Skip to content
Site Tools
Increase font size Decrease font size Default font size default color blue color green color
Travel in Yunnan

Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture
(dà lǐ bái zú zì zhì zhōu 大理白族自治州) in northwest Yunnan (yún nán 云南) is a famous Chinese cultural city and a national scenic zone. A rich heritage dates back to the days when the city was the capital of the kingdoms of Nanzhao (nán zhào 南诏) and Dali. Dali is a major habitat for the ethnic Bai (bái 白) people, whose folkways are at once time-honored and distinctive. 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" (nán fāng sī lù 南方丝路). It has long enjoyed the reputation of "a land of letters". The scenery of the four seasons in Dali like paintings, in many scenery famous spots, they are most famous for four views of breeze, flower, snow and moon and fascinating.


dali2Dali Prefecture is 398 kilometers far away from Kunming which is the capital of the Yunnan Province. The total area of the state is 29459 square kilometers, the population is about 3,330,000. There are total 25 nationalities; it is a frontier town which is based mainly on the Bai Nationality and is an area of living together with minorities. The customs of the ethnic minorities bring charm to daily life in Dali.

Dali is neighboring Chuxiong in the east, Puer, Lincang in the south, Baoshan, Nujiang in the west, and Lijiang in the north. It administrates one city, Dali City (dà lǐ shì 大理市), 8 Counties, namely Xiangyun (xiáng yún 祥云), Midu (mí dù 弥渡), Binchuan (bīn chuān 宾川), Yongping (yǒng píng 永平), Yunlong (yún lóng 云龙), Eryuan (ěr yuán 洱源), Heqing (hè qìng 鹤庆), Jianchuan (jiàn chuān 剑川), and 3 autonomous counties, namely Weishan Yi and Hui Autonomous County (wēi shān yí zú huí zú zì zhì xiàn 巍山彝族回族自治县), Yangbi Yi Autonomous County (yàng bì yí zú zì zhì xiàn 漾濞彝族自治县), Nanjian Yi Autonomous County (nán jiàn yí zú zì zhì xiàn 南涧彝族自治县).

Dali has a long history of civilization. As early as 4,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Bai people settled in the Dali area. In the Second Century AD, it was brought into the territory of the central government of Han Dynasty (206 BC-220AD). Two ethnic states, the Nanzhao State (738-937) in Tang Dynasty (618-907), and the Dali State (937-1253) in Song Dynasty (960-1279), were once established here as well. Throughout the ages, Dali remained an intermediary area linking economic and cultural communications between ancient China and other countries via India. The remains of Dali Tai He City (dà lǐ tài hé chéng 大理太和城) and the Dali Ancient City (dà lǐ gǔ chéng 大理古城) bear witness to thousands of years of historic changes in Dali. Together with the Xizhou Town (xǐ zhōu zhèn 喜洲镇) and the Zhoucheng Village (zhōu chéng cūn 周城村), the ancient towns in Dali show the best of historic customs of daily life within the Bai Minority.

dali3Present day Dali is a city that combines history with modern convenience. It is divided into two areas - the Ancient City and the New District - Xiaguan (xià guān 下关). The Ancient City is centered around the ancient city of Dali, first built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Ancient buildings, city walls and the old city moat are the sites most frequented by visitors. The famous Foreigner Street in the Ancient City attracts visitors with its handicrafts, and local culinary delicacies. Xiaguan, located to the south of the Ancient City, home to the government of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. Here hotels, public squares, and shopping centers add modernity to the otherwise historical city.

Throughout its years of development, local endeavors for advancement have been rewarded with a great rise in area living standards. Nowadays, Dali is a tourist destination replete with every convenience in transportation and public facilities, making it accessible for visitors from home and abroad.


dali4Having a plateau monsoon climate at low latitudes, Dali's weather fluctuates each season but with an annual mean temperature ranging from 12°C  to 19°C (54°F-66°F). As such, Dali is a favorite tourist destination all year round. Due to its higher altitude, Dali is slightly colder than Kunming. Its rainy season begins in June and last till October. The hottest days are in July with average temperature of 22°C  (72°F) while the coldest in January at 8°C  (46°F). Thanks to its higher altitude, Dali enjoys bright sunshine which is most welcome during the winter months.

