Dali

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Dali is a city in Yunnan Province in China famous for its old town and handicrafts.

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Points of Interest in Dali

Cangshan Mountains

There are two accessible "peaks" of mountain you can choose: First, the 2500m altitude that hosts Gantong Temple, Zhongho Temple and "Cloud Traveler's Path" that lies between the two temples. To reach here, you have options of: taking a cable car from the city (near Guan Yin Temple) to get to Gantong Temple; or ride a horse to Zhongho Temple from Dali Tianlongbabu TV City; or walk up (1.5 hours) to the somewhat middle of Cloud Traveler's path from Dali Tianlongbabu TV City; or ride a horse or walk up (1,5 hours) to Zhongho temple from the city (from the gate across Ren Min Lu street).

Second, the 3700m altitude that hosts Horse Washing Pool. To reach here, you can use the new cablecar from Dali Tianlongbabu TV City OR use cable car in direction of Gantong Temple and walk the Cloud Traveler's Path for around 3km until you find a chairlift service and then take chairlift to Horse Washing Pool.

As the cablecar to get to Horse Washing Pond is really pricey (285 Yuan for return as of January 2014), the most economical (yet still fascinating) hike to the mountain is to hike to and walk the Cloud Traveler's Path with the following route options:

  • The northern route of 6km of path offers one of the sharpest cliff views of the entire Dali valley, and on a clear day you can see Jizu Mountain well beyond Erhai lake. At the bend in the main valley it also offers a path up the mountains for 2 km which ends at a mountain pool where you can take a swim on a warm day.
  • The southern route winds down for 11 km through a few valleys to Gantong temple. This hike will lead you to most of the sights mentioned below and will take 4-5 hours. You can even turn this into an 8 hour hike if you continue southwards Xiaguan along good paths (with several early exit points down the mountain) and enjoy the spectacular view.
  • A suggested route would be to hike to Zhonghe Temple (by walking or riding horse), take the northern path for 3km enjoying the clearest view of the entire valley, then head back south past Zhonghe Temple towards Gantong Temple. You can buy refreshments at the temple, so take a break, then keep walking the full 11km until you reach Gangtong. If you are not up to the full walk, you can exit the mountain about 3km past Zhonghe Temple down a well made stairway behind Dali Tianlongbabu TV City. If you are planning to get down using cable car at Gantong Temple, make sure you reach there before 4.30PM (the cable car service closes at 5PM but they may close earlier than that), otherwise there is a path to climb down (even though the map on your ticket only shows that the only way to get down is by cable car) to get back to city for about 1-2 hours hike down.

Entrance to the Mountain Park costs ¥30 and the cable car from/to Gantong Temple: 80 ¥round trip or ¥50 one way. A taxi to/from Gantong temple (about 8km South of the old town) is ¥30. If you are particularly dedicated, you can gain an access (also ¥30) to the mountain by taking a longer route behind the One Pagoda (follow the stone road) and up the stairway behind the Dali Tianlongbabu TV City.

