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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 and parts of Sichuan and Guizhou. The original capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom was located in Weishan (within Dali Prefecture) and later moved to sites around the Erhai lake. The territory conquered was quite substantial and held over a long period.  The kingdom survived almost 200 years and had 13 kings before being collapsing. After several decades of chaos the Kingdom of Dali emerged in 937.  
 
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 and parts of Sichuan and Guizhou. The original capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom was located in Weishan (within Dali Prefecture) and later moved to sites around the Erhai lake. The territory conquered was quite substantial and held over a long period.  The kingdom survived almost 200 years and had 13 kings before being collapsing. After several decades of chaos the Kingdom of Dali emerged in 937.  
  
The Kingdom of Dali established by DUAN Siping in 937 was controlled by the Duan clan and survived until conquered by the Mongols in the 12th century. The Kingdom retained a close alliance with the TANG dynasty, and was one of the major transit points for the introduction of Buddhism throughout the rest of China. By AD1000, Dali was one of the 13 largest cities in the world.
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The Kingdom of Dali established by Duan Siping in 937 was controlled by the Duan clan and survived until conquered by the Mongols in the 12th century. The Kingdom retained a close alliance with the Tang dynasty, and was one of the major transit points for the introduction of Buddhism throughout the rest of China. By AD1000, Dali was one of the 13 largest cities in the world.
  
 
From 1856 - 1872 Dali was the headquarters of the Panthay Rebellion led by Du Wenxiu. That rebellion commenced as an uprising against local oppressive rulers by the Hui muslim minority and ended as open rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. The Palace of Du Wenxiu is on Fuxing Road and serves as the local museum (the museum exhibition on the rebellion paints it as a patriot workers revolt which it wasn't). The rebellion was brutally crushed by the Qing and hundreds of thousands of Yunnan muslims were killed in revenge.
 
From 1856 - 1872 Dali was the headquarters of the Panthay Rebellion led by Du Wenxiu. That rebellion commenced as an uprising against local oppressive rulers by the Hui muslim minority and ended as open rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. The Palace of Du Wenxiu is on Fuxing Road and serves as the local museum (the museum exhibition on the rebellion paints it as a patriot workers revolt which it wasn't). The rebellion was brutally crushed by the Qing and hundreds of thousands of Yunnan muslims were killed in revenge.
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The old Dali City was rebuilt in the early 1400s by the Ming Dynasty. What you see in Dali Old Town today is the rebuilt Ming town. Since then, the fortunes of Dali have declined and its importance as a cultural and economic centre in the Yunnan area have been overtaken by Kunming, the Provincial Capital.
 
The old Dali City was rebuilt in the early 1400s by the Ming Dynasty. What you see in Dali Old Town today is the rebuilt Ming town. Since then, the fortunes of Dali have declined and its importance as a cultural and economic centre in the Yunnan area have been overtaken by Kunming, the Provincial Capital.
 
==Dangers==
 
 
There are a few scams and petty crime targeting tourists in Dali. Watch your belongings carefully to protect from pickpockets and theft, though perhaps the major risk you take if staying in cheap accommodation is theft by other foreign travellers. Overall Dali is a very safe place with little crime directed at tourists.
 
 
If you are planning to hike up the Cang mountains, travel in a group both to protect yourself from robbery and as back up in case of accident.
 
 
Drugs disguised as strange artifacts are usually sold by women in traditional Bai costume, who will then lead you to their homes. Marijuana is widespread in Dali's foreign bars but, if caught, the penalties for possession and use are severe.
 
  
 
==Get in==
 
==Get in==
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*[http://www.yunnantourism.net/scenicspots/sight_index.asp?sight_id=CN-01-02-03 Butterfly Spring], a shallow pool that periodically swarms with countless butterflies. Otherwise the site (entrance 60RMB) includes a fairly nice park, a small butterfly breeding centre and an uterly bizzare exhibition hall with various pictures made from hundreds of dead butterflies of different colours which were presumably raised and killed on-site. If you really want to see this you can catch a minibus from outside the west gate.
 
*[http://www.yunnantourism.net/scenicspots/sight_index.asp?sight_id=CN-01-02-03 Butterfly Spring], a shallow pool that periodically swarms with countless butterflies. Otherwise the site (entrance 60RMB) includes a fairly nice park, a small butterfly breeding centre and an uterly bizzare exhibition hall with various pictures made from hundreds of dead butterflies of different colours which were presumably raised and killed on-site. If you really want to see this you can catch a minibus from outside the west gate.
 
* <b>Erhai Lake.</b> - Erhai Lake and Wase market. Combine a trip to the Lake with a visit to the Wase market on the Eastern shore of the lake. Wase is a traditional and conservative Bai town with a weekly market aimed at both townpeople and nearby farmers. The market offers an interesting look at life in a quiet country town. On the lake visit the Guanyin temple and several islands. Go with a group and enjoy a great day out. Boats can be easily arranged as the owners come into town to drum up business and you can see what you are getting from the photobooks they carry. A 30RMB Entrance Fee is changed for all lake visits, plus between RMB50-100 per person for a day on the lake. You get what you pay for, so don't expect a great trip with a cheap boat.
 
