Shaxi Ancient Town Overview

Shaxi Ancient Town is located in the south-west of Jianchuan County of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province. It is 139 kilometers (2 hours and 30 minutes’ drive) away from Dali and 107 kilometers away from Lijiang (2 hours' drive). As an historic market town on the ancient teahorse road, Shaxi retains much of its traditional architecture and religious heritage. It is listed in the 101 endangered sites as early as 2001 by the World Monuments Fund (WMF).

1.Basic Information

Nationalities: Bai(92%), Han(2%), Yi(1%), Hui(2%), Lisu(1%), and Naxi(2%)

Area: about 270 square kilometers

Zip code: 671302

Area code:0872


Shaxi enjoys a subtropical plateau monsoon climate with around 126 days in the year with temperatures around 18-21 ℃ (54-66 F) which is the most appropriate temperature for taking a break. In addition, it is abundant with sunshine throughout the year thanks to its high altitude. In other words, this is a year-round travel destination with colorful flowers blossoming everywhere.

3.Things to do in Shaxi

Hike to the temple complex at Shibaoshan, stroll through the quiet back lanes of Shaxi’s old town, experience a traditional music show at the Old Theatre Inn or hike to a remote mountain village. The inn has new mountain bikes for rental and can also provide English speaking guides. Some favorite things to do in Shaxi include:

  1. 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.
  2. Stroll through the quiet back lanes of Shaxi’s old town
  3. Explore Shaxi Friday Market and Sideng Square
  4. Go horse trekking or hiking to Shibaoshan from thePear Orchard Temple
  5. Hike to Hejiang Village and stay in a traditional home
  6. Check out the Tea Horse Road gallery at the Shaxi Visitor’s Centre
  7. Volunteer English teach (qualifications required) in change for a free room and board
  8. Help local farmers with their harvest or planting (WWOOF)


Shaxi Ancient Town is located between Dali and Lijiang, so tourists will go there from Dali or Lijiang. Half a day is enough for you to visit the town. Generally tourists will also go to Shibao Mountain (half an hour by car from Shaxi) and stay overnight.

5.Best time to visit Shaxi

Shaxi is a year-round travel destination, generally a warm place. Thus, you can undertake a tour whenever you want. However, the rainy season starts from June to August, which may be a little bit annoying. It’s a great time to visit shaxi during the Temple Fair for Prince Sakyamuni and the Torch Festival. The gong and drum team, Buddhism team, Taoism team and Dongjing music team take turns to perform. Coupled with the performances on the ancient stage, Sideng Street is bustling all through the night with dancing, music and bright lights.

6.Holidays and Festivals

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).

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), February 29 (2012), March 19 (2013), March 8 (2014), and March 27 (2015).