HIKING

Pear Orchard Temple to Shizhong Temple Grottoes

Duration: 4 hours

Starting from the paved road that runs up behind the Pear Orchard Temple, follow it to the start of the fields. The road turns into a narrow walking path that follows the berms of the fields and heads up the mountain. The path widens into a rutted wash that continues up to the stone steps that lead to the parking area. Once here, it is an easy 15 minute descent to the Shizhong Temple grottoes. Admission is RMB 30.

A guided day hike from the Pear Orchard Temple is RMB 200 per person including lunch. Group rates start at RMB 350 for the entire day for two people or more. For more information inquire here.

Yi Villages

Duration: 8 hours

From the Old Theatre Inn follow the road up through Duan Village across the aquaduct. From here the road turns to goat trails which zig-zag through the fields up the steep hillside. Look for a fire road on the left that leads to a small power station. Continue up this road for approximately 3km to where it flattens out around 2,800m elevation. From here there are trails that lead to the Yi Villages. We always recommend bringing some snacks and 2L of water as well as some snacks to give to the village children. It is easy to get lost in the pine forests so we strongly recommend taking a custom trail map from Old Theatre Inn as well as a GPS device or phone with Google Earth installed.

A guided day hike from either of these central locations in the valley is RMB 300 per person including lunch. Group rates start at RMB 500 for the entire day for two people or more. For more information inquire here.

Mapingguan

Duration: 8 hours

Hot springs, waterfalls and colorful minorities

Mapingguan (literally "Horse Pasture Pass") is located about 15km southwest of Shaxi Valley at the site of a covered bridge, on the road to three major western Yunnan salt wells, further along in Misha. The village was a key checkpoint where the government collected tax on the salt trade. In fact, this was the first of four toll gates to be constructed in the area. This one takes the form of Wenfeng Bridge, a rare covered span, that once provided shelter for the caravans as they waited to make their way past the sentries. Despite boasting wonderful examples of ancient architecture, including a a Confucian Temple, a shrine to the Guanyin Buddha and a traditional theater devoted to the God of Culture and Learning, this tiny hamlet of less than 100 households, is so peaceful, that even Shaxi Old Town seems positively metropolitan in comparison. If you start from Fushouchang village about 2km south of Shaxi, the hike takes anywhere between two and four hours, depending on how much time you spend savoring the magnificent old growth stands, and pausing to slake your thirst from fresh mountain streams on the way. Mapingguan is nearly another 1000 meters higher than Shaxi, so you might find yourself glued into the saddle on much of the ascent. The village offers a number of basic home stays, and there is the opportunity to continue your journey into the wilds even further with a trek up to the hot springs at Misha.

A guided day hike from either of these central locations in the valley is RMB 300 per person including lunch. Group rates start at RMB 500 for the entire day for two people or more. For more information inquire here.

Bailongtan Spring

Duration: 4 hours

A crystal clear mountain spring surrounded by old growth trees

At the southern end of the valley, past the ancient Shi'ao (stone turtle) Bridge, and up onto the ridge, is an old growth grove that protects a natural spring which has fed the local villages for many centuries. Venerable oaks and senescent magnolias populate a natural funnel that has over time, forced the boughs down until they lie just above the water's surface. This grove has always been a sacred area for local people, and there is a legend that a white dragon inhabits a deep mountain cavern in the hillside. Newly weds hiked up here after their nuptials, and relatives would place silver bowls at the mouth of the cave, valuable gifts of matrimony from the feared, and yet revered denizen of the mountain.
While there is a small shrine, Bailongtan is really a gateway up into the hills for trekkers and hikers. To the north, persimmon orchards line the banks of the stream, and to the south, elderberry bushes cling to the side of a hill that skirts round into a gully that heads east west. From here there are a plethora of trails leading up into the hills, where pastures and peaks are suitable for all levels of walkers.

MUSHROOM HUNTING

Take an expert local guide

Seasonal activity - check with Old Theatre Inn for details

With its superior climate and geology, Yunnan is the richest location on earth for wild mushrooms, with a picking season lasting much longer than Europe's, stretching all the way from May to September. There are more than 140,000 total mushroom types on earth, but less than ten percent have so far been been named. Three thousand are considered edible and of these, 850 varieties are found in Yunnan. While over a thousand tons are exported each year, meeting more than 60% of global demand, and generating $70-80 million of profit, at least 50,000 tons are consumed locally in just this one province alone. As well as a food, the Chinese view fungi as an important medicinal herb which belongs to the Yin group of foods.
Should you decide to go hunting around Shaxi, try to cut the mushrooms above ground, using a knife. It is also best to only pick mushrooms which are more mature, so that they will have had chance to propagate their spores, before being harvested. Here are a handful of varieties that you are most likely to discover in this area.

