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Shaxi (沙溪; Shā​xī​) is in Yunnan Province. It was a key trading hub on the Tea Horse Trail which links Southern Yunnan to Tibet and India, and retains its position as one of the best preserved historic market hubs today. Shaxi is located in a valley surrounded by mountains and the wider area includes a number of villages which are linked by the expressway as well as smaller paved and dirt roads. It is around 2 hours from Lijiang Airport and 3 hours from Dali, and retains much of the same culture and atmosphere without the crowds.

Get in[edit]

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. There is also another option (June 2017) which consists in using the private shuttle of the "Landscape" hostel. This shuttle leaves at 9:00am and 3:00pm from this hostel in Dali (96 Yu'er Road), costs ¥60 and takes about 2.5 - 3 hours. It stops in the center of Shaxi. Everyone can use it (i.e. even the non guests).

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 ¥24 (May 2015) and take about 1.5-2 hours.

From Shangri-la: 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 ¥13 (May 2015). 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!

Get around[edit]

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, Old Theatre Inn 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.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Baoxiang Temple (宝相寺), (See Shibao Shan).  edit
  • 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 distant kilometers away. Arriving there by taxi your driver will stop at the enter of the site. After you pay your entry fee, you go about one hundred meters and buy bus tickets that allow you travel into the park, otherwise there is about one hour walk to the first site : Baoxiang Temple, and I would say 10 km to the second site (Shizong temple). When you are at Shizong you can retunr to Shaxi by a one hour an a half walk, easy, downway. At Baoxiang, 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 (not so) 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 have a look for free, if they are not closed. The other way up is on the trails behind the Pear Orchard Temple, which takes 1 hour up to the parking lot before the gate to Shizhong Temple. From this way, the Shizhong Temple ticket is only RMB 20. In 2016 there are horses from the Pear Orchard Temple to take people up the trail and back down for RMB 280. 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
  • Pear Orchard Temple, 084 County Road at Diantou Village 084县道,甸头村 (On the main road into Shaxi Valley, the temple is immediately on the right following the sign for Diantou Village 甸头村.), (+86) 872 472 2662, [1]. 8am-5pm. Originally known as 'Ci Yin An' 慈荫庵 (Temple of Sheltered Mercy), 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 religious purges of the 1950's. The buildings have been completely restored as of 2014. Expert local craftsmen have been bought in to preserve the original building and showcase their incredible carpentry and stone-masonry skills.The top temple, shaded by enormous broadleafs, was until recently in a very poor state of repair. Originally built to honor the Jade Emperor, time has taken a terrible toll on this ancient building. Now visitors can look forward to hearty breakfasts and leisurely lunches on the alfresco upper terrace. There are also galleries a visitor's centre, meditation and yoga practice space as well as classrooms open to groups, and a very good vegan restaurant. Free admission 免费. (26.346500,99.855472) 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
  • Heilong Tan (黑龙潭; Black Dragon Pool).  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

Do[edit][add listing]

  • 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
  • Cycling and/or electric scooters. 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.  edit
  • 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
  • Horseback riding.  edit
  • Rock Climbing. The HorsePen Hostel offers rockclimbing.  edit
  • Mindfulness & Tea (& Live Slowly Homestay Experience), Next to Old Tree Cafe (Walk down the alley next to Trail Cafe and turn left at Old Tree Cafe), 19187368837 (), [2]. 9am-9pm. Tea Slowly's Mindful Tea Experience offers an introduction to mindfulness, teas of Yunnan, and tea-brewing over two hour-long tea-sessions. You will get a taste of mindfulness through tea, and a (real) taste of Yunnan tea through mindfulness. For a deeper experience, you can opt to stay with April and Jacob at their courtyard - book through email. A Mindful Tea Experience ¥85/p Homestay Experience ¥105 1p, ¥160 2p.  edit

Holidays and Festivals[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), (fax: "). 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

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Wood carving.  edit
  • Wild mushrooms.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

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.

