Zhoucheng: The Best Original Bai Village for a Visit

Zhoucheng: The Best Original Bai Village for a Visit

By Chris QuanUpdated Oct. 1, 2021

Zhoucheng is located 23 kilometers (14 miles) to the north of the Ancient City of Dali. Zhoucheng is the biggest town of the Bai people in Dali with more than 1,500 Bai families.

Highlights of Zhoucheng

ZhouchengZhoucheng

Zhoucheng is not only famous for Butterfly Spring in its rural district, but also for its preservation of traditional customs of the Bai people.

It is regarded as a "living fossil" of Bai minority culture. The Bai tie-dye produced in Zhoucheng is very famous. It is said that in Zhoucheng, everyone, from 10-year-old little girls to grannies over 60 years old, can tie dye.

Traditional stone wall architecture of the Bai is well preserved in Zhoucheng. There is a saying in Dali: “Dali has three highlights, one of which is that its stone walls will not fall down.”

The Bai nationality of Zhoucheng mainly believe in Buddhism. You will see Yinxiang Temple and Longquan Temple there.

Like surrounding Bai villages, Zhoucheng also has its local deity worship (Benzhuism). There are two local temples in Zhoucheng. Lingdi Temple is dedicated to the hero who got rid of the python in Butterfly Spring. Jingdi Temple is dedicated to Zhoucheng’s earliest ancestor.

What to Do in Zhoucheng

Zhoucheng is the best place to experience Bai culture with a less commercial atmosphere. There, ladies wear their traditional dresses walking in the village, and local people sell their products in the outdoor market. 

Try Bai Tie-Dying

Bai tie-dying in ZhouchengBai Tie-Dying

Tie-dye has been a traditional folk craft of Bai people in Zhoucheng since around the Ming-Qing dynasty transition in 1644. Zhoucheng is known as the "the hometown of Bai tie-dye".

The process is as follows:

  • Make the cloth into certain shapes by sewing, tying, pinching, creasing, or flanging according to a pre-drawn pattern.
  • Tie it tightly together to make a bunch of knots.
  • Soak the 'knots' in a vat of natural vegetable dye.
  • Dry the cloth.

The untied part will be dyed, and the knotted parts will retain the original color. The tighter the knots are tied, the better the effect of the coloring will be.

Visit Bai Houses

Bai houseBai Houses

In the town you can see typical houses of the Bai people. These houses have a square plan. They are built out of bricks and stones with a wooden frame assembled with tenons.

The roofs have two layers of eaves made from green tiles and are designed in the shape of the Chinese character 公. There are three to five major rooms, which face east or south.

The shining walls are a fundamental feature of houses with a major room (in the south) and two wing-rooms around a courtyard. A shining wall is covered with two layers of flying eaves with up-turned corners. It stands opposite the major room and reflects sunlight into the courtyard. It connects the two wing-rooms as a frontispiece so that the three form a closed courtyard in front of the major room.

Visit the Market and Experience the Local Lifestyle

Brick-wood stageBrick-wood stage

There is a brick-wood stage built in 1895. In front of the antique stage is a market. Local people sell their goods there. During the Torch Festival on lunar month six day 25 (in July/August), huge torches are set up there and there are also celebrations and performances.

How to Get to Zhoucheng

Zhoucheng is located 23 kilometers (14 miles) to the north of Dali Old Town. Taking a taxi or a chartered car is the best way to get to Zhoucheng. It is about 30 minutes’ drive from Dali Old Town. For the best experience and convenience, contact us for private transport and a guided tour.

How to Plan a Dali Trip with Zhoucheng

A Dali tour with Zhoucheng typically needs 4 days, including essential attractions and some cultural experiences. Here's our recommended tour plan:

Day 1: Dali arrival + Dali Old Town

Day 2: Cangshan Mountains + Zhoucheng

Day 3: Erhai Lake + flower cake making

Day 4: Departure

If that looks good to you, check out more details of our 4-Day Dynamic Dali Tour.

Looking for a Personalized Dali Tour?

All our tours are customizable. We can create your trip based on your group size, time, budgets, interests, preferences, and other requirements. See our popular Dali tours for other possible starting points:

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