[Travel] Dali, the Old Town of the Bai Ethnic Group

The tale of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at Old Town Lijiang is ending and another journey begin to Dali (大理). We bought our bus ticket from the hostel (58 CYN) and we depart at 8:30 AM in the morning and promptly fall asleep in the bus. We arrive at  and Dali (大理), the old town, (not the Xianguan (下关) New Dali city).

Dali is located at a farming plateau between Cang mountain range (苍山) at the West side and Erhai lake (洱海) at the East. Dali is the capital of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. In the olden day, Dali was part of the hub town in the Ancient Chamada (茶马道, Tea and Horse) road. I assumed this old town is on the way from South East Asia to Lijiang or other city before merge with the Silk Road.

Dali (大理) is formerly the city of the the ethnic group Bai (白和) kingdom, Nanzhao (南诏) and the Kingdom of Dali (大理国) until it was taken by the Mongolian in the Yuan Dynasty (元朝). Food here is rather a mix of the ethnic tribes like Bai (白和), Yi (彝族) and Hui (回族). If you’re a muslim, is a safe bet to go here since the Hui (回族) is the muslim ethnic group in China. Since Dali is also a saturated touristy place, the western influence food and hostel, it has the backpacker vibe for the westerners who are looking for an adventure. Thankfully, not as ‘old town made for tourist’ as Lijiang. The way of living is still that of the local people. This place reminds me of my trip to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, with its backpacker street.

We stay at the Jade Emu Hostel in a two bed room with a private bathroom for 165 CYN. At this point, while the sun is shiny, we decide to wash our cloths with the hostel and be done with it.


Crowded street



Wuhua Pavilion (楼华五, Wǔ huá lóu) in Bai (白和) architecture. We didn’t go up there since it’s very, very crowded. The Pavilion is a guesthouse for the Nanzhao (南诏) King and is also known as the Five Flowers building.


The Dali Museum, formerly the mansion of the Governor during the Qing Dynasty (清朝). There are the Nanzhao Kingdom (南诏) relics. It’s free entrance. Here are some that I like:


Beautiful Mortar pottery in the new stone age, around 15th century BC, found in Haidong (海東市), Dali.


Pottery in colorful glaze, the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac (屬相) signs from Ming Dynasty (明朝), found in Dali city.


Porcelain statue from Ming Dynasty (明朝), found in Dali City


Dragon beard sweets. I haven’t have this since I was a child. Hmmm. 3 CYN.


Love this small pavilion in the museum’s yard.

The busy streets and the old town is way to crowded for a proper exploring. We return the hostel and check with the helpful hostel’s staff with good English. On recommendation, we book for a tour the next day around Erhai lake.

Dali Trip:

See also Chinese Minority Ethnic Group custom at Shanghai Museum post here.

Source information: GoKunming, DK Eyewitness Travel China, Tripadvisor, Wikitravel


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Teesh Osita says:

    I’ve gotten major travel envy from all your China travel that I seriously considered booking a trip to China when I saw an airline had cheap fares!! It sucks that the available dates for the promo were a conflict with another trip. :( I’m interested in tasting those dragon beard sweets!

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