There are no direct bus to Shaxi from Lijiang or Dali. To reach Shaxi, first take a long distance bus to Jianchuan (剑川) from either Lijiang or Dali (Xiaguan).
From Old Town Dali:
Take either bus no. 4 or no. 8 to Xiaguan. From the last stop on bus no. 4, take a taxi to the north bus station (ke yun bei zhan, 客运北站). Bus no. 8 will stop outside of the north bus station. Long distance bus service to Jianchuan runs every 15-30 mins from 6:20am to 6:50pm, the cost of the ticket is ￥41 and it takes about 3 hours to arrive in Jianchuan (depending on traffic, road condition, and stops along the way). The whole journey from Old Town Dali to Jianchuan will take around 3 hours. It may also be possible to wave down the bus to Jianchuan from highway just east of Old Town Dali if you can read the Chinese characters for Jianchuan, it could save you the trouble of going south to Xiaguan first, but seating is not guaranteed. Or flag down any of the buses going to Shangri-la and get off in Jianchuan.
From Old Town Lijiang:
From main road at the entrance to the old town (near the big water wheel), take bus no. 11 or bus no. 8 to the Lijiang long distance bus station (Lijiang ke yun zhan, 丽江客运站). Buy a ticket to Jianchuan which will cost ￥25 and take about 2-2.5 hours.
Take any of the buses going to Dali and get off in Jianchuan.
When you arrive in Jianchuan:
There are mini-bus services just outside of Jianchuan bus station that take about 45 minutes to reach Shaxi (¥10-¥12). The bus departs from Jianchuan whenever it is semi-full with passengers. Try not to arrive in Jianchuan too late in the evening or else there may not be enough passengers to fill up a bus to Shaxi. It should also be possible to catch a mini-bus at the junction for Shaxi (Diannan), 8km south of Jianchuan. Hitching should also be possible if not preferable!
The main village of Shaxi (Sideng) can be easily toured by walking. It's also possible to visit the many other villages in Shaxi on foot, however, renting a bicycle would be a quicker and better option. Some of the guesthouses in Shaxi, such as Horse Pen 46 Guesthouse, the Dragonfly and 58 Yard, offer bicycle rental to Shaxi visitors. Hiking and horseback riding are the main options for a visit into the mountains around Shaxi.
Shizhong Temple (石钟寺), (See Shibao Shan). If you buy the ticket at Shizhong Temple, it is ¥10. edit
Shibao Shan (石宝山; Stone Treasure Mountain), (12km north of Shaxi on the road from Jianchuan and 11km south of the Dali-Jianchuan road). A fantastic nature reserve and religious site that was one of the first to be officially protected by China in 1982. There are numerous temples and grottoes as well as some fantastic views and walks amongst the old forests. Shibaoshan covers a big mountain area with its main points of interest some times distant kilometers away. Arriving there by taxi it is advisable to ask the driver to take you to some of the further temples (he will not need to pay entrance ticket), as Baoxiang Temple. Going up to the temple there are some families of monkeys that some times turn very aggressive to the visitors. Minor injuries have been reported. Shizhong Temple (Stone Bell Temple) has the highest concentration of stone carvings. You can get in for free via Shadeng, which is an easy walk from Shaxi: get out of town through the main road going North, pass a gas station on your left, and on kilometer mark 113 turn left (West) into a dirt road to Shadeng; walk about 20 minutes and reach the southern edge of the Shibaoshan area (it's another 1-2 hours walk uphill to Shizhong Temple). Without a ticket you will not be allowed into the main temple with the biggest collection of reliefs. However, there are many smaller temples with reliefs that you can visit for free.The entrance fee is ¥60 (as of April 2015 no reduction for students). edit
Friday Market, (On the main road in Sideng. Just follow all the crowds.). As the last remaining market town on the ancient Tea & Horse Caravan trail, Shaxi still hosts the local market every Friday. The Bai people from all the villages in Shaxi Valley and the Yi people from the surrounding mountains all come together to trade everything from fresh produces to supplies and horses. Minority women will be dressed in their colorful traditional costumes, and men will often lead pack mules to carry supplies back to their mountain villages, much like in the days of the Tea & Horse Caravan Trail hundreds of years ago.edit
