It came to no surprise as I chose Yunnan as my short escapade. After contemplating amongst KunMing, DaLi, LiJiang and Shangri-La, I picked the latter as best choice. My friend once told me that Shangri-La is enclosed as China’s best natures, and very importantly, it is less touristy. At the end of my trip, I couldn’t agree better! And I’ve got to admit, my eyes are already set on Shangri-La again in the near future!
If getting to Tibet is a huge documentation hassle, the next closest thing could probably be Shangri-La. The enchanting Old Town reminds me of the lost civilization where the locals gather and dance with the local music at the main square daily, the routine can last for hours till late night. Do not miss out the breathtaking view of the Golden Temple and the China’s Largest Tibetan Prayer Wheel showered by the bright moonlight by the night! As a personal preference, Shangri-La owns lots of cafes and bars with distinct decoration that lured my curiosity that I wished I could try them all.
Just 5-km away from the city of Shangri-La, lies the Song Zan Lin Monastery; some might call it the mini Potala Palace! Being a stranger to Tibet, this monastery gave me a sneak peak of the real Potala Palace. The outstanding arts and architectures inside the complex, is enough to give me the chills, it is also residence of 650 monks. To my surprise, the lives of the monks is not as stringent as I imagined to be. The entrance fee is RMB 125, a good deal for this sacred site!
One of the main attractions in Shangri-La is Pu Dacuo National Park; it is the first national park in China that meets the standards of International Union for Conservation of Nature. Unfortunately, Pu Dacuo is just decently good but not great. The lakes (Shudu and Bita), mountains and meadows look extraordinary in other seasons, but just ordinary during Summer! But then again, when you are talking about a costly park entrance fee of RMB 258, it had to be a must-visit once in the lifetime!
No exaggeration, Tiger Leaping Gorge might be one of the most stunning natures I have seen in recent years. The scenic drive proves to be one of the most dangerous in the world too. Parts of the road have no barriers; it is not for the acrophobics. The rainy season adds fresh thrill with landslides and mini waterfalls along the way. My socks were soaked during the drive but I have to admit, the panoramic scene between the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain has got to be the main highlight of my trip. It is no surprise that, this deep and steep river canyon is popular spot for many suicides too.
I can still vividly remember the sound of the strong waves in the Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge, triggers instant goose bumps all over my body; it got me thinking of how complex this universe can be. A decent entrance fee of RMB 65 is totally worth it for all the hoo-hah!
For budget constraints, you might want to consider Kevin’s Trekker Inn (138 Dawa Road). Not only it is a strategic location, the warm hospitality by the knowledgeable Kevin and wife are enough to make your stay totally pleasant. Kevin, if you are reading this, I will definitely see you again!