Dali Ancient Town

Dali Ancient Town

Dali Ancient Town is a historic town with rich culture located between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake. Unlike any other Chinese town, the traditional Bai ethnic houses give the town distinctive feel. Travelers can wonder in this leisure town to appreciate the unique ethnic architecture and discover its profound history and culture.

Why is Dali Ancient Town so special?

Dali Ancient Town enjoys both profound history and splendid culture, also unique Bai ethnic culture. History of Dali Ancient Town can be dates back to 1382 during the Ming Dynasty and it has been listed among the top historic cities of China. It is also the important hub of the Tea Horse Caravan Road, enjoying the integration of diverse culture.

1.AAAA Scenic Spot
2.One of the national historical and cultural city
3.Key Cultural Relics Protection Site
4.Main attraction of Dali

Where is Dali Ancient Town?

Dali Ancient Town is located at the north of Xiaguan Town, 13 kilometers away. This ancient city is situated between Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake.

Distance from other famous attractions in Dali

1.About 5 kilometers from Erhai Lake
2.About 2.3 kilometers from Three Pagodas of Dali
3.About 1.9 kilometers from Cangshan Mountain
4.About 24.7 kilometers from Shuanglang

How to Get to Dali Ancient Town?

Travelers can use our private car taking to Dali Ancient Town from Dali Airport or Dali Railway Station. If you are independent travelers, you can take bus or go by taxi.

1.By Car

From Dali Airport: It is about 30 km from Dali Airport to Dali Ancient Town. There are airport shuttle running between the airport to Dali Old Town. The drive takes about 40 minutes. If by taxi, it may cost around 80~100 Yuan.

From Dali Railway Station: It is about 26 km from Dali Railway Station to Dali Ancient Town. Travelers can take No.8 bus outside of the railway station to Dali Ancient Town, which takes about 40 minutes. If by taxi, it may cost around 50 Yuan.

2.By Bus

Taking bus No.4, No.8 in Xiaguan about 40 minutes to the Dali Ancient Town, the fare is 2 yuan. People who take bus No.8 can choose to get off at the east gate. In Yuer road there is touring bus passing Wind Flower Snow and Moon Hotel, Guozi Garden, Bluestone Bridge, Yeyu Road, Yuer Park, Boai Crossing and Cangshan Mountain Gate. In addition, visitors can take the minibus to Dali Ancient Town in Jianshe Road and Cultural Road, about 30 minutes to reach the old city. There are three options of transportation of electronic mobile, mountain bike and walk for tourists in Dali Ancient Town.

3.By Bicycle

Dali Ancient City Yuer Road (Dali Lanlin Pavilion Hotel)—Cangshan Mountain West Gate—214 National Road—Chongsheng Three Pagodas—Erhai Ring Road—Xizhou (Xizhou Mango Cabin Inn) —Shuanglang.

Dali Ancient City Yuer Road (Dali Lanlin Pavilion Hotel)—Cangshan Mountain East Gate—Dali Road—Caicun Village MTB Theme Inn—Erhai Ring Road—Xizhou (Xizhou Mango Cabin Inn)—Shuanglang.


1.History & culture

Dali Ancient Town

The city has a long history. About the year 738 AD, it became the seat of the Kingdom of Nanzhou. The Nanzhou Kingdom had control of important trade routes to Southeast and South Asia. Its location enabled Dali to prosper as merchandise from China was carried southwards, and as goods from as far as India was carried northwards. It was a major trading center. The rulers of the Nanzhou became Buddhists, and Bali became a center for the spread of Buddhism from Southeast and South Asia to the rest of China and East Asia. After two hundred years, The Nanzhou Kingdom was conquered by the Duan Clan. Two hundred years after this, in 1253, the Mongols conquered the city and ended the Dali Kingdom. Under Mongolian Emperor Kublai Khan, Dali became an important military outpost for the Mongolians. The Mongolians in turn were defeated, and the Ming dynasty was established.

2.Main Attractions in Dali Ancient Town

The first gate of the ancient city—Wenxian Building
Wenxian Building is located in 1 km away from the south gate of Dali Ancient City, which is known as the first gate of the ancient city, and is the landmark of Dali Ancient City. It was established in the Qing dynasty emperor Kangxi period. Horizontal inscribed board of the building was written “historic town with rich culture” by Piantu, the chief commander of Yunnan Province in Kangxi period fortieth year (AD 1701). Wenxian Building stretch across the road which leads to Dali Ancient City from the south, and on both sides of the road lined with willow trees which is quite picturesque. Wenxian Building is two floors of gable and hip roof type, it has typical Bai architectural features.

The world’s first building of ancient Nanzhao kingdom—Wuhua Buidling
Wuhua Building is state guesthouse of ancient Nanzhao king, also called to Five Flowers Building. Since Nanzhao, Wuhua Building was burned down for many times, and rebuilt many times, but it was smaller after rebuilding over and over. Today the area of Wuhua Building has formed a certain scale of calligraphy and painting market, operating varieties include calligraphy, Chinese paintings like landscape flowers and birds painting and figures painting, etc., and leather trade and oil painting sale is very active.

Foreigners’ Street—Huguo Road (Nation Protection Road)

The east-west Huguo Road in the Dali Ancient City is known as the “foreigner street”. One by one Chinese and western restaurants, cafes, tea houses and gift shops here, their signboard and advertising is written in English, attracting blond foreigners lingering here and looking for ancient archaic Chinese rhyme, gradually the street become a unique scenery.