 
* <b>Cangshan Mountains.</b> Take the chairlift up to Zhong He Temple (worth it as the hike up is not that great, the paths hard to find and rather painful). Entrance to the Mountain Park cost RMB30 and the chairlift RMB60 return or 30RMB one way. Budget conscious travellers can enter the park (student ID gets you half price RMB15) and take the chairlift up for 30RMB, then walk down.  From Zhong He Temple you have a choice of paths running North or South, with each offering equally spectacular views of the mountains, valley and lake. You can head South towards Xiaguan along good paths for up to 8 hours (with several early exit points down the mountain) and enjoy the view. Spectacular. The Northern route offers the option to head up the mountain and enjoy forest, running streams and ever a swim in the cold waters of a natural pool. Beautiful. Neither route involves particularly difficult hiking or climbing and the quality of the path is good. If you are particularly dedicated, you can gain free access to the mountain by taking the route behind the One Pagoda and up the (rather painful) stairway behind the Dali Tianlongbabu TV City. Free, but a long climb. Another route is by taking the Cablecar behind the Guangtong Temple about 8 km South of Dali. You can take the bus down to the Temple (worth a visit in itself) and then a motorbike up to the Guangtong Cablecar. Around 80RMB return. A very beautiful part of the Cang Mountains, with panoramic views of the Lake.
 
 
The mountains themselves are home to beautiful wild camelias, orchids, rhodedendrons, azeleas and abundant birdlife. Dali is home to some of the rarest camellias in China and the Cangshan was the source of most of these. The stock for most azealas grown in Europe was sourced from wild azealas on Cangshan. Most of the lower slopes are covered in replanted pine forests, with higher slopes, and steep valleys showing areas of more natural forest cover. The mountains are a national level Geopark and Nature Reserve and have much to offer plant, bird, flower & hiking enthusiasts.[[Image:Wildazaleas.jpg|thumb|Wild azaleas in the Cangshan Mountains]]
 
 
From Zhong He Temple you have a choice of paths running North or South, with each offering equally spectacular views of the mountains, valley and lake.  Zhong He temple itself is an old Daoist temple and well worth a visit (but please don't make donations as the 'monks' are nothing of the sort and have subcontracted the temple as a profit-making exercise). The path, named the Cloud Traveller's Path, is one of the least crowded in China with local tourists only walking a few hundred metres from the chairlift, and you may only encounter a few groups along the entire 17 km length.
 
 
You can head South along good paths for up to 11 km towards the Gantong Temple  (with a couple early exit points down the mountain, within a few kilometers of Zhong He Temple, leading to Dali Movie City) and enjoy the view. The path itself is clean, very well maintained and very easy walking. It was built  by locals with amazing effort and a lot of dynamite. Each of the 4 valleys you walk through offers spectacular views of both the mountains and forests as well as the entire Dali valley. From an altitude of 2500 m you can view both the peaks which range up to 4100m and the valley and Erhai lake below. The 7 Dragon Maidens pool, 6 km from the Zhong He temple are a stunning set of mountain stream pools of varying colors and one of the highlights of the walk.
 
 
The Northern route of 6 km of path offers one of the sharpest cliff views of the entire Dali valley, and on a clear day you can see Jizu Mountain (one of the most famous Buddhist mountains in China) well beyond the Erhai lake. The route, at the bend in the main valley, also offers a path up the mountains for 2 km which ends at a mountain pool where you can take a swim on a warm day. [[Image:Northern_view.jpg|thumb|Northern view on the Cloud Path in the Cangshan Mountains]]
 
   
 
 
A suggested route would be to take the chairlift up to Zhonghe temple, take the Northern path for 3 km enjoying the clearest view of the entire valley, then head back South past Zhonghe temple towards Gantong temple. Good coffee is available at cafes behind the temple, so take a break, then keep walking the full 11 km until you reach Gangtong. If you are not up to the full walk, you can exit the mountain about 3 km past Zhonghe temple down a well made stairway behind the Dali Tianlongbabu TV City. The signage along the path is very good with regular updates in English on just how far you have to go.
 
 
Another route worth taking (though more expensive) is by taking the Cablecar behind the Gantong Temple about 8 km South of Dali. You can take the bus down to the Temple (worth a visit in itself) and then a motorbike up to the Guangtong Cablecar. Around 80RMB return, plus the 30RMB entrance fee. A very beautiful part of the Cang Mountains, with panoramic views of the Lake. From Gangtong, you can then head North along the same path described above.
 
 
If you visit Dali, plan to spend at least one day up on the mountains. You can also overnight at guesthouses behind Zhonghe Temple, enjoying the most blissful peace & quiet available in China. Well worth it! [[Image:chongshensi2.jpg|thumb|Chongshen Temple. Rebuilt.]]
 
