China is an enormous country. The world’s most populous nation is a case study in contradiction. Gleaming skyscrapers dot the Shanghai skyline while the garrison at Jiayuguan has guarded the country’s western approaches since the Ming Dynasty. Time seems frozen in Shangri-La, deep in remote Yunnan Province. Beijing’s modern architecture rises above centuries old, densely-packed hutongs. Everywhere you go you find a country constantly moving towards the future yet never managing to escape its past. In this short guide, we provide our recommendations to those places that captured our imagination. Places that stuck in our heart and minds long after we left. This is our insider’s travel guide to contemporary China.
Napa Lake: Lake in summer and meadow in winter
Located in the northwestern part of Shangri-La County, Napa Lake is a seasonal alpine lake. During the rainy summer and autumn it is a large lake, surrounded by a small swamp pasture. The dry winter and spring months see the lake gradually shrink and turn into a large swamp meadow, called “Yila Grassland”.
Meili Snow Mountain: The First of Holy Mountains Whose Summit Have Yet to Be Reached
The Meili Snow Mountain sits at the region where the Jinsha River, Lancang River and Nujiang River flow in parallel, whose main peak, Kawa Bogegard, rises to 6740 meters, the highest peak in Yunnan Province. As the head of the eight holy Tibetan mountains, Meili is a sacred pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists. People who come here are proud to see it in full. Meili Snow Mountain is still a virgin peak that has not been summited, and a place where countless mountaineering teams have been buried. The most painful event happened in 1991 when the 17 members of the Sino-Japanese joint mountaineering team were all killed. In 1996, the Chinese government banned the climbing of Meili Mountain, returning the holy mountain to its eternal peace.
The Land Closest to the Heavens
Not to be Missed: Autumn in Pudacuo Shangri-La: the Lost Horizon. Picture vast emerald fields, sparkling lakes and colorful Tibetan prayer flags dancing with the wind. The devout on their knees, kissing the sacred ground, mountains and waters - such a sight has hardly changed in the millions of years that have passed.And those clouds hanging by the mountains peaks? They look like they can be blown away with just the gentlest breath of air. Recommended route: There are many holiday routes one can embark on throughout Yunnan. The Shangri-La trail tops them all.This is the site where three famous rivers of China run parallel to each other — Yangtze, Lancang and Nujiang rivers.You'll need at least a week to thoroughly soak up the magnificent views.