  • Pear Blossom Organic, Pear Orchard Temple, Diantou Village (About 3 km north of the old town, look for the Diantou Village 甸头 sign. The restaurant is inside the Pear Orchard Temple 慈荫庵 hidden above the main courtyard), (+86) 13577258117. email="[email protected]" url="" The Pear Blossom is a farm to table restaurant inside the Pear Orchard Temple (Temple of Sheltered Mercy). There is indoor seating for 20 and outdoor seating on the sun terrace overlooking Shaxi Valley for up to 40 guests. For groups of 8 or more there is the option of booking a traditional music performance in the Sakyamuni Buddha courtyard or traditional dance performance by the Diantou Women's Dance Troupe on the terrace. All the dishes are sourced locally in the family fields and signature dishes include Buddha's Hand Pizza, braised pumkin, seasonal mushrooms, toufu with chilis and 'Diantou 甸头' Bai style Noodles. Excellent international wine selection, local and imported beer. All walk-in bookings should be made in advance - Call Sam at (+86) 13572258117 (English, French and Chinese spoken). 60 RMB per person. ("26°34'21.14"N",") 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.CLOSED since 2012  edit
  • Angel's Kitchen (印迹沙溪 Yin ji shaxi), (In My Shaxi Hostel. No.124 Sideng Street, Shaxi), (+86) 15835997724. 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
  • 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, (Sideng Jie N. 36, between Yujinqiao and South Gate), [3]. till 9.30 pm. A cozy restaurant serving unique vegan food with an Italian touch. Homemade sour bread, autenthic pizza, italian pasta, seasonal dishes, colorful amuse bouches. Tiramisuper in vegan version. Great and well priced wine list with organic wines. Selected local ingredients at the shop  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Allen`s Cafe, Sideng Square (South of the old theater stage in the town square), +86 13529720775. PM. Eclectic, multinational meeting place, a bar and cafe.  edit
  • Trail Cafe (溪语咖啡), (At the northeastern edge of the town square).  edit
  • Old Tree Cafe (老槐树咖啡), (At the northeastern edge of the town square). Serves coffee, tea, and snacks.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • 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 (), [4]. 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 (), [5]. 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. 560 RMB per night. (",") edit
  • Up Air Guesthouse (沙溪波罗的海客栈), No.43 Dengta Village, Shaxi Town, Jianchuan County 671302, China (671302沙溪镇灯塔村43号) (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 in English and Chinese.), 18313181217 (). Amazing quiet place in a renovated 100-year-old Bai farmhouse. Clean, cosy, only 3 rooms and romantic rooftop views over the whole valley. Owner Bono speaks great English and knows the area well. He can take you on small hikes around the area with his dog. Bicycles are free to rent and the kitchen can be used as well, so it's easy to go to the market and cook your own food if you're on a budget. Otherwise you can join Bono for a home-cooked dinner (20¥) with Sichuan and Bai influences. He is a great cook and uses only local ingredients. He also bakes his own bread every evening for breakfast(20Y/person) and has homemade yogurt and wines, as well as fresh coffee on offer. Highly recommended if you want to experience untouched rural China and have nice retreat. Double bed bathroom attached 180¥,twin beds public bathroom120¥,.  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, [6]. 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
  • 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
  • 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 protected]).  edit
  • Shaxi Cultural Center (沙溪文化中心), (Follow signs from square), 08724722188, [7]. Rooms in a beautifully restored courtyard compound that support sustainable community development in Shaxi. Hot water in rooms, library and Internet.  edit
  • Square Street Inn, (At the main crossroads).  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:[email protected], web [8]  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


Get out[edit]

Catch the mini-bus (45 mins, ¥13) 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 35 RMB as of June 2019 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 15 RMB.

Destination Price (¥) Departures Duration Notes Last Update
Dali 42.00 Every 15 mins from 6:30am to 6:00pm. 3.5 hrs approx. Sept 2014
Lijiang 23.00 4 buses every day: 8:00am, 9:30am,11:30am,13:30pm,15:30pm 2.5 hrs approx. Sept 2014
Kunming 127.00, 157.00 9:30am, 6:00pm 8 hrs approx. Sept 2014
Zhongdian (Shangri-La) 46.00 9:00am 4 hrs approx. Tickets sold out quickly. Book it one day in advance if possible. Jun 2015

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