• Lijiang to Shaxi and Dali - Old Theatre Inn pickup service

    History, Mission, People

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Yangshuo hotel deals - Old Theatre Inn


The Old Theatre Inn family originates from the surrounding villages, bringing with us the local charm and traditional hospitality of Shaxi China. For the last nine years, led by partners Wu Yunxin, a cultural heritage expert and American designer Chris Barclay, we have continuously learned about western guest expectations and how to exceed them. In addition to learning English and hospitality management, we share a commitment to learning about the interests of our guests, and introducing them to the unique culture of Shaxi. To read more about our staff, please see our introductions below.

Our Mission

To be a source of inspiration for our guests through the beauty of our surroundings, people and facilities.

Our Vision
To be a world-famous, first choice of travelers to Shaxi who seek authentic, environmentally responsible accommodation.

Our Core Values
Environmental preservation: Solar hot water, no disposable products or plastic bags, locally made furniture and recycle all waste.

Authentic experience: Village location run by local staff with traditional Bai design and well preserved history.

Superior value: providing world-class service with outstanding food and comfort, attention to details and always offering more than is expected.

Localhood: being model neighbors and corporate citizens who support local welfare and culture while treating our guests as temporary residents.


We are a self-designated "China Heritage Hotel" a name we created in 2015 to describe our unique position as custodians of a listed heritage site that also offers accommodation. This entails putting environmental preservation and cultural heritage as our top values; honoring the past while creating a world-class accommodation experience. Our focus is also on localhood - the belief that developing local people who work at Old Theatre Inn and including guests in celebrating our local culture is the key to our success. As our website demonstrates, we are not just a hotel but a stakeholder in the development of responsible tourism in Shaxi, offering professionally created maps that promote exploring Shaxi on foot and by bike.
We are also active in creating a virtuous circle of responsible vendors and commercial partners in the villages and old town. These are people who share our values of localism and who hold high stanrds of quality and service. We will only recommend our guests to those locally run businesses who can offer our guests an authentic Shaxi experience. Our goal is to remain a simple and honest family-run country inn where people from all over the world can go to experience the beauty and serenity of Shaxi.

Yangshuo hotel deals - Old Theatre Inn


Zhang Jie 张杰

My name is Jessica, Chinaese name is Zhangjie. I'm 27 years old and from a quiet village in Shaxi. My hobby is dancing and playing games. I have a happy family. There are five people in my family. My father is a civil servant, my mother is a housewife and my husband is a graphic designer. He runs an advertising shop. I have a three year-old daughter I like English and hope some day I'll be able to travel abroad, and speak English with foreigners. I work at Old Theatre Inn, and love this job because hotel management and reception is meticulous work. Every satisfied guest is the best affirmation to me. The job is not only lets me improve my communication, but also realize the importance of service. So I'm in progress and learning every day which is very meaningful.

Yang Shixiang 杨十香

My name is Yang Shixiang and I am from Duan Village. I have five people in my family and am 42 years old this year. My hobby is to make things by hand. My personality is frank. I have enjoyed working at Old Theatre Inn for seven years.

Duan Jiping 段济平

I have been working as a chef at Old Theatre Inn (formerly Dragonfly) for over 10 years. My character is friendly, helpful and hardworking. I understand the needs of our guests, and do my best to bring them a memorable experience at our inn. I grow vegetables in my garden next door and cook in a traditional way to create the opportunity for visitors to taste local and authentique Shaxi food.

Yang Sanmei 杨三妹

I'm Yang Yinfu but everyone calls me San Mei because I am the third sister in my family. There are six people in my family and I live next door to the Old Theatre Inn, working here for six years. I have many hobbies and a cheerful character. I'm very enthusiastic about my work at Old Theatre and have an energetic mind and enjoy being industrious in my daily life.

Duan Qihui 段琪慧 (Sam)

My name is Duan Qihui, and I live in Duan Village. I share a surname with many people in this village which is also home to Old Theatre Inn. My work as General Manager for six years here is very happy, because every day there are guests from different countries who I treat as my family with a smile, enthusiasm and a warm reception each day. Guests feel the warmth of home. I like this job very much and. I will continue to work hard, improve our service attitude. Wishing all our guests happy every day!



The Ginkgo Society, an American cultural heritage conservation group that renovated the Pear Orchard Temple also hosts student groups in Shaxi. As part of these activities, we have a homestay opportunities in the village of Xia Ke, located 20 minutes walk from Shaxi Old Town. This is very simple local accommodation with modern toilets located in the back courtyard. The courtyard is available in between student groups for those who can help with needed farmwork or teaching.
The Li family whose courtyard is used for student groups have 1 mu of land that grows a variety of crops throughout the year so there is occasionally work to be done there. In addition, the Old Theatre Inn, which sees many foreign visitors each year, is surrounded by fields that beloong to families of staff. For those who have basic farming skills, we can arrange meals and possibly rooms at the old theatre for limited periods throughout the year. To check on specific dates, please contact us here.


