Yunnan Province's


Global Mark : 14.53

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 


4 4 2 3 5 3 4 5



Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
24 79%  (19) 67%  (16) 75%  (18) 7 to 19 13.96

Description :
A small village perched at 1900 meters next to Lake Er Lai with some old houses, impressive gates, walking streets, souvenir shops and banana pancakes

Comments : Once a backpackers retreat, Dali is now connected to the rest of China with an airport and an highway. This means plenty of Chinese tourists, karaoke and fast development.

What to do : Walk the streets / Trek Kansan mountain (4000m) / Go around Lake Er Lai / Visit minorities' markets / Ride horses / See cormorant fishing / Learn Kung Fu / Buy souvenirs / Change clothes / Discuss with minorities' people / Eat or drink  all day / Make new friends / Relax...

What you may not like : The fast change of the town / Being one of the attractions for the Chinese tourists / The commercialism of the place

How long ? From one day (some really don't like it) to a few weeks (some are crazy about the place)

How to reach ? From Xiaguan, local Bus No4, Y1.2, 30mn, from 6:30 to 20

Where to stay ? 

Get precise info, book online and save money !  >> Hostels


Jim's Guesthouse : Dorm 10 or 15 in 3 bed's nice rooms without bath / Roof top Sgle without bath but big bed 30 / Sgle with bath 50 / Dble with bath 100 // Go there for the best quality-price ratio, the nice sanitary with bath tube, the friendliness of Jim, the half Tibetan- half Hui young owner. / What you may not like : Having no garden to relax


MCA Guesthouse : Dorm 10Y in 9 to 11 bed's rooms or 15Y in "luxury" 4 to 6 bed's rooms/ Basic Dble without bath 50Y / Nice Dble with bath 100 / HW 24 hrs / Bicycle (10Y per day) / Internet (30Y per hr) // Go there for the swimming pool, the restaurant, the services, the relax atmosphere. / What you may not like : The huge dorm with beds on the floor, being outside the village walls, having to walk the whole garden to go to the (just acceptable) toilets, the basic (but clean) showers.


No 4 Guesthouse (Yu'an Garden), a place designed for "Aliens and overseas Chinese" by the authorities : Dorm 10 in 5 or 6 bed's rooms or 15 in 3 or 4 beds / Nice Dble without bath 50 / Dble with bath 100 / HW 24 hrs // Go there for the peaceful garden, the relax atmosphere, the restaurant and to check if the new toilets & showers are up to the standard of the place.


No5 Guesthouse (Old Dali Four Seasons Inn) : Dorm 10 or 15 in 4 bed's rooms / Sgle & Dble without bath 30 & 50 / Dble with bath 100 / HW 8 to 23 // Go there for the nice buildings surrounding a green garden, the relaxed atmosphere, the ping pong table, the restaurant,... / What you may not like : the common toilets with only half-high partitions, the not so clean showers,...

Also worth checking :


Dali Hotel (267 0386), nice buildings in a nice "Chinese style" garden / Acceptable Dble with bath 60 / Trpl with bath 90 / Nicer Dble 110 / HW 19 to 23


Cha Hua Hotel (267 8057), near MCA, a new little hotel with very clean rooms (Sgle without bath 30, Nice Dble with bath 120, HW 24 hrs) but sleepy management and no common toilets ot shower !


No2 Guesthouse (Dali Red Camellia), an hotel style guesthouse with cheap rooms in the old winds (Dorm 10Y in 3 beds' room, Basic Sgle 25, Dble with bath 80Y) but bad toilets & showers  and HW from 18 to 20 only !


The luxury Jinhua Hotel has dorm in a old wind for 25 in 2 or 3 bed's rooms but the common toilets & shower are bad, even so they boost 24 hours HW.

Where to eat ?

For western food, stay in your guesthouse or go around Huguo Lu where you'll find half a dozen restaurants competing for the backpackers favors. For Breakfsat, try Tibetan Cafe. For Lasagna, try Yunnan Cafe. For pizza, try Cafe de Jack. For conversation, try Mr....

For cheap and tasty noodles/jiaozi soups (2Y) pass the South Gate, on your right just after the bridge (from 8 to 17)

For Chinese food, check around Yuer Lu.

For late dinner, check the night markets and its Mongolian barbecue on the east of Huguo Lu (from midnight to 6am)

Internet ?  Until China Telecom gets equipped here, the cheapest rate seems to be offered by Tim's Internet Shop (46 Bo Ai Rd, 20Y per hour) or Internet Coffee (Huguo Lu, 0.4Y per mn)

Backpacker's Tips : Robbin, Singapore (Nov 06)
Regrettably, I joined a packaged tour for this part of the trip. Thankfully it was only for a day. Under no circumstances take up any tour package in china. The food I ate was uniformly bad. The bus stopped at least 3 times at stupid shops selling stupid jade/silver/stone/ceramic/wood/etc jewellery/vases/carvings/stuff. Plus half the attractions on the iternary were basically shops in disguise as well. You will also have to pay extra for seats, road tolls, and occasional entrance fees.
The only attraction I found interesting was a visit to the Butterfly Springs, where monarch butterflies once gathered several years ago. The butterflies may have stopped visiting now, but there's still plenty of butterfly exhibits, including an enclosed garden where visitors wander among countless butterflies. You also do not have to pay any extra money.
Skip the boat ride on the lake, the free seats are too sunny, the cheapest shaded seats cost about RMB30 extra per person, and there's basically nothing to do for 4 hours. The song and dance performance is okay, but nothing to excited about. They'll also treat you to 3 cups of tea during the performance, 1st one's very bitter (watch the expressions of the people around you and laugh :D ). The 2nd tea is sweet with almond bits, strange but nice. The 3rd tea is gingerish.
There's also an evening song and dance performance. This is more interesting with interesting costumes and dances. However tickets are RMB120, RMB140, RMB180 based on the proximity to the stage.

