Shaxi Ancient Town is situated in Jianchuan, a county in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, in southwestern China's Yunnan Province. The town dates back to the late Spring and Autumn period (770—476 BC). It has a history of more than 2,400 years. Shaxi in 2005 was named one of China's historical and cultural towns by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. The ancient dwellings and folk customs of the Bai ethnic group have attracted tourists to Shaxi. People in Shaxi mastered the technique of smelting bronze more than 2,400 years ago. Shaxi has been the economic and cultural center of Yunnan Province since the Tang Dynasty (618—907). Shaxi was an important trading center along the ancient Tea Horse Road (a network of caravan paths, through the mountains of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, in southwestern China, in ancient times). Yujin Bridge As Shaxi was the nearest trading center to the salt wells in Yunnan, it was the "salt capital" in Yunnan in ancient times. Shaxi was also the center of the Buddhist culture in the Nanzhao (738—902) and Dali kingdoms (937—1253), in southwestern China. Xingjiao Temple Xingjiao Temple is a must-see scenic spot in Shaxi. The temple was built during the reign of Emperor Yongle (1360—1424) of the Ming Dynasty (1368—1644). It is the largest and most representative Acarya (a branch of Tantric Buddhism) temple in China. Many people of the Bai ethnic group in Yunnan believe in Acarya. The buildings in the temple combined the features of the architecture of the Han ethnic group, during the Ming Dynasty, with the features of the architecture of the Bai ethnic group. The frescoes in the temple were also deeply influenced by the painting style of the Han people.
Sideng Street Sideng Street is the center of the ancient town. "Si" refers to Xingjiao Temple. "Deng" means place in the Bai language. In ancient times, people traded along Sideng Street. There was a big bazaar on the street every four days. Caravans (a team of people who drove horses to carry goods along the ancient Tea Horse Road in ancient times) from other areas in Yunnan, and other regions in China, traded goods in Shaxi. The locals sold goods in the front rooms of their houses along the street, or they rented the front rooms to other businessmen. The locals also used the inner rooms and the courtyards to serve the caravans, where they could stay and store their goods and horses. Now, there is a bazaar on the street every Friday. Even though the town is not as prosperous as before, many people in and around the town still go to the bazaar to buy goods.
Ancient stage Kuixing Pavilion, which is situated at the eastern part of Sifang Street, is another scenic spot. The pavilion was built during the Qing Dynasty (1644—1911). It is a place where the local Bai people enshrine and worship the god of literature. The pavilion has a stage. Locals believe the stage is the spirit of the town. The locals in Shaxi, whether men or women, the elderly or the young, sing and dance well. Every person in Shaxi is proud of performing on stages. Shaxi is called the hometown of singing and dancing by the travelers. Travelers can take a bus from Dali, capital of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, to Jianchuan County. Then, they can take a mini bus from Jianchuan County to Shaxi Ancient Town.