Other sights

  • Erhai Lake Villages (洱海湖山庄). . A total of 17 villages are spread along the Western shore of the Erhai Lake between Xiaguan and Xizhou. Take a tour by bike by riding East from Dali Old Town until you reach the lake in Caicun Village and then North beside the lake shore taking local paths and roads. A great opportunity to see village life at its best, meet locals, see the Banyan trees in each village square and admire local architecture. There are 3 Qing Dynasty bridges along the route.
  • Erhai Lake. Visit Guanyin Temple and several islands. Go with a group and enjoy a great day out. Boats can be easily arranged as the owners come into town to drum up business and you can see what you are getting from the photobooks they carry. Ferry rides at real stations cost around ¥30. There are signs indicating that fishing boats and paddle boats can't carry tourists, although it is unclear what the definition of tourist is. A ¥30 entrance fee is charged for lake visits, plus ¥50-100 per person for a day.
  • Butterfly Spring (If you really want to see this you can catch a minibus from outside the west gate). A shallow pool that periodically swarms with countless butterflies. Otherwise the site includes a fairly nice park, a small butterfly breeding centre and an uterly bizarre exhibition hall with various pictures made from hundreds of dead butterflies of different colours which were presumably raised and killed on-site. (Local guide informed that butterfly no more because of pollution - September 2009) ¥60.
  • Wase Market. Combine a trip to Erhai Lake with a visit to the Wase Market on the eastern shore of the lake. Wase is a traditional and conservative Bai town with a weekly market aimed at both townspeople and nearby farmers. The market offers an interesting look at life in a quiet country town.
  • Tang Dynasty Three Pagodas (10 minutes by bike to the northwest of Dali Old Town (next door to Three Pagodas Hotel)). Offering one of the best preserved Buddhist structures in China. However, the compounds behind the pagodas were destroyed during the 1920s earthquake and later in the Cultural Revolution and were rebuilt starting in 1986. The Central Pagoda is almost 1200 years old and represents a period when Dali was a Buddhist Kingdom. The Congshen Temple behind the Three Pagodas has recently been rebuilt and reopened, after deteriorating in the 20th century due to earthquakes, fires and the Cultural Revolution. It is a massive complex that continues far up the mountain, where a climb to the top of the pagodas rewards with a beautiful overlook of Dali Ancient Town and Erhai Lake. Worth a visit for the Tang architecture, numerous statues of the Buddha and Guanyin with influences from both India and China, dragon fountains, and two small museum showcases. ¥121 (student ID gives a 50% discount).
  • Shaping Market (About 30km north of Dali). Shaping Town offers a lively weekly market with plenty of local color. The market starts early. A great chance to see local farmers out in force and literally watch plenty of horse trading. Not much to buy (unless you are a farmer) but gives you the feeling of life in a small country town.
  • Xizhou (About 20km north of Dali, can be visited on the way back from Shaping Market). Xizhou has almost 200 national heritage listed private houses dating from the Qing Dynasty. The houses are among the best examples of traditional Qing architecture in China and are exquisitely detailed. Chinese style with local touches. Building craftsmen from Xizhou were famous throughout Southeast Asia and travelled to Vietnam, Myanmar and throughout Southwest China to build and decorate houses. When they made their fortune, they returned to Xizhou to build their own dream home. As most of these houses are currently occupied, you will need to be on your best behaviour, knock and enter with permission. The best way to see the finest examples are with a local guide as many of the interesting houses are difficult to find. Nonetheless, with a little legwork and good manners you can locate plenty of interesting architecture on your own. The family estate of the Yan clan is preserved as a museum and open to the public, and while an excellent example of the architecture of the very rich is too commercial and compares poorly with more ordinary family homes in the township.
  • Dali Bai Nationality Autonomous Prefecture Museum, Erhe Nanlu 8, Xiaguan, Zip: 671000 (云南大理市下关洱河南路8号, 邮编: 671000) (In the modern part of Dali, Xiaguan; take bus 8 from the old town and get off after the bridge, follow the river east (left) until just before the next bridge),  0872-2128614. closed between 11:30 and 14:00. Worth a visit. It has an extensive collection of exhibits, with most signs in both Chinese and English. The museum grounds are beautiful as well, the exhibits are set around a traditional garden. Free, but requires ID to enter.
  • Eryuan (West of Dali). Eryuan is a small town next to Cibihu lake. After taking a bus that leaves every hour for ¥13/p from the intersection with 214 National Road near the North Gate market you can get off in Eryuan town or anywhere along the way. If the bus is overloaded the bus driver's assistant will walk past police checkpoints with passengers that didn't have a seat. Cibihu lake is about 3km downhill from the usual bus stop in Eryuan. Very few motorbikes for hire go to the lake, so if you walk in, expect to walk out.
  • Chiyumo art space (赤与墨), No.C1 Hong Long Jing Rd (Dali Old Town), e-mail: chiyumo.artspace@gmail.com. Gives the opportunity to international artists to come exchanging an artistic experience in Dali, Yunnan, including Exhibition Shows, Artist in Residency programs, Artistic Creation and Meetings, indeed Collaboration with Chinese and foreign artists living in Dali.
  • Foreigner Street (洋人街) In the ancient city of Dali," the road" in the beginning of Yunnan people against Yuan Shikai proclaimed himself Emperor, named after the war of asylum. The road east-west,1000 meters long,7 meters wide, green stone pavement. Dali of Foreigner's Street is located on the road in the West Dali section of.

