Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture

Yunnan Baoshan Map

Dali Prefecture Facts

Chinese Name: 大理白族自治州 (dà lǐ bái zú zì zhì zhōu)
Population: 3,599,000
Area: 29,459 square kilometers (11,374 square miles)
Location: in the west-central of Yunnan, southwest China
Area Code: 0872
Zip Code: 671000
Administrative Division: 8 counties (Xiangyun, Binchuan, Midu, Yongping, Yunlong, Eryuan, Jianchuan, Heqing); 3 autonomous counties (Yangbi Yi Autonomous County, Nanjian Yi Autonomous County, Weishan Yi and Hui Autonomous County); 1 county-level city (Dali
GDP (2018): CNY 112.244 billion (USD 16.963 billion)
Nationalities: Han, Bai, Yi, HuiLisu, Miao

A Must-go Place in Yunnan with Erhai Lake

Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture is situated in the west-central region of Yunnan Province, neighboring Chuxiong to the east, Puer to the south, Baoshan and Nujiang to the west and Lijiang to the north. The capital city of the province, Kunming is about 338 kilometers (210 miles) from it. With a developed transportation system, Dali is a transportation hub and logistics center in the west of Yunnan Province. Visitors can easily go to Sichuan, Tibet, India and Vietnam from Dali. Dali City with famous Erhai Lake, Cangshan Mountain and Dali Ancient City is usually given a priority when visitors travel to Dili. As the only Bai autonomous prefecture in China, Dali affords strong Bai customs and culture that can be experienced in some old towns like the Xizhou Town and Shuanglang Town. From March 15 to 21 of the lunar calendar, Third Month Fair, a grand festival of Bai, will be held at the foot of Cangshan Mountain in the west of Dali.

Attractions - Things to Do

Dali Prefecture boasts favorable weather, beautiful natural scenery and unsophisticated folkway. The Dali Ancient City, Cangshan Mountain, Erhai Lake, Butterfly Spring, Shaxi Ancient Town and the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple are the top scenic spots. Furthermore, there are many other attractions scattered among the elegant mountains and rivers of the prefecture. 

 Jianchuan Grottoes, also known as Shizhongshan Grottoes and Shibaoshan Grottoes, is located in the Shizhong Mountain, a peak in southern Shibao Mountain in Jianchuan County. It has 139 Buddha sculptures in 17 grottoes distributed throughout three districts in Shizhong Temple, Shizi Guan (Lion Pass) and Shadeng Village. The earliest grottoes were excavated more than 1,100 years ago. 

 Weibao Mountain lies 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) southeast of Weishan county seat, being a key point of interest here. It was listed among national forest parks in 1992. Weibao Mountain is said to be the birthplace of the Nanzhao State (738-937) during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and one of the fourteen famous Taoist sites in China. 

 Jizu Mountain is a noted Buddhist resort not less famous than the four Buddhist holy mountains (Mt. Jiuhua in Anhui, Mt. Emei in Sichuan, Mt. Putuo in Zhejiang and Mt. Wutai in Shanxi). 

How to Get to Dali

Dali Prefecture is the transport hub in western Yunnan. It is the joint of Yunnan-Burma Highway, Yunnan-Tibet Highway and Guangtong-Dali Railway. In addition, it has an airport located between Fengyi Town and Haidong Town, operating flights to Kunming, Xishuangbanna and Guangzhou. Dali City is the communication center of the prefecture, with Dali Railway Station operating trains to/from Kuming and Lijiang. For more information about passenger transportation, please refer to Dali Transportation.  

Located in the subtropical plateau climatic zone at low altitudes, the four seasons here are indistinct and the temperature varies slightly during the whole year. The prefecture has clear dry and rainy season. May to October is the rainy season which is responsible for about ninety percent of the whole year's precipitation. The average temperatures of the coldest January and hottest July are respectively 8 and 22 degree centigrade (46.4 and 71.6 Fahrenheit).

There's no summer heat and winter chilliness here. Therefore, visitors can make trips to the prefecture at any time of the year. Many festivals and feasts of the Bai ethnic minority are held during March and April. Spring is especially lovely for traveling there.  Traveling here, people wear spring attire since early March, summer attire since early May, and autumn attire during mid-October to mid-November. If coming here after mid-November, a winter coat at least should be prepared for use when needed. To resist the strong ultraviolet rays in sunny days, a sun hat and a sunglass are necessaries while outing. 

Dali Travel Tips

 History: This region is one of the earliest cultural birthplaces of Yunnan. According to archeological discoveries, there are Neolithic Age sites widely spread around Erhai Lake and several other alpine lakes. Early ancestors of the Bai and Yi ethnic minorities were responsible for the creation of the area's civilization. It was during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) that this prefecture was brought into the sphere of regime in Central China.
 Physical Features: Situated at the boundary of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and Hengduan Mountains, the terrain in the region drops in elevation as one travels from the northwest and to the southeast. The landform of the city is varied and complicated. With the Cangshan Mountain as a limit, the west consists of high mountains and numerous valleys, while the east is made up of medium mountains and slopes. The Yunling Mountains and Nushan Mountains are the main ranges in the area. In addition, there are more than one hundred and sixty rivers of all sizes beloneng to waterway systems of Jinsha, Lancang, Nujiang and Honghe rivers. There are also eight alpine lakes that resemble pearl inlaid in this land.

 Special Local Products: snow white pear, walnut, engraved green plum, braised plum, tie-dye, Tuo Cha (compressed tea), megacarpaea (Gao He Cai, edible and medical plant), spiny water chestnut

 Local Highlights:
Ethnic minorities make up fifty percent of the prefecture's total population. Among these minorities, Bai is the most populous, occupying over sixty-seven of the total 1,676,500 ethnic minority people. Folk celebrations of this region are colorful and interesting. There are some festivals of Bai and other ethnic minorities. 

Jizu Mountain Fair: 1st to the 15th day of the first lunar month at Jizu Mountain in Binchuan County
March Street Festival: 15th to 21st day of the third lunar month outside the west gate of the Dali Ancient City
Raosanling: 23rd to 25th day of the forth lunar month around Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake
Shuahai Hui: 23rd day of the seventh lunar month in Eryuan County
Shibaoshan Song Fest: 26th day of the seventh lunar month to 1st day of the eighth lunar month at Shibao Mountain in Jianchaun County

- Last updated on Sep. 10, 2020 -
Questions & Answers on Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture Travel
Asked by Mark from CHINA | Oct. 06, 2019 19:57Reply
Are there any hotels in Yunlong, Wayaozhen, and on the road between them.
Answers (2)
Answered by Emma from USA | Oct. 13, 2019 18:56

Do you mean the hotel between Yunlong and Wayaozhen? I only found a hotel in Yunlong named Fumin Mingzhu Hotel, which is located at No.408, Yongnan Street.
Answered by Mark from CHINA | Oct. 14, 2019 18:58

Thanks for replying. Hotels in the towns are usually easy, even if only truck driver hotels. Our main concern was something in between. We will by cycling between the two towns, and 80+ km through the mountains during the shorter early winter days, puts a limit of some things. We should be ok though.
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