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Introduction & Highlights

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery sits on a hilltop overlooking Lamuyangcuo Lake near the foot of Foping Mountain in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan province. It's the largest monastery in Yunnan and is considered the most important monastery in all of southwest China.

Dating back to 1679, this imposing and richly ornate Tibetan Buddhist monastery is located only 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) from the county of Shangri-La, at a lofty elevation of 3,380 meters (11,090 feet).

The beloved monument is also known by various other names, such as "Songzanlin Monastery," "Guihua Monastery" and "Little Potala Palace," in reference to its similarity to the Potala Palace in Lhasa, of which it is a faithful replica.

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery has been home to monks for more than 300 years, and today there are more than 700 monks of the Gelug Yellow Hat sect living there.

The monastery is a majestic complex of many structures, including two main halls and eight smaller colleges, built in stunning Tibetan architectural style.

The entrance to the main hall is at the top of a stairway of 146 steps. Inside the walls are adorned with gorgeous frescoes with intricate depictions of Buddhist stories of the ancient past.

The countryside surrounding the monastery is an attraction all to itself, a glorious, spiritually uplifting pastoral setting in which visitors can walk around the serenely beautiful Lamuyangcuo Lake.


Jingxiang Road, Jiantang Town, Shangri-La County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province, China

Travel Tips

Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, also known as Songzanlin Monastery, is located about 8 kilometers (5 miles) north of Shangri-La City. There is no direct bus to the scenic area, but the No.3 bus goes to the station near Shangri-La Coach Station in about 40 minutes. From that point you can go 2 kilometers more to Songzanlin Monastery.

The best way to travel to Ganden Sumtseling Monastery is by private car or taxi. That way you can get right to the scenic area and can stay as long as you like.