Shaxi Travel Guide

Shaxi is a historic market town located halfway between Dali and Lijiang. Not yet developed as a tourist destination, this town retains its standing as a true "old town", not one which has been rebuilt and manufactured. With the new highway being built not far away, access will be easier in the future, more tourists are likely to make the journey. For now it is still a hidden gem.

Shaxi's market square was added to the World Monuments Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites in 2001.

Shaxi started life as a trading point for tea and horses during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The town reached the height of its prosperity during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1912). Today, it is probably the most intact horse caravan town on the Ancient Tea Horse Road leading from Yunnan in to Burma and Tibet, and is now being preserved through a cooperation between the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich and the People’s Government of Jianchuan County. Nearby Shibaoshan mountain is home to 1,300-year-old Buddhist rock carvings and temples.

The two main ethnic groups of Shaxi are the Bai and Yi people. The main village of Shaxi (Sideng) can be easily toured by walking. It is also possible to visit the many other villages in Shaxi on foot, however, renting a bicycle is 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. Hiking and horseback riding are the main options for a visit into the mountains around Shaxi.

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