Things to Do in Dali

Dali as a center of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, gathers 25 ethnic minorities to creat an unique background with kinds of ancient towns and historical buildings. With its geographical location and pleasant weather, there are many top attractions to see in Dali.

Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake are praised as the city's leading scenic areas. Most attractions lie between these two landmarks, such as the Butterfly Spring and the Three Pagodas. Also there are many activities held, like Spring Fair, Bai Torch Festival, etc.

Dali Travel Map

Dali Old Town

No.1 Dali Old Town

Type: Ancient Town, Historic Sites

Dali Old Town is the southernmost of the large old towns - the other two are Lijiang and Shangri-La. Embracing Erhai Lake in the east and Cangshan Mountain in the west; streams from Cangshan Mountain come into the city, going across the streets and visiting every family, running eastwards to Erhai Lake. In the Town, you’ll enjoy the City Wall, Gate-towers, elegant streets, small and exquisite courtyards, colorful flowers blooming in the sunshine. Some visitors, seduced by Dali’s charms forget to leave and Westerners run much business here.

The Three Pagodas

No.2 The Three Pagodas

Type: Cultural Relics, Scenic Spots

The Three Pagodas, around 3km north of the Dali Old Town, is Dali’s most iconic landmarks, three Layered, cream-coloured pagodas gently tapering towards their summits. The oldest pagoda was built around 850 when the region was a major Buddhist center. The Three Pagodas look best at a distance. Chongsheng Temple adjoins the Three Pagodas and was the largest monastery in this area.

No.3 Erhai Lake

Type: Natural Landscape,Scenic Spots


Erhai Lake stretches 40km along the flat valley in the west of Dali Old Town, its shore fringed with Bai villages. The west side is well watered by stream descending the Cangshan Mountain; and famous little old town, Xizhou Town and Zhoucheng Town are all lies in the west side. You can reach many local villages by cycling or car.

Cruising on the Erhai Lake is a leisure way to see the Lake. Also, you can choose cycling. Cormorant fishing trips are available for tourist to see local traditional fishing.

No.4 Cangshan Mountain

Type: Natural Landscape,Scenic Spots

Cangshan Mountain, the Green Mountains, is a 50-km-long range peaking from between 2100m and 4122m, cloaked in thick forest and cloud. You’ll experience 15km-long walking trail (named Cloud Pass) which passes some temples, waterfalls, caves and shrines; you’ll see Gantong Temple, Qingbi Stream, Grand Canyon and Zhonghe Temple by the walking trail. In good weather, views off the mountain take in the whole Erhai Lake, with plenty of birdlife, the odd squirrel and colorful flowers alongside the path. Of course, you can take multi-day hikes in the mountain area if you are hiking enthusiasts.

No.5 Shaxi Ancient Town

Type: Ancient Town, Historic Sites

Shaxi Ancient Town is an attractive old mud-brick Bai town of Shaxi, occupies a flat, heavily farmed valley, 95km northwest of Dali Old Town. Shaxi is tiny but plays a very important role as a bustling trade station on the Tea and Horse Road. Nowadays, Shaxi still has that border-town feel; mountain villagers come down from the hills to trade their goods on every Friday which is Friday Market in Shaxi. Even you can buy a horse here if you would like. Some sites you can’t miss-Sideng, Sifang Street and the arched stone Yujin Bridge which marks the start of the old packhorse route north to Tibet. It’s best to catch Friday Market here if you are lucky.

No.6 Xizhou Ancient Town & Morning Market

Type: Ancient Town

With 18km north from Dali Old town, the single most important Bai town, Xizhou Ancient Town was once a commercial center of Yunnan Province, and more than 1500 year ago, Xizhou and nearby area has been the major habitat for the Bai people. Xizhou is going to show you the Bai minority cultural, the local people’s daily life and natural beauty.

The morning market in Xizhou, a place for local people trading daily supplies, including fresh vegetable, fruits, meats, and many kinds of food and daily necessities. It is a great opportunity for getting close to local living conditions.

No.7 Zhoucheng Village

Type: Ancient Town

This small town is 28km up the highway from Dali Old Town. Zhoucheng is a tie-dyeing center, is named “the Land for National Tie-Dye” by China Culture Administration. Tie-dye is an old Chinese textile dyeing technique. This traditional technique is still popular in Zhouzheng. Behind Zhoucheng’s main marketplace, the Butterfly Spring is a deep, blue pond haunted by clouds of butterflies in early summer. The Butterfly Festival is held on the 15th of the fourth lunar month (Late May or early June).

Recommended Dali Tours

Top 3 Dali tours chosen by most customers to explore Dali in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Dali Old Town
3 Days Dali Highlights Tour with Bai Culture Experience


Three Pagodas
4 Days Kunming & Dali Highlights Tour

Kunming / Stone Forest / Kunming / Dali

Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Monastery
8 Days Classic Yunnan Tour

Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La

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