Dali

3,000 years ago, primitive humans inhabited the area of Erhai Lake. As early as the 2nd century B.C., Dali was on the map of the Kingdom of the Central Plains as Yeyu County. In 738, Pilouge, a chieftain of the Bai Tribe, united the six tribes of the Erhai region with the support of the Tang Dynasty, and established the State of Nanzhao, which was destroyed in 902. Duan Siping, also of the Bai Tribe, established the State of Dali in 938. During the 500-year period of Nanzhao and Dali, Dali City was the political, economic and cultural center of Yunnan Province. Emperor Khublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) eliminated the State of Dali, establishing in its place Yunnan Province. The Dali area was renamed Taihe County, and this name persisted during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), before it was renamed Dali in 1913. In 1983, Dali County and Xiaguan City merged into Dali City. The city is one of the 24 leading historical and cultural cities and one of the 44 State-designated Scenic Centers in the country.

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Geography

Located in the western part of Southwest China′s Yunnan Province, Dali is located at 25°25′-25°58′ north latitude and 99°58′-100°27′ east longitude. It is 46.3 kilometers from east to west and 59.3 kilometers from south to north. It covers an area of 1,457.27 square kilometers, of which 229 square kilometers, or 15.71 percent of the total area consists of irrigated territory; 978.927 square kilometers, or 67.27 percent of the total area is mountainous; and 249.343 square kilometers, or 17.02 percent of the total area is occupied by Erhai Lake. The city has Binchuan and Xiangyun to the east, Midu and Weishan to the south, Yangbi to the west and Eryuan to the north. Dali is also the juncture of the Yunnan-Myanmar and Yunnan-Tibet Highways, which connects it with the cities of Lijiang, Diqin, Nujiang, Dehong, Baoshan, Chuxiong, Lincang and Simao. With these unique geographical conditions, Dali is a communication hub and distribution center of materials in western Yunnan Province.

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Climate

Dali is famous for its history, culture and scenic spots, and attracts throngs of domestic and foreign tourists with its amazing natural scenery. It is located on a low-lying plateau, and boasts the unique attractions of Diancang Mountains and Erhai Lake, a bright pearl on the plateau. It has a unique plateau climate, which is spring like all the year round, being warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The average temperature is 15.10. The coldest temperature is 8.7℃ in February, and the hottest is 20.1℃ in July. It is called the "Sweden of the East," and has 126 days during which the temperature is 18.7-20.6℃, the best climate for convalescence in the world. Moreover, 229 days are frost-free, providing a suitable environment for the growth of various kinds of plants. Flowers blossom all the year round. Xiaguan is famous for its wind, which has an average annual velocity of 4.1 meters per second. This good ventilation helps to purify the air and the environment in general. As a result, in Dalin the wind is appreciated as a treasure. From ancient times, Dali has been famous as a "City of Flowers". Imported rare flowers' blossom and unique plants grow exuberantly in its warm climate. The 19 peaks of the Cangshan Mountains have an average altitude of 3,700 meters, the highest being 4,112 meters. The fantastic clouds which gather over the peaks have names such as "Waiting for the Husband Cloud," "Jade Belt Cloud," "Pagoda Cloud," "Torch Cloud" and "Sea-like Cloud". Erhai Lake is the second biggest lake in Yunnan Province; its islands and tributary streams are home to shellfish, shrimps, and other aquatic animals and plants.

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Natural Ecological Environment