Three Pagodas

South Gate

Er Hai

Zhonghe Peak

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About Dali

History

In 738 the Nanzhao Kingdom was established; the original capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom was located in Weishan (within Dali Prefecture) and later moved to sites around Erhai Lake. The territory conquered was quite substantial; covered a large area of Yunnan and northern Burma, and parts of what are now Sichuan and Guizhou. The kingdom survived almost 200 years and had 13 kings before collapsing. After several decades of chaos the Kingdom of Dali emerged in 937.

The Kingdom of Dali established by Duan Siping in 937 was controlled by the Duan clan and survived until conquered by the Mongols about 300 years later. The Kingdom retained a close alliance with the Tang Dynasty, and was one of the major transit points for the introduction of Buddhism throughout the rest of China. By 1000, Dali was one of the 13 largest cities in the world.

The rulers of the original Nanzhao Kingdom were probably precursors to the modern Yi peoples, while the Kingdom of Dali rulers were precursors to the modern Bai minority.

Many local people in Dali have the surname Duan to this day (rare in other parts of China). These historical events are immortalised in the Martial Arts literature of Hong Kong author Jin Yong (read by every Chinese school kid), giving Dali a fame nationwide. Both the Nanzhao Kingdom and the Kingdom of Dali had a military alliance with the Tang Dynasty against the aggressive Turfan (Tibetan) Empire which made regular and aggressive incursions into their respective territories.

A huge memorial stele to the Pacification of Kingdom of Dali was built during the Ming Dynasty and remains standing at the end of Sanyue Street past the city's West Gate. Entrance is free. The Mongols destroyed the old capital and palace of the Kingdom of Dali, located just to the south of the Three Pagodas. Almost all records of both the Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms were burnt or destroyed, leaving much unknown about these periods. In addition, the Mongols brutally displaced many of the inhabitants of the prefecture, with the result that Bai minority people were forced as far east as Hunan Province. Many ethnic Han also moved into the Kunming area during this period.

The old Dali City was rebuilt in the early 1400s by the Ming Dynasty. What you see in Dali Old Town today is the rebuilt Ming town. Since then, the fortunes of Dali have declined and its importance as a cultural and economic centre in the Yunnan area have been overtaken by Kunming, the provincial capital.

1856-1872 Dali was the headquarters of the Panthay Rebellion led by Du Wenxiu. That rebellion commenced as an uprising against local oppressive rulers by the Hui muslim minority and ended as open rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. The Palace of Du Wenxiu is on Fuxing Road and serves as the local museum (the museum exhibition on the rebellion paints it as a patriot workers revolt which it was not). The rebellion was brutally crushed by the Qing and hundreds of thousands of Yunnan muslims were killed in revenge.

