Dali Travel Guide
Located northwest of the Yunnan Province, 300 kilo-meters (186 miles) northwest of Kunming, Dali City is the economic and cultural center of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. The area is surrounded by mountains on the east, west, and south, and has the Erhai Lake in its center. Here you will find 25 ethnic minorities, which have created a unique cultural heritage amidst the area's picturesque surroundings.
Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake are praised as Dali's leading scenic areas. Most attractions in Dali lie between these two landmarks, such as the Butterfly Spring, and the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple. Ethnic minorities have inhabited Dali for generations, with the Bai Minority making up the majority of Dali's population (65%). The customs of the ethnic minorities bring charm to daily life in Dali. Each spring, celebrations and festivals bring the city to life. Celebrations such as the March Street Festival and Butterfly Fest provide excellent opportunities to learn about local folk customs.
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 and the Dali Ancient City bear witness to thousands of years of historic changes in Dali. Together with the Xizhou Town and the Zhoucheng Village, the ancient towns in Dali show the best of historic customs of daily life within the Bai Minority.
Present day Dali is a city that combines history with modern convenience. It is divided into two areas- the Ancient City and the New District (widely known as Xiaguan). 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.