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Introduction & Highlights
The Dali Old Town

Dali Ancient City is a historic town that stands between Canshan Mountain to the west and Erhai Lake to the east. It dates back to the year 1382 at the time of the Ming Dynasty, and is rich in the culture of the Bai ethnic minority. It is also the ancient capital of Nanzhao Kingdom and Dali Kingdom.

Its great city wall, traditional Bai houses and beautiful scenery make it a strong draw for visitors. It's a perfect place for a walking tour during which you can appreciate the Bai architecture, the shops, cafes and bars, as well as the temples and old courtyard homes converted to hotels. Dali Ancient City is one of China's most popular attractions.

Dali's city wall is nearly four miles long, 25 feet high and 20 feet thick, with four main city gate towers.

With its traditional Bai houses with their green-gray tile roofs Dali is unique among all cities of China. Walking the cobblestone streets and old houses of the ancient city creates a feeling of being transported through time to a much simpler world of the deep past. Traditional arts and crafts are available for purchase in shops along the ancient streets.

In ancient times Dali Ancient City was a gateway to the Silk Road in Southwest China. It was also a seat of government and a major military base for Yunnan Province. The city is itself a museum of ancient Dali culture, but within the city are also some very special museums, including the Dali Museum, the China Dali Rural Film History Museum and the Dali Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum.  

Cangshan Mountain west of Dali Ancient City is actually made up of 19 peaks and 18 streams. The highest of the peaks is Malong Peak at an elevation of 13,524 feet. In May and June the mountain is carpeted with brilliantly colored flowers, with the bright pink azaleas dominating the show. In the winter the dazzling display of snow on the mountain is as thrilling as the flowers in summer.


No.42, Yita Road, Dali City, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province

Travel Tips

From March 15 to 21 of the lunar calendar the Third Month Fair, a grand festival of Bai, is held at the foot of Cangshan Mountain in the west of Dali. It is a good time to visit Dali. The best time to visit is from March to November, with springtime as the highlight of the year. But Dali is a must-see destination at any time of year.

Dali Ancient City is on Yita Road of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, about 356 kilometers northwest of Kunming and about 157 kilometers south of Lijiang.

Visitors usually reach Dali by high speed train or flight. Dali has one airport and one bullet train station. Dali Airport has flights to and from Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing and Guiyang. Dali Railway Station operates bullet trains from Guangzhou (10.5-11 hours) and Kunming (2-2.5 hours) and K-trains from/to Lijiang (about 2 hours).

Dali Ancient City is about 17 kilometers from Dali Railway Station. You can ride a taxi or private car to the Dali Ancient City from the train station in about 40 minutes. Dali Airport is about 30 kilometers from Dali Ancient City. Taxis or airport buses take about an hour.