Sparkling Shangri-La, Tibet

Sparkling Shangri-La, Tibet

I mentioned in my last blog that stepping into the old-town streets of Shangri-La is like stepping into a fairytale. 

Arriving at this magical city on a day with soaring blue skies, cool mountain breezes and bright sunshine, probably has something to do with defining that impression. The longer I stayed, the more I decided that Shangri-La is way more than special.

I found so much to inspire me during my stay. Read on for my highlights!

Shangri-La's Stunning Gem: The ARRO KHAMPA HOTEL

Shangri-La's Stunning Gem: The ARRO KHAMPA HOTEL

Stepping into old-town Shangri-La, Tibet is like stepping into a fairy tale.

As I mentioned in my last blog, Shangri-La (formerly known as Gyalthang or Zhongdian in Chinese) is a 1,300-year-old Tibetan community, which was selected by the Chinese government in 2001 as the location of the mythical Shangri-La from James Hilton’s novel Lost Horizon. I couldn’t wait to see this sanctuary above the clouds.

First Glimpse on the Roof of the World

First Glimpse on the Roof of the World

A three hour drive from Shaxi along curving mountain pass roads brings you to the Tibetan plateau and it’s first major trading site - Zhongdian. The city was renamed Shangri-La, after the Utopian Tibetan location described in Jack Hilton's novel, Lost Horizon.

Along the road north, we stopped at two rest stops. The first was a stunning overlook where you can see the bend in the Yangtze River after its long southeast journey from Tibet. It felt good to stop here and enjoy this magnificent view with the yellow canola fields in bloom along the river.

48 Hours in Shaxi: On The Road to Shangri-La

48 Hours in Shaxi: On The Road to Shangri-La

When I started this blog I intended to begin with one of my favorite photos from my travels through Yunnan - it’s a snapshot of me riding a fluffy white yak, with blue sky and the Himalayas behind me standing as a stunning backdrop.

However, doing that would require me to fast-forward my journey along the Ancient Tea and Horse Road past a delicious 48 hours I spent in a sleepy little town called Shaxi.

Shaxi is a historic market town in Yunnan, known for its famous Sideng market square which was added to the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in 2001. I was lucky to arrive on market day, and got to experience the sights and sounds of this unique place where the local people come from all over the mountainsides to trade and buy their local goods.

However it wasn’t the market day that made this place so memorable for me - it was special because of instead of going along on the day-trip excursions that were planned for the day, I decided to follow my intuition and stay in Shaxi so I could wander, collect color notes, rest, try some restaurants, make photographs and really…..just soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful gem of a town along the road to Tibet.