Dali Ancient City

Dali Ancient City is one of the most revered attractions in China’s Yunnan province. It is beautiful in appearance, historic in significance, and fascinating in its entirety. The ancient city, or Old Town, presents a look at how life was lived by the Bai people centuries ago through ancient remains and restored buildings. Bai folk houses, old temples, impressive pagodas, and other historic, man-made sites blend perfectly with Dali’s natural attractions such as Erhai Lake and Cangshen Mountain.


Popular Foreigner’s Street is where tourists converge, coming together to experience Dali’s offering of bars and restaurants, a large majority of which are owned by or employ native English speakers. These places can be ideal locales to find recommendations for tours or ideas for planning vacations throughout the region and  even country. In spite of this multi-national aspect, the area is still notable for its unique Bai culture. Antique shops, traditional tea houses, and ancient buildings are also prominent fixtures on Foreigner’s Street. Stalls line up along the street displaying dozens of local specialties, from tasty snow pears to traditional Bai handicrafts. Smaller shopping malls and grocery marts in the area are especially convenient for daily needs. This area is the quintessential back packer or budget traveler’s haunt.

History here dates to 738 AD when Dali China was established as an important capital and trading post with control over trading routes leading to South and Southeast Asia. After years of repeating prosperity and decline, and several controlling regimes including Kublai Khan, Dali was the capital of a newly established Ming Dynasty. Ancient Bai architecture is a key feature of Dali Ancient City, with the Southern Gate and several others important attractions located along the city walls that encircle old Dali, providing peeks at the intriguing tops of historic buildings. The 1000-year-old central pagoda and Three Pagodas of Dali are two top sites. The ancient city is protected by the government as a heritage district so there has been no construction, allowing traditional buildings to take center stage. It is also 100% pedestrian-friendly; cars are not permitted on the roads.

Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake, to the west and east of the old city respectively, are the biggest nearby draws. Visitors can arrange tours of enjoy self-guided mountain hikes up Cangshan, which also features gondola rides up the mountain. There are several natural wonders, including 18 mountain streams to be viewed. Strolling the streets of the new city, named Xiaguan, visitors will find a host of modern delights including plenty of shopping, hotels, and a variety of nightlife.

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