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Xianggelila (香格里拉), China

A town renamed as Shangri-la in Yunnan Province, China

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A Quick Tip by Sharrie

  • Oct 24, 2010
  • by
My visit was affected by the rain which the local claimed was unusual in October. Rains have poured more than usual in China this year, even in the highlands of Yunnan and Tibet. Otherwise, during the two days when the sun decided to grace us with its presence, this is a beautiful area with lots of sightseeing to do. So, the trick is to go when it's warmer, ie. May to Sep. I was told during these months, the land is filled with lots of flowers and pastures, a sight to behold. Hence, the idea is to be back again in warmer times! I've enjoyed the spa in Songtsam Retreat & Banyan Tree. I'm sure I'll be back!
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More Xianggelila (香格里拉), China reviews
review by . January 26, 2011
posted in Go China
Beyond Mystery... Shangri-la!
Without the sun, everything becomes a haze. It’s like one’s consciousness, when the light shines everything becomes clear. Shangri-la is thought to be a mystic place, perhaps one that doesn’t even exist! Known in Chinese as Xianggelila (香格里拉), it is a faraway place in the northern tip of Yunnan Province, very much near to Tibet. Hence, no, it is not a myth but a mystery to most.         As widely as I’ve traveled, it wasn’t until a few …
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Sharrie ()
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I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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The town is split between Tibetan and Han Chinese residents, as well as a fair smattering of Naxi, Bai, Yi and Lisu, with the surrounding countryside entirely Tibetan. While the crass name change in 2001 was a sign of the desire for increasing mass tourism a la Lijiang, the town has got nowhere near Lijiang's crowds, and it's still possible to experience the area's Tibetan heritage and see gorgeous countryside in near isolation.

Zhongdian was renamed Shangrila for marketing reasons. Signs in bus stations still use Zhongdian. There is also a third name in Tibetan, Gyelthang. The original Shangrila, from James Hilton's novel The Lost Horizon, was a (fictional) hidden paradise whose inhabitants lived for centuries. Hilton (who never went to China) located his Shangri-La in the Kunlun mountains. However, elements of his story were apparently inspired by National Geographic articles about various places in eastern Tibet (including Zhongdian); hence China's rationale for claiming the name.

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