Experience the Dongjing ensemble

Shaxi music is the last surviving tradition of ritual music that originated possibly as far back as the Song Dynasty and can be heard in live performances around the Shaxi valley. The music is called Dongjing (洞经 literally "near the cave". Dongjing is said to have been sung by Taoist monks from the region. There are also traditional Dongjing operas, such as Song of the Water Dragon, Waves Washing the Sands and The Sheep on the Hill. It is played on traditional string and percussion instruments, typically by an ensemble of anywhere from 4-16 men, while women may accompany with song.

Apart fro mthe Shaxi Singing Festival in September, there are performances by guest request on the theatre temple stage at Old Theatre Inn. The cost is RMB 800 and may be shared among a group of guests. The show lasts approximately 45 minutes and includes 8 songs.


Learn Shaxi cooking with our temple chef Madam Yang

Duration: 4 hours

Start off on a bike ride with Chef Yang through Shaxi Valley to learn about the foods that have been grown here for millenia. Stop to pick your own vegetables from the fields, grown by local farmers for their own families and who use no pesticides. If you choose to do the cooking class on a Friday, Chef Yang will take you on a tour of the Friday Market where you will buy ingredients for your dishes.
Head to the Pear Orchard Temple, a recently restored 500 year-old folk temple where we have build a new kitchen just for cooking classes. Here you'll spend the next 2-1/2 hours preparing and enjoying four dishes you will cook yourself. Gaze out over the Shaxi Valley from our dining terrace (weather permitting) and enjoy a complimentary pot of tea.
For reservations, speak to Sam at Old Theatre Inn +86 872 4722 296 or email us in advance of your stay to reserve places in the class.

Shaxi Cooking School courses include:

  • Small classes
  • A visit to the local market
  • Transport to and from the temple
  • English speaking local teachers
  • Set of 5 dishes with 1 or 2 day courses available
  • Recipes of the dishes cooked
  • Learning by doing
  • Lunch

The list of villages below offers an excellent glimpse into the rural side of China offering an authentic experience and a chance to soak up the local culture.

Duan Village

Home to Old Theatre Inn

Walk up the flagstone street along a channel of mountain spring water rushing down and you will see a wealthy Shaxi village with the best feng shui in the valley. A road to the right halfway up the street leads out to a new concrete path that goes all the way down to Beilong VIllage, passing through lush fields of corn, tobacco and canola. Continue up the main street to the acquaduct and cross over. This leads to goat trails that continue and climb over 500m in vertical gain up the Eastern slopes of Damu mountain. There are custom trail maps available on these routes at Old Theatre Inn.

Diantou Village

Diantou is the 2nd largest Shaxi village next to Sideng and is home to the Pear Orchard Temple, a recently restored nunnery and vegetarian restaurant. From the temple, there is a road that heads West up the mountain all the way to the stone steps that lead to the Shizhong Temple parking area where one can easily walk down to the grottoes. Admission from this point is just RMB 30. Diantou is also a quite affluent village and one can observe residents in the square playing mahjong or chess. There is an oil press, a kiln, several small shops for daily goods.

Beilong Village

Beilong Village is on the East side the Heihui River with a bridge across that leads to Sideng and Shaxi Old Town. Behind Beilong are trails that lead up the steep mountain to Yi farms up on a plateau around 3,000m in elevation. Beilong has new roads and is easy to get around by bike.

Hualong Village

Hualong is up on an Eastern bluff overlooking the Old TOwn and South end of the Shaxi Valley. The roads are narrow and winding. From here, one can access a new switchback road that cars can take over the mountain down to Eryuan and Dali. This village is not very wealthy because of its somewhat remote location above the valley but there are many traditional houses and scenic overlooks.

Yi Village

There are scatterings of Yi enthic minority villages up on the high plateau that spans the mountains on the East side of Shaxi. They are mostly subsistance farmers growing medicinal herbs, potatoes and corn. You can read more about the Yi people here.


A tradition that dates to the tea horse road

Market day is the highlight of the week in Shaxi valley, when everybody congregates in the old town to stock up on produce and exchange gossip. Rows of traditionally dressed Bai matriarchs squeeze together along the curbside to offer a wide range of local fruit and vegetables, grown with their very own green thumbs. Yi women in bright scarlet and bold turquoise, trek for hours down from their mountain villages to trade with the lowlanders, making for one of the most colorful and photogenic market days in Yunnan.
To the left of the main street is the meat market, where you can find freshly made goats cheese, cow bells and craftsman made horse tackle. In the wet market, on the right hand side, visitors can find a whole range of unusual local fruit and veg, from skirret and lotus bulbs, to quince and custard apples. Traveling vendors fill the main street, hawking everything from farm tools to fruit trees. Look out for wig makers that buy hair by the kilo (cut and weighed in situ), pavement dentists, and itinerant Han Chinese cheapjacks trying desperately to flog the latest in labor saving devices. Up beyond the minibuses, do not forget to check out the livestock market where piglets, nanny goats and even water buffalo are all available for inspection and purchase. Do not forget to stock up with apples and carrots, as this will ensure that you will quickly be able to make fast friends with any goats, donkeys and ponies that you encounter while out hiking.


A taste of Shaxi

Join Apple, an English-speaking Bai guide from Dali on a tour of farms, markets and households that produce the specialty foods in Shaxi Valley. Advance reservations are required. Call Sam at +86 872 4722 296.


Explore Shaxi with an English-speaking guide who can help families with children get the most of a visit to Shaxi. Highlights include milking a village family cow, feeding pigs and chickens, preparing a traditional meal and visiting with local craftspeople. Advance reservations are required. Call Sam at +86 872 4722 296.


Learn on the historic theatre temple stage

Join Mr. Wu, a local Bai teacher and partner of Old Theatre Inn with caligraphy lessons for individuals or small groups of up to 8 people. Advance reservations are required. Call Sam at +86 872 4722 296.