Sam, Jessica and our other ladies all need opportunites to keep improving English skills. If you have a background in education, are an experienced traveler and would like to enjoy free room and board in January and February, we would be interested to work with you. The Pear Orchard Temple also needs English teachers for our chef Madam Yang and her assistant Xiao Zhang. Some things we also are interested in from volunteers:
• Help us train us in service skills for the Pear Blossom vegetarian restaurant in the temple.

• Help us to develop and promote a local handicrafts project • Help us prepare / design and perform an awareness campaign on sustainability principles towards local people, for the whole valley, focusing on waste management and clean water.

• Teach our local staff how to bake cookies and simple cakes

• Help us to develop more activities for kids/teenagers, high season means holidays and familial traveling, like treasure hunts, Terrible Cat hunts, Mushrooms hunts, Dragon hunts, or just by organizing games and activities.

If you have particular experience in any of the above areas we are interested to have you. Our accommodation is a homestay family courtyard, halfway between the Old Town and Old Theatre. We can provide a simple breakfast and lunch. Please let us know one month before you intend to arrive and we can tell you what we have available. We don't know at this point how many if any other volunteers will be engaged with us at the time you would like to be here. For teachers, we'd like someone with at least a year experience teaching basic English. Please send us a brief resume or background on your experience.


While both Duan Jiping and Yang Yuju, our chefs at Old Theatre Inn and Pear Orchard Temple are accomplished local chefs, we are always interested to learn new food preparation ideas, particularly baking. We welcome experienced chefs to work with us on a volunteer basis in exchange for room and board in Shaxi. We can also assist with visas for longer-term work.


If you are a professional or highly accomplished photographer or digital film maker, we are interested to work with you on helping us visually tell the story of Shaxi and our projects here. Please contact us through this website below if you have the background and interest for this project.


Q&A with Chris Barclay

From an interview by Peter Micic of the Tea Horse Road Project

PM: How did you get into historical restoration?

CB: I saw so many great buildings being demolished in cities across China, I thought if I ever had the chance, I would buy something and re-purpose it, so that more people could come and appreciate it and see that it would be worth saving. Maybe this would inspire others to do the same.

PM: Where do you think your urge to preserve things comes from?

CB: I went to Cranbrook School outside Detroit, Michigan in the U.S. The campus consists of an art academy, art museum, girls school, boys school and museum of science. The buildings themselves are all on the national historic register, built by architects such as Sarinen, Wright, and with artwork around campus from Calder and many others. The chapel was built with stone brought from Kent, England and the boys’ school design is also based on a very old school in England. So the whole place is a living work of art and I developed a deep appreciation for design.
When I came to China, I saw so many beautiful vernacular buildings in Beijing that had been abandoned, used as dumps or turned in to coal depots. I felt it was a shame that no one cared for these places. To lose one’s heritage is really something that you can never buy back.

