Songzanlin Monastery and Napa Lake Experience, Zhongdian

The best way to experience the Songzanlin Monastery and Napa Lake is to enlist the help of a private guide that will expertly lead you around this fascinating area of Yunnan.

Your day starts at the Tibetan Songzanlin Monastery, home to over 600 Yellow Hat monks. This incredible red and gold monastery was originally built in 1679 but was reconstructed following catastrophic damage during the Cultural Revolution in 1983. Your tour will guide you through this enormous building, with plenty of time to admire the sculptures and frescoes that fill the cloisters. After a thorough investigation of the monastery, you’ll have a chance to enjoy the serene lake views outside for a little while before your explorations continue.

After a full appreciation of this incredible monastery, you’ll hike to the Napahai Natural Lake Reserve. It’s around 8 kilometres from Zhongdian (or Shangri-La, as it’s also known) and is a beautiful area of grassland, swamps and meadows. Your guide will point out the rare wildlife that have made this area home. There are little villages on your route that you’ll visit, soaking up the fascinating local culture.


  • Visit the majestic Songzanlin Monastery, home to 600 Yellow Hat monks

  • Hike through the Napahai Natural Lake Reserve, enjoying the scenery and spotting wildlife as you go

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I became fluent in Mandarin during my time living, studying and working in China. From there I travelled to every corner of China and explored Japan and Taiwan. Beijing is my favourite city, I love finding amazing places to eat and trying new dishes.