WOW. That's my summary in 3 letters. We traveled last December between 3 lodges: Meili => Benzilan => and Shangrila last, and we absolutely LOVED anything about our stay at the Shangrila retreat.
First the surroundings are breathtakingly beautiful: the lodge is located RIGHT NEXT (5 mn walk) to the gorgeous Songzanlin Temple, which is the 2d biggest Buddhist temple after the Potthala in Lhasa, Tibet. The lodge is located in front of a small beautiful and quiet lake ,that you can explore by foot easily. The decoration inside the lodge is fantastic: warm tones, rich tibetan fabrics and carpets, beautiful wooden flooring. Feels out of time. The staff, as in all the Songtsam lodges we visited, was absolutely competent and delightful, anticipating any of our needs quietly, efficiently. We were quickly shown to our room, at the last floor (we indulged in one of their best rooms, for our birthday): amazing views from our small balcony, everything in the room was tastefully chosen and designed: the cosy tea table with hand-made tea sets, complimentary tea leaves and dried camomille flowers, the rugs, the bed linen, the bathroom amenities with hand-made soap...everything up to the smallest details and room temperature was perfect, and made from high quality material. Unlike Meili and Benzilan lodge, the room rate doesn't include the 3 meals, since there are many dining options in the Shangrila small town, so we only tried breakfast: beautiful buffet with extensive selection of local and western delicacies, including a traditional Tibetan dish with explanations on how to eat (loved that cultural touch!). Everything was fresh, tasty and fully satisfactory. The dining hall was spacious and beautifully decorated too, the staff attentive.
We have absolutely LOVED our stay there and would recommend it to anybody in need of a serious break from the busy life, including families (lots of cool activities to do with the kiddos, like bike, walk, bird watch, temple visit etc...). The place is indeed perfect for lovebirds, as well as solo-travelers in need of inspiration for meditation, writing, self reflection...it seems odd to write, but the proximity of the Songzanlin temple somehow provides a deep sense of peace and harmony, some strong good vibrations that make you...just feel good. Try it by yourself.
Now a couple of hopefully helpful tips:
- You definitely don't want to miss visiting the Songzanlin temple: it is next door, and another cool stuff is that the ticket prices are cheaper if you book FROM the lodge directly. You can easily wander for a full morning or afternoon in the temple: it is really big, with many rooms to visit. Don't run out on camera battery! And remember you can't shoot in the praying rooms.
- The next BEST attraction for us was to go to the Shangrila old town. While you can ask the hotel to drive you, we found much more fun to take the bus: just grab the # 3 bus departing right in front of the Temple, and ask the driver with your best Foreigner's smile "GU CHENG" (pronounced "goo cheung" It means "old town"). Stay close to the driver and don't worry, he will somehow manage to make you understand its time to get out of the bus ;-) Price is only 1 Yuan / person.
- Going back from old town to the lodge: there are taxis easily found. Keep the hotel name in Chinese handy, and make sure they switch on the meter-counter. If its too late and you need to bargain, prices shouldn't' go any higher than 30 RMB for day 40 RMB night / single trip.
- The old town is a very cool maze of small streets with lots of fun shops, bars and restaurants: THE perfect place for souvenir shopping.
- What to shop? Tibetan Saffron (I didn't know Tibet was one of the biggest producers!), silver carved jewels (but negotiate hard on price!!), Yak dried meat (tasty, lean and high protein content), traditional Tibetan bells and singing bowls, Tibetan knives, Yunnan Pu'er tea, knitted yak wool stuff...
- Traditional Tibetan knife: be careful, as beautiful as they are, the blades are extremely sharp, and most airlines won't allow you to bring it back, even in a checked-in luggage. So negotiate to have it sent to you by mail. Serious shops definitely know about this constraint, and will offer logistics solutions. Any seller that tells you "check-in no problem!" = WRONG! Seek advice from the lodge.
- And now I'm going to give some lucky Trip Advisors' readers MY secret little shop...the coolest discovery I made in Shangrila : the place is called "DROPENLING" and sells amazing traditional Tibetan crafts at affordable price: hand-made puppets for kids (dragon, tiger, Tibetan dog...) made from very high quality fabric, stuffed toys, yak cashmere scarf, cushion covers etc...they even received the prestigious UNESCO award of excellence for their design. Everything is handmade by Tibetan artisans, so you do a good deed while bringing back the coolest present EVER to your loved ones! Prices: 150-300 RMB for puppets, 30-60 for small coin purse, 500-700 RMB for cashmere scarf with infinity know pattern. Address: # 18 Cengfang Street. Website: www.tibetcrafts.com
Find it! Or email me for detailed map.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Songtsam Lodge at Shangri-la (Songtsam Lvgu Hotel) is the flagship lodge of Songtsam Lodges - a series of luxury boutique lodges built in pristine and beautiful locations in Yunnan.Songtsam Shangri-la (3,280m) is situated right next to the Songzanlin Monastery, the largest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan province. The lodge is housed in a traditional Tibetan dwelling within this typical, self-sufficient Tibetan farming village where the founder of Songtsam, Baima Dorjie, spent his childhood. Songtsam Shangro-la has hosted thousands of intrepid travelers from all over the world in the past 10 years. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Songtsam Hotel Shangri La County
- Songtsam Shangri-La (Lugu) Hotel Shangri-La County, China - Yunnan