Shangri-La Grand Canyon – Ticket, Opening Hours, Location, and Highlights

shangri-la grand canyon

Shangri-La Grand Canyon (香格里拉大峡谷), named for its endpoints Shangge and Lira, is reputed to be the Blue Moon Valley mentioned in the book “Lost Horizon.” The canyon is remarkably deep and narrow, with walls soaring over 1,000 meters high. Its widest point spans approximately 80 meters, while the narrowest is just over 10 meters. The Shangri-La Grand Canyon is composed of two sections: the Nixi Balagezong Canyon and the Gezha Birong Canyon, stretching a total length of about 154 kilometers. The canyon walls and floor form a “U” shape, and ancient rock paintings adorn the cliffs, left by the early inhabitants of the region. These enigmatic symbols remain undeciphered to this day, adding an element of mystery to the breathtaking landscape.


Table of Contents


Basic Information

Estimated Length of Tour1 day
Ticket Price170 RMB (admission + sightseeing bus)
Opening Hours8.30 – 16.30
Telephone Number0086-0887-8229222

Location and Transportation

Shangri-La Grand Canyon is located in Nixi Township, Shangri-La County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. It is situated in the heart of the Hongshan area of the Three Parallel Rivers World Natural Heritage site. The canyon is about 80 kilometers northwest of Shangri-La County town.

To visit Shangri-La Grand Canyon, start at the information point for the Balagezong Scenic Area, located next to the parking lot at the north gate of Dukezong Ancient Town. From this point, you can take the Balagezong shuttle bus directly to the Balagezong Scenic Area Visitor Reception Center, which serves as the visitor center for Shangri-La Grand Canyon. During the summer, the shuttle bus departs at 8:30 AM daily, and in winter, it departs at 9:00 AM. The journey typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.


Highlights of Shangri-La Grand Canyon

Majestic Natural Scenery

majestic natural scenery in shangri-la grand canyon

At the core of the canyon is the Gangqu River, which flows at a relatively low altitude of over 1,000 meters, contrasting sharply with the towering peaks that rise to 4,000 or 5,000 meters on either side. This dramatic elevation difference creates breathtaking views and a sense of grandeur. The canyon culminates at the Balagezong Snow Mountain, standing at an impressive 5,545 meters above sea level, making it one of the three sacred mountains in the Kham region.

Another notable natural feature is the Chitu Immotal Cave, the largest karst cave in Shangri-La. The cave entrance is particularly fascinating due to the natural footprint embedded in the rock, complete with five distinct toes, considered a rare and miraculous sight.

Within the canyon lies a unique spring known as the “Shouting Spring.” Hidden deep within a cave, this spring responds to loud calls from visitors. When someone shouts in front of the cave, a fresh, sweet-tasting stream of water gushes forth. This water is not only refreshing but is also believed to possess healing properties.


Cultural and Historical Treasures

cultural and historical treasures in shangri-la grand canyon

The canyon also houses significant cultural landmarks. One such site is the Nakela Tibetan Buddhist Temple. Despite being destroyed by fire in 1937 and not yet restored, the temple once hosted both monks and nuns, embodying the spiritual heritage of the region.

Gold mining has been an integral part of the canyon’s history. The Hongshan, Bula, and Bisang gold mines have been actively exploited since the Ming and Qing dynasties. These mines, along with the nearby Benzilan placer gold, are collectively known as “Tibetan Gold,” underscoring the area’s historical wealth and significance.


Bala Village: A Hidden Paradise

bala village in shangri-la grand canyon

Bala Village is the only settlement within the Shangri-La Grand Canyon. The name “Bala” translates from Tibetan as “the village of people from Batang.” According to local legend, a general from King Gesar’s army, weary of war, dreamt of three divine maidens guiding him to a serene, mountainous paradise devoid of conflict and strife. Pursuing this vision, he and his followers journeyed for 81 days until they discovered this idyllic valley, which became their new home.

The villagers of Bala have lived in harmony with nature for centuries, maintaining a lifestyle reminiscent of a “Shangri-La” or utopian paradise. The village, with its backdrop of the majestic Balagezong Snow Mountain, presents a timeless and tranquil way of life, untouched by the modern world.

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