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Pudacuo National Park – China’s First National Park

Pudacuo National Park, also referred to as Potatso National Park, is in Shangri-La County, Yunnan. It became widely known as China’s first national park to meet the standards of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Pudacuo National Park is a paradise on Earth with an area of over 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers). You’ll find yourself placed in a painting, with continuous snow mountains around you, grasslands and pastures extending beyond the horizon, and vast, clear lakes reflecting the sky.

In the Tibetan language, Potatso means reaching the opposite side of the lake on a boat with divine help. Bita Lake and Shudu Lake are two major parts of the park. The clarity of the lakes and serene atmosphere will make your experience feel almost surreal.

Potatso National Park is a priceless ecological treasure. It is a safe haven for many rare and endangered species including leopards, cranes, macaques, and lynxes. A trip to Pudacuo National Park of Yunnan Shangri-La will remind you of our deep connection with nature.

Pudacuo National Park in Autumn
Pudacuo National Park in Autumn

Fast Facts of Pudacuo National Park

  • Location: Shangri-La County, Yunnan, China; about 13.6 miles (22 kilometers) east of downtown Shangri-La
  • Altitude: 11483-13645 feet (3500-4159 meters)
  • Ticket price: CNY 138 (CNY 68 for entrance to the park and CNY 70 for sightseeing tour bus)
  • Hours: 7:30 am (from April to October)/8:30 am (from November to March)-4pm
  • Visit time: a day
  • Highlights: Bita Lake and Shudu Lake, snow mountains, forests, plant lives of different seasons, animal sightings
  • Suited to: nature lovers, photographers, hikers


What to See and Do in Pudacuo National Park

Pudacuo National Park has three major scenic areas, Bita Lake, Shudu Lake, and Militang Pasture. The sightseeing bus will take you around the attractions.

1. Bita Lake

Bita Lake is famous for its gorgeous emerald waters. A legend goes that Bita Lake was once a piece of mirror belonged to a goddess in heaven. It is surrounded by lush forests, century-old pines and cypress, and snow-capped peaks in the distance. Also note the colorful Tibetan prayer flags on the sides, adding a touch of spirituality to the moment.

There’s a small islet in the lake where different species of birds stop and rest. When azaleas bloom in late spring and summer, their petals get carried into the water by the wind, attracting plenty of fish.

You can choose to walk around the lake on the wooden boardwalk for about 2.6 miles (4.2 kilometers). Or if you’re short on time, hop on a boat ride across the late for CNY 50.

Pudacuo National Park Bita Lake
Bita Lake

2. Shudu Lake

You’ll find herds of cattle, yaks, and sheep grazing around Shudu Lake. Various kinds of fish reside in the water. The forests surrounding the lake are home to many rare animals such as musk deer, bears, leopards, and golden cats. Also, keep an eye out for numerous bird species and the elusive Yunnan snub-nosed monkey.

Similar to Bita Lake, you can take a stroll along the lakeside trail which is about 2 miles (3.3 kilometers) long, or take a boat across the lake for CNY 50.

3. Militang Pasture

Militang Pasture is the largest grassland in Potatso National Park that lies between Bita Lake and Shudu Lake. “Militang” in Tibetan means “Buddha’s eye,” referring to the shape of the pasture.

On the viewing platform for visitors, you will see lush grass, wetland, and a number of brooks running through the pasture, as well as yaks and sheep grazing in leisure. The grassland is home to many mushrooms and wildflowers. When the flowers bloom in spring and summer, the grassland, like the universe lit up with stars, attracts many visitors and photographers.

4. Exploring the Forests

Many nature lovers visit Pudacuo National Park for its forests. The well-maintained trails attract a lot of hikers each year. The ancient woods are full of plant lives and wild animals. You’ll catch sight of different birds and butterflies. Tread carefully among the amazing wildflowers that dot the forest floor.

There is a variety of hiking routes of different distances and difficulty. You can choose one that fits your itinerary the best.


Best Time to Visit Pudacuo National Park

The best time to travel to Shangri-La in Yunnan and visit Potatso National Park is from April to October, which is the peak tourist season. The weather will be nice and there will be less rainfall. The whole park comes to life when the flowers bloom in spring.

Winter at Pudacuo National Park tends to be cold, and the temperature drops below zero, but the park will turn into a fairyland covered in white snow. Its peace and tranquility also make it worth a visit.


Attractions Nearby Pudacuo National Park

Songzanlin Monastery is just a short distance from Potatso National Park. Tibetan Buddhism seeps through almost every aspect of the local life. Experience the spirituality in the grand halls of the monastery adorned with colorful murals and intricate statues.

Dukezong Ancient Town is a charming Tibetan town with winding alleys, traditional architecture, and vibrant local culture. See the ancient Tibetan-Mongolian-style buildings. Have a look through local handicrafts and artifacts shops. And indulge in the flavors of Tibetan cuisine.


How to Get to Pudacuo National Park

The nearest airport to Pudacuo National Park is Diqing Shangri-La Airport (DIG). Then take a taxi or a coach to the park. A taxi ride will take about 40-50 minutes.

If you’re traveling from downtown Shangri-La, take a direct coach to the park from Shangri-La Coach Station for only CNY 15. The service operates daily in both directions. Coaches are also available from other cities like Kunming, Lijiang, or Dali.

Once you arrive at the park, sightseeing buses will take you around the park’s scenic spots.


Yunnan Shangri-La Tours to Pudacuo National Park

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