Deqin County Travel Tips

Deqin is to the very north of Yunnan on the borders of Tibet to the west, Sichuan to the east and Myanmar to the southwest. At an altitude of 3550m, Deqin is a small Tibetan town and the administrative center for this remote region, 80% of its inhabitants are Tibetan. Down in the town the three streets were dirty and shabby.

Deqin is a dead end as far as foreigners go. The border with Tibet is closed to foreigners and the only reason for coming to Deqin is to admire the grand Meili Snow Mt. (Kawakarpo) and to feel its Shangri-La mystique. If you can deal with the altitude it makes a great place to hike from. If you can’t then just hanging out in town is also very rewarding.

The Conservancy’s Bob Moseley has set up shop here, the only foreigner in town, and the locals are quite proud to have him. Bob, his local staff and his Yunnan government colleagues are developing innovative ways to cut the local dependence on firewood.

Getting there & away

Take daily buses running between Shangri-La(Zhongdian) and Deqin for Y38. The journey takes about 5 hours through spectacular mountain scenery. Most buses stop to allow photo opportunities. The route includes scaling a 4200m mountain pass and offers some great views of the edge of the Himalayas. 

For leaving, a seat on a local bus to Lhasa costs Y500 for three days, as no sleeper buses are yet available. Non-Chinese visitors without permits for travel to Tibet may be able to buy a ticket and board a bus, but travelling to the region is illegal and you are likely to be fined and sent back to Yunnan (or even asked to leave the country) if caught entering Tibet without a permit. 

Another road out of town runs down the Mekong river towards the small town of Weixi, the larger towns of Baoshan and Liuku on the upper Salween or Nujiang river.

Getting away by bus: Bus station: 0887-8413322

Departure Destinations
Departure time
Deqin Zhongdian (Shangri-La) 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 12:00 180 km, 6 hours. Y35. Lunch at Benzilan.
Lijiang, Kunming 11:00 (sleeper) Take a bus to Zhongdian early in the morning, you will find easily a bus to Lijiang or Kunming upon arriving at Zhongdian in the late afternoon.
Yanjing 8:30 Y35
Mangkang in Tibet 8:00 Y73. If the passengers are not enough, the service can be cancelled even at the moment when the bus is due to depart.
Cizhong 7:30 14:00 Y21, 81km
Weixi 7:00 Y50, 227km
Xidang 8:00, 15:00 Y14, To go to Yubeng.
Mingyong 8:00, 15:00 Y14, To visit Mingyong Glacier.
Xidang Deqin 8:00, 16:00 The second bus might leave early if there are enough passengers.
Mingyong Deqin 8:00, 16:00  
Meilishui Deqin 15:00 Y13. Meilishui : The finish point of big Kora.

In this remote Tibetan town, only the bus service between Deqin and Zhongdian can be guaranteed. Other links are dependent on the weather and road conditions and the number of passengers. To know the number of passengers, the bus station sells the tickets first. If the passengers are not enough, the service can be cancelled even at the moment when the bus is due to depart.

Getting Around

The town has one through road winding down from the North side. Small enough to get around on foot, the elevation combined with the fact that the town is set on a steep slope may be enough to convince some visitors to take a taxi. 

Local taxis are generally unmetered, with prices discussed before departure. 


Slightly more expensive than in neighboring Zhongdian. Though a range of  budget options are available, most travellers at this altitude will prefer the comfort of a private room and a hot shower.

Dexin Tibetan Hotel, 86 Nanping Jie Left out of the bus station about 30m. Nice family run hotel that is able to have foreign tourists. Y80/double ensuite room, Y20/dorm (as of2006). 

The Tibetan Hotel charges Y60 – Y80 for a std. dbl-bed room.


  • Benzilan

    lies between Zhongdian and Deqin further north on the road to Tibet, a pleasant Tibetan town standing on a narrow strip of land on the west bank of the Jinsha River. Used to be an important tradingpost on the ancient Tea & Horse Route for exporting tea from northwest Yunanan to Tibet.

    Another geographic importance of the town is, it’s on the bordering point of Sichuan and Yunnan.  From here, Sichuan is just a bridge away, on the other side the the river.

    Get there – the lunch stop on route from Zhongdian to Deqin, buses stop without request.

  • Dongzhulin monastery 

    22 km north of Benzilan, situated on a large rocky piece at the backdrop of a massive mountain range. Deep in the valley flows the Yangtze River.  Built in 1667, considered to be one of 13 great Lama temples in China. 

    The four-story main hall is made of wood. The 6.8m high figure of Qiangba is on the second floor together with a figure of Sakyamuni, which is 10.5m high. The crown, the pearls, and gems inlaid in the chest of the figure are presents from Sela Temple in Lhasa. Another treasure in Dongzhulin Temple is a huge Tangka, a kind of traditional Tibetan picture, usually drawn on paper or cloth, which is 8.5m long and 5.2m wide and made of colorful silk thread. Buddhist doctrine is inscribed on the Tangka. 

    The monastery was destroyed during the cultural revolution but nowadays almost restored with the help of the 300 residing monks.

    Get there: Take a bus from Zhongdian heading to Deqing and get off at the Monastery.  3 minutes’ walk to arrive.

    Admission: Y10

  • Baimang Snow Mountain

    a well-preserved natural resort with typical views of vertical belts. Located in the mid section of the Hengdgun Mountain range in Diqing County, all of the peaks here are above 4000 meters with the highest topping 5430m.

    An imposing view of the mountain can be seen on approaching the area. The nature reserve here consists of vast virgin forests, ripe with animals, plants and other geogrpahical wonders. As a result of this, Shangri-La has become something of a Mecca for botanists and zoologists. The area also exerts a strong magnetic force on ordinary travelers, who swarm here in late summer and autumn to appreciate the natural beauty of the region.

    Note: The attraction is not accessible bewteen December and April when the roads are closed due to heavy snow.

    Get there: The highway between Zhongdian and Deqing cuts through the Baimang nature reserve, and most of the scenic spots are located on both sides of the highway. If you take the bus from Zhongdian to Deqing, the natural beauty can be seen from the bus, but the best way to really appreciate this spot is to hire a car from Zhongdian and stop at the reserve en route to Meili Mountain.