Dali is an established backpacker mecca and as such is home to a number of decent coffee shops, pizza joints and pubs. Though there's not much in the way of major cultural events in Dali, there are a number of Bai performances and festivals worth checking out, especially in the old town at night.
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Bars & Clubs
The bars and cafés on Huguo Lu (Hùguó Lù, 护国路) are chock-a-block with foreign and Chinese travelers well into the night. Tibet Café, Sunshine Café, Old Wooden House and Dali Window on Bo'ai Lu (Bó'ài Lù, 博爱路) are good places knock back a cold one. Birdbar on Renmin Lu (Rénmín Lù, 人民路) has a decent pool table and fun atmosphere. Café de Jack on Bo'ai Lu often hosts live music in the evenings. Many of the "coffee shops" have a little bit of Amsterdam to them—it's not uncommon to come across travelers sampling the locally grown product (this may cause some to extend their stays while others may just feel annoyed by repeated pitches from Dali's weed peddlers). Note that marijuana is fully illegal in China and one tokes at one's own risk.
Tourists can watch traditional Bai song and dance performances as part of most Dali package tours or pay a visit to the traditional Bai village of Xizhou, which is well worth the trip.
Festivals & Events
Most of the annual Bai festivals and gatherings take place during March and April. They're typically on the Chinese lunar calendar, so check local listings for exact dates. The Third Moon Fair (Sānyuè Jié, 三月节) features a festive atmosphere, performances, Bai arts and crafts and sports competitions. A little later, usually in May, the Three Temples Festival (Rào Sān Líng, 绕三灵) brings singing, dancing costumed crowds into Cang Mountain (Cang Shan) and to the shores of Erhai Lake. The Torch Festival (Huǒbǎ Jié, 火把节) takes place in July and features fireworks and dragon-boat racing.
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