Dali Ancient City, also called Yeyu City, Forbidden City, Zhonghezhen, lies 3 kilometers north from Xiaguan, the capital of Dali Prefecture. Embracing Erhai Lake in the east and adjoining Cangshan Mountain in the west, Dali City was first established in the early period of the Ming Dynasty, and then an administrative organ called "wei" was set up. The one who was in charge was granted the title "Commanding Envoy of the Dali Wei". Now in dali, the place name "the Gate of Wei" is still used among the people. In the Qing Dynasty, the military commander of Yunnan was stationed in Dali. Yixidao, Dalifu (Dali Prefecture) and Taihexian (Taihe County) were established. In the second year of the Republic of China, Dali was renamed Taihe County. Now it is called Zhonghe Town of Dali City.
The circumference of Dali Ancient City was 6 kilometers long. The City Wall is 8 metres high and 7 meters thick. The interior of the wall was filled with rocks and the surface was bricked over smoothly. The four gate towers in the east, south, west and north are named Chen En, Tong Hai, Cangshan and An Yuan respectively. There are also 45 battlements and 1560 crenels on the walls. A defensive river was surrounding the city. The streets and avenues in the city now are crisscrossing each other, typical of chessboard pattern. The buildings are all covered with dark blue tiles and pebble-staked walls. All look very pristine and delicate. The residents all like to plant trees and flowers. There are garden in every house. The famous Dali camellia, azalea and orchids are competing to show their beauty, blooming against snow on Cangshan mountain. Red flowers and green grass are coming out from wall, making up flowers streets. Streams from Cangshan mountain come into the city, going across the streets and visiting every family with their happy sound and sweet taste, running eastwards to Erhai lake. The whole city looks fresh and wet, without any dust.
The climate here is pleasant and Spring season is prevailing all year round. Outside and west to the city, there are famous Three Pagoda Temple, the relics of the Nanzhao Kingdom's capital Yangjumie and the Market of March Fair. At the south suburb of the city, there is the Pagoda of Hongsheng Temple, the Gantong Temple, the Nanzhao Stele and the newly-constructed Nanzhao Cultural Center. At the north suburb of the city locate a world renowned Butterfly Spring and the native land of Five Golden Flowers -- Xizhou. Looking to the west, one can enjoy the view of Cangshan Mountain, snow on the mountain top that never melts, and a mysterious jade-ribbon cloud. Looking eastwards, one finds the charming and pretty scene of Erhai Lake and distant view of Jizu Mountain. Here You can enjoy drinking Bai people's three courses of tea, having special foods, watching colorful tie-dyeing and purchasing handcrafts of marble.
In the city, historical relics such as the headquarters of Du Wenxiu, leader of a peasant uprising, and relevant stone steles still remain today. The headquarters is virtually a city within the city of Dali, called the "Forbidden City". The south and north gate-towers, some sections of the wall and some parts of Du Wenxiu's headquarters can still be seen today. The magnificent towers, elegant streets, small and exquisite courtyards, colourful flowers blooming in profusion give people a feeling of antiquity, serenity and elegance. Today, this famous ancient city is attracting more and more tourists.
Foreigners' Street is a place where foreign visitors can congregate. The snacks of Bai people is available, and their traditional drinking of “Three Cups of Tea” is thought to be healthful. There are a lot of marble decorative objects and marble art objects for sale. Cangshan Mountain marble is beautiful. You may want to buy souvenirs here.
The local customs and architecture is distinctive. A stroll through the ancient city with its stone paved streets, traditional style houses, and numerous gardens is an interesting excursion. The local people love growing flowers. There is an annual Flower Festival. Families display their potted plants in front of the houses. Tourists appreciate this festival. The local food ethnic food and teas are different than that consumed in most of China. Some people from other parts of China and from around the world who are entrepreneurs, craftsmen, artists, musicians, and tourist agents live in Dali for a period of time.
When people walk along the cobble-paved streets in the ancient city, a sense of primitive simplicity and elegance will be invoked. Besides the Bai ethnic minority traditional folk houses, the houses all with grey-green roof tiles, peculiar workshops, temples, schools and churches with an antique flavor are scattered. Traditional artworks made of marble, such as pencil vases, striped screens, and a variety of woven handicrafts made of fine straw are laid chockablock on both sides of the street to be appreciated and purchased. The newly–opened Foreigner Street is also a must-see, providing snacks with the traditional flavors of the Bai ethnic community, as well as the famous 'Three-course Tea' ceremony for receiving guests that includes 'bitter tea', 'sweet tea' and 'final tea'.
Getting There Dali is about 350 kilometers away from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. Yunnan Province is in the south of China and borders Vietnam. A flight between Kunming and the airport near Bali takes more than an hour. Dali is served by train also. A train trip from Kunming takes about 8 hours. Kunming is about 6 hours away by bus.
Nearby Attractions Cangshan Mountain The area is famous for the Cangshan Mountain scenic reserve area that is only a few kilometers away. 19 high peaks and 18 streams, ponds, waterfalls, great hiking areas, and old temples may be visited there. The highest peak is always snow covered, and it is mirrored in Erhai Lake that is a few kilometers from ancient Dali. People say the reflection is a striking sight in the moonlight. More information about Cangshan Mountain
Latest Tips on Dali Ancient City 1. About 14 kilometers to the south of the ancient city of Dali is Xiaguan, the modern city of Dali.
2. The ancient city is a pedestrian area that is kept free of vehicles.
3. Another highlight nearby is Stone Bell Hill that is an ancient complex of cave grottoes nestled into the shoulder of Cangshan Mountain. The monarchs of Dali's Nanzhou Kingdom picked this area to build their Buddhist temples from the 7th to 9th centuries.