Although Dali has changed in recent years and is now well on the radar of the youthful Chinese tourists, there is still peace to be found in this little town and lots of back alleys to be explored besides of the main shopping strip. On a visit to Dali six years ago, we fell in love with the place and have the fondest memories of relaxed cafe culture, fresh water streams running through the cobbled lanes, and the beautiful Bai-style architecture that runs throughout the city.
Lots of its mountain village charm still remains, but it is fast becoming a major hub for shopping for the Chinese and the prices do reflect the rise in tourism. We still think it’s worth a visit though, and it’s arguably still more chilled out then the neighbouring Lijiang. We have put together our recommendations from 6 days spent in Dali Ancient City...
Admire The Wood Workers Street
After visiting Dali in 2011, we were anxious that the ancient town would have changed beyond recognition like the rest of rapidly evolving China. So the first place we headed for was the carpenters street we had admired such a long time ago. Just south of the old town lies Wenxian Road, a strip of wood working studios where furniture is elaborately carved by Chinese masters. We were elated to see that many of the studios still exist, and all manner of wooden items are still being carefully constructed from shutters to doors, and desks to cabinets. Watching these guys work is a joy to see, many craftsmen and women are hand carving from hardwoods using a whole range of chisels and files to get the perfect finish. The detailing is exquisite, and there is just so much of it. We can’t help thinking that this must be a dying art form because it would take so much skill and time to do it. This level of quality would never happen at home because it would be far too expensive! If you are into handicrafts and woodwork then we would thoroughly recommend a wonder down this street. From the South Gate of Dali old town, take Wenxian Road and keep walking south for 5-10 minutes.