 
* The famous Tang Dynasty Three Pagodas are located 10 minutes bike ride to the North West of Dali Old Town (next door to the Three Pagodas Hotel), offering one of the best preserved Buddhist structures in China.  However, the compounds behind the pagodas were destroyed during the "Cultural Revolution" and were rebuilt starting in 1986. The Central pagoda is almost 1200 years old and represents a period when Dali was a Buddhist Kingdom. The entry price at RMB126+ is rather steep (student ID gives a 50% discount). The Congshen Temple behind the Three Pagados has recently been rebuilt and reopened, after deteriorating in the 20th century due to earthquakes, fires and the cultural revolution. It is a massive complex that continues far up the mountain, where a climb to the top of the pagodas rewards with a beautiful overlook of Dali Ancient Town and Erhai Lake.  Worth a visit for the Tang architecture, numerous statues of the Buddha and Guanyin with influences from both India and China, dragon fountains, and two small museum showcases. [[Image:Dalisanta.jpg|thumb|Dali's famous Three Pagodas]]
 
 
*Shaping market and Xizhou. About 30 km north of Dali is Shaping town which offers a lively weekly market with plenty of local color. The market starts early. A great chance to see local farmers out in force and literally watch plenty of horse trading. On the way back, stop in Xizhou, a town about 20 km north of Dali. Xizhou has almost 200 national heritage listed private houses dating from the Qing Dynasty. The houses are among the best examples of traditional Qing architecture in China and are exquisitely detailed. Chinese style with local touches. Building craftsmen from Xizhou were famous throughout SE Asia and travelled to Vietnam, Myanmar and throughout S W China to build and decorate houses. When they made their fortune, they returned to Xizhou to build their own dream home.
 
 
As most of these houses are currently occupied, you will need to be on your best behaviour, knock and enter with permission. The best way to see the finest examples are with a local guide as many of the interesting houses are difficult to find. Nonetheless, with a little legwork and good manners you can locate plenty of interesting architecture on your own.
 
 
The family estate of the Yan clan is preserved as a museum and open to the public, and while an excellent example of the architecture of the very rich is too commercial and compares poorly with more ordinary family homes in the township.
 
 
* In the modern part of Dali, the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture Museum is worth a visit.  It has an extensive collection of exhibits, with most signs in both Chinese and English.  The museum grounds are beautiful as well - the exhibits are set around a traditional garden.  The museum tickets are only 10 yuan each - a real bargain.
 
*<see name="CyclingDali" alt="" address="No55 the center square of foreigner's street boai road Dali old town Yunnan China" directions="" phone="0086(0872)2671385" url="www.cyclingdali.com" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Best Bike Rental Place in Dali. Brand-new quality bikes including Trek and others and professional bike rental service. You can get bike tours as well as self-guided bike routes. </see>
 
 
 
==Do==
 
 
*Take the ropeway (chairlift) upto the Cangshan Mountains to get an impressive view of Dali from high up. Hike in the mountains, going up, North or South. All directions offer some great hiking. Stay overnight (see accommodation below). The 16km 'Cloud Traveller' path across the Cangshan Mountains offers walks that range from easy to hard going, cuts through some superb valleys, offers spectacular views across the lake and valley, and overall is a must for travellers to Dali.
 
 
*Chicken Foot Mountain 'Jizu Shan'.  Further away from Dali to the North East behind Wase  on the East side of Erhai Lake is Jizu Shan, called this because the mountain and its ranges look like a chicken's foot. Actually a 2-3 day trip in its own right. This is one of the 5 major Buddhist mountains in China and the top and slopes are covered in temples - many in a state of disrepair. Some have been restored and have resident monks. This is a difficult hike with the summit at 3200 metres. Be prepared. Or there are horse rides and a cable car that starts halfway up. To get here take a bus (2 hrs) from Xiaguans Northern bus station to Binchuan and from there change to a minibus or bus (1 hr) to Jizu Shan.
 
 
*Studying traditional Chinese martial arts with Wudang Mountain Daoist monk Zhou Xuan Yun.  http://www.DaliMartialArts.com
 
 
*Lake Erhai has "Erhai Paradise" which is certainly worth a visit. It's a magical Buddhist haven with giant statues, empty amphitheaters, demon-statues, tea gardens and an artificial beach. The best way is to hire a taxi driver form Dali or Xiaguan for the entire day and negotiate a price. The driver can take you to the boat jetty and show you onto the island ferry. You'll sail across the wonderful lake in the purest air in the south of ChinaExplore the island and come back by boat, where your driver will be waiting to take you to a quality restaurant for dinner, or temples and bars as you wish. Total for the day about ¥500pp and strongly recommended.
 
 
==Buy==
 
Dali has a number of famous local products. You must try the local fried cheese "rusan" that is crispy and delicious. Available at any of the restaurants or from street stalls.
 
