Pudacuo National Park (Emerald Pagoda Lake & Shudu Lake)

Shudu Lake

Pudacuo National Park, the first China national park, is located about 25km east of Shangri-La. This highland park has its two highlights--freshwater lakes (Emerald Pagoda Lake & Shudu Lake) as well as a visitor center, Tibetan culture villages and pasture views. Park buses (included in the park ticket) frequently transfer between the spots. The best time to tour the park is summer and autumn (June-October), especially the azalea blossoms in June and a riot of color in September.

Shudu Lake (it is the first stop when clockwise touring the park) can be reached by the park bus departing from the visitor center. You can accordingly choose to tour Shudu by walk or bus. There are 2.7 km raised wooden walkways stretching around the 300 acres lake for the strollers to see the lush forest, mountains, lakes, and the fertile pastures that the Tibetan locals graze their yaks from May to October.

Pass the thick wild wood (The scenic view spot on the hill top offers a nice overlook of the lake, snow mountain and the valley) and the vast Militang Pasture will lead you to the bigger lake also the main part of the park--Emerald Pagoda Lake. Along its mostly uphill walkways, you can see the dense deciduous forests and their animal occupiers and meadow dotted with flowers and plants. The summer May to June will see an intriguing sight that the fishes float unconscious for minutes after swallowing the toxic azalea petals.

Emerald Pagoda Lake can be covered via the bus or the stroll or pony ride. The easy tour option is the boat (extra 30 RMB is required) that can be taken at the wharf (minutes' walk from the bus stop), which can take you closer to the lake scene and the little island dotted with a renovated Buddhism chapel. You can have a pony ride from the southern entrance to the lake (2km away from the lake, extra 65RMB for a round trip or 25RMB for a single way is required). Or you can also walk along the winding wooden walkways to experience the scenery on your own footstep.

The park takes at least half day to visit, so food and drink preparation is advised since there is only a park restaurant and some cheap food stands. There is no public transportation to the park and a chartered taxi (single way:100 RMB, round trip:200RMB) for a day trip is advised.