Activities

  • Cycling Dali, 55 the center square of foreigner's street boai road, Dali old Town,  +86 872 2671385. Best bike rental place in Dali. Brand-new quality bikes including Trek and others and professional bike rental service. You can get bike tours as well as self-guided bike routes.
  • ClimbDali (大理攀岩), 393 Renmin Road,  +86 131 50644701. Dali now has rock climbing! 20 routes have already been bolted (Shuanglang and Binchuan) with potential for hundreds more.
  • Jizu Mountain (lit. Chicken Foot Mountain) (Further away from Dali to the northeast behind Wase on the east side of Erhai Lake, take a bus (2 hours) from Xiaguans Northern Bus Station to Binchuan and from there change to a minibus or bus (1 hour)). The mountain and its ranges look like a chicken's foot. Actually a 2-3 day trip in its own right. The top and slopes are covered in temples, many in a state of disrepair. Some have been restored and have resident monks. This is a difficult hike with the summit at 3200 metres. Be prepared. Or there are horse rides and a cable car that starts halfway up.
  • Studying traditional Chinese martial arts. Study with Wudang Mountain Daoist monk Zhou Xuanyun.
  • Rice and Friends Cooking School Dali (米饭和朋友们), No.1 Hong Long Jing, Dali old town (meeting point is the bad monkey bar, 59 renmin road),  +86-151-2526-4065. Rice & Friends Chinese cooking school offers hands-on Chinese cooking courses, highly rated on tripadvisor. Beautiful open-air setup with mountain views. Authentic and very personal 5-hour cooking experience, including outdoor-market shopping for ingredients, introduction to the theory of Chinese cooking, hands-on preparation of 3 dishes with a recipe booklet to take away and plenty of time for everybody to sit down together and enjoy the meal they cooked themselves.
  • Johnny 'O palm reading, @Tibetan Cafe, (Remin Lu, across from Bad Monkey Bar). every day at 4PM. The guy, that looks like a retired Super Mario with dark sunglasses, reads your palm and gives your an interesting perspective of what happened to you in the past. Won't tell you the future until you explictly beg for it. Worth the ¥100 he's asking for. ¥100.
  • Erhai Paradise (By Erhai Lake). Certainly worth a visit. It is a magical Buddhist haven with giant statues, empty amphitheaters, demon-statues, tea gardens and an artificial beach. One way is to hire a taxi driver form Dali or Xiaguan for the entire day and negotiate a price. The driver can take you to the boat jetty and show you onto the island ferry. You will sail across the lake. Explore the island and come back by boat, where your driver will be waiting to take you to a restaurant for dinner, or temples and bars as you wish. However this is really unnecessary as there is never a shortage of taxi drivers waiting at the ferry and the local bus service is extremely inexpensive and accessible. Buses are lined up and ready to take you back to Dali at an intersection just 5 minutes walk down the road leading to the ferry. Total for the day about ¥500.
  • Xiaguan Hot Springs (下关温泉) (From the train station take bus 21 (Bus 8 runs from the Old Town to the train station)). This swimming pool is called a hot springs resort because it probably really uses naturally hot water. Other than that it might be a little different from what most people might expect. These days it is a regular, pretty run down swimming pool (one pool on the inside, one on the outside, otherwise identical) with all the spa's (that are still on the price list) being closed. Interestingly there are places to stay in the resort with rooms around ¥280. ¥12.
  • Peter's tourist center (李震票务中心), #65 Bo Ai Street, Dali Old Town, Yunnan,China中国 云南 大理古城 博爱路65号,  86 15125296978,e-mail:peter_lizhen@hotmail.com. fluent english speaking with 3 years in arranging tours around dali,specially cultural tours,like shaxi day tour andYi,Bai,Hui minority markets and villages.Air/bus/train ticket booking,hotel/guest house booking
  • Dali Hash House Harriers. This social running and drinking club takes to the streets and back roads of Dali Old Town on every 1st and 3rd Saturday. The start for runs is in the Courtyard of the Dali Hump Hostel, and runs start promptly at 2PM You can find out more by visiting dalihash.com

The cost of the run is ¥20 which includes all you can drink. ¥60 for run, beer, and an all you can eat BBQ at the Dali Hump. Open to all nationalities and drinking orientations.

Food

In the old town, Western food is widely available and cheap. For a traditional Chinese meal served catering for four people along with beer expect to pay ¥80. Western meals average around ¥25, including a bottle of the local beer. Breakfast prix fixe menus are served everywhere and average around ¥25 including coffee.

Fruit stands and corner stores abound. Try to get a feel for prices before buying if you want to avoid paying exorbitant prices. You can buy apples for ¥1-2/shijin (a half kilo), a bottle of water for ¥1.5 and noodles/dumplings for ¥4/plate.

Budget

  • Golden Local-Style Noodles, Renmin Road (Near Fuxing Road, several storefronts to the left of Bad Monkey). Noodle shop that specialized in Cross-the-Bridge Noodles, a local specialty where a bowl of hot broth is brought to the table, and then the rice noodles and a number of plates with small quantities of other foods is immediately added by the waiter. The menu is all in Chinese, but there are pictures displayed throughout, and ordering should be no problem.
  • Vegetarian, Beef and Pork Dumplings, Renmin Road. Great place for fresh homemade dumplings. Nine dumplings with sauce just made and freshly steamed only cost ¥3.5.
  •    Vegetarian Buffet (一然堂), Boai Road (north of Mingcheng Art Garden Hotel, just off of Boai Road). 11:30AM - 1PM, 5:30PM - 7PM. All-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet operated by Buddhists, the choices are usually four different vegetable dishes, soup, rice, and pickled vegetables. ¥5.

