Bordered by the lush hills of Myanmar and Laos and the mountains of Tibet, Yunnan is a crossroads of spectacular landscapes and vibrant culture. The tropical south rises into sharp peaks and deep river gorges along the western edge, while to the east, a high plateau rolls toward Sichuan province. Diqin Tibetan Autonomous Region is set in the province’s northwest reaches, and the county of Shangri-La—until somewhat recently known as Zhongdian—is perched on a high plateau at its heart.
The area’s highlights are both natural and cultural and the lodge offers a wide array of guided excursions to get you to them. Some of the must-see sites include the Tiger Leaping Gorge, a narrow chasm with a deeper drop than that of the Grand Canyon; the Sonzanling Monastery; and the nearby Pudacuo National Park and Napa Lake. See a full list of excursions.
Yunnan’s striking diversity of topography and climate zones makes it the richest province in China when it comes to wildlife. Nearly 800 varieties of bird can be found here, as well as hundreds of fish and mammal species, including musk deer and red pandas. While Banyan Tree Ringha is nestled amid the swells of the lovely Ringha River valley, snowcapped peaks and dramatic canyons are not far.
Located at the far eastern edge of the Tibetan plateau, this part of Yunnan is ethnically Tibetan, and the culture is evident in the architecture, the food, the religious sites, and the traditions. Here, it is customary to be offered a ceremonial Tibetan scarf, or khata, as a sign of respect and welcome and to be invited to join the ritual of drinking butter tea. Yunnan is home to many of China’s ethnic minorities, such as the Naxi and the Bai, and the area around Shangri-la is home to the Yi, whose villages can be found in the surrounding mountains.
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