Backpacker's Tips : Wang Xiaocong, China (Oct 02)
A bookstore featuring an extensive selection of books in foreign languages, especially English, including some Lonely Planet titles (for China and Southeast Asian countries) is now found in both Dali and Lijiang. It is called Mandarin Books (Wu Hua Shu Yuan). In Dali it is located on Fuxing Road immediately south of Renmin Road.

Backpacker's Tips : Angus Wong (Oct 02)
China Telecom is down near the market center. You can buy SIM cards there. The Government Internet center may be cheaper than Tim's but quite busy because of that. I was in Dali just in May 02.

Backpacker's Tips :  Xander (July 02)
 I'm currently using the internet at Tim's Internet Place. He speaks fluent English (to my relief) and prices dropped to 3Yuan for 30min and 6Yuan for 60min. He also burns digital camera 'memory sticks' onto CDs. Haven't seen China Telecom yet...

Bike ?  Around 10 to 15Y per day at various places.

What to see / visit ?


Three Pagoda : 20Y, 1 hour / Not worth paying the entrance. Better look at them from the Pagoda Mirror Garden (2Y), 200m on the left from the main road (big stone sign with red Chinese letters)


Zhonghe Temple : free, 3-4 hours, hard / From the Three Pagoda or the Cable Car (28Y up, 20Y down or 38Y up & down), take a nice but strenuous path up and check out the amazing view. The Temple itself is nothing special, you go for the walk.


Wase market : free, half a day /Every day of the month finishing by 0 or 5 e.g. 5th, 10th,... Take a tour from Dali for 20/25Y with a stop in Putuo Island.


 Shaping Market : free, half a day / Every Monday from 10 to 14:30. Take a tour or, better, catch a local bus from the main road


Dali Museum : 5Y, 1 hour / Worth checking.


Xizhou : free, half a day / An old town finally not so interesting. Take a local bus.

Backpacker's Tips :  Quang-Tuan Luong (Dec 02)
  I stayed at the Yuan Garden. The single room was a bit shabby, but still adequate. To get to the toilets, you have to cross to courtyard, though. From Xiguan train station, local bus wait left of exit. Take #12 for Dali. The cormorant fishing trips is staged for tourists (you won't see real working cormorants), but still worth a try. The Shaping market is interesting. If you go with a local bus, you'll be charged Y10 each way, actually more than the Y15 RT charged by the guesthouses, but you'll be able to stay longer when all other tourists are gone. The lake close to the Three Pagodas is enclosed between walls South of the Three Pagodas (an entrance fee is charged).

 << Discover the charm of Dali ...

Leave Dali ?
  Plenty of travel agencies around town with similar services and prices. They can also get you bus tickets for buses departing Xiaguan. The first bus to Xiaguan leave at 6am and you need at least half an hour to reach the bus station. If you have a bus to catch before 6:45, take a taxi (50Y) or sleep in Xiaguan.

Bus Schedules :  From Xiaguan       

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Baoshan 25/43 ordi/sleep 6 ? 7:30 to 15:30 6 1 or 2 hrs
Kaili 109 sleep 17 ? 8:30/19 2 na
Jinghong 168 sleep 28 6:10 1 na

Bus Schedules :  From Dali



Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Kunming 70 to 110 O/L/S 6 to 11 7:30 to 20 6 hour
Lijiang 25 to 50 O / L 2.5 to 4 7:30 to 14 8 hour
Zhongdian 45 ordi 8 7:30 1 na

Note : To Kunming : bus hourly in the morning only

TRAINS : There is now a train to Kunming. At the time of writing, it was running only once every two days (dep 19:50, 8.5 hrs, 85Y hard sleeper). Check !

Backpacker's Tips : Jon, Israel (June 05)
There is a bus from Dali to Jinghong - a decent sleeper bus. It goes at noon, at 14:30, and at 19:30. We were told it takes 30 hours, but it only took 16 hours. However, we stopped for 8 hours for some reason and therefore it actually took 24. It cost 140 yuan and we bought our tickets in old Dali from Michael Yang's travel service.  

The trip from Dali to Lijiang :
Minibus / SSSS / R / Y25 / 3.5 hours

A nice trip, with plenty of transportations options to choose from. Ours was a "regular" minibus, a bit bumpy and dirty but there was no movie to distract us from the view and it arrived on time. We were quite annoyed however as it stopped at the Southern Bus Station. But most of the buses do so (they are apparently not allowed to continue) so there is little scope for complain. From the South Bus Station, the No1 local bus is going north Xin Dajie for 0.6Y.

See also Trip from Xishuangbanna to Dali...