Bailong Tan (白龙潭; White Dragon Pool), (Up on a hill about 8km south of Sideng village). A pool formed by a clear undeground spring, this small lake is believed to be sacred to the local Bai people. It supplies drinking water to the villages in Shaxi Valley. This a popular picnic spot for local families so it's not always clean or quiet. The bike ride to get there is worth it, though.edit
Mapingguan Village (马坪关), (15km southwest from Sideng village). Located between Shaxi Valley and the three major Dianxi salt wells to the west, Mapingguan was an important checkpost during the time of the Tea & Horse Caravan Trail where the government collected tax on the salt trade.edit
Hiking. There are a lot of hiking trails in the mountains both to the east and to the west of Shaxi Valley. The trails are what the local villagers use to go between villages, or to collect firewood, wild herbs, and mushrooms. There are no markers, the trails are easy to follow, but a good sense of direction is needed to not get lost.The 46 Horse Pen Hostel hosts weekly guided hikes around the mountains every Saturday. If you're lucky, they'll bring along their two giant dogs to make the hike more fun.edit
The Pear Orchard Temple (沙溪甸头慈荫庵), North Entrance to Diantou Village, Shaxi (North end of Shaxi Valley on main road at the sign for Diantou Village. Coming from Shaxi Old Town, the temple is on the left on the main road.), ☎ 08724722662. 9 am - 6pm. Originally known as 'Ci Yin An' (Temple of Feminine Compassion), this breath taking multi-level temple complex, commanding spectacular views across the valley from its vantage point at the head of Diantou Village, was actually a functioning nunnery until the 1960's. Beginning in 2011, an American family committed to rehabilitating the temple and spent two years rebuilding much of it from the ground up. Retaining its original value as a religious and community centre, the Pear Orchard Temple retains its important Buddhist, Daoist and Confucian shrines while offering organic meals in the Pear Blossom restaurant, as well as a visitor's centre and small shop. The temple also features space for meditation, yoga and reading, as well as galleries and multi-function rooms for school group classes and meetings. *Cycling. The Shaxi Valley and its numerous villages is a great place to explore on a bicycle. A day spent riding on the small single-track trail between green farm fields can yield many surprises and hidden gems.editedit
Kayaking. 2 hr. It's possible to kayak down the shallow and slow moving water of the Heihui River to see Shaxi Valley from a different angle. Starting from the northern edge of Shaxi Valley and Shibaoshan and ends in Sideng village, the water is mostly flatwater, with a couple small dams that can be navigated.Professional guiding is required.edit
Torch Festival (火把节). A major festival for the Bai and the Yi minorities around Shaxi, it is held every year on the 25th day (24th for the Yi people) of the 8th month on the lunar calendar. The local villagers will light torches and big barn fires everywhere, and dance and sing around the fires. The Gregorian calendar dates for Taizihui Holiday from year 2010 to 2015 are: August 5 (2010), September 22 (2011), October 10 (2012), September 29 (2013), September 18 (2014), October 7 (2015)edit
Taizihui Holiday (太子会). The biggest religious holiday in Shaxi, it is held every year on the 8th day of the second month on the lunar calendar. The Gregorian calendar dates for Taizihui Holiday from year 2010 to 2015 are: March 23 (2010), March 12 (2011), Feburary 29 (2012), March 19 (2013), March 8 (2014), and March 27 (2015).edit
If you want to avoid the overpriced restaurants catering to Western tourists (most of which are listed below), try one of the many local eateries and family style restaurants along Sideng street and the main street. Just point at the veggies and meats in the cooler (or at the pictures) and they will prepare something for you. Along the main street are a few noodleshops with Wonton and Mixian noodle soups.