Dali Ancient Town

Dali Christian Church
Dali Christian church is located in road intersection of Dali Ancient City Fuxing Roand and Heping Road, was founded in June 1904, which was called “Chinese Christian church” at that time. In 1956, it changed its name to “Dali Christian unity council “. In 1980, it changed its name to “Dali Christian zion”. Again in 2004 changed its name to “Dali Christian church”. In 2008 it was listed as the municipal cultural relics protection unit. The major structure of church is timberwork, hip roof, which maintained the style of the western church, but also has strong Bai architectural characteristics that is a combination of Chinese and western church.

Recommended Tours

1 Days Dali Ancient Culture Tour with Dali Old Town, Three Pagodas, Xizhou, Zhoucheng and Erhai Lake

2 Days Dali Pilgrimage Hiking Tour from Erhai Lake to Jizu Mountain

6 Days Kunming-Dali-Lijiang Tour

8 Days Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Shangri-La Overland Tour

Best Time to Visit Dali Ancient Town

Dali Ancient Town is a very comfortable and leisure site which can be visited all year round. There is a saying going “Good Scenery is the month of March”. March to April is the best time to visit Dali Ancient City. If you want to enjoy Bai’s grand festival, you can come in the beautiful spring and catch the rare chance to join in March Fair. Dali in March is very beautiful, it is very suitable for you to travel Dali Ancient Town, climb Cangshan Mountain or pay visit to Erhai Lake.

Accommodate at Dali Ancietn Town

Traveling Dali Ancient Town and surroundings, you can easily find many hotels. Dali has some cheap accommodation options available, such as dorm bed or double room with private shower and toilet. But how to choose a good one is becoming a question especially for tourists abroad. So we choose some hotels are nearby Dali highlights scenic spots.

Hotel Name

Hotel Rating



Bay View International Hotel(海湾国际酒店)


The intersection of Erhe South Road and Taian Road, Dali City, Dali


Manwan Hotel (漫湾酒店)


No.176 Yangbi Road, Dali city, Dali


Yingdige Hotel(英迪格酒店)


No.15, Binghai Road, Dali City, Dali


Canghai Moon Hotel (沧海月度假酒店)


No.17 Jianshe Road, Dali City, Dali


Lufeng Hotel (麓枫酒店)


No.87 Weishan Road, Dali City, Dali


Haoyue Shijia Hotel (浩月世家精品酒店)


No.420 Wenhua Road, Dali City, Dali


Xilu Hotel(熙禄酒店)


No.10 Wenhua Road, Dali City, Dali


Dayu Hotel(大禹酒店)


No.20 Binchuan Road, Dali City, Dali


Nearby Attractions

1.The Three Pagodas

The Three Pagodas,the symbolic building of Dali, was first built in the time of Nanzhao Kingdom and Dali Kingdom in 9th and 10th century. Looking from a distance, the pagodas are like three ballpoint pens standing between the magnificent Cangshan Mountain and elegant Erhai Lake.

Cangshan Mountain,located west of Dali Ancient Town and Erhai Lake, is with nineteen peaks and eighteen streams. Travelers can take cableways to reach the top of Cangshan Mountain or explore the breathtaking scenery along Jade Cloud Road.
Erhai Lake (Ear-shaped Sea), reputed as “Pearl of Plateau”, is the second largest highland lake of Yunnan. Taking a boat and cycling around the lake are fantastic ways to explore “Silver Cangshan Mountain and Jade Erhai Lake” scenery.

Useful Travel Tips

1.Best Time to Visit Dali Ancient Town

Dali Ancient Town

A lot of festivals and events of Bai nationality focused on March to April each year, travel at this time you will feel rich ethnic customs. And there is a song: “March in Dali has good scenery”, so in the spring, it is suitable whether it is traveling to Dali, or climbing Canshang Mountain, visiting Erhai Lake.

2. What to Pack
Dali belongs to the low altitude plateau monsoon climate and ultraviolet ray is strong. Travelers should bring usual clothes and necessities as well as sunscreen cream and sunglasses to protect yourselves.

3. Dali Ancient Town Tourist Center
The Tourist Center is located close to the South Gate of Dali Ancient Town. Travelers can buy tickets and take sightseeing bus from Dali Ancient Town to Three Pagodas of Dali, Tianlongbabu Film Studio, Cangshan Mountain, Zhang Family’s Garden, Erhai Lake, Nanzhao Folk Island, Shuanglang, Dali Railway Station and Dali Airport, etc.

From Dali Old Town To

Departure Time

Return Time

Three Pagodas of Dali



Tianlongbabu Film Studio



Cangshan Mountain Ximatan Cable Car



Cangshan Mountain Tonggan Cable Car



Erhai Lake Cruise at Longkan Pier

09:00, 09:30, 10:00, 13:30

12:30, 15:50

Zhang Family’s Garden






Dali Airport

based on the actual flight schedule

07:00, 08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 13:00, 15:00

Dali Railway Station

based on the actual train schedule

07:00, 08:30, 10:00, 11:30, 13:00, 15:00

Please note: all the sightseeing bus service time may adjust according to travelers practical needs. Please inquiry for the exact time when buy the tickets at the tourist center or offices.

4. Accommodation
You never need to worry about your stay in Dali Ancient Town. There are hotels and hostels ranging from luxury 5 star (Dali Regent Hotel recommended, located close to the East Gate), comfortable 4 star (Dali Landscape Hotel recommended, located close to Foreigner Street in the center of Dali Ancient Town) to budget hostels.

5. Local Snacks
Travelers can taste the local snacks and food such as Rushan (Dairy Fans), Er Kuai (rice-based dish), Xizhou Baba, Sand Pot Fish, Sour and Spicy Fish, Eight Bowls of Bai People, etc.