Dali is one of the most popular spots for independent China travellers and hugely popular with those working, teaching and studying in China. 50 minutes by plane or three to four hours by bus from Kunming, Dali is the perfect place to relax.
Dali is the capital city of the prefecture of the same name. It consists of Dali New City (下关; Xiàguān) and Dali Old Town (古城; Gǔchéng). Travellers visit Dali Old Town for its traditional architecture, minority cultures (mostly Bai but also with many Yi and Hui) and simply to relax. The Old Town has a population of 40,000 and the entire Dali Prefecture around three million people and an area of over 10,000 sq km. When discussing Dali, it is important to be clear whether you are talking about the entire city or just the Old Town. There is actually much to do and see in Dali City well outside the Old Town.
With the beautiful Cangshan Mountains a short distance to the west of Dali Old Town (4,122 metres at the peak) and Erhai Lake a few km to the east, it has a perfect natural setting. The climate is temperate with moderate summers and mild winters, though it can get rather windy in autumn and winter.