Dali is an ancient walled city some 400km (250 miles) west of Kunming, and one of the most picturesque destinations in all of China. The surroundings could hardly be more spectacular, with Erhai Lake to the east, steep Cangshan Mountain to the west and Three Pagodas between Erhai Lake and Cangshan Mountain.
Dali has many beautiful names, such as “Geneva of the East” and “City of Flowers”. The city’s breathtaking nature and gorgeous climate make it suitable for various species of flowers. But best of all are the local people, who are mostly members of the Bai ethnic minority, an outgoing people who will treat you with generous hospitality.
Dali is also an ideal place for cyclists, who could enjoy a leisurely ride while taking in the sights. In addition to the allure of the crystal clear water, the gentle lake breeze and quaint villages, cyclists could also get to know fishermen from the Bai ethnic group.
If you are lucky, you may chance upon a village fair where local snacks and fruits are aplenty.
- Recommended cycling routes: Dali Old Town – Three Pagodas – Xizhou Town – Zhoucheng Village – Taoyuan Dock – Shangguan Town – Shuanglang Village (Nanzhao Island) – Wase Town (Little Puto Island) – Haidong Village – Jinsuo Island – Huanhai Road – Airport Road – Erhai Dock – Haixi Village Highway – Caicun Dock – Dali Old Town
- Estimated duration: two days, including one night at Shuanglang Village, living with a Bai Ethnic group.
- Best season for cycling: Spring and Autumn
- Bicycle rental: Bicycles can be rented at many guesthouse and various spots in Dali Old Town. The cost ranges from 20-50 yuan ($3-8).
- Be careful of medium-sized trucks when cycling on the highway.
- Prepare sunscreen and raincoat just in case.
- There is an outdoor sport club in Dali, where you could find professional guides.