Chinese Language Blog

Dali – China’s Backpacker Mecca Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Uncategorized

While China may not be nearly as popular as Southeast Asia or South America with backpackers, that doesn’t mean there aren’t great places there for independent, adventure-seeking travelers. One of the most popular areas in China for backpackers is Yunnan (云南 – yún nán). Home to stunning mountain scenery, vibrant ethnic minority culture, and delicious cuisine, it’s no wonder travelers have been falling in love with this corner of China for decades. Let’s take a closer look at one of Yunnan’s hotspots – Dali (大理 – dà lǐ). Here are a few posts and videos on Dali, including a hike in the clouds, cycling and swimming around the lake, and a bustling street festival.

Exploring Dali

Dali Yunnan

Beautiful Dali

With mountains and lakes surrounding its quaint Old Town full of shops, restaurants, and bars, Dali can definitely be considered China’s backpacking Mecca. Get a basic guide to the town here and start planning your trip.

The Quiet Side of Dali

Escaping the crowds is possible here, believe it or not.

Just because it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in China doesn’t mean you have to be stuck in huge crowds when you visit Dali. See the quiet side of Dali by staying in a village around the lake.


Mt. Cang Cloud Traveler’s Path

Cangshan Mountain

Walking the Cloud Traveler’s Path.

Take a walk in the clouds by visiting Mt. Cang (苍山 – cāng shān) in Dali. You can either hike up or take the easy way in a cable car, and then enjoy a stroll on the Cloud Traveler’s Path. Check out a temple, waterfalls, and the amazing views off to the side as you make your way along the path.

Just another walk in Yunnan.

Cycling and Swimming at Erhai Lake

Dali sunrise

Sunrise on Erhai Lake.

One of the highlights to Dali is cycling and swimming around the beautiful Erhai Lake (洱海 – Ěr hǎi). If you’re feeling real adventurous, there are quite a few villages along the lake shore you can visit. There are also ferries available if you don’t feel up for riding the whole way. See what a day of cycling and swimming there looks like in this video:

An awesome day around Erhai Lake.

San Yue Jie Street Festival

The entrance to the street, packed with people.

The entrance to the street, packed with people.

Dali is home to the Bai people (白族 – bái zú), one of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups. On the third full moon of the lunar calendar, they host a giant street festival in town. Just about everything imaginable can be bought in the street, and you can also check out some horse races. Learn all about it in this post.

See what San Yue Jie looks like in this video.

Have you ever been to Dali? What did you do there? Do you have any other tips for people planning a trip there? Let us know!

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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