Picturesquely situated on Lake Erhai with a backdrop formed by the peaks of the 50km-long Cang Shang range, Dali commands a stunning location perfect for exploring on foot or by bike. With its proximity to the legendary Silk Road, Dali’s fortunes kick-started when an aspiring 8th century prince named Piluage invited some rivals to dinner. Casting alight the tent they were in, he then set to establishing the Nanzhao Kingdom here, a realm that was later expanded to include large tracts of modern Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.
Various overthrows occurred and the Bai people set up a smaller kingdom, until Kublai Khan and his Mongolian henchmen descended on the region in 1252 and imposed Chinese rule. This persisted until 1856 when there was a Muslim uprising and the town capital was declared an independent state. In 1873 a wholesale massacre of the Muslim population occurred and Dali was decimated, never to recover its former political position. Covering only about 4 sq km, much of Dali is contained by the remains of its Ming-dynasty walls.
Popular sights and activities include cruising on Lake Erhai, Butterfly Spring and the famous Three Pagodas. Built when the region was a major Buddhist centre, Dali’s distinctively tall pagodas remain upright, despite wars and earthquakes. The narrow streets of the Old Town, specifically Fuxing Lu, are good for a wander and the Dali Museum is worth a look. Head to Yu’er Park for relaxation amongst the camellias and fruit trees, and if you feel like a spot of souvenir shopping, head to Huguo Lu.
Here are some popular itineraries for a trip to Dali
Dali Tailor made suggestions
Here are some of the recent tailor made itineraries we have created for our clients which include a visit to Dali.