Mid-range

Chinese

  • Sun Island Cafe (太阳岛; Tàiyángdǎo), 324 Renmin Road (Towards the East Gate),  +86 872 2676075. A couple of steps away from the main tourist avenues lies this hybrid of Chinese and Japanese culture. This is the place to go for some genuine Japanese food cooked up the Chinese/Japanese/English speaking owner or to relax to some chilled out music. The Japanese crew that manages the place might even throw a Jombei, Didgeridoo, Jews harp party which guests are more than welcome to join in on using any of the plentiful instruments. If the night creeps up on you after to many drinks or smokes then there is also a dormitory for ¥20 a night.
  • Marley's Cafe, Huguo Road (Central Old Dali Town cross with boai),  +86 872 2676651. Excellent first floor restaurant. Very good Bai dishes. Nice decor. Cheap and has a narrow balcony great for people watching. Currently under construction 4.29.2011
  • Om Shanti, 245 Renmin Road (East, down towards lake),  +86 872 2679306. Vegetarian restaurant which serves great food and has a great, laid back atmosphere. The staff are very helpful too and can give you loads of helpful information.
  • September +86 872 2670266. Sichuan food.
  • Dali Cookery School, East Gate Village, Dali Old Town, e-mail: dalicookeryschool@gmail.com. Why not try to cook several Chinese dishes? Great time and good food. Several courses available with four dishes in each. Visit the local market to buy all the fresh veggies. Can be booked direct or through several guesthouses in Dali. Courses not running at the moment. Oct'10.

Western

  • Ruben's Belgian Waffles (红龙井比利时挖福饼; bǐlìshí wāfúbǐng), Corner of Fuxing Road and Honglong Jing (waterfall street), next to Dico's (红龙井和复兴路的十字路口,德克士旁边),  13577015005, e-mail: dali@wafubing.com. Open everyday from 14:00. This small waffle place which is run by Belgian expat Ruben offers delicious Belgian waffles, with several toppings available (hot chocolate sauce, whipped cream, chocolate/strawberry/mango ice cream). An indulgence you will not regret!
  • The Sweet Tooth (Sweet Tooth 甜点屋; Sweet Tooth Tiándiǎnwū), 52 Boai Road (博爱路52号; Bó'àilù) (On a corner in Dali Old Town). This cafe specializes in pastries and desserts. The cafe is owned and operated by the local hard of hearing. The owner, having studied culinary arts in the United States, produces delicious and high quality desserts, coffee, and milkshakes among other items.
  • Cafe de Jack (樱花园咖啡; Yīnghuāyuán Kāfēi), 82 Boai Road (博爱路82号; Bó'àilù),  +86 872 2671572. Definitely Dali's oldest Western cafe. Has a fireplace, great apple pie, pleasant atmosphere and a great rooftop garden. While the menu is a little tired, the breakfast is good, the chocolate cake legendary, and the lasagne just delicious. Spread over three levels, Cafe de Jack is the largest and most successful of the backpacker cafe/bars in Dali. Very popular with locals and travellers alike. The owners, local brothers Jack and Tim, are often on hand to provide good travel advice.
  • Bakery 88 (88号西点店; 88hào Xīdiǎndiàn), 88 Boai Road (博爱路88号; Bó'àilù) (Next to Cafe de Jack). This German style bakery is easy to spot and has a great cake selection visible from the street. Run by a long term German resident, Karine, Bakery 88 is popular with visiting foreigners and locals alike. Delicious.
  •    Black Dragon Cafe (墨龙咖啡馆 mòlóng kāfēiguǎn), No.42 Centre Square, Foreigner Street 人街中心广场42号 (In the alley two doors down from Bakery 88),  13330556685 / 0872-2670535. 9AM to late. The best coffee, and generous, mouth-watering meals - the wraps (chicken, beef, smoked tofu) are a speciality. An amazing collection of books to borrow or buy, from classics to the latest best sellers. 28.
  • Jim's Peace Cafe (大理吉姆和平饭店; Dàlǐ Jímǔhépíng Fàndiàn), Boai Road (With Jim's Guesthouse). Excellent Tibetan goulash, vegetarian or with yak meat. All-you-can-eat banquet for groups of four or more, ¥30 a head. Various other dishes. One of the town's oldest traveller hangouts.
  • Old Dali Four Seasons Inn (四季客栈; Sìjì Kèzhàn), 55 Boai Road (博爱路55号; Bó'àilù) (Near East Gate),  +86 872 2670382. Great place to meet people and pick up travel tips; the Inn is a major backpacker hangout and everyone discusses their next expedition over breakfast. Unfortunately, this place relocated and no longer provide all-you-can-eat breakfast.
  • La Stella's Pizzeria (新星比萨房; Xīnxīng Bǐsàfáng), 21 Huguo Road, Dali Old Town (护国路21号, Hùguólù),  +86 872 2679251. A well-run operation making generous portions of delicious woodfired pizzas, pastas, salads and Chinese dishes at good-value prices. They also have a wide selection of alcoholic beverages. The staff speak English and there is a travel agent out the back of the three-storey restaurant. Worth a visit.
  • LP café (咖啡), A18 Hong Longjing Road (红龙井A18号). LP café is the sort of place every neighborhood would be lucky to have. The staff is friendly, the food thoughtfully composed and prepared! LP café offers delicious deli styled sandwiches and snacks made with high quality ingredients to ensure that taste buds are titillated. Don't miss their great selection of imported wine and liquors.Last but not least, their amazing Lavazza expresso with a potent aroma and a flavour similar to freshly ground coffee, will satisfy coffee lover.

