Dali, the Jewel of the Southwest
Dali is a little present waiting for you after a strenuous journey by road. It offers a lake shore dotted with rustic villages, mountains cut with waterfalls and the relaxed atmosphere of a backpacker’s retreat.
While tourists choke its streets today, centuries before Dali was visited by flocks of foreign invaders, who coveted this little town for its favorable location near the Silk Road. Legend goes that Piluoge, an 8thcentury prince from Yunnan, invited his rivals to a feast,
burnt them alive, then set out to merge six small Dali kingdoms into the powerful NanzhaoKingdom. Dali, called Taihe at the time, became capital of this powerful kingdom, which enjoyed hegemony over northern Yunnanand upper Myanmar. From here, the ruler of Nanzhao controlled the east to west trade route to Indiauntil the kingdom fell in the 13th century under the attack of the Mongol armless of Kublai Khan.
Set against the stunning mountain backdrop of Cang Shan in northwest
YunnanProvince, lackadaisical Dali holds very little to remind the visitor of its turbulent past. In the revitalized town of Old Dali, a backpacker’s paradise of cappuccinos and pizza joints alternate with traditional shops selling tea, Chinese medicine and handicrafts. The cobbled streets of the old town are filled with the patter of feet as tourists and local alike take leisurely jaunts through the small town. Be aware that the nearby town of Xiaguanis also called DaliCity. Don’t end up in the middle of Xiaguan wondering why the small town has suddenly turned into a midsized gray city.