Although the difference in temperature is not great throughout the year but spring is usually deemed as the best season to visit Dali. There are local songs eulogizing the scenic beauty of Dali's spring. Wherever one goes at this time of the year, one can enjoy the most beautiful sceneries of Dali. When summer turns into autumn, the temperature falls dramatically, especially if it rains. Hence, warmer clothing is required during that period.

A lot of festivals and grand occasions of the Bai Nationality are mainly between March and April of every year, visiting at this time; you will feel the heavy race romantic feeling. The best tour time is from March to May, regardless going to the Ancient City, or ascend the Cangshan Mountain (cāng shān 苍山) and visit the Erhai Lake (ěr hǎi 洱海), it is very good.


dali5Dali, a treasure land, boasts of its natural beauty, long history, famous culture and elite peoples, enjoying a fame of "Culturally Renown City".

Mountains in Dali are very high, with green pine and jade like bamboo. Brooks flow with pretty sounds. Flowers are blooming everywhere. Cangshan Mountain in Dali is very steep, pretty and charming with its sharp cliffs, green trees and flowers. There are 19 screen-like peaks touches the sky. The top of mountain is snow-clad all year around, with fog surrounding the peaks. It looks so mystique and so unfathomable. Among each two peaks of these 19 peaks, there is always a brook with clear water running. Sometimes the water runs like sheets of jade one piece upon the other. Sometimes the water runs like a waterfall flying down from the sky. Sometimes the water looms inside the bamboo forest. The brooks are running with clear sound to Erhai Lake. There is Jizu Mountain (jī zú shān 鸡足山), a pilgrimage for Buddhists, famous in Southeast Asia. The murals from the caves of Shibao Mountain (shí bǎo shān 石宝山) are as beautiful as those of Dunhuang (dūn huáng 敦煌). Weibao Mountain (wēi bǎo shān 巍宝山) was the cradle for the Nanzhao Kingdom in the Tang Dynasty.

dali6The basins in Dali are always surround by mountain, brooks, fields, villages, happy people. Golden Sand (Jinshajiang) River (jīn shā jiāng 金沙江) is located at Dali's east, Lancang River (lán cāng jiāng 澜沧江) and Nu River (nù jiāng 怒江) at west. So Dali is crisscrossed with rivers and brooks running all year around. Erhai lake, Cibi Lake (cí bì hú 茈碧湖), West Lake (xī hú 西湖), Sky Lake (tiān chí 天池) in Dali are all known as Bright Pearls on the plateau with waves upon waves, willows after willows, and villages by villages surrounded. Erhai Lake is swept with thousand waves. Fish can be seen from clear water. White sails are dotted on the lake, which are surrounded by fisherman's villages. Willows are on the lakeshore with branches touching water.

There are many famous tourist spots around the lake such as Three Pagoda Temple, Butterfly Spring, Erhai Park, Avalokitesvara Temple, and so on. They are so charming that Dali becomes much more interesting. Dali is so attractive that a visitor will forget his nostalgia just as the following poems describing Dali: "Water runs around mountains and mountains surround the cities. A river runs smoothly from villages with smoke floating upward. Birds are flying out from white clouds. Fish are swimming inside a pretty lady's mirror. The mystique mist comes up from the Lake. Boats and buildings in the lake tell autumn stories. A drawer who can draw tiger heads and sleeping dragons with just black ink, can not draw a picture like this with so many papers wasted." This poem was written by Li Jingo, a poet in the Yuan Dynasty.