 
Dali has exquisite marble (a little difficult to carry) which is carved into all sorts of products: vases, ashtrays, carved animals and more. The marble stone can also be cut and polished revealing 'pictures' on the surface. These are known as "chushi" and can be bought framed and make beautiful wall decorations. Many people can mistake them for traditional Chinese paintings. Cheaper "chushi" (generally the white and grey type) will sell for RMB60+ per item. More expensive and colored stone with clear mountain landscapes can be priced at RMB10,000+. The Chinese word for marble is "Dalishi" or Dali stone, indicating just how famous Dali marble is throughout China.
 
 
The local batik fashioned from dye and wax is also popular and cheap.
 
 
You can also purchase beautiful minority embroidery (generally Miao minority from Guizhou Province) at a number of shops. The embroidered items include baby carriers, clothing or decorative patches that were attached to traditional costume.
 
 
Dali has great teahouses. Relax in a teahouse regularly, buy a little tea and you'll be welcome to come back at any time, with friends, usually for free. Sample new teas and as long as you buy something every so often, you'll be welcomed again and again.
 
 
==Eat==
 
In the Old town, western food is widely available and cheap. For a traditional Chinese meal served catering for 4 people along with beer expect to pay 80Y. Western meals average around 25 yuan, including a bottle of the local beer. Brefast prix fixe menus are served everywhere and average around 25 yuan including coffee.
 
 
Note: fruit stands and corner stores abound. Try to get a feel for prices before buying if you want to avoid paying exorbitant prices. At the time of writing (Sept 2008), you can buy apples for 1 to 2 yuan/ shijin (a half kilo), a bottle of water for 1.5 yuan and noodles/ dumplings for 4 yuan/ plate.
 
 
*'''The Sweet Tooth'''. On Boai Lu. This cafe specializes in pastries and desserts. Situated on a corner in Old Dali, the cafe is owned and operated by the local hard of hearing. The owner, having studied culinary arts in the United States, produces delicious and high quality desserts, coffee, and milkshakes among other items.
 
 
*'''Cafe de Jack'''. On Boai Lu. Definitely Dali's oldest Western cafe. Has a fireplace, great apple pie, pleasant atmosphere and a great rooftop garden. While the menu is a little tired, the breakfast is good, the chocolate cake legendary, and the lasagne just delicious. Spread over 3 levels, Cafe de Jack is the largest and most successful of the "backpacker" cafe / bars in Dali. Very popular with locals and travellers alike. The owners, local brothers Jack and Tim, are often on hand to provide good travel advice.
 
 
*'''Caffeine Club'''. Nestled in the lower reaches of Renmin Lu towards the lake, the Caffeine Club is an Australian-managed operation in a delightful courtyard setting. Food options are limited mostly to pizza and pasta, but the carbonara is a favorite with local residents. The coffee is arguably the best in town, and the pool table attracts some late afternoon and early evening drinkers. Address: 370 Renmin Lu, Dali Old Town
 
 
*'''Bad Monkey''' is one of Dali's longest running bars. It's hosted by Englishmen Carl and Scott -- who entertain guests before the dancing starts later in the evening with a Derek and Clive patter of jokes and one-liners -- is still going strong. The Monkey is a magnet to travelers -- many of whom seem to wander in and never leave. The downstairs bar area is a cozy, ad-hoc space with two sofa-seating areas. The once limited beer menu -- Tsingtao, Yanjing and Beer Lao -- is nowadays supplemented by a couple of alternatives, along with a range of expensive cocktails, and the best toasted baguettes in town -- try the bacon and cheese. Address: 74 Renmin Lu, Dali Old Town
 
 
*'''Golden Local-Style Noodles''' is a Noodle shop that specialized in Cross-the-Bridge Noodles, a local specialty where a bowl of hot broth is brought to the table, and then the rice noodles and a number of plates with small quantities of other foods is immediately added by the waiter.  The menu is all in Chinese, but there are pictures displayed throughout, and ordering should be no problem.  On the corner of  Renmin Lu near Fuxing Lu, several storefronts to the left of "Bad Monkey."
 
 
*'''An Caife Beag''' is a cozy cafe run by Dali residents Colin, from Ireland, and Grace, from Guangxi province. The menu sports a good range of both Chinese favorites and Western fare -- notably the chicken and beef pepper steaks, and the best burgers in town. Beag's "full Irish breakfast" stands out as the only one of its kind in town. Free wireless is available for travelers with laptops. Address: 184 Renmin Lu, Dali Old Town
 
 
*'''Lazy Lizard'''. The Lizard, named after a green, crested reptile that inhabits a spacious aquarium by the front door, and which can occasionally be seen taken for a "walk" by German owner Chris, is mostly a drinking venue, but the small selection of pizzas are among the best in town. The Lizard has Dali's largest selection of beers -- 20 varieties, including Hoegarden and Beer Lao -- a psychedelic bar area, a courtyard warmed by a fire in the winter months, and a small-theater-sized project screen for occasional screenings of movies and the Simpsons. Address: 223 Renmin Lu, Dali Old Town
 
 
*'''Jim's Peace Cafe'''. On Boa Ai Lu, with Jim's Guesthouse. Excellent Tibetan goulash, vegetarian or with yak meat. All-you-can-eat banquet for groups of four or more, 30 a head. Various other dishes. One of the town's oldest traveller hangouts.
 
