Dali Overview

  • Located in the northwest part of Yunnan, Dali is home to the ethnic Bai people. It is a picturesque little town with plenty of atmosphere. The old town, surrounded by the remains of the Ming city walls, is characterized by cobbled lanes and stone houses. Numerous Bai villages in the nearby countryside offer rural markets and a glimpse into traditional culture.


    Dali is also a historically and culturally famous city of China and 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".


    History: Dali has a long and rather glorious history. In 738 the kingdom of Nanzhao was established with Dali as its capital and covered a large area of Yunnan and northern Burma. The kingdom survived almost 200 years and had 13 kings before being overthrown by DUAN, Siping in 937. The Kingdom of Dali controlled by the DUANs survived until conquered by the Mongols in the 12th century. Many local people in Dali have the surname DUAN to this day (rare in other parts of China). These historical events are immortalised in the Martial Arts literature of Taiwanese author JIN Yong (read by every Chinese school kid), giving Dali a fame nationwide.

Best Time to Visit

  • The best time to visit in druing the Sring (March- Jun). Sunshine, blooming flowers and fresh fragrant air makes spring the local's most favoured season.

How to Get There?

  • Dali is 1389 KM from Beijing
    Dali is 2041 KM from Shanghai

    There are no direct flights to Dali.  You will have to fly through Kunming first.

    Beijing-Kunming -  There are 18 flights per day starting from 07:50am to 21:10pm.  The flight takes 4 hours.
    Kunming-Beijing -  There are 12 flights per day starting from 12:35pm to 20:00pm

    Shanghai - Kunming-  There are 12 flight per day starting from 07:35am to19:10pm.  The flight takes just under 3 hours.
    Kunming- Shanghai - There are 10 flights per day ranging from 09:00 to 20:10pm. 

    Full Price Air Ticket (one way)
    Beijing-Kuming - RMB2210
    Shanghai-Kunming - RMB2100
    Kunming-Dali - RMB 650

    Getting to Dali from Kunming:
    There are only two flights a day from Kunming leaving at 07:35 and 19:55 (30 minute flight)

    There is a train which runs daily between Kunming and Xiaguan (Dali), In peak seasons there may be another additional train running and schedules may be rearranged. The journey is about 8hrs. But it is better to make the journey by bus.

    Most travelers choose to travel to Xiaguan from Kunming by bus. 3 major bus stations in Xiaguan, all on the same street, Jianshe Lu.

    A.The biggest bus station is the Dali Central Bus Terminal (Dalishi Keyun Zongzhan).Most of the express buses start from here, and there is a separate waiting hall for passengers who take expresses.

    Buses to the key tourists destionation around,such as Kunming/ Lijiang/ Zhongdian/Ruili/Tengchong... are available with high frequencies, daily.

    B.The second largest station is called the Transportation Service Terminal (Keyun Fuwu Zhan), some express and regular buses leaving from here. Most of the Kunming buses arrive at this station.

    C.Dayun station-opposite the biggest one and beside the Dayun Hotel. Express buses do not use this station but normal buses to/from  Kunming and other destinations are available.


What to see

  • The ancient town between the South Gate and the North Gate offers everything from small souvenir shops to teahouses and traditional masseurs. From the top of the South Gate you can see Er Hai and Cang Shan.

    The three pagodas are one of the oldest standing structures in southwest China with a history of over 1,800 years. They are the symbol of Dali City and a record of the development of Buddhism in the area.

    Er Hai Lake in the east of Dali is a symbol of natural fecundity to the Bai and one of the seven biggest fresh water lakes in China. It is 40km long and is home to 50-odd species of fish.

    Around Er Hai Lake are several temples and villages worth exploring, especially on market days, and give you the possibility to see Bai people during their daily life.

    Cangshan Mt. is famous for its natural scenery of streams and paths through the mountains. At the top you can find the Daoist Zhonghe Temple and the Butterfly Spring. It is regarded as a symbol of love among the local Bai people who believe that two lovers committed suicide here in order to be together.

Useful info

  • There are two “Dalis” - one is Dali City, officially known as “Xiaguan”, where most of the traffic pulls in. The other is “Dali Gucheng”, the ancient town, 12km away from Xiaguan. This is the one which is worth exploring.


    Climate: Dali’s weather fluctuates each season but with an annual mean temperature ranging from 12℃ to 19℃(54F~60F).
    Rainy season starts from June to October. Dali enjoys bright sunshine which is most welcome during the winter months.
    Hottest days: July with average temperature of 22℃(72F)
    Coldest days: January at 8℃(46F)

More Information

  • People
    Over 80% of the 1.6 million members of China's Bai ethnic minority live within the villages of the Dali prefecture, the area they have occupied for 4000 years. And they stay here for good reason: they are blessed with some of the most fertile farmland, beautiful scenery, and mild weather in China.

    Dali is perhaps most well-known for dishes historically cooked by the Bai, the city’s main ethnic minority groups, and should certainly not be missed by those stopping in the area.
    However, Dali is a melting-pot for many different cultures, and offers visitors the chance to sample numerous foods from around Yunnan Province and other Chinese delicacies.
    Stewed Carp Casserole, Steamed Chicken Bai food has a very good reputation all over Yunnan; it's spicy, sour and fresh. Fish casserole, Tofu casserole, Cheese (Rushan, Rubing), many kinds of wild fungus, Ham, Various flowers and local green vegetables, Rice noodle, Sticky rice cake with pickled veggies and meat sauce, Mashed potato (Lao nai yangyu-Gramma's potato). The Muslim in the area are known for cooking very good beef dishes, soup and more..

    There' s a lot of kitsch in the streets, but with it rare finds as well. For the light traveler, there are embroidered  
    clothing, tie-dyed scarves, Dali batik and jade jewelry. For those who like to lug around large alabs of stone, authentic Dali marble(dalishi) can be found everywhere. This quality marble is usually set into wood furniture, tabletops and table screens. Dali' s Gantong tea(gantong cha),Cangshan snow tea (cangshan xuecha)and Xiaguantuo tea(xiaguan tuocha)make good gifts. Monday is market day in Shaping Village, some 30km north of Dali. Whether you' re buying or just browsing, the market is great fun. From 10am to 2pm, it' s a shopping frenzy on a hill near the highway. Traders peddle anything from pots to clothes.  On the eastern shore of Erhai Lake is the Wase Village market the fifth day of each month; rural women in colorful jackets, long tunics and sequined chapeaus pack the market square. Locals arrive on horses and donkeys, and amidst wandering pigs, trade wares ranging from rice and nuts to horses and squawking chickens. Forget proper stalls, most items are displayed out of woven baskets.