The March Street

dali7The March Street (sān yuè jiē 三月街) lasts about a week and start on 15th of March of Chinese calendar, it is not only the supplies exchanges grand occasion of the people of Bai Nationality, but also is a festival of celebrating reunion of people of Bai Nationality once a year. The March Street is held on time in Cangshan Mountain and the west of Dali City. In this period, the businessmen gather and the goods accumulate, the people of each nationality all take the best handicraft products and the local special products to sell in the March Street, take the best literature program to present in the March Street, pick the best to ride to attend the horse-racing.

The history of March Street in Dali is long, it is said that it has already for more than 1000 years. March Street was the temple fair of teaching the sutra by Buddhism in the past, later, because Dali was the strategic area of Dali and India, along with the demand of the social and economic development, turn into gradually the trade market and the festival grand occasions with the strong race color. And it had the scale of equal grand view in the past.

Up to now, the prosperity of March Street grand occasion is prosperous to have already canned compare in former days not, its movable contents are more abundant and colorful. There are more than 20 provinces, cities, autonomous regions and foreign friends of several ten nations to attend this grand occasion, the population is over a million in the session, the total amount of trade is near ten million, the big animals are more than ten thousand, the species of the medicine material appear on market up to thousand. There are not only state-run companies, collective, individual business, business enterprise of each city and country in Dali State but also state-owned company units of region inside and outside of the province to attend the supplies exchanges. The visitors who attend the meeting and sightseeing of outside and inside the province are also too much.

The Torch Festival of Bai Nationality in Dali

dali8The Torch Festival (huǒ bǎ jié 火把节) is Chinese traditional race festival that many national minorities all lead in southwest of China, the time is generally from 24th to 26th of June of the lunar calendar, Bai Nationality and Yi Nationality lead the most solemn and impressive and earnest. The Bai Nationality in the region of Dali leads June 24th, the Yi Nationality in the region of Dali leads June 25th. In this day of festival, each village hold a big torch, put on to write to "produce good", “the country and people are peace"," the breeze adjusts and rain agreeable" etc. The size of the good luck language rises the baskets and the many colors flags, pin up the fruits, such as torch pear and premium...etc. and the steamed stuffed bun plain wheat rolls. Before get dark, each family supports the old and carries young to round the big torch, begging the peace.

According to the historical records, the Torch Festival belongs to the fire adoration, the torch stanza was called "the new fire stanza" in the past, because the fire is the symbol of bright, represent the ideal and hopes. It should be in the period of the ancient tribe firstly, the ancient people took to material for new fire, re- started a fire, the purpose was for driving out the old and bring in the new and letting fire put out never.

The Visiting Mountain Meeting in the Jizu Mountain

dali9The Jizu Mountain is the famous mountain of Buddhism, from 1st to 15th of January of Chinese calendar every year is the Visiting Mountain Meeting (cháo shān jié 朝山节). While the people of each nationality all go to the Mountain, beg the country and people are peaceful and enjoy the landscape of the Jizu Mountain, people should reach every temple, in the period of visiting the mountain, there are so many visitors and believers, the songs and jokes are everywhere, it is very noisy, people all go to the Jin Top of Jizu Mountain to watch the sunrise, particularly in the morning of January 15th of Chinese calendar, there are more people to watch the sunrise.

The Visiting Mountain Meeting in the Weibao Mountain

The time of the Visiting Mountain Meeting in the Weibao Mountain is from 1st to 15th of February of Chinese calendar every year. While the people of each nationality in the neighboring area wear own race clothing, keeping in mind the pleased mood to the Visiting Mountain Meeting in the Weibao Mountain to attend the meeting. The civil hole of Wei Mountain gives ancient and grace musical performance in each palace, increasing the charming color to the famous mountain and ancient temple.

