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China -> Shangri-la (Zhongdian)
Shangri-la (Zhongdian)  
Yunnan Province

Claiming to be the real Shangri-la, the city of Zhongdian officially changed its name in 2002 to recognize this. Shangri-la is also the capital of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Region and worth a stop if you are not able to visit Tibet. Though the town doesn't live up to the visions of paradise that its name suggests, there is an interesting section of Tibetan buildings in town, as well as the largest Tibetan monastery in the Southwest. GandenSumtselingGompa was built by the fifth Dalai Lama almost 400 years ago. It was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and re-opened in 1981. Today, nearly 600 monks reside there. This is also a starting point for many trips into the Tibetan plateau.

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