Sieges, Victory, Betrayal and Defeat are always close in Dali.

Old town Dali lies on the western edge of Erhai Lake at an altitude of 1’900 meters with the imposing 4000m high Cang Mountain Range behind it. During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907) Dali was an important trading town and part of the Nanzhao Kingdom. At that time, the Nanzhao Kingdom covered an area which included parts of present day Burma, Laos and Thailand.  Following the Nanzhao Kingdom was the Kingdom of Dali (938-1253) of which Dali became the capital.

The End of the Dali Kingdom came with the invasion of Kublai Khan’s army in 1253. Under Kublai Khan, Dali became an important military outpost for the Mongolians. Later in its long history, Dali became an important trading town on the famous Tea and Horse Road - an extension of the Southern Silk Road - when the waters of Erhai Lake receded and opened a way for a new, shorter and safer passage to Tibet on the eastern side of the Cang Mountains.

Modern Dali

Today, Dali is the capital of the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture and is the homeland of the Bai ethnic group, who are relatives of the Tibeto-Burmese Yi. Bai people are known for their fine woodcarvings, marble and Stone work. The 3 towers of the “San Ta Si” (3 Pagoda Temple) are a good example of the ancient Bai craftsman skill. Unfortunately Dali underwent major changes in recent years and turned itself into a money making tourist trap. Most of the old, original buildings disappeared and had to make way to modernisation. It is more the lovely surroundings and the relaxed atmosphere that make Dali worth staying a day or two.

More things to see around Dali:

Congshan Geopark
Congshan Temple
The Three Pagodas (San Ta Si)