Shaxi is a secluded pristine valley located halfway between Dali and Lijiang and for centuries was an important trading center linking Yunnan and Tibet on the ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road.
It features a beautifully preserved old town, with traditional courtyard architecture and a crystal clear stream flowing down along the main street.
The majority of Shaxi's people belong to the Bai ethnic group, known for their hospitality, great cooking and expert traditional farming methods. In the center of the old town is Si Deng Square, once the center of the old market, and labeled by the World Monuments Fund as one of the 100 Most Endangered places in the world. The square features a unique Bai minority style Theatre Temple and a large Buddhist temple, Xing Jiao Si （兴教寺), which was restored with funds and expertise from the Swiss Government.
The Friday market where Yi people and local farmers come to buy and sell products is still active in the new town, where one will find an abundant variety of mushrooms, herbs, honeys and other exotic foods year round. There are also hiking trails up into the mountain villages such as Ma Ping Guan 马坪关, where visitors can stay with local Yi families in their homes.
Because Shaxi has no airport, it has escaped the runaway development and pollution of other Chinese cities and has kept its local cultural heritage, such as traditional costumes, music, language and a neighborly gentle demeanor.
The still crystal clear Hei Hui River 黑惠江 runs through the unspoiled valley, offering scenic trails along both sides, past small farming villages and folk temples. Blessed with blue skies, sunshine and cool breezes year-round, Shaxi is the perfect escape from the chaos of China city life. The new Kunming-Shangri-la highway has an exit near Shaxi since 2014 though, it is assumed that a lot more tourists will come.
PLACES TO VISIT
Shibaoshan Buddhist Grottoes, Sideng Square, Shaxi Old Town, Friday Market, Local Villages
THINGS TO DO
Rock climbing, hiking, nature & photography, Yi village homestay, mushroom picking