Dalin has a low-latitude plateau-type subtropical climate with an average temperature of 15.1 degrees centigrade. It has 230 frost-free days and 136 days of rain. The yearly sunshine time averages 2,276.7 hours. In this favorable climate and environment, animals and plants thrive, especially on the Cangshan Mountains and in Erhai Lake. The Cangshan Mountains are the habitat of more than 3,000 kinds of valuable plants, such as Yunnan pine, Huashan pine and fir. Dali is said to have the best tea and flowers in the world, including Hengtiangao, Tongzimian, Purple Robe, Peony Tea and Chrysanthemum Petal Tea. The local animals include deer, roe, bear, leopard, mountain donkey, bamboo rat, golden cat, hog and David's deer. Bird species include owl, magpie, thrush, cuckoo and sunbird. Dali is also called a "Paradise of Butterflies", with 164 species in nine categories, such as the Jade Belt, Blue and Golden Spot butterflies. Erhai Lake is home to 16 kinds of fish, of which bow fish, squid, yellow-scaled carp and silver carp are valuable species, as well as being rich in shellfish and shrimp resources. The Cangshan Mountains and Erhai Lake are two of the nation's 44 famous tourist attractions. The snow on the former and the moonlight on the latter, the flowers of Shangguan and the wind of Xiaguan are the "Four Wonders of Dali". Dali can be visited at any time of the year.

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Symbol of the City

The ancient city of Dali is one of the 24 leading historical and cultural cities in China. It faces Erhai Lake and is backed by the Cangshan Mountains. The present city was built in 1382, the 15th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Hongwu, when Mu Ying and others occupied the states of Nanzhao and Dali in Yunnan, and Commander Zhou Neng built it in Ming Dynasty style. In the following year, Commissioner-in-Chief Feng Cheng expanded the east and south walls. From then on, each city wall becomes 1,500 meters long, 12 meters wide and 6 meters high. The city wall had four gates, each with a gate tower. The earth wall was covered by rocks and consolidated by a layer of brick. It was rebuilt on several occasions, but the size and arrangement remain the same. The city was the capital of the State of Dali and later Taihe County. Now, the 300-meter western section of the south wall, the 800-meter middle and northern sections of the west wall, 300-meter southern and northern sections of the east wall and the south and north city gates are still intact.

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Culture

Dali has a long cultural history, as witnessed by the unearthing of bronze objects dating back to the Zhou Dynasty (11th century -771 B.C.). During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), local rulers of great talent and bold vision introduced the cultures of the central China plains, India and Tibet. The local culture still flourished after the founding of the State of Dali during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). This long period of development made the culture of Dali a brilliant unique flower in the Chinese cultural garden, and ancient Dali was famous for scholars and their works. Ancient cities, temples, steles, bells, pagodas, folk songs, music, dance and other folk art forms, including folk stories, legends, picture scrolls and grotto sculptures, demonstrate the long history and rich contents of Dali culture. Poems by Xun Gequan, Yang Qikun and Duan Yizhong were collected into the orthodox Poems of the Tang Dynasty, and Nanzhao Music was regarded as the best musical contribution by Yunnan during the Tang Dynasty, being appreciated as one of the 14 national musical genres by the Imperial Tang Court. The Picture Scroll by Zhang Shengwen and other artistic masterpieces from Nanzhao are famous both at home and abroad. Li Yuanyang and Yang Shiyuan of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and other scholars wrote histories of Yunnan Province. All these things constitute a rare and precious national cultural heritage.

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A Survey of Tourist Industry

One of the China's first-class tourist cities, Dali is located in the center of Yunnan, the southern end of the Hengduan Range of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. It covers an area of 1,468 square kilometers, and has a population of 480,000. It is home of more than 20 ethnic groups, including the Bai, Han, Hui, Yi, Tibetan and Naxi, of whom the Bai accounts for 65 percent.

Dali is well known for its literary scholars and their works, and is called the "Geneva of the East" for its long history and colorful culture, numerous cultural and historical sites, beautiful natural setting, comfortable climate, and rich natural and tourism resources. It is one of the 24 state-level cultural and historical cities and one of the 44 top tourist attractions in the country. The Cangshan Mountains and Erhai Lake were named national nature reserves in 1993.

