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Dali City Overview

Dali, a historically and culturally famous city of China, is renowned for her historical interest. During the Tang and Song Dynasties, it was the capital of Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms, the political, economic and cultural centre of Yunnan, an important gateway of cultural exchange and trading with southeastern Asian countries, and an important pass of the ancient "Silk Route of the South". It has long enjoyed the reputation of "a land of  letters".Yunnan Adventure Travel provides Dali tours.

‣ Where is Dali

About 420 km (261 miles) Northwest of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, the city of Dali is located between Erhai Lake and Cangshan Mountain. With the population of about 3.3 million (Bai people shares 65% of total population), Dali is the capital city of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. 

‣Basic Information

●Chinese Name:大理

●Key Words:A land of letters

●Altitude:1,974 metres


●Recommended Visiting Time: 1 0r 2 days

‣Dali History

The city has a long history. About the year 738 AD, it became the seat of the Kingdom of Nanzhao. The Nanzhao Kingdom had control of important trade routes to Southeast and South Asia. Its location enabled Dali to prosper as merchandise from China was carried southwards, and as goods from as far as India was carried northwards. It was a major trading center. The rulers of the Nanzhao became Buddhists, and Bali became a center for the spread of Buddhism from Southeast and South Asia to the rest of China and East Asia. After two hundred years, The Nanzhao Kingdom was conquered by the Duan Clan. Two hundred years after this, in 1253, the Mongols conquered the city and ended the Dali Kingdom. Under Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan, Dali became an important military outpost for the Mongolians. The Mongolians in turn were defeated, and the Ming dynasty was established.

‣What to Visit In Dali

●Dali Old Town:one of Yunnan's most popular tourist destinations with historic sites, ancient buildings and temples.

●The Three Pagodas:the symbolic building of Dali, the pagodas are like three ballpoint pens 

●Erhai Lake:reputed as "Pearl of Plateau", is the second largest highland lake of Yunnan.

Cangshan Mountain:,located west of Dali Old Town and Erhai Lake, is with nineteen peaks and eighteen streams.

●Butterfly Spring:the tree puts forth fragrant white and yellow flowers, attracting thousands of real butterflies to gather on its leaves.

Dali Ancient Town

          Dali Old Town

Cangshan Mountain

                               Cangshan Mountain

The Three Pagodas

                                       The Three Pagodas

‣Ethnic Culture in Dali

Dali is known for its historical and cultural status, being a capital of ancient kingdoms, but it is also known as the home of the Bai ethnic group.In the past, the group was known as the “Heman,” “Baiman” and “Bairen” people. In the 1950’s, The Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture was founded and the group was officially named as the Bai nationality.Bai means “white” in Chinese, referring to the white clothes that the Bai people like to wear. The Bai worship the color white, and their architecture reflects this. Like many other ethnic groups, the Bai people have their own language. The Bai language, with its dialects, is still spoken among the group, but mandarin Chinese is their main language nowadays.

‣Ethnic Festivals in Dali

●Third Month Fair

The grandest festival of the Bai people is the Third Month Fair, held annually at the foot of Mount Cangshan in Dali between the fifteenth and the twentieth day of the third lunar month. Originally it was religious activity to rally and pay homage, but it gradually evolved into a fair including performances of traditional sports and dance, as well as the trade of merchandise from different regions.

●Torch Festival

Another important festival is the Torch Festival, held on the 25th day of the sixth lunar month to wish health and a good harvest. On that evening, the countryside is decorated with banners with auspicious words written upon them. Villagers then light torches in front of their gates and walk around the fields while holding yet more torches in order to catch pests.

‣What to Eat in Dali

Three Course Tea ,Sān Dào Chá, which includes three different teas. The first tea is bitter, the second tea is sweet and the third one is spicy and refreshing. This Three Course Tea ceremony is a tradition that goes back to the Tang dynasty.

Milk Fan, is actually cheese, it's named by its shape as other stuffs do in China; milk Fan is a kind of typical Bai food in Dali; on  wedding banquets, Buddhist ceremonies and other important occasions, it is a must-serve dish; and normally, it's served with sugar.

‣Recommended Hotels in Dali

●Gurong Hotel Dali(大理古榕会馆),a business hotel combines characteristic style with local features.

●The One Resort(古城一号院),offers a peaceful retreat in luxurious accommodation with classic Chinese-style décor.
●Dali Landscape Hotel(兰林阁酒店)is set around courtyards,very close to the busy streets for the usual tourist shopping.

  • ‣Travel Tips in Dali

  • 1. If you want to visit Erhai Lake, the ideal way is to go to Erhai pier to take cruise ship in the north side of Xiaguan. Cruise ships usually depart every morning at 8:30, suggest buying the ticket one day in advance.

  • 2. The bus from Kunming to Dali, the terminal is to Xiaguan (Xiguan is the new city zone), not Dali Ancient City. After you go out of the Xiaguan Station you can take bus No.4 to Dali Ancient City directly (about 20 kilometers away from Xiaguan), 40 minutes drive.

  • 3. Spring, summer, autumn and winter in Dali seemed like spring all the year round, the temperature difference is not big, the annual average temperature of 15 degrees celsius. In th beginning of March every year in the spring people can wear spring clothing, and at the beginning of May, summer clothing has been popular in Dali, in the middle of October to November period, people can wear autumn clothes, if you are traveling in mid-November to Dali, you have better bring a winter clothes for a rainy day.

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