Located halfway between Dali and Lijiang, nestled among mountains and fields in the Shaxi Valley, the old town of Shaxi will take you back in time. Forget about traffic jams, air pollution and mass tourism; Shaxi will welcome you with its quiet cobbled alleys, beautiful courtyard homes and lively market.
This old caravan town, once an important trading post on the ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Route, hasn't lost its charm thanks to its remote location and the valuable preservation work done by the local government and foreign NGOs.
If you're planning to visit Shaxi, make sure to be there on a Friday. Every Friday morning, Yi, Bai, Lisu, Naxi, Hui and Tibetan ethnic groups from the surrounding mountains gather in town for the weekly market. Men and women dressed in their traditional colourful costumes, carry large baskets and lead pack horses and mules into town to sell their weekly crop and buy essential goods.
Strolling about the market is quite an experience, especially for photography enthusiasts and curious travellers in search of stories.
You can find just about everything for sale at the market: meat, fish, fresh produce, traditional Chinese medicine, tofu, tobacco, fresh goat cheese, grains and daily items. Of course there's plenty of food stalls selling freshly steamed buns and other local delicacies. There are whole sections dedicated to clothing, electronics, wicker baskets and other tools, live chickens and pigs, birds and flowers-you name it!
You can even see a dentist, a lawyer or get a wig made!
Shaxi Friday market is a great chance for locals to socialize, catch up on the latest news and gossip and, of course, do business. At the same time, it's a unique experience for outsiders to witness the magic of this old tradition happening every week in a place that truly seems lost in time.
If you're travelling from or to Lijiang and Dali, make sure to include Shaxi in your itinerary. The weekly market is definitely a highlight of visiting Shaxi, so try to plan your trip accordingly. Check out our tours, tailor-make your own or directly get in touch with us for any question or information.