This is a very off-the-beaten path and relaxing tour of Dali, southwest part of China - to stay and relax in three distinctive villages and have the chance to explore, research, and interact with the rich local culture in a more intimate and in-depth way.
Although Dali is one of the most popular spots for independent travelers, many tourists either bypass it to Lijiang or give it 1-2 days before heading to Lijiang & Shangri-La. Chinese tourists tend to stay in nearby Xiaguan Town and visit the old town of Dali and surrounding areas in daytime. So the suburbs of Dali becomes thankfully quiet, especially in the mornings and evenings.
Dali actually deserves at least a week or two to discover the local architecture, minority cultures (mostly Bai but also with many Yi and Hui) and custom and simply to relax. With the beautiful Cangshan Mountains a short distance to the west of Dali Old Town and Erhai Lake a few kiometres to the east, it has a perfect natural setting. The climate is temperate with moderate summers and mild winters, though it can get rather windy in autumn and winter.
You are going to stay in three distinctive and pristine villages outside the old town of Dali, which allow you to focus on the deeper aspects of the ethnic traditions and enjoy unimpeded interaction with local villagers and their customs: Eryuan, a wetland and lake side village with least visitors; Taoyuan, paddy field and boutique resort where your room facing the tranquil Erhai lake; and Xizhou, a little township with rich culture and architecture.
You are going to stay in family run hotels in both Eryuan & Xizhou and eat local dishes cooked by the hosts, a very special opportunity to learn the local cuisine as well as the warmth of the local Bai people.
Yunnan, which literally means south of the cloud, lies just south of the lofty Tibet – Qinghai plateaus in South West China. The diverse landscape ranges from low-lying land, teeming with unusual flowers and plants, to snow – capped mountains. The 6 day tour will take you from the Ancient Town of Lijiang and the Tiger Leaping Gorge in the north to the lush tropical beauty of Xishuangbanna in the South. Here, on the border of Myanmar you will find a variety of ethnic villages.
Itinerary for a private custom-made tour
(You can stay in Dali for more days, or make the tour shorter by selecting only one or two of below mentioned places)
Day 1: Fly into Dali / Eryuan
- Fly to Dali in the morning, arrival time: 10:30
- Drive over one hour to a village in Eryuan county, literally the source of Erhai, where the water of Dali's Erhai lake comes from.
- It is a very peaceful village, surrounded by wetland and lake, and is least visited by tourists. You will stay in a local family run hotel very close to the wetland.
- Lunch and enjoy the hotspring spa (good facility and nice embience), which is famous in Eryuan (optional).
- Sunset and see local people activities (washing, planting or fishers' returning) by and on the lake.
- The hosts will kill their own chickens for your meal and make delicious fish dishes and other dishes which is special for Eryuan.
- See the local villagers' nighlife in the alleys.
Day 2: Eryuan
- See the villagers in the early morning carrying their own cow milk to a milk collecting spot in the village; or people packing garlic or other vegetables for the morning market.
- Ride the wooden boat to see the farm in the middle of the wetland on the water, and the villages at the foot of the mountain on the other side of the wetland.
- Another delicious meal prepared by hosts - very refreshing vegetables and meat)
- Sit in the couch in the courtyard and to relax.
- Or go to visit the big local market in the center of the village.
Day 3: Xizhou
- Drive one hour to Xizhou, a small township of Bai people with gatetowers, check in the family hotel inside the old town.
- Walk around in the old town and try all different snacks cooked on the stands by the street, or select some local crafts.
- Have lunch cooked by the hosts.
- Free time to walk around the old town.
- Dinner again prepared by the hosts in the little courtyard. Many local specialties are served.
- You can also go into the kitchen to get to know the local Dali vegetables and condiments, and watch them preparing the food.
- Mount on the roof top and watch the moon and stars and mountains .
Day 4: Xizhou
- Go up to the roof top for the view of surrounding grey-tile houses and dramatic mountains & clouds from all directions.
- Take a walk in and outside the town to meet the locals doing their businesses in the alleys.
- Breakfast. Local stuff and fresh milk from the cow.
- Visit some well-preserved old courtyard houses – Dali style- guided by your host. People live in the houses, which are not open to tourists.
- Another wonder lunch made by your hosts.
- Visit the neighborhood and old architecture outside the old town surrounded paddy field.
- Dinner and chat with the hosts in the courtyard.
Day 5: Taoyuan
- Join the locals for the bustling morning market in the old town before 9am, where you see many locals wearing traditional Dai minority clothing and selling various stuff.
- Breakfast and pack your baggage and say bye-bye to the hosts.
- Drive to Taoyuan, another village half an hour away from Xizhou.
- Check in the beautiful wooden hotel by the Erhai lake (as big as part of the ocean). Enjoy your room view of the entire peaceful lake.
- Lunch. Get to know more local dishes and vegetables.
- Free time for you to relax and savor Yunnan’s black tea by the lake for the afternoon and evening (sunset).
Day 6: Taoyuan
- Visit Taoyuan market and the local blue & white tie-dye fabric workshop
- Cycle along the paddy field and Erhai Lake
- Relax in Taoyuan.
Day 7: Depart Dali
• Drive to Dali airport to catch the morning flight.
- Off-the-beaten rural Dali of Yunnan
- Off-the-Beaten Path Dali, Lijiang & Shangri-La of Yunnan
- Shangri-La, Deqin & Meili Snow Mt.& Lakes
- Yunnan's Yuanyang (Hani Rice Terrace) & Tropical Xishuangbanna
- Western Yunnan's Tengchong - Volcanoes & Hot Springs
- Nujiang Gorge in Northwest Yunnan
- Yunnan's Lugu Lake & Mosuo People
- Wintercamp: Nature & minority Immersion in Yunnan's Xishuangbanna