Angel's Kitchen, (In My Shaxi Hostel. No.124 Sideng Street, Shaxi), ☎ (+86) 15835597724. A nice restaurant run by the warm and friendly Angel who speaks English fluently. She writes out her menu based on what she is cooking that day, and can also take requests for special meals. Very healthy food using the best fresh ingredients at great prices. Angel loves to cook and help people be healthy. edit
Dancing Mule Cafe, Duanjiadeng Village (About 3 km north of the old town, take the turn off marked 'Si Lian Cun' Duan Village), ☎ (+86) 13577258117. The Dancing Mule gets its name from the animals that dance in the fields nearby. The main building has tables for at least twenty people, including three balcony tables overlooking the temple of Duan village and the fields beyond. For groups of 8 or more there is the option of booking a traditional music performance on Duan village's theatre temple stage in the restaurant courtyard. All the dishes are sourced locally in the family fields and signature dishes include fried goat cheese in sugar, fried rice, sweet and sour aubergines and 'Duan Jia' Bai style Noodles. All walk-in bookings must be made in advance - Call Sam at (+86) 13572258117 (English, French and Chinese spoken).35 RMB per person. edit
Old Tree Cafe, (across from the old tree in the main square). Great place for different types of coffee and various foods. Chinese food and some western food available. Their breakfast is great! English and Chinese menus. Run by a very friendly service oriented Chinese couple. edit
Tom's Kitchen (土木厨房), South down the alley on market street across from Shaxi Guesthouse (Pass Xi Lu Restaurant and go left down the alley 100m on the right side.), ☎ +86 13466163430. 11 am - 10pm. A friendly restaurant where the owner Tom Fischbach will welcome you with many tips for your staying in Shaxi. Everything is fresh, try the signature of Tom: his homemade ice cream is delicious. He also has options for meat lovers, as well as an inexpensive wine selection.See menu. (26°19'7.87N,99°50'58.67E)edit
Gui Ju Hotel (贵菊饭店). The English sign says "hotel", but it's actually just a restaurant. A good budget option to taste some local dishes, the food is good and the price is reasonable.edit
Horse Pen 46 Youth Hostel, at the south of the theater stage on the old town square. They serve nice coffee, nice western breakfast, as well as Sichuan & Cantonese style cuisines. edit
Tangerine Restaurant (桔子饭店), (Right next to the entrance of the old cobblestone street, under a sign that says Square Street Inn). An old restaurant under new management, this quickly became a favorite among the travelers for its convenient location and good food at an affordable price.edit
Xi Lu Inn. Located in the inner courtyard of the Inn, this is one of the cleaner eateries in town. Xilu is considered the best local Bai food in Shaxi Old Town; try their sweet sour cabbage and the daily recommendations of the chef. Their cuisine is not oily and is naturally tasty because they use the best ingredients from the market. Enjoy saturday night there with the local Bai music on their stage, it's definitely one of things to do in Shaxi .edit
Mint Cafe, (North side of the square, next to the temple). Serving both Chinese and western food, good service and lots of seating. They make a nice pizza. Menus are in English and Chinese. Overpriced. Single egg, toast and two bacon strips costs 25¥. edit
Hungry Buddha, (Just a short walk down the alley from from the main square to the river.), . till 9 pm. A cozy bistro serving amazing vegetarian food with an Italian touch. Homemade sour bread, cheese and mozzarella. Authentic Italian Pizza and seasonal dishes. Homemade cheeses made with local milk. Tiramisu made from scratch. Great and well priced wine list with organic wines, too.edit
My Shaxi Hostel, No. 124 Sideng Street (Walk along Bei Gu zong Alley till end and turn left until the second cross. Find a wooden building 100 meters away on your right side. About 6 minutes from the center square on foot)), ☎ 13987103325. Accommodation including dormitory, one bedroom, standard bedroom and family suits. Focus on presenting different themes that can give guest a good understanding of Bai culture and Traditional Chinese culture. You will have a chance to experience Tea culture, try Chinese calligraphy, enjoy Chinese folk music, join in local trekking (mainly focussing on tea horse trekking) held time to time. They also provide cycling service, free Astronomical telescope, self-help laundry and self help kitchen. For vegetarian guests there's a vegan kitchen to meet their special requests.edit
Horse Pen 46 Youth Hostel (马圈46国际青年旅舍), No. 46 Sideng Street (Just south of the old theater stage at the town square), ☎ (+86) 0872-4722299，(+86)15125074011 (email@example.com), . A family-style guesthouse with dorm beds and double-rooms available.The hostel is inside an authentic ancient Bai courtyard, it is a cozy guest-house full of characters. English-speaking staff, in-room showers and western-style toilets, 24-hr hot water, free Wi-Fi, and free laundry.They provide free guided hike every Saturday. Owners are experienced and licensed outdoor guides, they provide info about Shaxi area for free.bunk bed ¥20/25, double room ¥50-150. (26.315868,, 99.853100)edit
Old Theatre Inn (沙溪戏台会馆), Duanjiadeng Village 段家登 (About 3 km north of the old town, take the turn off marked Si Lian Cun 四联村 Duan Village), ☎ (+86) 13572258117, . A unique home-stay type guesthouse is also a registered historic landmark, housed within an authentically restored, eighteenth-century temple theatre courtyard complex. Three doubles and two twin rooms are available, each with newly winterized and sound-proofed walls in a former village school building. Old Theatre rooms feature 24-hr hot water showers and private western style toilets, electric blankets, complimentary tea and coffee, bathrobes, wool slippers, radiant floor heating, and original clerestory windows for extra winter warmth. Facilities include a lounge with DVD rental and private dining area, laundry service, bike rentals and local English guide service. American owner and staff can speak english. Shaxi Old Theatre Inn is an excellent out of town alternative for those looking to stay in an authentic village setting. Complimentary breakfast.850 RMB per night. edit
Up Air Guesthouse, Dengta Village (Take a tuk-tuk to Dengta Village (15¥, 4km) and walk up the little street on the right side with a sign not far away from it. The guesthouse is on top of the village. Alternatively ask a villager for directions. The easiest way is to buy a map in Shaxi: both the village and guesthouse are marked on it.), ☎ 1831381217 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Amazing quiet place in a renovated 100-year-old Bai farmhouse. Clean, cosy with amazing rooftop views over the whole valley. Owner Bono speaks great English and knows the area well. Highly recommended if you want to experience rural China and have nice retreat. 150¥. edit
58 Yard (58号小院), No. 58 Sideng Street (West of the town square). 40元 for a bed, 150-250元 for a room. edit A nice place that has been tastefully decorated and has clean rooms. At this place, you are certainly not "roughing it". Don't let the "free breakfast" be the draw, you could buy the half apple and bun in the market for less than 1 kuài.