The Song Meeting in Shibao Mountain

dali10The Song Meeting in Shibao Mountain (shí bǎo shān gē huì 石宝山歌会) is held in last three days in July of Chinese calendar every year. During the meeting dozens of thousand people of Bai Nationality in Jianchuan and near Yunlong, Eryuan, Lanping, Heqing, Lijiang etc. gather together without booking in the countryside of Shizhong Temple (shí zhōng sì 石钟寺), Baoxiang Temple (bǎo xiàng sì 宝相寺), Haiyun Temple (hǎi yún sì 海云寺) and Jinting Temple (jīn dǐng sì 金顶寺) in Baoshi Mountain in Jianchuan. At the front of solemn idols in peaceful temple, they sing the madrigal of Bai Nationality, the main form is to sing.


Raosanling (rào sān líng 绕三灵) which is the traditional civil grand occasion of people of Bai Nationality in Dali is from 23rd to 25th of February of Chinese calendar every year. In this days, people of Bai Nationality in countries near Dali dress up to attend. Sanling (sān líng 三灵) is the capital of Buddha which is Chongsheng Temple, the capital of deity which is Shengyuan Temple (shèng yuán sì 圣源寺) and the capital of celestial being which is Jingui Temple (jīn guī sì 金圭寺). Raosanling means visiting the three temples.

dali11The crowds who attend the Raosanling gather and set out to arrive at the Shengyuan Temple to live in the first day, arrive at the Xizhou (xǐ zhōu 喜洲) to live in the second day, arrive at the Hejun Village to live in the third day, arrive at the Majiuyi Village (mǎ jiǔ yì cūn 马久邑村) to dismiss in the fourth day, go from the foot of Jizu Mountain to the side of Erhai Lake. There are mountain, water and woods in your journey, the route and the locations of living all choose very fitting.

The procession of Raosanling of Bai Nationality is very sublime. In the daytime, crowds who attend the Raosanling all constitute some small groups freely, being constituted long and long two boulevard processions by some small groups again.

In the evening, the crowds who attend the Raosanling light the fire to burn the tea and cook rice in camp in countryside and forests of neighborhood. After meal, the old men drink the tea simultaneously and play simultaneously loudly three-stringed, sing Daben Song (dà běn qǔ 大本曲) with characteristics of Bai Nationality. The youth men and women then invite up their friends, arrive at the deep place of forest to talk the feeling love until early dawn. When Raosanling, the melody and lyric are made impromptu. See what sing what, the other people how to ask then how answer.


Sand-pot Fish

dali12Sand-pot fish (shā guō yú 砂锅鱼) is a famous local dish of Dali. Put slender chicken and more than ten seasonings like dried mushrooms into the sand-pot. Then add some bow fish or carp caught in Erhai Lake into the pot. Stew them slowly. The tourists can taste sand-pot fish on the yachts or in all the restaurants in Dali or Xiaguan. Sand-pot fish is 20 yuan every pot. One pot is enough for three to four people. It is really delicious.


dali13Rushan (rǔ shàn 乳扇) is made of the local milk of cows. The creation method is: After heat" the sour water" firstly, then ladle up the fresh milk to flutter lightly, it becomes the form of downy, then stand the thin slice with the bamboo chopsticks, dries by air on the bamboo. Because the shape likes inclined, it is called Rushan. The Rushan not only has the taste only, the nourishment is abundant, implies various materials of protein, amino acids...etc. that human body need, but also has the in harmony with spirit, blood and tranquilizes the nerves to cultivate mental calm, is good for the stomach to repair falsely etc. effect, it is the good product of the human body health to strengthen the physical endowment and promote. The cooking method of the Rushan is varied, fried, steam, roast, very hot, fry, boil all can. Take the Rushan together with other meat or vegetables; you can boil to make a series food of various milk of a pleasant change of atmosphere. The Rushan also can eat without boiling, in the past, there weren¡¯t highways in Shenxi, the conveyance depended on horses, the people of riding horses often took the Rushan and brown sugar as the food when they were tired.

