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Zhongdian, which is now better known as Shangri-la County, is a primarily Tibetan county in northwestern Yunnan province. Usually it will be the last tour stop in Yunnan province and the first sniff of Tibetan culture. Home to one of Yunnan’s most rewarding monasteries, Zhongdian changes from a one-yak town to a hot tour destination for the book The Lost Horizon by James Hilton. Though it may seem too many tourists in high season, Zhongdian remains far less commercial and still be an easy place to enjoy your days.

Tourist Highlights

Puda Cuo National Forest Park Puda Cuo National Forest Park

Puda Cuo National Forest Park:

It is a 30,000 acres national park located 25km east of Zhongdian. The park is announced on June 25, 2007, and is notable as the first national park in China to meet IUCN standards. It incorporates the Bita Lake Nature Reserve and Duhu Scenic Area in Hongshan region, mainly formed of three parts: Sudu Lake, Bita Lake and Tibetan Culturel Village.

It is a must visit site in Zhongdian. Step into the park is just like Alice in Wonderland. For shutterbugs and travel enthusiasts, it is a paradise with breath-taking sceneries all the year round. The park is rich in tourist resources like the mirror-like mountain lake, fertile pastures, wetlands blazed with flowers and virgin forest where wild animals haunt. The region of this park contains more than 20 percent of the country’s plant species, about one-third of its mammal and bird species and almost 100 endangered cranes, many rare and beautiful orchids and Himalayan Yew.

The park is about a 50-min drive from Zhongdian. It has two lakes, a visitor center, several interesting minority villages, lush forests and pastures views. Bita Lake and Sudu Lake are known as “plateau pearls” for their beauty and tranquility. Birds and fishes, jingling of horse bells and the smoke curl from faraway villages form the perfect Shangri-la view.

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery:

Located at the foot of Foping Mountain near Zhongdian, also named as Songzanlin Temple. It is the largest Buddhist temple in Yunnan, and is modeled closely on the Potala Palace in Lhasa. It has six structures including eight colleges. The entrance gate is at the foot of the hill and provides access to the main hall of the monastery through 146 steps. In the main hall of the monastery, more than 1500 monks congregate to recite the Buddhist scriptures. This hall houses a plethora of scriptures written on palm leaves, a gilded statue of Shakyamuni Buddha which is 8 metres tall at the main altar along with paintings depicting the life of Buddha. It remains the most important Tibetan culture in southwest and is definitely worh the visit.

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery

Napa Lake

Napahai Wetland (Napa Lake):

Napa Lake Wetland locates in the northwest of Shangri-la county, about 8 km far from the town center. It has an average elevation of 3,266 meters and water covering of 660 square kilometers. It also named Yila Grassland and it is the largest spring grassland in Yunan.

The Tibetan language “Napa cuo” means “lake hidden behind the forests” in Mandarin. It is a typical plateau wetland in Yunnan. Thanks to its unique ecofuntion and landscape, Lake Napahai catches much attention. On the east side of the lake, stand the remains of an ancient temple – Gunyin Temple. Climbing up of the temple ruins, you could have an overall birdview of the whole wetland.

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