The Shangri-La (or Zhōngdiàn) of today may have very little to do with James Hilton’s 1930s bestseller, but the name still fires a traveler’s imagination. An isolated Tibetan world of Buddhist monasteries, it has preserved humanity’s wisdom and knowledge for thousands of generations. Present-day Shangri-La is the seat of the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, clearly divided into a modern Chinese city and the old Tibetan quarter. Zhōngdiàn (Gyalthang in Tibetan) is surrounded by the majestic Himalayas, glacial lakes, high altitude grasslands and major Tibetan monasteries. The Pudacuo National Park and Bashitai Terrace are worth a visit between sips of buttered tea or barley beer, while the Napa and Shudu lakes are a photographer’s delight. If you’re out hunting for old Tibet, the Buddhist Songzanlin Monastery and Dukezong Old Town won’t disappoint.
Shangri-la Resort in Shangri-la, Zhongdian is a contemporary hotel that offers an immersive experience of ancient Tibetan culture. Enter the majestic building to arrive at a serene lotus pond. Check into spacious, well-appointed rooms featuring Tibetan accents.