The Dali Tourism Bureau, under the local government, was established in January 1985. With 15 employees, it is located at 245 Fuxing Road, in the ancient city of Dali. It has General Office, Business Section and Comprehensive Services Section. Under it, there is Tourism Administration and Inspection Brigade, the Dali Hotel, the Dali Hongshan Tea Shareholding Co. Ltd., the Xizhou Village Hotel and the Dali Customs Travel Agency. The administration has published A Tour Guide of Dali, Introduction to Dali, Map of Scenic Spots in Dali (Chinese-English), Landscapes of Dali, The Ancient City of Dali, General Introduction to Dali and Extensive Review of Dali.the administration has co-produced a TV film titled: Dali-An Ancient Capital, together with the Yunnan Provincial Tourism Administration. The Dali Tourism Bureau has also helped television stations from France, Germany and other countries to produce TV films about the local natural scenery and customs. In addition, it has exchanged tourism-promotion materials with a dozen of travel agencies of other provinces. The Dali Tourism Bureau has drawn up its 1994-2005 development plans based on local tourism resources, facilities and commodities.

Since November 1996, the Dali Tourism Bureau has made continuous improvements in its services and facilities. Now there are 128 tourism businesses, 23 travel agencies, 275 tourist coaches and cars, six pleasure boats, 23 tourism-related restaurants and more than 70 tourist attractions. In 1998, the city received 4.27 million domestic and foreign tourists, of whom 67,600 were overseas tourists. The income from tourism totals 1.088 billion yuan a year. There are 130,000 people engaged directly or indirectly in the tourist industry. Dali's tourism services cover food and beverages, lodging tours, purchase of souvenirs and recreation.

The development of tourism in Dali is attributed to the guidance of the Government and promotion of local residents. Tourism has been developed as a pillar industry of Dali. The construction of the Dali Airport and Customs Office, Guangtong-Dali Railway, Chuxiong-Dali and Dali-Lijiang Highways, program-controlled, wireless and mobile telephones, optical cable transmission systems and IC card phone booths have made Dali more attractive to domestic and foreign tourists, and a bright future unfolds for the area.

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City Flower of Dali

The azalea is a popular flower worldwide, and Yunnan is home to the most varieties in the world. The Cangshan Mountains are known as a natural garden of azaleas among botanists. The azalea flowers on the Cangshan Mountains are exuberant, the biggest being dozens of meters high, and the smallest only several centimeters high. The beautiful flowers, purple and red, blossom from February in early spring to October in late summer. The scene is beautiful here, as described in the lines, "spring is here, the flowers along the mountain roads are beautiful. Red flowers blossom everywhere, and the red-flower-covered mountains are reflected in the limpid lake water." The azaleas in Huadianba, forming a veritable "sea of azalea blossoms", are more beautiful than those in other areas of the mountains. The azaleas of Dali are famous for their richness, brilliance and unique shapes, no wonder that Dali chose azalea as its Municipal Flower.

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Tourism Logo

The Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple are famous Buddhist relies, which were listed as a key cultural site under the State protection in 1961. Three huge monoliths in the northern part of the city, they add luster to the natural scenery of the Cangshan Mountains and Erhai Lake. The three brick pagodas have become the symbol of Dali. They were built in different styles. The main one, the Qianxun Pagoda, is 69.13 meters high and was built in the late Tang Dynasty. The smaller pagodas to the north and south of it are 42.4 meters high and were built during the existence of the State of Dali, from the time of the Five Dynasties to that of the Southern Song Dynasty. The two smaller pagodas join the Qianxun Pagoda to produce a magnificent group. In 1978, the State Bureau of Cultural Relics earmarked special funds for the maintenance of the pagodas and sorted out 680 pieces of cultural relics, the largest and the most important group of cultural relics from the states of Nanzhao and Dali found so far. These pagodas and cultural relics demonstrate the achievements of the ancient people of southwest China.