Jinshui Loutai (近水楼台; House near the Water), (East of the town square, next to the Eastern Village Gate). (26.316123,99.853524)edit
Keep Watch 6740 (守望 6740）, (To the left of the back alley of the town square), ☎ (0872)4722427, . The guest house is owned and operated by a Tibetan family, which also runs a well-received hostel in Shangri-La. The entire place including the reception room, a courtyard, and a balcony is well decorated. The place has only private rooms for now, though dorm beds could be added in the future.edit
Laomadian Lodge (老马店), (East of the main crossroads at the town square). (26.316351,99.853065)edit
Ou Yang Guesthouse (三家巷), (East of the main crossroads before the town square, on the left). edit
Pingchang Renjia (平常人家), (North of the town square, in the North Tibet Alley). edit
Pingsheinn(平舍客栈), South Tibet Alley(Close to South gate of ancient town), ☎ +8613608825860. This inn is essentially pure and simple with high quality(email@example.com).edit
Shaxi Cultural Center (沙溪文化中心), (Follow signs from square), ☎ 08724722188, . Rooms in a beautifully restored courtyard compound that support sustainable community development in Shaxi. Hot water in rooms, library and Internet.edit
Tea and Horse Caravan Trail Inn (古道客栈), North of the town square, 83# in the North Tibet Alley, ☎ +868724721051，+8615308724988. The oldest inn in Shaxi. Warm and sunny traditional yard, full of tree and flowers, provide local food. 10 new rooms with showers and western styly toilets in rooms, free Wi-Fi and washer. E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, web edit
Xi Lu Inn, No. 33 Sideng Street (South of the main crossroads at the corner). Very nice rooms in lovely traditional coutyard home with two double beds, electric blankets, television and water heater. Friendly service.edit
Yezi's Guesthouse (叶子的家), (South of the town square, in a side alley of the South Tibet Alley). edit
Catch the mini-bus (45 mins, ￥10-12) to Jianchuan from outside the Shaxi bus station. There are daily buses to many other cities in Yunnan from the Jianchuan bus station. Price and schedule subject to change so better confirm with the Jianchuan bus station when you first arrive in Jianchuan.
Getting to Lijiang or Dali is now much easier with the new Lijiang Dali expressway. On the road to to the express way, be prepared for white knuckle encounters with other slower moving vehicles and oncoming traffic. To go straight to Old Town Dali without getting stuck at the bus station, ask the driver to drop you off at the East Gate (大理古城东门; Dàlǐ Gǔchéng Dōngmén), as the bus will pass right near it. Ask your hostel to write this down in Chinese for you. You will save both time and money.
If heading to Dali an interesting alternative with much better scenery is the X804 road down through Qiao Hou, Lian Tie and into Yangbi. Mini Buses leave Jianchuan at 7.30am and 1.20 pm everyday, arriving to pick up outside the stationary store in Shaxi Village about one hour later. The fare down to Yangbi is 25 RMB and the trip takes about four hours. From Yangbi Station, there are regular buses to Xiaguan (Dali New Town), Xiaohuayuan Qiqezhan every few minutes. The journey takes the old road and is about 40 minutes costing 10 RMB.