Splurge

Dali Wall Hump Garden (驼峰厨房-点苍虹鳟). 53 Hong Long Jing. At the top of Hong Long Jing (waterfall street), right before the Hong Long Jing gate on the right. This newly opened restaurant specializing in Rainbow trout is set in a beautiful garden built over the remains of the original Dali wall. Dali's rainbow trout is considered the best in China, and spring water carried down from the mountains is used for every step of the cooking process. This is sure be one of your best dinning experiences in China.

Drinks

A 500ml bottle of Dali Beer will cost you around ¥10-12 in a bar and about ¥3-4 from a grocer. A large selection of beer is on offer but some are coloured green and require an acquired taste. But for the price, there is no excuse not to sample the lot.

  • Bad Monkey (坏猴子; Huàihóuzi), 59 Renmin Road, Dali Old Town (人民路59号; Rénmínlù). From 9AM. Dali's longest running foreign bar. It is hosted by two well-traveled Englishmen Carl and Scott who entertain guests before the dancing starts later in the evening with a Derek and Clive patter of jokes and one-liners. The Monkey is a magnet to travelers both foreign and Chinese (many of whom seem to wander in and never leave), as well as remaining popular with Dali locals. The bar has a pool table, dancing pole, a huge selection of local and imported beers and spirits (as well as their own pints of various Bad Monkey Beers on tap, made locally at the bar's microbrewery [3], and regular performances by bands and DJs. Bad Monkey also opens from 9AM in the morning as a cafe, providing real Western breakfasts; Thai, Indian, Chinese and Western cuisine are also available throughout the day.
  • Daliba (大理吧; Dàlǐbā), 260 Renmin Road, Dali Old Town. The first flavoured vodka bar in China, owned by Vanessa from Guizhou province. More than 30 flavoured vodkas made by Vanessa and Kiki, beer and cocktails are available too!
  • Sun Island Cafe (太阳岛). A cool relaxed place where people come with music to spin. Owned by A Chun, an awesome, friendly girl from Lin Cang, this is a place to come and meet people and listen to music. Well worth a visit for a few drinks, well worth a stay in the rooms they have for visitors in the courtyard.
  • ClimbDali (大理攀岩), 393 RenMin Lu. Boulder bar offers free bouldering, cheap beer, and information on rock climbing around Dali. Also has an organic garden and pool table.
  • 非常麻辣烫 (Fēicháng má là tàng), Xiaguan, Renminjie (下关,人民街) (It may be hard to find since this is deep territory, but well worth a trip into Xiaguan, so bring a Chinese friend if you can't speak any Chinese, though if not, then if coming from Old Town in the north, ask a taxi driver to take you to the intersection of Tiānbǎo lù (天宝路) and Rénmín nán jiē (人民南街), from there it's a short walk south and on the right hand side, though the signage will be in its Chinese name.). For most people who stay in Dali for more than a couple days, Xiaguan tends to get extremely short shrift. Dismissed as the more developed and industrial reminder of China that most foreign travellers in China want to blissfully forget, it contains more than a few gems that are regrettably passed over by the wash and lure of Old Town's all too visible tourist scene. This restaurant/bar makes an evening trip to the south of the lake worth it, though those wishing to stop there first while arriving in town would not be disappointed, since it tends to stay open late. They offer extremely kitschy Revolution-era Chinese military and cultural memorabilia decor, as well as one of the most friendly and talkative owners in