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Local Culture

Bai's Three-course Tea in Dali
The Bai People value friendship and are hospitable. Guests are often treated with tea when they come to Dali. Local people stress tea quality, tea-making technique and hospitable etiquette, gradually forming "Three-dao Tea". After being standardized, the three-course tea is described as "first bitter, second sweet and third after tasty". The first course is called "Roasting Tea". First, a small pottery pot is warmed on a fire, then green tea is put into the pot. While roasting, the pot is shaken, making the tea to be warm evenly. After 2-3 minutes, the green tea begins turning into yellow, with a smell of burning scent. Boiled water is poured into the pot, letting the tea powder flowing out of the pot. The tea in the pot continues to be boiled on the fire. After that, the tea is poured into teacups. The tea tastes a little bit bitter, but a faint scent. The tea has function of refreshing and quenching one's thirst. The second course is of sweet tea. The heavy tasty tea will be mixed with boiled water, as well as some pieces of walnut, milky fan and brown sugar. Guests can enjoy the sweet and smelling tea by drinking and chewing them. Both Walnut and milky fan have the function of cooling lung and nourishing kidney. The third course of tea is required be cooked with some honey, ginger, Chinese prickly ash and cassia bark. Guests can taste the tea using teacups. The three-dao tea is one of the drink cultures of the Bai ethnical group. It is also one of important etiquette of the Bai ethnic group.

Dali Dongjing Music
Dali Dongjing Music is the Bai folk music developed from imperial court music of the Tang and Song dynasties. Known as "living fossils" from these dynasties, Dongjing Music has variety of qupai (the names of the tunes to which qu are composed). So far, more than 100 kinds of qupai are preserved, such as Wearing Hat and Dress Unhurried, Green-Pearl Curtain, Lang Tao Sha, Song of Water Dragon, General's Order, and Lantern Festival Celebrations, Dongjing Music is as popular as Daben tune and Bai melody among local people. Every Bai village in Dali can perform Dongjing music. Most of the Tang and Song imperial court music have lost in the Central Plain in China, but are inherited in fairly complete way by the Bai people in Dali. This cannot be separated from the Bai people who hold Central Plain Culture in esteem and absorb them, and who are highly creative and have the tradition in singing and dancing. Dali Dongjing Ancient Music Band was highly praised when it was invited to stage in Kumming. Their performance also drew the high concem of musicians and scholars who study ancient music. In recent years, many experts came on purpose to Dali to study Daongjing ancient music, trying to restore complete imperial court music. Now, Dongjing music performance has become major entertainment activities for the elder in many Bai villages.

Dali Large-scale Tour Activity-March Street
March Street is the venue of the largest traditional gathering of the Bai people in Dali. The festival starts from 15th of lunar March and lasts seven days. In the past, the gathering was called Avalokitesvara Fair. During the Yonghui Period of the Tang Dynasty, tradition has it that Avalokitesvara gives Buddhist lectures to 17 believers in Bai oral language, surrounded by listeners in crowds. Gradually, the place becomes a market. In Xu Xiake's Dairy of the Tour of Yunnan, he said, "booths are linked one by one into a market. To north is a horse ground, gathering thousand of horses… Men and women are crowded in the market, making it hard to distinguish from whose hands meeting with others'. Nowadays, March Street has become a traditional trade fair, where people are busy in trading, racing, playing lion dance, appreciating flower exhibitions, and enjoying cultural and sports activities."

Local Opera
The Dali Baiju Opera

The original name of the Baiju Opera was the Cuicui Tune. It is very popular throughout the village of the Baizhu Nationality. The ancient performance stage for the "Cuicui Tune" are still existing in the larger villages. The Cuicui Tune has a special artistic style, and its words are a combination of Bai dialect and the Chinese language. Most use the rhyme pattern of Baizu Nationality folk songs of seven seven seven five. The feelings of the Baiju Opera is natural and humorous. The singing tune is divided in 9 Bans and 18 Tunes and the actors are divided as Sheng, Dan, Jing and Chou. There are fixed face-dresses for actors. The performance patterns blend with those of Dian Opera and the Flower Lattern. There are no accompanying music for the singing and the passage music is somewhat long, played by Suo Na. Becaue the performers were all the farmers and the performances were spare time activities, so the stage words of many performers were given to the audiences during the course of the passage of the Suona music played by the opera teachers. The themes of this type of opera included historic opera reflecting the life of the Baizu Nationality, such as "Du Chao Xuan", "the Firing Songming Building" and "Zhangzi Ru Beans", and also those transplanted from the Dian Opera, such as "three Heroes Fighting Lubu", "Wu Tai Meeting Brothers" and "Lance Fighting Little Liang King".

