Shaxi and ShibaoShan. Because of their isolated location, much of its culture and historical landmarks have been preserved. Yi and Bai people of this area on the Southern Silk Road, meet every Friday on the Sideng Market. Add two ancient temples and magnificent views, and your tour is complete.
Dag 1: Shaxi and ShibaoShan lie remote on the Southern Silk Road
The driver and guide will meet you at in your hotel in Dali or in Lijiang. You will drive in about 2 hours to Shaxi. Of course you can stop anywhere to make pictures. After having a local lunch we make a beautiful walk through the valley.
Once a bustling marketplace, Shaxi is the last remaining ancient market town of its kind on the Tea & Horse Caravan Trail. This trail is a trading route that connected Tibet, Sichuan, and Yunnan to countries in southeast Asia, also called the Southern Silk Road. Nestled in a flat fertile valley cut through by the Heihui River and surrounded by mountains, Shaxi is now a quiet and relaxing corner that seems to be forgotten. For years it remained a secret retreat for the few who knew its existence. Because of its isolated location, much of its culture and historical landmarks have been preserved to this day.
Though today Tibet and China don’t trade along this route, Shaxi still has that border-town feel. Old cobble-stoned alleyways still look like they did a thousand years ago. And different minorities, including the Yi and Bai, still clash every Friday during the Sideng Market when mountain villagers come down from the hills to trade their goods.
The World Monuments Fund (WMF) has listed Shaxi as one of the 100 most endangered sites in the world in 2001. Therefore, Shaxi has recently undergone massive efforts to preserve ancient architecture and culture. Shaxi also got recognized in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH) and the People's Government of Jianchuan County jointly established the Shaxi Rehabilitation Project (SRP).
You stay in a guesthouse in Shaxi. After dinner you will wonder so many stars in the sky.
Day 2: ShibaoShan and its magnificent views
After breakfast you will drive in 20 minutes from Shaxi to ShibaoShan (Shibao Mountain). ShibaoShan - Shibao Mountain - is located about 12 km north of Shaxi.
The most prominent sight at ShibaoShan is the Stone Bell Temple with its 139 well preserved stone carvings. These magnificent stone carvings date as far back as 1300 years to the once powerful Nanzhao Kingdom during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The carvings are a testimony for a time when Mahayana Buddhism from Tibet started to spread in the Yunnan area.
Another interesting sight is the Suspending Temple, also called the Baoxiang Temple. The Baoxiang temple was built on a ledge of a nearly vertical cliff and can only be reached by a long flight of stairs. On a clear day the views from the Baoxiang Temple over the Shaxi valley are simply magnificent.
On the way to Lijiang or Dali we pass by Jianshuan, a wood carving town, where you will have lunch. You also can visit a wood carving "factory".
We drive you to your hotel in Dali or Lijiang. Then you tour to Shaxi and ShibaoShan ends.
- Tip: Shaxi and ShibaoShan are both small and ancient villages. Do not expect anything other than very basic facilities. There isn't a Walmart, a Starbucks, a McDonalds, and an international ATM. And, there isn't a possibility to exchange foreign currencies. Bring enough Chinese RMB to cover your expenses before leaving for Shaxi.