6 Best Sights in Dali, Southwestern China


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With a peak that rises to more than 4,500 meters (14,765 feet), "Green Mountain" can be seen from just about anywhere in Dali. A 16-km (10-mile) path carved into the side of the mountain offers spectacular views of Dali and the surrounding villages. There are also several temples, grottoes, and waterfalls just off the main trail. To get to the footpath, follow Yu'er Lu to the foot of the mountain. If you don't want to climb, there are two cable cars to take you up the mountain.

Erhai Lake

Almost any street off Fuxing Lu will bring you to the shore of Erhai Lake. from which you can marvel at the looming Cangshan peaks. You may catch a glimpse of fishermen with teams of cormorants tied to their boats. In good weather, ferries are a wonderful way to see the lake and the surrounding mountains. The ferries cost between Y30 and Y70 (depending on your ability to bargain). More interesting—and cheaper—is hiring fishermen to paddle you wherever you want to go. Boats depart from the village of Zhoucheng.

Dali, Yunnan, China


This town sits on the lake's northern shore, and can be most easily reached by boat or by hiring a car and driver. Its market, held every Monday morning, is the most popular in the area.

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Three Pagodas

The most famous landmark in Dali, the Three Pagodas appear on just about every calendar of Chinese scenery. The largest, 215 feet high, dates from AD 836 and is decorated on each of its 16 stories with Buddhas carved from local marble. The other two pagodas, also richly decorated, are even more elegant. When the water is still, you can ponder their reflection in a nearby pool. A massive Chan Buddhist Temple has been built behind the pagodas. The pagodas are a 20-minute walk from the Old Town.

1 km (½ mile) north of Dali Gucheng, Dali, Yunnan, 671003, China
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Rate Includes: Y128, Daily 7 am–8 pm

Wase Bai Ethnic Village

Wase has a popular area market featuring Bai clothing. The town is on the opposite side of the lake from Dali and can be reached by car or boat. Wase also has some inexpensive places to stay if you want to spend the night in a lake village.


Among the prettiest towns in the area is Xizhou, about 20 km (12 miles) north of Dali. It has managed to preserve a fair amount of its Bai architecture. The daily morning market and occasional festivals of traditional music attract a fair number of tourists from Dali. Minibuses leave from Dali's west gate and cost Y7.