|Shangri-La, the fictional place created by British author James Hilton in his 1933 novel "Lost Horizon" finds its real life model in Qiqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China's Yunnan province. Shangri-La is one of the three counties under the prefecture. It changed its name from Zhongdian to Shangri-La in 2001 to boost tourism.
A cluster of low-rise village houses embraced by surrounding mountains, Shangri-La has all the otherworldly qualities described in "Lost Horizon". Boasting majestic natural scenery of snow-capped mountains, pristine alpine lakes and wide spreading grasslands, Shangri-La has been a popular travel destination with young backpackers from home and abroad.
In 2007, the Shangri-La Ski Resort opened, turning another page for local tourism. Constructed at an altitude of over 3300 meters, the resort provides a welcome activity in addition to sightseeing for the region's comparatively quiet winter tourism industry.
With a capacity to house one thousand people and equipped with top facilities, the ski resort attracts tourists and local Tibetans alike.
Because of its close location to the equator, temperatures at Shangri-La are much warmer than other ski resorts in northern Chinese cities. Temperatures may nosedive at night, but daytime temperatures can allow for comfortable skiing in T-shirts.
Starting from 2008, the resort has been hosting a ski festival each winter. Ski competitions have even drawn contenders from Europe.
Tickets: Tickets are 80 to 100 yuan per hour.
How to get there: Shangri-La is one hour by air from Kunming, capital city of Yunnan province
Major cities in China have flights to the Shangri-La airport.
CRI | January 16, 2012