PM: How did you come up with the name Ginkgo Society? Do you have a special relationship or history with ginkgo trees? CB: Originating in China, the ginkgo is the world’s oldest living tree species and is venerated in the East as a sacred symbol of wisdom, longevity and health. Its leaves and nuts have been used for centuries in Chinese medicine and have proven qualities to boost mental capacity and fight disease. Ginkgos are widely used as ornamental trees in the West, given their resistance to disease and ability to thrive especially in cities, amongst the pollution and poor soil. It is these core values of longevity, wellness, wisdom and adaptability that embody our community spirit. PM: Tell us about your journey that led you to founding the Ginkgo Society in 2012. CB: Our first daughter had passed away in 2009 and both my wife and I were in our mid-40s and didn’t believe we would have another child. We had tried many interventions and therapies but weren’t successful. In March 2011 we decided to take a break from the fertility regime and come to Shaxi at a friend’s suggestion–he was a travel writer who had come several times to the area. We visited the Nunnery of Sheltered Mercy (慈荫庵) and my wife prayed to the Guan Yin Who Gives Children in the main shrine there. Soon after we returned to Thailand, she was pregnant and our daughter was born in January of 2012. So we decided to donate to the temple, but the government were keen to let us manage it, to protect it and use it as a visitor’s center, in addition to having it still function as a religious center. I set up Ginkgo in Dali as a way to legally restore and take custodianship of the temple, which also houses a restaurant and gallery, plus classrooms and activity areas. There's a short video about our experience here. PM: Take us through the moments involved in rebuilding the Pear Orchard Temple. Why is it also called the Sheltered Mercy Nunnery? CB: The temple didn’t have an English name, and the translation of the Chinese is Sheltered Mercy Nunnery, which is a little hard to remember. The name sheltered mercy comes from the main shrine to Guan Yin, also known as the Goddess of Mercy, or Goddess of Compassion in Buddhism and Daoism. The temple is surrounded by old growth pear trees, so I thought Pear Orchard Temple was fitting as a translation. We replaced every roof truss, every floor, rebuilt walls, windows and doors and installed electric and water. It is a ground-up renovation that took 3 years and $250,000 of our own money. PM: When was the Pear Orchard Temple built? Can you share some of its history and the community of nuns that lived there? I’m interested in the nexus of monastics, if any, with the local economy and whether the Temple was patronized by local merchants as well as seasonal traders who passed through Shaxi. CB: It is believed that this temple is the third iteration after fire and earthquake destroyed the earlier versions. It was likely originally built in the Ming Dynasty, around the same time as Hai Yun Ju Nunnery in Shibaoshan. The most recent major renovation was 1916. There were at least two nuns here as late as the 1960s, but since then there have not been any living at the temple. During renovations, we found an inscribed tablet from the 1970s, which was a Diantou Village elder recounting the history of Shaxi and this temple. PM: And other restoration projects that you have completed or are working on in Shaxi? CB: We rebuilt a family courtyard in Xia ke Village as homestay accommodation for school groups that come for social enterprise work and cultural learning. Our requirement was that the family continue to live in the courtyard, and we pay them rent plus some per diem to cook, guide and clean for the school groups. We installed new solar hot water showers and toilets which are really nice. PM: Are you mainly involved in the public relations side of both conservation projects and sustainable tourism? What does a typical day look like for Chris Barclay in Shaxi? CB: I stay at the Old Theatre, try the new offerings for breakfast (cornbread pancakes last time), chat with staff, meet with my partner, Mr. Wu, go visit the Li family in Xia Ke Village, go to the Pear Orchard Temple for lunch or early dinner. I will have some wine at Old Theatre, as we have a very nice international selection. Sometimes I will meet with govt in Jianchuan or receive a delegation. Mostly I go around on my bike and visit with neighbors. I will have dinner one evening at our builder’s house, Mr. Yang. Everything is quite in flow, with casual discussions instead of formal meetings where possible. PM: How long have you been interested in sustainable travel? How do you define the term? CB: I became interested with my first project, the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat, as it was in an ecologically sensitive area on the Yulong River. I wanted to protect our surroundings so started researching on what green hotels were doing. We made this conservation into a selling point that until now, almost none of our competitors have thought to copy. Sustainability to me is using existing resources to grow vs. having to build lots of new infrastructure and bring in new resources, and creating a high degree of participation for local people in the economy. PM: What do you see as the main challenges in implementing sustainability travel initiatives in Shaxi? CB: The government doesn’t have a lot of good models. Looking at Dali and Lijiang, these are all mass tourism models, not small-scale quality and value models. So their first instinct is to make a gate and charge money to go in. That immediately puts visitors off. Then they encourage a ton of new construction, as outsiders take over local housing in the old town, and locals need to move out. They look at mass tourism as the key to growth, building big bus parking areas, making new roads, trying to focus tourism in the old town vs. expanding it into villages so more local people can take part. It is a failed model but the Chinese government is slow to try new things or take risks, so here we are. I share my opinions with the government, offer my time and support so it may yet change. PM: How have your perceptions of sustainable tourism changed since you founded the Ginkgo Society in 2012? CB: Local people aren’t excited about it. They don’t easily buy into it. Even when you show them things can work, they don’t trust it. So more sophisticated outsiders come in with money and take the business away from them. Like most rural people, Shaxi locals are very practical and short-sighted. They are also quite narrow in their thinking and very risk averse. Most don’t focus on getting rich. They are mainly small farmers and merchants, not entrepreneurs in the newly developing local tourism economy. There are outliers, local people who are visionary and pioneering, such as my partner Mr. Wu, but there are very few like him. It is why mostly ethnic Han Chinese from big cities get the big rewards in the economy – they are forward-thinking risk takers and fast learners who focus on accumulating wealth. PM: Part of the enjoyment of travel–an enormous part–is letting yourself experience things you do not understand, allowing it to reanimate our reality, stumbling on the unexpected discoveries. What kind of things do want your clients to discover while they are in Shaxi? And what would you like them to take away from the experience? CB: We encourage guests just to walk or bike through the villages and look around. Local people are very friendly and welcoming. They’ll often invite you into their courtyard and offer you tea or fruit from their trees. They will want you to stay for lunch and maybe dinner. I think guests will be blown away by how hospitable and open people here are to strangers. PM: Do you have a favorite place in Shaxi that you don’t necessarily take your clients to? If so, what makes its special? CB: It’s the Haiyunju Nunnery at Shibaoshan. It’s such an active temple, with music, worship, incense, candles and very hospitable local village elders running the temple. You rarely see temples like this in China – most are empty museums and charge admission. Not every guest is excited about temples as I am, so unless they express an interest, we send them to the grottoes at Shizhong temple, or the cliff temples at Baoxiang temple. Those are the “famous” temples that the government promotes, but Hai Yun Ju isn’t on the map, through it’s just past the main entrance at Shibaoshan. PM: What kind of groups have you hosted so far? Can you share a memorable moment from one of them? CB: Service learning for college students and high school students, visiting government delegations, corporate groups, eco-tours. We have the high school groups build greenhouses up in the Yi villages, and there’s a great satisfaction in seeing them complete these projects, as they’re a big benefit to the Yi farmers. PM: What other projects do you have in the pipeline for Shaxi? CB: Nothing right now. Growth in Shaxi is very slow and there is an overcapacity of guesthouses and restaurants. Currently we are marking trails up on the mountains behind the Old Theatre Inn for adventurous guests to hike. PM: Where is home now–Thailand, Yunnan, the States? How do you define “home?” CB: I live most of the year in Thailand, though we take Summers in the U.S. my goal is to be able to take a few three-week vacations around Asia every year. I really like Japan, looking forward to New Zealand. My daughter is in school in Chiang Mai, so this is where our home is for now. PM: What other things keep you busy apart from your work in Shaxi? CB: Visioneering (planning the long future), meditation, fitness, working on improving current business for other projects, such as Yangshuo, family life, trying new beers. PM: What books are you reading at the moment? Favorite authors? How much of your reading is for pleasure? CB: I’m reading Kevin Kelly, Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell. Favorite author is Alan Watts. PM: If a complete stranger asks you, what do you do for a living, how do you respond? CB: “As little as possible.” PM: Chris, thanks so much for your time. It’s been a real pleasure!


