Dali Overview

Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture is situated in the west-central region of Yunnan Province, neighboring Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture in the east, Puer City in the south, Baoshan City and Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture in the west and Lijiang in the north. 

Basic Information

● Full Name:Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture

● Chinese Name:大理白族自治州

● Area: 29,459 square kilometers

● Population: 3,400,000

● Altitude: 2,007 m

●Language: Bai Language

●Nationalities: Han, Bai, Hui, Tibetan, Naxi, Yi

History of Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture

Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture is one of the earliest cultural birthplaces of Yunnan Province. According to archaeological 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. 

Dali Attractions

As a historical and cultural prefecture, tourists can not only enjoy beautiful natural landscape but also appreciate charming and unique custom and ancient residence of Bai ethnic group. Moreover, as the ancient transfer station of South Silk Route, nowadays there are still many old relics well-preserved in Dali, such as Shaxi Old Town, Dali Old Town, Jizu Mountain, The Three Pagodas and Chongsheng Temple, Erhai Lake...

Dali Minority Culture

There are twenty ethnic minorities now living in Dali Prefecture. Bai ethnic minority, as the largest group, accounts for sixty-five percent of the city's total population. More than 3,500 years ago, ancestors of the Bai created their own culture set at Erhai Lake. Folk oral literature and local ethnic traditions are outstanding features of the so-called 'Erhai Culture'. There are countless legends and myths about the Dragon King, old poems of ethnic favor, music, paintings, residential houses, religions, costumes and festivals. Although influenced by Indian and Chinese culture during Nanzhao and Dali periods, the ethnicity remained strongly unique, surviving today. 

Religions in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture

Patron God Worship in Dali
Patron God Worship in Dali

Dali is regarded as an elysian Buddha land, an area in the southwest where Buddhism was introduced first a long time ago. There are many Buddhist sights in the area that include pagodas, grottoes, temples and Buddhist mountains. Buddhism reached its highest popularity in the city during the reign of Nanzhao and Dali. 

What is worth mentioning is the Patron God worship, which is one kind of primitive belief mainly believed by Bai and Han people in Dali area. One or several villages share the same patron god and sacrifice to gods at fixed lunar dates.

What to Eat in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture

Dali is most well-known for dishes historically cooked by the Bai people, such as fish casserole, Xizhou cake, milk fans and so on. However, as the city is a melting-pot for many different cultures, it offers visitors the chance to sample numerous delicacies from around Yunnan Province and western food are served in many restaurants.

Recommended Dali Hotels

In Dali, there are lots of hotels and hostels providing comfortable stay. Travelers could choose from international standard hotels or  local economic hotels, ranging from 5 star to 3 star. Different styles of hotels are offered, and different price you can choose according to your need.

Transportation in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture

Dali lies at the junction of the Yunnan-Burma Highway (320 National Highway) and the Yunnan-Tibet Highway (214 National Highway), which connects to other regions of western Yunnan Province. In addition, the Dali-Kunming Freeway has been open. Increasingly modern transportation system makes it easier than ever for people living ere to communicate with the outside world.

Dali Travel Tips

Traditional Residence of Bai People

● 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.

Administrative Division

The prefecture is subdivided into 12 county-level divisions: one county-level city, eight counties and three autonomous counties: Dali City(大理市),  Xiangyun County(祥云县), Binchuan County(宾川县),  Midu County(弥渡县),  Yongping County(永平县), Yunlong County(云龙县), Eryuan County(洱源县), Jianchuan County(剑川县), Heqing County(鹤庆县), Yangbi Yi Autonomous County(漾濞彝族自治县), Nanjian Yi Autonomous County(南涧彝族自治县), Weishan Yi and Hui Autonomous County(巍山彝族回族自治县).