Mountain Peaks and Cobblestone Roads
This town in central Yunnan combines natural beauty with exotic local flavor. Dali has a striking physical location and an interesting history as a former capital. The Bai people have inhabited the Dali area for thousands of years, and their cultural influence is immediately evident in the food and romantic legends that surround the area. If the family is feeling adventurous, renting bikes is a great way to explore the area and avoid tour buses.Since the town is small, it’s no hard task to navigate its thin, cobblestone roads and ancient walls, and its small-town charm has attracted a fair-sized foreign community. Decent Western cuisine such as pizza, coffee and pancakes can easily be found. History aficionados will find the Dali museum and its three main pagodas particularly interesting, while hikers can explore Mt. Cangshan – an exquisite mountain famous for strange cloud formations. The nearby Erhai Lake is one of the seven largest lakes in China and is surrounded by tiny villages.
Dutch couple Ralph Lange and Anouk Turksma, and their daughters Noa (7) and Mindel (3).
The Langes visited several Bai and Yi villages, where they walked through rice fields, had lunch on boats and in a local family’s courtyard, and scoured local markets. The kids loved the adventurousness of the trip – complete with rides on lumpy horse carriages and colorful people everywhere.
What to Buy:
Minority clothing is a specialty, along with marble, jewelry and tablecloths – all at great prices. Try some traditional Bai snacks and treats on Foreigner Street. Anouk was delighted to find a traditional minority outfit in a Yi village, as well as a large rattan basket.
Where to Stay:
The family loved the Tibetan Hotel in the old town, decorated in Tibetan style and with great Western breakfasts (0872 267 7824).
Anouk says having a local guide is priceless because you get the chance to see how people really live – looking inside their houses, viewing schools and local places that you would never find by yourself.