the area (for those who speak Chinese, though you can always pretend you don't if you want a quiet evening), but the real deal is in the food and booze. Try their various homemade flavored liquors made from every fruit in the area, the Plum Baijiu is one of the favorites (梅子酒). The food is just unpretentious and absolutely delicious local comfort food, the stir-fried erkuai with peanuts and chives (炒饵块) and dumplings tossed in chili sauce shouldn't be passed over. Vegetarian options are limited, though its still worth the trip as a strictly drinking place for those coming from the Old Town. This place is closing within a year [as of March 2012] because the local government wants to demolish their block to probably make way for some fancy apartment buildings or drab retail center, and as one of the more interesting places in China outside of the huge metropolises, with honest staff and excellent quality food and drink, it deserves your patronage. Support this place and let them know their business would still be appreciated in a new location.
  • Neverland Cafe. On Bo Ai lu, has homemade wine and fruit wines, needs your help in advising

how to blend good wines. Great baked potatoes with tuna fish topping. Owner speaks English and listens to Billie Holiday.

Shopping

As ever, be prepared to bargain when shopping in Dali. See Yangshuo#Tourist_stuff for advice on prices in Chinese tourist towns.

Dali has a number of famous local products.

  • Fried cheese - You might want to try the local rushan that is a crispy snack often wound around bamboo skewers. Available at many restaurants or from street stalls.
  • Marble - Dali has exquisite marble (a little difficult to carry) which is carved into all sorts of products: vases, ashtrays, carved animals and more. The marble stone can also be cut and polished revealing pictures on the surface. These are known as chushi and can be bought framed and make beautiful wall decorations. Many people can mistake them for traditional Chinese paintings. Cheaper chushi (generally the white and grey type) will sell for ¥60+ per item. More expensive and colored stone with clear mountain landscapes can be priced at ¥10,000+. The Chinese word for marble is Dalishi or Dali stone, indicating just how famous Dali marble is throughout China.
  • Tie-dye - The local tie-dye fashioned from dye and wax is also popular and cheap. One of the main production places is the Bai village Zhoucheng, about 40 minutes ride from Dali. This village also has a nice daily small afternoon market and some nice old Bai houses as well.
  • Embroidery - You can also purchase beautiful minority embroidery (generally Miao minority from Guizhou Province) at a number of shops. The embroidered items include baby carriers, clothing or decorative patches that were attached to traditional costume.
  • Teahouse - Dali has great teahouses. Relax in a teahouse regularly, buy a little tea and you will be welcome to come back at any time, with friends, usually for free. Sample new teas and as long as you buy something every so often, you will be welcomed again and again.
  • Antiques - There are many antique shops very close to each other on Yù'ěr Lù (玉洱路). Start at the intersection of Yěyú Lù (叶榆路) and walk west. It can be very interesting to browse here. Even if you're not a regular collector you will probably be tempted to buy something when you see how badly some of these treasures are being handled and stored.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Dali on Wikivoyage.

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