Shangri-La tips

name confusion
plus other tidbits


More Shangri-La
tips and insights

Zhongdian name confusion

Originally, Zhongdian bore a Tibetan name, Gyelthang (or Jianthang). In 1957, it was officially changed to the Chinese name Zhongdian. However, most local Tibetans still call their city by its earlier name.

Recently, Zhongdian Town was officially renamed Shangri-La (Xiangelila) for tourism purposes. However, most visitors (and many residents) still refer to it as Zhongdian.

Birth of the mountains

The tall, jagged peaks of Shangri-La were created by the same geological forces that formed the neighboring Himalayan Mountains (eons ago the vast tectonic Indian continental plate began sliding under the Asian one - and this process continues today, slowly elevating the mountains even higher).


Shangri-La's high altitude means there is less atmosphere to filter out the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. Therefore, it is easy to get sunburned without knowing it at the time, so wear a hat and apply a high-SPF sunscreen. I also recommend wearing sunglasses outdoors on sunny days. This advice is valid for Lijiang and Deqin as well.

Learn my other
Lijiang/Shangri La
tips and insights

Top 5- Nearby attraction - Ranked
Tips - When to go and not go
Tips - Avoiding altitude sickness
Tips - Mountain cable car ride
Tips - More
Tips - Some more
Lijiang insights
Photo gallery

Top 5  attractions - Ranked
Tips - When to go
Tips - Getting to Shangri-La
Tips - Zhongdian name confusion
Shangri-La insights
Photo gallery

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