Dali (Dàlǐ, 大理) welcomes travelers with laidback cafés, friendly guesthouses and easy access to beautiful countryside. This historic town, scenically situated at the foot of the Cang Shan (Cang Mountain) and overlooking Erhai Lake, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yunnan.
Most of Dali's attractions can easily be explored by bike, and good food and cheap drinks await at the end of each day on Huguo Lu (Hùguó Lù, 护国路). It's not all traditional charm and romantic views, however. There's the inevitable recent modern Chinese architecture of questionable aesthetic value and other incursions of functional but less-than-attractive modernity, but its residents manage to maintain the outsider feel that has made Dali a key stopover for backpackers in China in spite of the encroachment of the modern world.
On a lighter note, a number of low-key Amsterdam-style "coffee shops" have sprung up like mushrooms, causing some visiting backpackers to extend their stays in order to fully absorb Dali's sunny weather, friendly vibes, pretty sunsets and repeat plays of Bob Marley and Manu Chao tracks. And, of course, Dali's popularity comes at a price: the high season finds the city crowded with tour groups, backpackers and trinket-hawking vendors.
Butterfly Spring (Húdié Quán, 蝴蝶泉), situated about 30 km (18.5 miles) north of Dali, is a small, clear spring frequented by swarms of tourists... and, of..
Cang Shan (Cáng Shān 苍山), also know as Diancang Shan, provides a stunning backdrop to the west of Dali Old Town. A trip out to the mountain itself is..
One of China's largest freshwater lakes, the Chinese name for Erhai Lake (Erhǎi, 洱海) literally translates to "Ear Sea," a nod to its vast size (250 sq km or 96 sq mi) and..
"To get a perfect life, pray at the Chongsheng Temple." Or so goes the ancient saying. Today, one might update "pray" with "pay." To gain entry to the official Chongsheng Temple..