China Underground > Magazine > China Magazine > Trip to Dali, the ancient land of the Bai People

Trip to Dali, the ancient land of the Bai People

Guide to Dali, Yunnan, China

Once, during the Tang Dynasty, Dali was the capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom. Later, during the Song Dynasty, the town became the capital of the Kingdom of Dali.

The three most famous sights are the Chongsheng Monastery, the Butterfly Spring, and the Erhai Moon. Dali was famous for being an interesting hippie destination. Today, although it is still frequented by groups of young students travelers from all parts of the world, Dali has established itself as a very popular destination for package tours made in China.

Dali has definitely established itself as a popular destination for package tours made in China.

Trip to Dali

Nestled along the shores of Lake Erhai, in the shape of the ear, from which it takes its name, among other things, is populated by an exotic mix of ethnic groups that now live together quite peacefully in the region: Bai, Yi, Hui ethnic groups are the most represented.

Dali is an ideal location to spend a few days in complete relaxation, perhaps renting a mountain bike for some hiking in its peaceful countryside.

With its countless cheap guesthouse, Dali old town is the ideal base for exploring the countryside and the many surrounding villages.

Dali Cangshan mountain and Erhai lake
Dali Cangshan mountain and Erhai lake

Dali Bai Nationality Autonomous Prefecture lies in the northwest of Yunnan Province. It renews such fame as a national tourist region, national nature protection region, national historic and cultural city, the first batch of wonderful tour cities of China, and the most charming city. This ancient town for over one thousand years has been the capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom of the Tang Dynasty and the Dali Kingdom of the Song Dynasty.

There are three famous scenic spots in Dali: the Chongsheng Monastery, the Butterfly Spring, and the Erhai Moon. The Cangshan Mountain comprises 19 peaks, and 18 brooks running down. Each brook is a beautiful scenic spot. Among them, Qingbi Brook is the most beautiful. The visitors in Dali always linger on and forget to return because of the beautiful natural sceneries together with the young girls in Bai’s costumes. Dali is the region where the Bais live in compact communities with the rich customs of the Bai People. The residential houses of “three houses with one screen wall” and “five patios surrounded by four residences” have a deep cultural connotation. The Three-Course Tea of the Bai People is significant and worth pondering. You are welcome to visit Dali—“the hometown of five golden flowers”.

Dali Bai people
Dali, Bai people

Best tour time

“Wonderful scenery in March in Dali.” Because most of the Bai People’s festivals concentrate in spring, it is the best time to travel to Dali in spring.

On tour

Dali is 377 kilometers from Kunming.
Air: Airline: Kunming—Dali Time: Everyday Travel time:50 minutes Fare:¥340
Railway: Train: Kunming—Dali Time:22:10-6:45 No.:212/2  Fare:¥70(hard seat)
Highway: Kunming Nanyao Automobile Passengers Transport Station(beside Kunming Railway Station) Departing time:8:00-21:39   Automobile type: Volvo Fare:¥103
Travel time:4 hours

Attention: The terminus from Kunming to Dali is in Xiaguan(new urban district), not in the Ancient Town of Dali. You may take bus No.2, No.4, or No.8 to the Ancient Town of Dali(10 kilometers from Xiaguan) out of Xiaguan Automobile Station. The fare is ¥1.5. It takes 30 minutes.

Dali Bai village
Dali. Bai village

Local food

Fan-shaped cheese, Xizhou Pancake, cut plum, boiled fish in the sand pot, Nanjiang bean powder, the Bais’ sour and hot fish, boiled chicken with papaya.

Attention: Most of the best restaurants are in the Ancient Town of Dali. You may taste the delicious local food in Huguo Road. Here lots of restaurants engage in Chinese and western food. Visitors can taste Yunnan local dishes and the Dali local Bais’dishes. A lot of foreigners like to drink tea in Taibai Lou Restaurant, famous at home and abroad for the Bais’Three-Course Tea and the Tibetans’ ghee tea.

Note: Nearly all coffee shops provide tour information and tickets booking, some even provide bicycles to lease to visitors.


Huguo Road in the Ancient Town of Dali, Zhoucheng Town

Local products

The marbles, the Bai People’s batik crafts, Jianchuan wood carving, the Bai People’s silver, and copper products in Heqing County, the compressed tea of Xiaguan

Cultural life in Dali

白族三道茶 Three-course Tea of the Bai People

There are no other drinking tea places better than in the Yans’ Courtyard and on the ship to Erhai Lake. The performance starts at 9:00 and ends at 14:00, ¥20 for each person. In addition to the performance of  Three-Course Tea, some programs full of ethnic features can be seen, such as the Bai People’s wedding ceremony, their songs and dances, the “Third Month Fair” the Raosanling Dance, etc.

白族“大本曲” Dabenqu Blade of the Bai People

Time: at 8:00 every evening
Site: The Ancient Town of Dali

蝴蝶之梦”歌舞晚会 “the Dream of Butterflies” Singing and Dancing Evening

Time: 8:00-10:00 every night
Site: on the opposite of the former prefectural government on Xinfu Road of Xiaguan

Note: Numerous coffee shops and bars assemble on Huguo Road in the Ancient Town of Dali. It becomes the place that the foreign friends yearn and the sojourners stay at. It is called “Foreigners Street” by the local people. The bars in Xiaguan mainly concentrate on Longxi Road.

Travel information

电话:86 872 2316777  传真:86 872 2316787
旅游咨询电话:86 872 2316784

Dali Prefectural Tourism Bureau
Add: prefectural administrative area, Longshan, Dali Municipality
Tel: 86 872 2316777 Fax: 86 872 2316787
Traveling inquiry tel: 86 872 2316784

What to see in Dali

Photos: Oliver Huang

Topic: Dali travel, Dali guide, Dali Yunnan, Dali Yunnan guide, what to see in Dali, Dali Yunnan map, Dali China what to see

Post Author


Lianxiang Pass

Cangshan Mountain


Enjoyed this post? Never miss out on future posts by following us

1 thought on “Trip to Dali, the ancient land of the Bai People”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.