Yunnan Province, 524km (325 miles) NW of Kunming, 132km (82 miles) NW of Dali

Deep in the heart of Shaxi valley, Sideng village square is the only surviving temple way-station along the old tea and horse caravan trail which linked Southern China through the Himalayas, to Nepal and India. Today, around 22,000 people, 80% of them Bai, live in the Shaxi valley, most still working in agriculture. The local government is trying hard to avoid the type of mass tourism found in nearby Dali and Lijiang whose primary beneficiaries are outside entrepreneurs. Dali and Lijiang both receive in excess of five million visitors per year. Shaxi Valley, on the other hand, is lucky if it sees 10,000 -- making it a firm favorite with overseas visitors who want to see conservation and sustainable development rather than endless souvenir shops and millions of other tourists. In addition, the locals claim 300 days of sunshine per year. Residents here are aware of the tourist trade but remain warm and friendly, especially in the hamlet of Duanjiadeng.