 
* '''Old Dali Four Seasons Inn''' offers a 10 RMB all-you-can-eat breakfast. The muesli is nearly all oatmeal, the bacon mostly fat, and the coffee uninspiring, but most of the food is OK and the fruit excellent. This is a great place to meet people and pick up travel tips; the Inn is a major backpacker hangout and everyone discusses their next expedition over breakfast.  Unfortunately, this place relocated to near East Gate and no longer provide all-you-can-eat breakfast as today Dec 08, 2008.
 
 
*'''Dining Room'''Indian dining made by a cook from Rishikesh, India on Ren Min Lu no. 137 (266) Owned by Karl, from Ireland, and Moe, from Burma. This restaurant makes a great chai and provides vegetarian curries, tandoori chicken, lamb vindaloo, lassies, several types of naan as well as breakfasts. The price for a 2 person dinner is approx. 80 yuan. Tel: 0086-872-2670266.
 
 
*'''Belgian Waffles'''Waffles with whipped cream and chocolate served for 10 yuan at a small restaurant on Ren Min Lu across from BomBay Palace Indian restaurant. However, do not show up for breakfast as the Belgian who runs it does not open until 2pm.
 
 
*'''Vegetarian, Beef and Pork Dumplings'''Just down the road from the Belgian waffle place on Ren Min Lu there is a great place for fresh homemade dumplings. Nine dumplings with sauce just made and freshly steamed only cost 3.5 yuan.
 
 
*<b> Pinehaven.</b> Up on the Cangshan Mountain behind the Zhonghe Temple on the mountain path. Just a short chairlift ride away! A long way to go for the best chocolate cake in Dali, but the view is worth it. Run by a young Dali woman, Leah who speaks excellent English and entertains guests with amusing stories as well as useful advice on hiking in the mountains. A great place to stop for a break, excellent coffee, or even to pack a sandwich lunch on a long hike up on Cangshan.
 
* <eat name="" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price=""></eat>'''Lost Angel Internet Cafe'''  Small and Cozy place in Dali Boai street.Great Breakfast and delicious Westen and Chinese food. Free laptop to get on the internet in each table.If you have enough time,Second level DVD room provide more than hundry DVDs and movies can be select to watch there.
 
 
==Drink==
 
A 500ml bottle of Dali beer will cost you 8 - 10 yuan in a bar and about 3 - 4 yuan from a grocer. A large selection of beer is on offer but some are coloured green and require an acquired taste. But for the price, there is no excuse not to sample the lot.
 
 
Cafes include the Caffeine Club and An Caife Beag. The Caffeine Club's coffee is arguably the best in town, and the pool table attracts some late afternoon and early evening drinkers. Free wireless is available at An Caife Beag. See the food section above for addresses.
 
 
Bad Monkey is hosted by Englishmen Carl and Scott. The limited beer menu -- Tsingtao, Yanjing and Beer Lao -- is supplemented by a range of inventive cocktails, and the best toasted baguettes in town. It's on 74 Renmin Lu in Dali Old Town.
 
 
Lazy Lizard, at 223 Renmin Lu, has Dali's largest selection of beers -- 20 varieties, including Hoegarden and Beer Lao -- with a psychedelic bar area.
 
 
 
== DALIBA, the first flavoured vodka bar in China, owned by Mark from Scotland and Vanessa from Guizhou province. More than 30 flavoured vodkas made by Mark and Vanessa and beer and cocktails are available too!  It is on 260 renmin lu in dali old town.
 
 
Sun Island Cafe, a cool relaxed place where people come with music to spin. Owned by some awesome friendly Japanese guys, this is the place to come and meet people and listen to live music played on the digeridoo and instuments made from any old junk they can lay their hands on.  Well worth a visit for a few drinks, well worth a stay in the rooms they have for visitors in the courtyard.
 
 
==Sleep==
 
 
 
Dali has some of the cheapest accommodation options available in all China. Lots of accommodation to chose from. Expect to pay around 20 yuan for a dorm bed, 30 and up for rooms, 40-80 for a double room with private shower and toilet.
 
