Diqing’s inexplicable solitude refreshes your soul.
Quaint is an inadequate word to describe Shangri-La. However, as you explore the city, you realise that this is another facet of China.
Nearly 11,000 feet above sea level, Shangri-La city, one of the most famous tourist spots in Yunnan Province, gives you a taste of Tibetan weather with its chilly autumn night. Setting afoot at the Diqing Shangri-La Airport, where names of handicraft shops, a few restaurants and scattered stalls are inked in wonderfully intricate strokes of the local language (with Pinyin and English translation, of course), a mystical world unfolds.
Hylandia by Shangri-La, an enchanting hidden gem at the heart of Shangri-La city, the grandiosity of the Tibetan-Chinese inspired architecture, infused with the modern signature interiors of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, is the perfect haven for travellers in search of solitude, serenity and their own interpretation of paradise.
Nature, Art and Transcendence
In Diqing, the Tibetan life manifests in every corner. The architecture of the houses and buildings shows a mixture of traditional Chinese-Tibetan inspired structures, like the wooden posts, beams and rooftops, as well as the rustic bricks and stones and cobblestoned pavements. Whether you need a break for soul-searching or want to honeymoon with your loved one, this is the perfect place. Step into a laid-back countryside, away from the bustle of urban life, and find time to reconnect with yourself and nature.
From Hylandia by Shangri-La hotel’s spacious rooms, a spectacular view overlooks the expansive mountainous range and lush pasture, whilst blue skies and cotton candy-like clouds hover over the houses and buildings with solar panels on their penthouses, roof decks and rooftops. At night, the silence and solitude permeating the neighbourhood is a sweet sound to the ears.
Remember Chicika Street – this is where the adventure starts. Hylandia can be your landmark because it is located at the city centre, about 15 minutes away by car from the airport. A short walk across the street leads you to an artificial lake where a tall swan statue sits at the centre pompously. For quite some time, it has borne witness to all the lovers who have passed by, of men and children wearing thick frocks and coats, and young ones who have posed in front of it for pictures.
Travel Back in Time
From this street, a short walk to the Old Town as you pass by Tancheng Square and beyond is a stretch of restaurants serving Tibetan and Chinese hotpots and cuisine. Café shops, tea houses, dry goods and novelty stores sprawl to your destination until you see that sign, “Shambhala Old Street”. You will find good buys of novelty items, handcrafted souvenirs, leather goods and organic food at the Pansy Ho Handicraft Centre.
Moving forward, at the Thanka Academy, step into the transcendent Tibetan art depicting the mystic gods in their fullness. A comfortable pair of boots or shoes will be your lifesaver as you saunter along and experience the chilly high-altitude weather. Most of the tourist attractions are quite far from each other; however, you can take the local bus to see scenic spots, hail a taxi, join group tours or perhaps rent a bike from Hylandia for a day’s worth of adventure.
The National Museum of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture houses the rich history of Tibetan religious mysticism, culture and practices and tribes. One replica portrait of a Lijiang woman in chiselled marble stone reflects the sombre past, yet the colourful walls, paintings and masks reflect the strong influence of Buddhism and the sacredness of the preserved Tibetan art. By dusk, join the locals at the square as they usher the night in with a merry Tibetan dance (especially when it’s good weather), a picturesque sight of a bright moonlit sky perhaps infused with a bit of nostalgia amidst the boisterous evening.
Quaint is an inadequate word to describe Shangri-La. However, as you explore the city, you realise that this is another facet of China; it is a world where the new meets old, where despite the antiquity of the surroundings and attractions, it is also a developing locale.
Tips, tricks and attractions:
- Hot ginger tea will acclimate your body in high altitude. Relax and take a deep breath in case you feel a bit dizzy. Drink warm or hot drinks and avoid hot showers to cope.
- Walk slowly to avoid altitude sickness. Saunter if you must while exploring nearby places.
- Some of the key attractions are the Songzanlin Monastery, where you can take a bus to see the impressive gargantuan temple. You may also visit Napa Lake for horseback riding, biking and walks. The Golden Temple at the Old Town Centre, and the Baiji Temple are must-sees.
- It’s best to book your bus ahead if you plan to go to the National Park. A half-day visit is ideal, and you can join group tours.
- Try exotic yak meat – you can buy dried meat at the Old Town shops as souvenirs for friends or try it at the hotel buffet.
- Feeling a bit cold? Take a plunge into Hylandia’s indoor heated swimming pool or, better yet, spend a quiet afternoon at the enchanting Winter Room.
- Keep yourself warm and apply ample sunscreen. During the summer months, bring your umbrella as it rains frequently.