There were no professional organizations for the "Cuicui Tune", and there were only seasonal self-playing and self-enjoying amateur organizations. After the foundation of the People's Republic of China, artists made efforts to straighten out and dug out the Baizu Nationality Opera of "Cuicui Tune", and established professional organizations and made the opera into a national opera. In 1962, the Dali "Cuicui Tune" Troupe participated the Demonstration Fair of the National Opera of Yunnan Province, performing the traditional "Cuicui Tune" opera of "Firing Milling Housing" and "Dou Yi Xia Ke", etc. in Feb. of the same year, the first professional Baiju Troupe in the history of the Baizu Nationality was formally founded, and the actors in the "Cuicui Tune" Troupe were all combined into the Baiju Troupe of the Dali Baizu Nationality Autonomy.

The Dali Da Ben Tone
The Da Ben tone was a folk music art in the villages of the Dali baizu Nationality. It was usually performed by one actor singing and one actor playing accompanying music with major 3 chord. The contents of the singing have a somewhat complete story, singing voice, tone, singing words and rhyme, and the characteristics are all unable to be separated from the folk songs and music of the Baizu Nationality. The form of the singing words of the Da Ben Tone was called "the Form of Mountain Flower", and this form was a unique folk word form of the Baizu Nationality. The rhymes of the Da Ben Tone mainly includes the four major rhymes of the "Hua on Hua", the "Oil Locking Oil", the "Lao Li Tiger" and the "Cui Yin Yin", and there were several minor rhymes under them. The music of the Da Ben Tone was named as "Nine Bans, Three Tunes and Eighteen Tones". It has been found out more than eighty music stories of the traditional stories of the Da Ben Tone, and they are very popular in the villages of Dali. The schools of the Da Ben tone of Dali are divided into the South Voice and the North Voice. After the foundation of the People's Republic of China, The Communist Party and the Government paid close attentions the Da Ben Tone of the Baizu Nationality, and organized the folk performers to publicize the policies of the Party and sing the praise of the socialism in the singing pattern of the Da Ben Tone. On most of the national festivals, such as Ben Zhu Festival and 3 Moons Festival, and on most of the occasions of moving into the new house, the Da Ben Tone singing activities shall be taken.

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Transportation

Accessibility to Dali
In the development of tourism in Dali, the local government has paid much attention to the construction of "hardware" in the city. Its urban functions and tourist environment have been improved greatly. Since 1995, the city has invested approximately 200 million yuan to strengthen urban construction and tourist infrastructure facilities. Dali has a well-developed traffic network-a domestic airport, railway station, Chuxiong-Dali and Dali-Lijiang expressways, and four deluxe pleasure ships on the Erhai Lake on the plateau. In recent years, with the improvement of its traffic facilities and tourist environment, Dali has appeared as an excellent tourist city to domestic and foreign tourists.

Dali Airport
Dali Airport is located in the northeast corner of Xiaguan Town and southeast of Erhai Lake. It is 15 kilometers from the city proper. Since it's opening to the public in November 1995, its passenger transport capacity handled by the Airport has increased from 50,000 people in 1996 to 210,000 people. The scheduled flights have increased from three each week in 1996 to 35 so far. There are three airlines, instead of original one. Dali Airport has always persisted in the principle of "Safety First". Over the past three years, the Airport has established a complete set of scientific and standardized management system, and has made good achievements in quality service and special services. Thus, it receives an honor of "Advanced Collective" from Civil Aviation Administration of China and "A Forestation Advanced Unit" and "Advanced Hygiene Airport" from Yunnan Provincial Government. Flights : from Dali to Jinghong, Kunming, Changsha and Tianjin.