 
Popular central places include:
 
 
* '''TTF Cafe Hostel''' This may be the best bargain in the area.  One minute walk on Lu-Yu-Lu 绿玉路 from south end of Bo-Ai-Lu 博爱路 where intersects on Yi-Ta-Lu 一塔路 the Old Dali City South Wall.  Dormbed Y15 for non-members (Y10 for members).  Y1 breakfast special Ba-Ba 粑粑 a kind of thick pizza-like local traditional bread.  Free morning coffee and tea, WIFI, Internet machine, 24hr solar-hybrid hot shower, laundry too! Western-style toilet seat. Clean place.  Address: No. 11 Lu-Yu-Lu, Old Dali, Yunnan. 云南大理古城绿玉路十一号 Tel: +86-139-8853-6165  Email: springzhfy@gmail.com
 
 
 
* '''MCA''' (located just outside the South Gate)
 
 
* '''No. 5 Guest House'''
 
 
* '''The Jade Emu International Guesthouse''' [[Image:TheJadeEmu.jpg | thumb | The Jade Emu International Guesthouse, Dali, China]] Built in 2008, the Jade Emu International Guest House is run by Dave (from Australia) and his partner Song (from China). It provides quality accommodation for the "budget conscious" traveller. Double, twin/triple share and dorm rooms available - all are modern, clean and comfortable. Conveniently located - 1 minute walk from the west wall and 5 minutes walk to the centre of town. Facilities include: Spacious courtyard and rooftop balcony, pool table, bar with outdoor home theatre system, free internet (including WIFI), satellite TV, fax/printing facilities, laundry service, bike rental. Pricing: 25-140 yuan. Phone +86(0)872 2677311, +8613887232726 or +8615887399551. Email: reservations@jade-emu.com    The Jade Emu International Guesthouse Website: http://www.jade-emu.com
 
 
* '''Jim's Tibetan Guest House''', above Jim's Peace Cafe. 150 Yuan for a very comfortable, clean and well appointed single room. Obsequious yet relaxed service.
 
 
* '''Yu Yuan Guesthouse''' phone 0872 2673267; a block West of the main tourist area; new, clean, with friendly English-speaking staff. 80 yuan for a double with bathtub and electric blankets, including a good breakfast
 
 
* <sleep name="Hotel du Temps Perdu" alt="Feng Qing Dali" address="81 Wenxian Road" directions="From the South Gate continue south on Wenxian Road for about 3 minutes. Traditional style house on right with parking lot in front." phone="+8613988414203" url="http://blog.sina.com.cn/fqdl2008" checkin="12:00" checkout="12:00" lat="" long="">Located by the South Gate about 10 minutes walk from the center of Old Town Dali, this newly-opened hotel brings modern style to a traditional Bai minority house. Charming courtyard, tasteful traditional furnishings and a friendly, helpful staff. Facilities: 24-hour hot water, free WiFi (good connection in all rooms), free parking, laundry service, bike rental, concierge services. Chinese, English, French, Italian, Spanish spoken. from ¥180 (usually discounted) E-mail: hoteldutempsperdu@gmail.com.</sleep>
 
 
*'''Tibetan Lodge''' 58# Renmin Road Dali Old Town (phone 0872-2664177 2678917) A guest house and restaurant with a lot of character and atmosphere, the Tibetan Lodge is both cheap and comfortable.  Single rooms start at 39元.  Other room types available include doubles, triples, family, and suite.  Fast and free internet is provided (wireless or on very slow desktops in lounge).  The restaurant downstairs is good, but a little on the expensive side.  There are also many neighboring restaurants (the restaurants directly across the street are quite nice) for other good options that are sometimes cheaper.
 
 
* '''hotel6''' phone:0872-2670660 near the east gate of the old dali town
 
 
* <sleep name="Dali Three Pagodas Youth Hostel (Hostelling International)" alt="" address="" directions="Situated north-west of the Old Town - just west of the main road - and only a five-minute walk away" phone="0872-2666398, 13529651981" email="yhadl@sohu.com" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Dormitories: 8-bed ¥20 (¥15), 4-bed ¥20 (¥15). En-suite Double-Room ¥80 (¥70). Member prices in brackets">This hostel is quite new, has friendly staff and is clean and pleasant. They are still working on the courtyard and gardens but they already look great. There is a large comfortable lounge with 2 PCs and free internet access, self-catering kitchen, roof terrace with great views and a travel service. The hostel was very empty when we stayed off-season.</sleep>
 
 
* '''Lee's Guesthouse''' Lee's Guesthouse, Dali old town, setup in Oct, 2008 runs by Lee's family from Inner Mongolia. It provides quality accommodation for backpacker. Dorm rooms double rooms from 25-290 Yuan. Cozy clean and comfortable. Located within the wall center of Dali old town. Facilities include: Local Bai minority courtyard , mosquito-free accommodation ,free internet & WIFI, free movie, family dinner 7:00pm (book one day ahead), fax/printing /scan, cd/dvd buring,laundry service, quality bike rental(shimano system), 1 yuan/min international call.travel agency: cheap tickets(bus,train,air) and tours around Dali. Phone +86(0)872 2671385 / 3156069 English speaking, E-mail: cyclingdali@yahoo.com, Lee's Guesthouse Website: http://www.cyclingdali.com
 
 
 
===Away from the center===
 
 
* "No. 3 Guesthouse" is a nice, inexpensive, quiet option just outside the gates of the old city. The helpful staff speak Korean, Chinese and English and will accommodate most reasonable requests. Rooms on the second floor are pricier than those on the first, but you should be able to bargain a double down to 70 - 80 yuan, including private bathroom. Restaruant on the first floor specializes in Korean fare but offers other dishes as well. Rooms are relatively clean if remeniscent of the spartan style seen everywhere in China. Address: Huguo Lu. Phone: 266 4941.
 
