Balagezong - Shangri-la Grand Canyon

Balagezong Scenic Area, located about 31 miles (50km) northwest of Shangri-la County, belongs to Hongshan Section in the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas. It earns very high admiration for the mysterious ancient Bala Village, hospitable villagers, holy snow mountains, plank road over Gangqu River, and precipitous gorges, especially Shangri-la Grand Canyon. It is a pure land isolated from the outside world, waiting for visitors to discover its unique beauty with rich Tibetan culture.

Walking through the gate, you might notice there is a luxuriantly green bodhi tree. Having gone through three thousand years of rain and wind, the tree is still strong and vigorous. Interestingly, there is a branch resembling a hand of the Buddha, protruding from the trunk. Signifying epiphany and wisdom, the bodhi tree has long been regarded divine, attracting endless stream of Buddhism followers to pray here.

Balagezong Scenic Area spans an area of 43,490 acres (176 square kilometers) and only part of it is open to tourists. By shuttle buses in the scenic area, visitors can get access to Bala Village, Shangri-la Grand Canyon, and Heaven-leading Gorge.

Bala Village

The first stop you will arrive at is Bala Village on the mountainside. It is the only village in this vast land in the past years. Tibetan scripture records that millions of years ago, a group of people tried to find an ideal place without wars and miseries. After innumerable hardships they finally settled down in the Bala Village. Till now, it is still a secluded land with Tibetan wood houses. At the end of the village, colorful sutra streamers around Marnyi stones sway in the wind. In the distance, Balagezong Snow Mountain can be seen dimly through the mist, making the village more attractive.

Shangri-la Grand Canyon

After visiting the village, you will have a thrilling journey in gorges. It is said that the Blue Moon Valley described in the book Lost Horizon is within this scenic area. The U-shaped Shangri-la Grand Canyon, formerly called Birang Grand Canyon, is the main gorge with distinctive vertical climate. Various terrain veins and foldings form a natural cliff painting. In the primitive forests, rare flowers and herbs are scattered around grotesque vines and age-old trees. When the rain falls or the snow on the mountain melts, the water converges to waterfalls pouring down from the cliffside. Strolling in the narrow gorge with a profusion of trees, one will feel that he is in a tropical rainforest. Also, it is a breathtaking experience to walk on the plank road for an hour, with Gangqu River running beneath. After the visit, visitors can walk back along the plank road or take a raft in the river at the cost of CNY 120 per person.

Heaven-leading Gorge

What waits you is a branch gorge of Shangri-la Grand Canyon - Nanka Zhuorong Gorge whose name means a gorge leading to the heaven in Tibetan language. Therefore, it is also called Heaven-leading Gorge or Tongtian Gorge. The gorge actually leads to Balagezong Snow Mountain, a sacred mountain. With a drop of over 11,500 feet (3505m), two cliffs stand opposite to each other almost vertically. Heaven-leading Gorge is so narrow and deep that you can only see a strip of sky overhead. In the gorge you will find an echo wall enabling sounds to reverberate for a long time.

The greatness of Balagezong is more than what mentioned above; the rest needs to be discovered by hiking. However, with a high altitude and harsh conditions, hiking in the Balagezong Scenic Area is a highly demanding task.

Balagezong Snow Mountain

The pyramid-shaped Balagezong Snow Mountain is a holy mountain among Tibetans, thus attracting lots of pilgrims every year. With an altitude of 17,408 feet (5306m), it is the highest mountain in Shangri-la County. Three snow-clad peaks, which are believed to be the incarnations of three daughters of a mountain God, tower into the clouds against the sunshine. The white snow and clouds floating on the clear sky make the mountain all the more sacred and mysterious, presenting a shocking view.

Around the peaks, there are perpetual glaciers. The glacier tongue can reach down to 12,100 feet (3,688m). Besides, 18 plateau lakes scatter around Balagezong Snow Mountain. They are as pure as jade in this land.

Shangri-la Stupa

At the northeast of the snow mountain stands the Shangri-la Stupa. It is actually a mountain resembling a round-based stupa and two mountains beside it look like a Lama and an unfolding sutra. As the only natural stupa all over the world, it enjoys a great reputation.

How to get to Balagezong

Tourism buses bound for Balagezong Scenic Area are available at the north gate of Dukezong Ancient Town in Shangri-la County. Generally speaking, they depart at 8:30 from March to October and at 9:00 from November to the next February. The fare is CNY 50 for a round trip. It takes about one and half an hour for a single trip.
Admission Fee CNY 210 (CNY 150 for entrance ticket and CNY 60 for the shuttle bus).
Children below 3.6 feet (1.1m) can enter for free.
Opening Hours 8:00 - 19:00
Recommended Time for a Visit 0.5 - 1 day
- Last updated on Dec. 30, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Balagezong - Shangri-la Grand Canyon
Asked by ver from INDONESIA | Dec. 02, 2023 02:06Reply
is there bus from lijiang to balagezong?
How can I go to balagezong from Lijiang? and is there a schecule for bus leaving from balagezong to shangri la?
Answers (1)
Answered by Harry | Dec. 04, 2023 01:24

There is no bus available and the best way is to hire a car.
Asked by Fendy from INDONESIA | Nov. 15, 2023 19:38Reply
Balagezong in 3rd Weeks of December
Hi, How difficult and how cold would it be in Balagezong in the 3rd week of december normally? Please advise thanks
Answers (1)
Answered by Kelly | Nov. 16, 2023 22:56

Generally, the temperature will range about -10 - 5C. So you'd better prepare some warm clothes, scarves, and gloves.
Asked by Jo from THAILAND | Dec. 30, 2019 13:54Reply
If I hire a car from shangri-la, can we get back to shangri-la around 6 pm.
Answers (1)
Answered by Ross from USA | Dec. 30, 2019 19:33

It takes around 2.5 hours on the single way. I think you can go back if you start earlier.
Asked by Tung from VIETNAM | Oct. 28, 2019 01:59Reply
I want to visit Balagezong but I need to get back early to catch the bus to Lijiang at 18pm.
Is that possible? Please give me some advice. Thank you!
Answers (1)
Answered by Ada from USA | Oct. 29, 2019 18:26

When do you leave to Balagezong and where do you go back to catch the bus? Generally speaking, one day is not enough.
Asked by SAKAKI | Apr. 14, 2019 23:17Reply
Local tour or Transpotation & Accomodation Shangri-La(香格里拉)-Balagezong(巴拉格宗)-Deqin(德欽)
I'm solo traveler and onsidering to visit Balagezong Grand Canyon with tourist bus
from Shangri-La(leaving 08:30/CNY50?) and stay one night near the junction with main
road and towering to Deqin next morning if possible.

It would be appreciated if someone could advbise if there is local tour from Shangri-La
or bus/shared taxi to Deqing from Balagezong (including accomodation near bus stop).

Thanks in advance.
Answers (2)
Answered by Jenny from CANADA | Apr. 18, 2019 20:48

1. I found that the tourist bus leaving from Shangri-La Dukezong Old City(独克宗古城) to Balagezong at 9:00 and the ticket price is CNY260.

2. Private bus can be hardly hired on the way, so you are suggested to hire a car from Shangri-La. Or you can go back to Shangri-La and then take a bus to Deqin.
Answered by SAKAKI | Apr. 22, 2019 01:04

Jenny san,
Thanks for useful advise and well noted.
I will check travel agency at Shangri-la if there is 1-3 days group tour Shangrila-Balagezong-Deqin-(Shangrila).
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