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Introduction & Highlights

Dukezong Ancient Town is a Tibetan town in Shangri-la County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, that was first constructed in the 7th century as a stopping point on the Tea Horse Road and a station for Han-Tibetan trade. It is the largest and best-preserved of 147 Tibetan counties in China.

Human settlements have existed in Shangri-la since the Paleolithic period. A tribal society lived in the region during the Western Zhou Dynasy of 1100-771 BC. In the 7th century the Tubo Regime conquered the surrounding region oof Deqin and built Dukezong.

The 1.6 square-kilometer town was designed in the shape of an eight-petal lotus flower in accordance with Tibetan Buddhist geomantic theory, with its 1,084 houses radiating outward from its center at Turtle Hill.

The town is made up of traditional Tibetan homes, ancient temples and pagodas, with narrow alleyways winding among them, and buildings decorated with Tibetan prayer flags of many colors. In Dukezong visitors can have an authentic experience of Tibetan culture.

Dukezong is also known as the White Stone City. Early in the town's history white clay was discovered in the region that could be used to make white paint.

Tibetans regard the shade of white as a sign of respect for their ancestors, the ancient Qiang people, who worshipped white stones, so they painted all the buildings white.

On clear nights Dukezong reflects the moonlight with a silver sheen, which has earned the town the name Moonlight City.

The best way to experience Dukezong is to walk along its many winding pathways among the historical buildings, homes, markets and shops, which sell a great variety of indigenous products, including jewelry, thangka paintings, incense and crafts.

Dukezong also has a number of teahouses and restaurants serving authentic local cuisine, as well as bars that celebrate the nightlife of the old town.

Close to Dukezong Ancient Town is Guishan Park, which is the site of an impressive Tibetan Buddhist temple with expansive views overlooking the town. The temple has a huge gilded prayer wheel decorated with images of Buddhist deities and symbols. The prayer wheel is so big that it takes at least six people to spin it.


Shangri-la County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province.

Travel Tips

Dukezong Ancient Town is located in Diqing, Yunnan, in the northwest of Yunnan province, 700 kilometers from Kunming. It's in the southern part of Shangri-La city, a short drive or walk from downtown. Dukezong can be visited all year round, though summer is generally preferred because it's warmer then. The town is built at the foot of a mountain at 3,200 meters altitude, so be prepared for the temperature to drop at night.