 
* <sleep name="Higherland Inn" alt="" address="Zhonghe Temple, Cangshan Mountains" directions="" phone="0872-2661599 / 13988539680" email="" fax="" url="http://higherland.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="">Up in the Cang Mountains behind the Zhonghe Temple at 2600m altitude, with a spectacular view of the lake & valley. Blissfully peaceful. A short cablecar ride away and a great place to overnight while exploring the Cangshan Mountains. Great food, highly recommended for vegetarians: you can taste the sattvas. Booking advised as capacity is limited.</sleep>
 
 
* '''Dragonfly Garden Guest House''', Er Hai lake (''a short ride on Bus No. 2'')m tel. (0)15912 600503, [http://www.dragonflydali.com]. Beautiful gardens with mountain view and Tipi. Trance parties once a month, live music jams nightly, Dragonfly Electric Picnic every Saturday (live music followed by DJ). DVD players in rooms plus DVD room with huge library. Free internet access and music copying facilities (over 100 gigs). Facilities provided for musicians, artists and performers of all kinds. Set in authentic Bai village next to great swimming spots. Rooms 10-100 yuan.
 
 
* '''Dali Mingtong Yinxian Youth hotel, Caicun Dock, Dali old town, Tel:(86)0872-2691261,13888635082'''. Just right on the lakeside of Erhai,you can see the enjoyable view of the whole lake from the terrace on the third floor. Located in a bai people village, it is very quiet here at night,so you will have a great sleep here without any worry about noise. 80RMB for double and twin bed room with bathroom inside, and 25RMB per bed for dorm, also with bathroom inside. The price will go up a little during China national holiday.
 
 
===Splurge===
 
 
==Get out==
 
Most of the hostels and travel agents can organise bus tickets anywhere in [[Yunnan]].  They can also arrange flights farther afield.
 
 
Many travelers from Kunming continue on from Dali to Lijiang. Consider taking the smaller bus through the mountains toward Jianchuan (can be picked up at the main bus station in Xiaguan - "New" Dali City). Get off the bus at the fork in the road in the village of Diannan (about 8km south of Jianchuan). Get into a minibus and visit the Old Southern Silk Road town of Shaxi. The town has been well preserved and still holds much of its traditional character. The valley around it is littered with Qing and Ming Dynasty homes, bridges, theatres and temples. It is also the main jumping off point to visit the beautiful grottos at Shibaoshan. After your visit to Shaxi it is easy to continue your journey. A minibus from Shaxi or Shibaoshan can take you to the main bus station in Jianchuan. From there it is easy to get a bus on to Lijiang.
 
 
===Public Bus===
 
'''Xiaguan Bus Station'''
 
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Revision as of 12:38, 10 December 2008

Dali (大理 [1]) is a city in Yunnan Province, China famous for its old town and handicrafts.

Contents

Understand

Dali is one of the most popular spots for independent China travellers and hugely popular with those working, teaching and studying in China. Fifty minutes by plane and 5 hours by bus from Kunming, Dali is the perfect place to relax.

Dali is the name of the Prefecture, the local city (aka Xiaguan 下关) and the Dali Old Town (gucheng 古城). Travellers visit the Dali Old Town for its traditional architecture, minority cultures - mostly Bai but also with many Yi and Hui - and simply to relax. The Old Town has a population of approx. 40,000 and the entire Dali Prefecture around three million people and an area of over 10,000 sq km. When discussing 'Dali', it is important to be clear whether you are talking about the entire Prefecture or just the Old Town. There is actually much to do and see in Dali Prefecture well outside the Old Town.

With the beautiful Cangshan Mountains a short distance to the West of the Dali Old Town (approx 4200 metres at the peak) and Erhai Lake a few km 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 & Winter.

Despite its fame as a backpacker haven, Chinese tourists hugely outnumber foreigners. Chinese tourists tend to stay in nearby Xiaguan town so Dali becomes thankfully quiet in the evenings.

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 and parts of Sichuan and Guizhou. The original capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom was located in Weishan (within Dali Prefecture) and later moved to sites around the Erhai lake. The territory conquered was quite substantial and held over a long period. The kingdom survived almost 200 years and had 13 kings before being collapsing. After several decades of chaos the Kingdom of Dali emerged in 937.

