shangri-La) County. Not much of a temple to look at—destroyed in the Cultural Revolution it was rebuilt in 1984—its the sacred surroundings that are the draw here; hillsides dotted with sheep, fluttering prayer flags and pine trees. At the foot the hill there lies a lovely, 2 km (1.2 mi) long stone wall with delicate Buddhas and scriptures carved on it. Book Dabao Temple tours Yunnan guide | Shangri-La guide | Shangri-La attractions Shangri-La flights | Shangri-La hotels | Shangri-La tours & activities Shangri-La on the China Travel Blog more >>
Admission: Not available
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Sitting at 3,270 m (10,728 ft) above sea level, the Napahai Nature Reserve (Nàpàhǎi Zìrán Bǎohùqū, 纳帕海自然保护区) is home to a wide range of indigenous wildlife, including the black-necked crane, a bird revered by the Buddhist tradition and found almost exclusively in the Tibetan Plateau. Located 8 km (5 mi) to the northwest of Shangri-La County, the reserve sits on the convergence of 10 local rivers, creating the largest grassland in the county. Horseback riding is quite popular here with many locals offering rides on their horses for RMB 30 per hour. Book Napahai tours Yunnan guide | Shangri-La guide | Shangri-La attractions Shangri-La flights | Shangri-La hotels | Shangri-La tours & activities Shangri-La on the China Travel Blog more >>
Admission: RMB 60
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Located at the foot of Foping Mountain (Fúpíng Shān 佛屏山) just near Zhongdian, Songzanlin Temple (Sōngzànlín Sì, 松赞林寺), also known as the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, is the largest Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, and is modeled closely on the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Originally built in 1679, the Songzanlin complex, ordained and inhabited by the fifth Dalai Lama, sits at an elevation of 3,300 m (10,827 ft) and boasts three temples and an eight-meter-high statue of Sakyamuni. Home to some 700 Tibetan Buddhist monks, Songzanlin was severely damaged during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). The majority of the temple has since been restored. The monastery is just a short walk out of Zhongdian, also known as Shangri-La, down a dirt path and around a small hill. Once you make the turn, an entire village of... more >>
Admission: RMB 85
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China's become known recently for big buildings, big cities, big events, big economic growth.... and the big environmental problems that come with them. But how many people know about China's big initiative to develop a system of world-class national parks? Welcome to another China, one embodied in Yunnan's vast Pudacuo National Park, established in June, 2007 as the first in a planned series of parks designed to meet the meet the exacting standards set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Sprawling across 1,295 km2 of flora and fauna, Pudacuo is home to over 100 endangered species living in a landscape of mountains, forests and lakes reclaimed from private developers and turned into a model of environmental stewardship with the help of the Nature Conservancy. Visits to Pudacuo generally involve hopping on bus that makes stops at park highlights including the vi... more >>
Admission: RMB 190
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The Xiagei hot springs are an excellent place to relax  after hiking the rigorous trails of Shangri-La. Complete with a large pool, several hot springs and optional accommodations, Xiagei offers travelers an enjoyable retreat away from the city and old town. more >>
Admission: RMB 30
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The outlying area of southeastern Shangri-La County, known as Xiao Zhongdian, is home to mountains, rivers, valleys and gorges and a wide range of wildlife.  Well beyond the developments beginning to take root in Shangri-La town itself (Gyeltang to to the local Tibetans) and crisscrossed by paths and small dirt roads connecting pasture lands where yaks and horses roam, Xiao Zhongdian is a photographer's dream and a great destination for hiking, bicycling, motorcycling and even full-fledged camping.  more >>
Admission: Free
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Yading Town and the surrounding areas (including Daocheng and the Nature Reserve) are what inspired the term "Shangri-La" as we know it in the West from the James Hilton's novel Lost Horizon. And though the area formerly known as Zhongdian farther south toward Yunnan might enjoy the marketing boon of the Shangri-La name for now (plastered across a mountainside no less), the truth remains for those who make it to this remote area. The "towns" are not much more than a collection of buildings attached to nearby monasteries, with tiny Riwa Town and Yading Town being the most substantial and the best bests for places to sleep and shop, especially Riwa. Riwa has a clutch of good hostels and you can also pick up equipment. If you've been to Riwa recently, please let us know what is going on in the comments section, as things change fast out there... more >>
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