Carved Plum

dali14Carved Plum (diāo méi 雕梅) is the traditional featured food of Bai people. It gets its name because people carved patterns on the fruit of greengage.Carved plum is not only a delicious food in the Autonomous Region of Dali, but also a carefully made handicraft. Eryuan County has been given the good name “Hometown of Plums”. Most of the local Bai girls are able to make carved plums when they are still very young. Whether a girl can make carved plum has also become a criterion of judging whether she is skillful enough. According to the local customs, before a girl gets married, she has to send gifts to her husband’s family as greetings. One of the gifts is a plateful of carefully made carved plums. At the first night of the newly-married couple, the bride has to serve fruits and wines to entertain the guests. Whether the carved plums are delicious and good enough becomes the topic of that night. Poets also take carved plums as the theme to compose a poem so as to add to the fun. There has been a poem singing for carved plums. The poet compared carved plums with chrysanthemum and orchid. He said the carved plums were in fact the celestial flowers which came to our earthly world.

Xizhou Crisp Pie

dali15Xizhou Crisp Pie (xǐ zhōu bā bā 喜洲粑粑) is made like this: put the fine flour into the pot. Put in water and leavening dough. Knead the flour into a dough. Roll the dough into a thin patch on a board. Spread salt or sugar on the patch and apply cooked lard. Roll the patch back into a long stick. Divide the stick equally into small parts, and roll them into round cakes. Brush rap oil onto a pan and put the pan onto the fire. Wait until the oil smokes, place the round cakes onto the pan, and cover the pan. The most wonderful thing is that there are charcoal fire on and beneath the pan so that the cakes are fried evenly. When the cakes are about half done, turn the cakes over and continue to fry until they are fully done. Xizhou Crisp Pie is golden yellow. It tastes sweet, soft, crisp, oily but not greasy. The pies are not too hot nor too cold, and are convenient to carry about.


Tuo Tea

dali16Tuo Tea (tuó chá 沱茶) in Xiaguan is choosed the famous tea as material, which were produced in more than 30 countries such as Linchang (lín cāng 临沧), Baoshan (bǎo shān 保山), Puer (pǔ ěr 普洱) etc. its beginning system craft crumple to make through artificial, the machine compress tightly several work prefaces, the form likes a bowl, the shape is beautiful, the color is black and smooth to show the pure strong fragrance of mille-, aroma. The color of soup is orange and clear, the taste is great back sweet. Often drinking has the health care functions which are to pure heart, clear eyes, perk up sprit, keep skin, suppress the bacteria and treat an illness. Abroad, it is called the losing weight tea, the beauty tea or the longevity tea. In China, Tuo Tea of Xiaguan, the white medicine of Yunnan and the Yun cigarette are praised to be three treasures of Yunnan. Tuo Tea of Xiaguan has gotten the honor of excellent product of province-class for 3 times, the national quantity silver quality prize and food gold prize of world, is given to title of the famous brand of Chinese tea.

Wax Dye Cloth

dali17It is the civil dye handicraft product that is widely accepted in the national minority region of Yunnan, the history is long. The wax dye clothing blend the cultural art of the national minority of Yunnan, there are all kinds of patterns, such as animals, flowers and the scenery famous spots...etc., it is special, novel and generous. The products contain clothing, each kind of hang packs, wall to hang etc.


dali18The bandhnu in Dali adopt the civil patterns, pass to process the traditional dyer skill further with art, make it become the handicraft product with art, abstraction and practical to merge into an integral whole. Its craft is sew by the handicraft needle firm, use the plant dyestuff again and again dyes to make but become, not only the color is fresh, gorgeous and fades in color never, but also eliminate inflammation to care the function to the skin, overcoming the harmful human body of modern chemistry dyestuff the side effect of the health.

The wood carving

dali19The work is fine, using the anticipate is fashionable, gather the essence of every kind of wood carving in Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, the shape is beauty and generous, elegant, interesting and novel, strong and tough and pliant and tough, the anti- decay, constant form, reappear the excellent race wood carving art. The wood carving in Jianchuan contain the cultured and luxury furniture of the living room, lifelike nine dragon murals, nine lion murals, flowers and birds murals; The each sitting screens, hanging screens and screens; Door, window and hangers of old buildings in park and several 100 species of various of race tour product...etc.

