Zhongdian country (Shangri-La) is a primarily Tibetan county in northwestern Yunnan Province in southwest China and the capital of Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. It was formerly called Zhongdian County but was renamed after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the James Hilton novel Lost Horizon in 2001.
Shangri-La is synonymous with a "heaven away from the turmoil of the mundane word". Actually, "Shangri-La" is a Tibetan word, which means "land of sacredness and peace".
Many travelers use the county town as a gateway into Tibet, either travelling many days overland by jeep to Lhasa, or by flying from the Zhongdian airport. However, the town itself is a tourist destination.
Today, Zhongdian County remains an untainted natural paradise which retains a mysterious and bewitching quality.
Visitors to the Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture are sure to find themselves in a land where mysterious tranquility pervades every inch of the ever-changing scenery.
Three snow-capped mountains, Meili, Baimang and Haba, tower magnificently over the landscape. The region is crisscrossed by the Golden Sand, Mekong, and Yangtze Rivers. These snowy peaks form a beautiful backdrop whose beauty is a feast to behold. Mirror-like lakes, scattered across the vast expanse of grassland, look like rich jewels inlaid on a beautiful tapestry. Cattle graze leisurely in the meadows, where exotic flowers and luxuriant grass wave at the request of the gentle breeze. In the depths of the surrounding forests is an exotic world of rare birds and animals.
Shangri-La is also a paradise for mountaineers. Over one hundred snow-capped peaks present endless challenges for mountain climbers. Among these peaks, the Thirteen Princes are all over 6,000 meters high and are among the most mysterious and precipitous. The Kagebo Peak, known as "Chief of the Eight Sacred Peaks," soars as high as 6,740 meters and towers over the surrounding mountains. In the 20th century, mankind has set foot on the summit of Everest many times but has failed to conquer the Kagebo Peak.
Shangri-La features a simple but peaceful life; friendly and honest interpersonal relationships; pious and persistent religious beliefs; and local people who are kind,uninhibited and unsophisticated. It provides visitors with a chance to enjoy unforgettable moments without any stress and confusion while enveloped in a natural environment, which is remarkably charming and incredibly welcoming, thanks to the hospitality of the local ethnic groups.
Some 168 km northwest of Zhongdian is the last outpost of Yunnan before Tibet-Deqin town and county. The county has an average elevation of 3550 m and is 80% Tibetan, though a dozen other minorityies are found here, including one of the few settlements of non-hui Muslims in China.
China tours inclusive of visiting Zhongdian