The Kingdom of Dali established by Duan Siping in 937 was controlled by the Duan clan and survived until conquered by the Mongols in the 12th century. The Kingdom retained a close alliance with the Tang dynasty, and was one of the major transit points for the introduction of Buddhism throughout the rest of China. By AD1000, Dali was one of the 13 largest cities in the world.

From 1856 - 1872 Dali was the headquarters of the Panthay Rebellion led by Du Wenxiu. That rebellion commenced as an uprising against local oppressive rulers by the Hui muslim minority and ended as open rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. The Palace of Du Wenxiu is on Fuxing Road and serves as the local museum (the museum exhibition on the rebellion paints it as a patriot workers revolt which it wasn't). The rebellion was brutally crushed by the Qing and hundreds of thousands of Yunnan muslims were killed in revenge.

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. Both the Nanzhao Kingdom and the Kingdom of Dali had a military alliance with the Tang Dynasty against the aggressive Turfan (Tibetan) Empire which made regular and aggressive incursions into their respective territories.

The rulers of the original Nanzhao kingdom were probably precursors to the modern Yi peoples, while the Kingdom of Dali rulers were precursors to the modern Bai minority.

A huge Memorial Steele to the "Pacification" of Dali Kingdom was built during the Ming Dynasty and remains standing at the end of "San Yue Jie" past the city's West Gate. Entrance is free. The Mongols destroyed the old capital & palace of Dali Kingdom, located just to the South of the Three Pagodas. Almost all the records of both the Nanzhao and Dali kingdoms were burnt or destroyed, leaving much unknown about these periods. In addition, the Mongols brutally displaced many of the inhabitants of the prefecture, with the result that Bai minority people's were forced as far East as Hunan Province. Many Han Chinese also moved into the Kunming area during this period.

The old Dali City was rebuilt in the early 1400s by the Ming Dynasty. What you see in Dali Old Town today is the rebuilt Ming town. Since then, the fortunes of Dali have declined and its importance as a cultural and economic centre in the Yunnan area have been overtaken by Kunming, the Provincial Capital.

Get in

By Bus

Bus from Kunming bus station costs 67Y (~6.7€ & 6Hrs.) for an ordinary bus and around RMB120 for an Express luxury bus, and will bring you to Dali new town (Xiaguan). Check with the driver if he stops at Dali Old Town or Xiaguan. From Xiaguan train station you must take the local No.8 bus (1.5Y ~ USD0.2 & 40 mins) to Old Dali 13 km to the North. Buses coming south from Lijiang are about 60 yuan and stop outside the old town, from where it is possible to get a taxi or walk to the main guesthouses. You can save ~Y20-Y25 on the Lijiang bus by simply hailing one on the highway East of the old town.

By Train

There are several night trains from Kunming leaving between 2000 and 2300, and arriving from six to eight hours later. The cost is 86 RMB for a sleeper bunk, and 35 RMB for a hard seat.

By Plane

Dali also has an airport located to the East of Xiaguan. Flights from Kunming operate regularly - 3 times a day. It is possible to get heavily discounted tickets (RMB300 return Dali-Kunming), but you will need to book well ahead. Otherwise expect to pay RMB320+ each way. From major Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou), it is possible to book a direct flight to Dali (with a stopover in Kunming) at discounted rates. Best discounts apply to tickets booked 15 days+ in advance.

Get around

Dali Old Town is small enough to get around on foot, and being laid out in a grid format is relatively easy to navigate. The major landmarks are the South and North gates with Fuxing Road running between them and Yangren Jie (Westerner's Street), lined with cafés and tourist shops. City maps are readily available for around RMB5 but for some reason tend not to follow the usual 'north-at-the-top' standard.

Bikes are also available at many guesthouses and rental huts around town and cost anywhere from 5-40 yuan per day. Bikes vary greatly in quality so shop around for the best deal. CyclingDali has the quality Bikes to let, including Trek and others. www.cyclingdali.com. Chinese brand Merida and Giant (www2.merida-bikes.com and www.giant-bicycles.com)are good bike brands and do not go for others cos others are of really bad quality and dont expect to go too far with them.

Taxis in Dali Old Town generally cost RMB5 for under 3 km (though most drivers will ask for RMB10). For other locations outside the Old Town, all prices are negotiable. A taxi to Xiaguan will cost around RMB40.

In addition to the Old Town, Dali is a Prefecture of over 10,000 sq km. A whole range of destinations exist within the Prefecture that are perfect for the adventurous traveller. All are relatively easily accessible from either Dali Old Town or Xiaguan, the major city 13 km to the South. A lot of useful information is available from the Cafes within the Old Town on day trips around the Prefecture.

See

  • Butterfly Spring, a shallow pool that periodically swarms with countless butterflies. Otherwise the site (entrance 60RMB) includes a fairly nice park, a small butterfly breeding centre and an uterly bizzare exhibition hall with various pictures made from hundreds of dead butterflies of different colours which were presumably raised and killed on-site. If you really want to see this you can catch a minibus from outside the west gate.

Variants

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