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Travel to Tibet from Shangri-La

Travel to Tibet from Shangri-La

Shangri-La (Zhongdian) is in Deqen county, a city in Yunnan province, and is one of the gateway cities to Tibet. The name of “Shangri-La” is taken from Lost Horizon, written by James Hilton. In the novel, it is a fictional land of Utopian wisdom. Tibetans are the original residents in this region, and they called Gyalthang in the Tibetan language, which means Royal Plains.

An altitude of 3300 meters above the sea level, Zhongdian is surrounded by magnificent mountains and the joint of three rivers. The region is an ideal place for trekking and botanical exploration.

How to travel to Tibet from Zhongdian

Travel to Tibet by air

There is a small airport located 3 kilometers outside the county but without regular airport shuttle. You can take a taxi to the airport, and the cost is about 15-20 CNY. The flight, operated by China Eastern Airlines, will take off around 9:15 am from Diqing Airport. The flight ticket is about 230 dollars and the duration of the tour is two hours. The price of the tickets will change with the season, especially in the peak travel season.

Travel to Tibet by Overland

Nowadays, an overland trip to Tibet is also available from Shangri-La. But only Tibetans and Chinese citizen are able to choose this way. Foreign travelers to Tibet need go with a tour guide and driver.

There is no regular bus and the timetable is also not set. If you want to take a bus to Tibet, you had better ask the bus station in advance. You can choose the seated bus or sleeper bus, which all cost about 550 CNY. The bus trip is about 4 days to reach Tibet. Although the bus provides much convenience to travelers, it doesn’t choose to go through most of the spectacular views along the way.

If you want to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way, you can choose to take jeep or land cruiser. The trip usually takes about 7-9 days and costs 4000-6000 CNY, including the Tibet Travel Permit. The application of the TTP will take about 4-5 days, so please contact us earlier.

Travel to Tibet by train

There is no railway station in Zhongdian. Travelers need to board a train to Tibet from Lijiang which is the closest railway station, located 170 kilometers away.


Owing to the political situation of Tibet, every foreign traveler needs to take a Tibet Travel Permit to enter Tibet. If you choose to take a train to Tibet, a copy of your TTP will be checked; if you choose to board a plane to Tibet, the original of your TTP will be checked.

Diplomats, journalists and government officials are not allowed to travel to Tibet. They need to get through the Tibet Foreign Affairs Office.

Highlights of Shangri-La

Bitahai Lake: it is the highest lake in Yunnan province and is known as “a peal on the plateau”. The scenery around the lake is very beautiful, dotted with small hills and surrounded by forest.

White Water Terrace: it is located in the foothills of Baha Snow Mountains. It is an ancient Chinese landform with thousands of years. It is the birthplace of Dongba culture of the Naxi Minority Group and is the annual spot for the celebration festival.

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