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Dali Introduction

Erhai Lake and Cangshan Mountain, Dali.As the capital city of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Dali City is situated at the western part of Yunnan Province and is 376 km (about 234 miles) west of Kunming. Covering an area of 1,468 sq km (about 362,750 acres) and consisting of more than 20 nationalities, the city is the political, commercial and cultural center of the whole prefecture. Although 65 % of citizens are of Bai nationality, Han, Yi, Hui, Lisu, Naxi, Tibetan and many other nationalities also reside in this beautiful land. Lying on the foot of green Cangshan Mountain and facing the crystal Erhai Lake, the city is renowned as Oriental Geneva for its pleasant weather, charming natural scenery, ancient culture and distinctive minority ethnical flavors.

 Things to Do
Dali has abundant natural scenery which has allured many tourists from all over the world every day. The existing Dali Old Town (former Dali County), which was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), boasts a magnificent city wall, ancient residential houses full of ethnical flavor, tranquil environment and blooming flowers in every windowsill and balcony

Folk handicrafts, Dali City.

19 peaks of Cangshan Mountain stand grandly while dark green Erhai Lake lies seductively. Butterfly Meet held in Butterfly Spring Park every year delivers to the distinctive Bai tradition. The cultural symbol of Dali City, Three Pagoda, can always be seen in any introduction materials of Dali. Huguo Lu in Dali Old City is now a place where foreign people gathered. A lot of restaurants, cafes, teahouses, and handicraft article shops add some exotic feelings to Dali City.

 Bai People
Most Bai people reside in Yunnan Province, others settle down in Guizhou, Sichuan and Hunan provinces. As an ancient ethnical group, Bai consists of many other nationalities from the past 3000 years, thus, Bai people are always open to outside cultures. The Bais have their own spoken language and use Chinese as their written language. In the past, the marriage of Bai people was arranged by parents just like Han people. But they would not live with their parents after their marriage if they had a younger brother. Parents lived with the youngest son or daughter and son-in-law if they had no son. Bai people are partial to tea that they drink a cup of tea soon after arising in the morning. Three Cups of Tea is the utmost etiquette to welcome guests. The first cup of tea is pure baked tea; the second will be added by some walnut seed, brown sugar and Rushan (a typical Yunnan snack which is made of milk and vinegar) and the third will be added by drops of honey and Chinese pepper.

 The lively Bai girls, Dali City.

Bai people like the color white very much. In the Dali region, men like to wear white coats with buttons down the front and white trousers, with colorful bags on the shoulder. Women prefer white clothing with blue trousers and embroidered shoes. Bai people believe in Buddhism as well as immortals, most of whom are legendary heroes. Esoteric Buddhism was introduced into Dali in late Tang Dynasty while after Yuan and Ming Dynasties, Zen Buddhism also spread in Dali. Thus, a lot of Buddhism temples scatter in Dali. March Street is a great festival of Bai people, which is held from March 15 to 20 (lunar calendar) to the west of Dali Old City. At that time, merchants from far or near will come to sell goods. Torch Festival, which is held every June 25, lunar calendar, is another big festival of Bai people. People hold torches and march in the files, thus a great harvest will come according to Bai people's belief.

Tracing back to fourth century BC, the ancestors of Bai people have settled in this area and created a brilliant Neolithic culture. At 221 BC, Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 BC) began to pay attention to the southwest of China and Yeyu County was established in Dali region during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD). As early as that time, Dali was already an important traffic junction for inner China and India, Burma. Shu State established Yunnan County during the Three Kingdoms Period (220 - 280) and Sui Dynasty (581 - 618) stopped an insurgence in Kunming at the year 597. In the seventh century, there were already six tribes residing in Yunnan and Nanzhao Kingdom was founded under the support of Tang Dynasty (618 - 907). As the capital of Nanzhao Kingdom, Dali became the commercial, cultural, political center of Southwest China. In 937, Nanzhao Kingdom was replaced by Dali Kingdom, which had controlled the region for three hundreds years until the last king captured by Mongolian. Yuan Dynasty(1271 - 1368) established Yunnan Province officially and Dali has become a famous tourist site. Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture was founded in 1956, and Xiaguan County combined with Dali County was titled Dali City since 1983.

As a well-known tourist site, Dali is convenient to get in and around. Flights from Kunming, Xishuangbannan, Guangzhou are available everyday. Trains and long-distance coaches can transfer passengers to Kunming, Lijiang, Zhongdian, etc easily. Buses, taxis and bicycles are good choices for visitors to get around Dali City for they are economic and flexible.

Dali City enjoys a lot of sunshine and mild weather at each season and belongs to the low latitude highland monsoon climate.. With an annual average temperature 15.1 °C (59.2 °F) and an average yearly precipitation of 1,100 mm (43.3 ft), it's neither too hot nor too cold. So it's suitable to have a trip to the city all year round. However, since the most famous Dali Four Scenes, Snow of Cangshan Mountain, Moon of Erhai Lake, Flower of Shangguan and Wind of Xiaguan is a must-see for every tourist, it is best not to visit the city in winter as the wind of Xiaguan might be a little harsh.

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