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* '''Jim's Tibetan Guest House''', above Jim's Peace Cafe
 
* '''Jim's Tibetan Guest House''', above Jim's Peace Cafe
 
* '''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
 
* '''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
* '''Old Dali Four Seasons Inn''' While hardly a splurge location like its franchise name may suggest, the Inn is a fine (and cheap) establishment on Boai Road within 10 paces of bike rental, travel supply shops and food. The western and Chinese breakfast buffet is excellent and the scenery in the courtyard is lovely. Dorm beds are cheap although not segregated by sex so be aware. It is an excellent place to meet other travelers or Chinese resident foreigners taking a break from their work elsewhere in the Middle Kingdom. Facilities include communal showers (separate stalls), bathrooms, and washing machines. The staff is awake all night so you can check in when the train from Kunming drops you off before sunrise.
+
* '''Old Dali Four Seasons Inn''' Closed since late 2007.
 
*'''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.
 
*'''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
 
* '''hotel6''' phone:0872-2670660 near the east gate of the old dali town

Revision as of 13:03, 12 April 2008

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

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 square kms. 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 kms 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.

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.

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.

Despite it's fame as a backpacker haven, local Chinese tourists outnumber foreigners by 100 to 1. Local tourists tend to stay in nearby Xiaguan town so Dali becomes thankfully quiet in the evenings.

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

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 there you must take the local No.8 bus (1Y ~ 0.1Euro &20 mins) to Old Dali 13kms to the North. Buses coming south from Lijiangare about 60 yuan and stop outside the old town, from where it is possible to get a taxi or walk to the main guesthouses.

By Train

There is a night train from Kunming leaving at about 2230 and arriving around 0600. The cost is 86 RMB for a sleeper bunk (20070207).

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. Bikes are also available at many guesthouses and rental huts around town and cost anywhere from 10-40 yuan per day.

Taxis in Dali Old Town generally cost RMB5 for under 3kms (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 square Kms. 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 13kms 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.
  • Erhai Lake. - 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.
  • Cangshan Mountains. 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 8kms 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.
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 17kms length.

As of December 2007, the chairlift to Zhong He Temple was closed for repairs for several months. There are touts selling horse-rides up to the temple, you'll have to negotiate with them individually. Walking down the path takes one past an interesting Bai Graveyard, but the path is bad for walking - there's a lot of horse droppings, the path itself isn't well-marked and often branches, and it's sure to be very muddy for many days after a rain. There's a couple 1.5 kilometer concrete paths down the hill, a kilometer away from Zhong He Temple (on the Gantong Temple side). It may be best to take a taxi to the Gantong Temple chairlift, walk to these early exits, and then take a taxi from Dali Movie City.

You can head South along good paths for up to 11 kms 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 2500m you can view both the peaks which range up to 4100m and the valley and Erhai lake below. The 7 Dragon Maidens pool, 6 kms 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 6kms 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 kms which ends at a mountain pool where you can take a swim on a warm day.
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 kms 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 11kms until you reach Gangtong. If you are not up to the full walk, you can exit the mountain about 3kms 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 8kms 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!
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.
    Dali's famous Three Pagodas
  • Shaping market and Xizhou. About 30 kms 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 20kms 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.

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.
  • 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 meal catering for 4 people along with beer expect to pay 80Y.

  • 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.
  • BomBay PalaceIndian dining made by a cook from Rishikesh, India on Ren Min Lu no. 137 (266) 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 WafflesWaffles 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 DumplingsJust 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.
  • Pinehaven. 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.

Drink

A 500ml bottle of Dali beer will cost you 4Y (0.4Euro). 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 Dali's longest running bar, 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:

  • MCA (located just outside the South Gate)
  • No. 5 Guest House
  • Jim's Tibetan Guest House, above Jim's Peace Cafe
  • 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
  • Old Dali Four Seasons Inn Closed since late 2007.
  • 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
  • Dali Three Pagodas Youth Hostel (Hostelling International) - This hostel is quite new, has friendly staff and is clean and pleasent. 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. Prices: 8-Bed Dormitory RRMB20 (RMB15), 4-Bed Dormitory RMB25(RMB20), Double Room with Bathroom RMB80 (RMB70) (Prices in brackets are for HI members). The hostel is situated north-west of the Old Town - just west of the main road - and only a five-minute walk away. Telephone: 0-872-2666398 Mobile: 13529651981 E-mail: yhadl@sohu.com. Information correct as of 8 January 2008.

Away from the center:

  • Higherland Inn, Zhonghe Temple, Cangshan Mountains, 0872-2661599 / 13988539680, [2]. 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. Booking advised as capacity is limited.
  • Dragonfly Garden Guest House, Er Hai lake (a short ride on Bus No. 2)m tel. (0)15912 600503, [3]. 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.

Splurge

Jim's Tibetan Hotel phone 0872 2677824, a couple of blocks past the West gate with signs from the gate on. Lovely building, heaters in winter, generally luxurious. 250 yuan for a double, sometimes discounted.

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

Destinantion Price (¥) Departures (HH:MM) Duration (HH:MM) Lunch-Stop Last Update
Jianchuan 52.00 ?, 12:22, ? 6:00 approx. No 9 January 2008
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