• Photo: Jakrit Jiraratwaro / Shutterstock

Dali

This rustic town is one of those rare places that feel completely cut off from the rest of the world but still has high-speed Internet access. It's perched at the foot of the towering Cangshan Mountains and overlooks lovely Erhai Lake. The typically sunny weather, sleepy artistic atmosphere, and gorgeous sunsets have made it one of Yunnan's most popular destinations

Home to the Bai people, Dali has been inhabited for more than 4,000 years, serving as a major rice-production base for the region. Today tourism is rejuvenating the town. The upside of its building boom is a greater variety of restaurants and hotels; the downside is that the Old Town is constantly being demolished and reconstructed. A planned high-speed rail link with Kunming means now is the time to see Dali before it changes even more.

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