Dali City

East surrounded by Changshan mountains and west by the Erhai lake. Dali was formerly known as Xiémiē (苴咩). The old town also called “Gǔchéng”, which was the medieval capital of both the Bai kingdom Nanzhao (779-902) and the Kingdom of Dali (937–1253). The history of Dali Old Town dates back to over one thousand years ago. Dali city preserves its ancient heritage buildings. The main inhabitants of Dali are the Bai ethnic community, who are about 1.5 million. The Bai people have long-established roots in the Erhai Lake region and are thought to have settled the area some 3000 years ago.

Dàlǐ Bai Autonomous Prefecture, (大理白族自治州) is an autonomous prefecture of northwestern Yunnan Province, P.R China. It is located in the west-central of Yunnan Province, southwest China. It has an area of 29,460 square kilometres (11,370 sq mi) and its capital is located in Dali City.

Dali prefecture administrative division consists of 1 prefectural level city (the Dali city), 8 counties (Xiangyun, Binchuan, Midu, Yongping, Yunlong, Eryuan, Jianchuan, Heqing); and 3 autonomous counties (Yangbi Yi Autonomous County, Nanjing Yi Autonomous County, Weishan Yi, and Hui Autonomous County).
Ethnic Nationalities of Dali prefecture: Han, Bai, Yi, Hui, Lisu, Miao, Naxi, Aachang.
Dali is the capital city of “Dàlǐ Bai Autonomous Prefecture”,

大理市 – The Dali City 

Dali city has 2 main towns, Xiaguan,下关镇 ( New town ) and the Gǔchéng 大理古城(Dali Old town ). The Dali old town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yunnan, known for its natural scenery, historical and cultural heritage, and vibrant nightlife.

Dali is situated in the transition area between the dramatic valleys of the eastern Tibetan Plateau and the distinctive mountains of the western Yungui Plateau. The city surrounds Erhai Lake between the Cang Mountains to the west and Mount Jizu to the east. Xiaguan is located at the outlet of the lake into the Yangbi River. Dali Old Town is situated on a fertile plain between the Cangshan Range and Erhai. This plain has traditionally been settled by the Bai and Yi minorities. 

Historically, Dali had trade relations with India and was famous for the woodworks from the town of Xizhou and for its high-quality marble ( Dali stone,大理石, dàlǐshí). Dali city and Pondicherry city (Southern India) share friendship city relations. 

Apart from Xiaguan and Dali’s old town, there are around a total of 12 townships in Dali. Each of them has its own story to tell and beautiful tourist attractions.

  1. Xiaguan Town (下关镇)
  2. Dali Town (大理镇)
  3. Fengyi Town (凤仪镇)
  4. Xizhou Town (喜洲镇)
  5. Haidong Town (海东镇)
  6. Wase Town (挖色镇)
  7. Wanqiao Town (湾桥镇)
  8. Yinqiao Town (银桥镇)
  9. Shuanglang Town (双廊镇)
  10. Shangguan Town (上关镇)
  11. Qiliqiao Town (七里桥镇)
  12. Taiyi Yi Ethnic Township (太邑彝族乡)
Places to visit in Dali
  • Dali Municipal Museum (大理市博物馆): permanent exhibitions on archaeological findings from the region, on paintings and on Buddhist sculptures. 
  • Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Temple 
  • Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils film city 
  • Xizhou: a historical town famed for its architecture and woodwork 
  • Shuang lang: east side of the Erhai lake, a small fishing village, now a high-class tourist destination. 
  • Cang Mountain, west of the Old City 
  • Three Pagodas Stele in memory of Kublai Khan’s conquest of Yunnan (元世祖平云南碑), erected on top of a large stone tortoise in Sanyue Lane (三月街) at the foot of the Cang Mountain, west of the Old City.