Founded in 2012 in thanks for the birth of his daughter, American designer and China entrepreneur Chris Barclay founded the Ginkgo Society. It is a social enterprise based in Dali Yunnan that focuses on sustainable development in Shaxi. Find out more on the blog which documents the rebuilding of the Pear Orchard Temple and other service projects in Shaxi here.






Guest reservations can be guaranteed by PayPal payment,bank transfer and Visa or Master card information. Old Theatre Inn reserves rooms on a first-come-first-serve basis by PayPal guarantee. To reserve our rooms, we require a guarantee payment of the full room charge, paid in USD or EUR within 48 hours of confirmed booking.

DISCOUNTED BOOKINGS If following confirmation, the number of rooms or nights originally booked are reduced, the discounted rate will no longer apply and the standard room rates will apply.

WITHIN 48 HOURS Cancellations made within 48 hours of arrival date (not arrival time) will incur full charges. Reservations of more than two nights will be charged in full for the first two nights and all subsequent nights will be charged 50%.

72 HOURS Cancellations made 72 hours before arrival date (not arrival time) will incur 50% of total room night charges.

Cancellations made between 4 and 6 days before arrival date (not arrival time) will incur 30% of total room night charges.

If the guest cancels with at least 7 days notice from arrival date, there is no charge.

Reservations of three or more rooms are regarded block bookings. Guests wishing to cancel the booking within 15 days prior to arrival will forfeit their deposit.

When accommodation is reserved by a third party, the cancellation charges automatically become the responsibility of the third party.

If a guest decides to leave early for any reason other than the direct fault of Old Theatre Inn (ie; plumbing, electric, service-related failures) or un-controllable environmental phenomena, (floods, pandemics, political unrest), the guest will forfeit the amount in full for the subsequent room night on the day of early departure notification, and 50% of room charges for the remaining room nights on the reservation. Old Theatre Inn will always inform guests in writing prior to their arrival of any issues related to the above that may affect their stay. Should Old Theatre Inn fail to inform the guest in advance of any relevant issues affecting their stay, there will be no charge for early departure.

PLEASE ADVISE US IMMEDIATELY IF YOU NEED TO CANCEL OR ALTER YOUR BOOKING IN ANY WAY Failure to do so will be deemed as acceptance of the above conditions. All amendments or cancellations must be made in writing (email or fax), canceling by telephone is not acceptable. We respectfully remind guests that a reservation made verbally or in writing, constitutes a legal contract between themselves and the Old Theatre Inn.