TOUR DETAILS

Pricing
A full day (9am to 5pm) for 1-3 people is RMB 500, half-day is RMB 300

Group price
4 people is RMB 600, half day is RMB 350
5 people is RMB 700, half day is RMB 450

Itinerary
Pick up from Old THeatre Inn by local tuktuk at 9am, a short drive to the foot of the mountain, start our hike up into the mountain looking for mushrooms. Your local guide Apple (photo) will also give a short intro on the wild plants, herbs, edible veggies we come cross during the tour. You can pick some for our lunch as well later the day.
About 4 hours mushroom picking then return to Apple's house on the hillside to have lunch with amazing view overlook the whole valley. If you wish you can prepare lunch with the chef, we will cook whatever we pick from the mountain, plus Shaxi local goat cheese, a fresh green mixed salad from Apple's private garden.
Lunch is RMB 50 per person including drinks such as black tea, green tea or fresh mint tea.
After lunch a short mountain hike to a 80 year old farmer's cottage to visit his outdoor bee hive with a tiny herb garden.
Send back to your guesthouse around 5pm by tuktuk.

NOTES
• Bring a raincoat in case
• Wear good shoes
• This time of the year snakes are very active
• Bring a big bottle of water
• I will carry a basket with me for the picking
• Transportation fee is RMB 50 round trip.

Please contact us through the form below, or call: (+86) 872 4722 296.

All about Shaxi mushrooms

Pine Mushroom (song rong) Matsutake Tricholoma
After pests destroyed the Japanese matsutake industry more then ten years ago, Yunnan quickly stepped in, and now supplies Japan with more than half of its yearly demand. Previously they would fetch just 35 yuan per kilo at best, but now they command up to 500 USD per kilo towards the the end of season period. It is said that the matsutake were the only "plants" that survived the atomic bombing on Hiroshima in 1945, and since then the Japanese have developed a strong belief in their health benefits.

Porcini (meiwei niugan or delicious cow's liver mushrooms) Boletus edulis
There are more than one hundred and fifty varieties of boletus, but only a few varieties, the yellow, white and black ones, can be eaten. One trick is to fry them together with garlic slices. If the garlic turns black, then there is most definitely a problem. Boletus is said to dispel and, prevent colds, and strengthen the immune system. Yunnan had no SARS cases in 2003, and the locals claim this was because they eat so many mushrooms and fungus.

Dried Beef Mushroom (ganbajun) Thelephora
With is strong pine fragrance, this paper thin fungus has black and white wrinkles, and is surprisingly chewy. Shredding and frying only intensifies the sinus clearing, evergreen taste and smell. Found only in sandy soils and around the bases of pine trees, this species is limited only to Yunnan.

Termite mushrooms (jizong) Termitomyces albuminosus
As the Chinese name suggests, these taste just like tender chicken with a strong hint of 'umami', and are rich in protein, iron, calcium, and amino acids. The species gets its western name because it is actively cultivated by termites, The fungus converts woody material that the termites are unable to digest into sugars. Sometimes used as a sauce base, more often it adds a savory base to soups. Of course, it can also be stir fried along with the region's own version of prosciutto ham to make an delicious fried rice.

BIKING

A perfect sunny day activity

Children's bikes and tandem bikes available

With our professionally created maps of Shaxi valley, enjoy a day out on our sturdy montain bikes. The roads in Shaxi are easily navigable and there are many alleys and trails to explore as well. Ride up to Shibaoshan or Bailongtan Spring if you want to make a day of it. Guides also available by reservation.

SCENIC WALKS

Guided or self-guided

Duration: 1/2 - full day

With countless trails and paths leading through Shaxi villages, farms and groves, there is so much to explore that you will want at least a day to see the Shaxi Valley. Use our expertly created maps to guide yourself or take a local guide arranged by Old Theatre Inn.

PARAGLIDING

Safe and experienced professional pilot

Only available through Old Theatre Inn

Join expert paragliding guide Canadian Mike Fougere on some unforgettable tandem paragliding adventures around Yunnan. Mike is one of the most experienced Yunnan paragliding instructors and guides and offers a variety of locations around Dali, Kunming and Shaxi to create some amazing adventures.