The Cotton Paper of Heqing

Its color is white liking cotton, thin liking cicada's wings, the quality is soft to defend the moth, the capability of absorbing water is strong, so have" The paper of Anhui (ān huī 安徽) is number one in the world, the paper of Heqing is the best in Yunnan" to say. The papers of Heqing take the bark of Gou Tree (gǒu shù 枸树) as the main material, the fiber is more and long, the syrup rate is high, delicate and pure. The papers are used to transcribe books and write the contract as good material in the past. In addition to the writing paper, there are still the packing appropriative double super papers, its thickness is about 3 times for the writing paper generally or so, tenacity is good, through use for long time and enduring.

Marble and Handicraft Products

dali20Marble, the stone quality is delicate, can be used for the building materials, also can be used for the carvings. Pass by beating and whetting, smooth such as fat, rear the surprising and beautiful wood grain; as a result it is a kind of first-class material of building and carvings. From time immemorial it was always the material to set up the palaces, temples, the gardens. In the Imperial Palace and Ming Tombs in Beijing, you can also see a great deal of marble. Moreover, the marble were used to the pillar and steps of people's houses broadly by the native crowds. In the area of Dali and Jianchuan, the Yun wood carving flowers furniture which enchase the marble are produced much, because the marble has characteristic of solution hot and spread the hot. Some handicraft products are made of the marble, such as goblet glass stemmed goblets, vases, pencil vases, glossy stone, tea box, ashtray, decoration screen etc. They are lovely and consummate, liked by the Chinese and Foreign guests deeply.


dali21It is the traditional and special handicraft article of Bai Nationality folks in Dali. The Jingui Village (jīn guī cūn 金圭村) of Xizhou in Dali has the long history of making felt, it has already become a special handicraft industry; The wool craftsman of making felt use the all-wool as the raw material to make into the clear water felt, then make into various of colorful felt by dye or the colorful painting. The familiar assortment species contain wrapping felt, the cover mat felt, tent felt, red felt, colorful felt, table felt, chair felt ...etc. They are very welcome by people and popular inside and outside the province.

The ideal location for shopping in Dali must be Foreigner Street in the Ancient City of Dali. This street exhibits an abundance of local specialties. In the dwelling area of the Bai minority group, characteristic handicraft articles of the Bai people can be purchased. Furthermore, supermarkets and shopping malls can also meet visitors' daily necessities.


Dali has a well-developed traffic network, including airport, railway station, express ways as well as four deluxe pleasure ships on the Erhai Lake.


dali22Dali Airport is located in the northeast corner of Xiaguan Town and southeast of Erhai Lake. It is 15 kilometers from the city proper. It has flights to Xishuangbanna, Kunming, Wuhan and Tianjin. A shuttle bus is available. You can take Bus No.7 from Xiaguan to Dali Airport. It will take you about 80 yuan to go there by taxi. Plane tickets are available in some Hotels and travel agencies in Xiaguan.
Inquiry Tel of Dali Airport: 0872-2315335
Ticket office for civil aviation: 0872-2171999


Dali Railway Station is situated in the Dali Economic and Technological Development Zone. It has a large number of trains to most of the major places of Yunnan Province and other cities in the country.
Inquiry Tel of Dali Railway Station: 0872-2325579
Tel of the Ticket Office: 0872-2166588


There are four deluxe pleasure ships, Dayun, Cangshan, Dujuan, and Haixing on Erhai Lake. You can embark at Xiaguan Pier and reach many tourist attractions, such as Erhai Park, Mirror Pavilion, Xiaopu Tuo, Jiangwei, and Butterfly Spring Pool.

Tel Code: 0872
Zip: 671000
Tel for tourist complaint: 0872-96927