Dali Railway Station
Dali Railway Station is the terminal of the guangtong-Dali Railway managed by Yunnan Guangtong-Dali Railway Co. Ltd. It is also a passenger transport station of the railway line. It is situated in the Dali Economic and Technological Development Zone in the Dali Bai Nationality Autonomous Prefecture. Lying against the Cangshan Mountains in the west and facing Erhai Lake in the north, it is a traffic hub leading to other prefectures in south of Yunnan Province. Guangtong-Dali Railway Line starts from Guangtong and links with Chengdu-Kunming railway and national highway network. The Guangtong-Dali line, which is 206 kilometers in full length, has played an inestimable role in developing the natural, tourist and mineral resources in west Yunnan and bringing along local economic development. The Railway Line is operated and managed by Yunnan Guangtong-Dali Railway Co. founded with the investment from the Ministry of Railways and Yunnan Province. Dali undertakes the task of transporting passengers who enter and exit from south of Yunnan. The Station has complete facilities, with buildings in distinctive Dali local styles, covering an area of 10,000 square meters. Its waiting room has a floor space of 1,200 square meters. Large relief sculpture groups stand on the Station Square, presenting a new scene in Dali. The Station also has a large store and other recreation facilities. The Station warmly welcomes domestic and foreign guests with its new outlook and warmhearted service.

Xiaguan Pier
Dali Railway Station is the terminal of the guangtong-Dali Railway managed by Yunnan Guangtong-Dali Railway Co. Ltd. It is also a passenger transport station of the railway line. It is situated in the Dali Economic and Technological Development Zone in the Dali Bai Nationality Autonomous Prefecture. Lying against the Cangshan Mountains in the west and facing Erhai Lake in the north, it is a traffic hub leading to other prefectures in south of Yunnan Province. Guangtong-Dali Railway Line starts from Guangtong and links with Chengdu-Kunming railway and national highway network. The Guangtong-Dali line, which is 206 kilometers in full length, has played an inestimable role in developing the natural, tourist and mineral resources in west Yunnan and bringing along local economic development. The Railway Line is operated and managed by Yunnan Guangtong-Dali Railway Co. founded with the investment from the Ministry of Railways and Yunnan Province. Dali undertakes the task of transporting passengers who enter and exit from south of Yunnan. The Station has complete facilities, with buildings in distinctive Dali local styles, covering an area of 10,000 square meters. Its waiting room has a floor space of 1,200 square meters. Large relief sculpture groups stand on the Station Square, presenting a new scene in Dali. The Station also has a large store and other recreation facilities. The Station warmly welcomes domestic and foreign guests with its new outlook and warmhearted service.

Traffic in the City Proper
Dali now has 10 taxi companies and a taxi branch of self-employed passenger transport society, with a total of 800 taxicabs, including Xiali and Santana. With the support of local government and concerned departments, taxi market in Dali has developed to a certain scale. On February 8,1998, Dali government promulgated the Methods in Management of Taxi Transportation in Dali. Now, all taxicabs in Dali have uniform sign, uniform prices clearly marked, installed with uniform calculators and protective rails. Long-distance buses carry out the security registration system. Now, taxi market is operating towards the direction of healthy, civilized and standard direction.

Traffic in Main Tourist Attractions (Spots)
With the development of tourism, traffic has played an increasing important role in tourism. In recent years, Dali Government attaches great importance to the construction of tourist infrastructure facilities. At present, the Airport opens flights to Xishuangbanna, Kunming, Wuhan and Tianjin. The Guangtong-Dali Railway, or Chuxiong-Dali and Dali-Lijiang expressways can bring tourists to Dali. There are four deluxe pleasure ships, Dayun, Cangshan, Dujuan, Haixing, plying on the Erhai Lake. In the city, there are 10 public bus routes and special tour routes leading to various tourist attractions. Besides, tourists in Dali can also find convenient to surrounding scenic areas such as Binchuan, Lijiang and Zhongdian by public buses or special tourist buses. Convenient traffic facilities have powerfully promoted the development of local touristm.

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  Information provided by China National Tourism Administration.

 

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