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How to Plan a Trip to Dali

Written by Chris QuanUpdated Nov. 27, 2023

Dali is always on the top destinations list for a Yunnan tour. The famous Chinese TV drama Meet Yourself (去有风的地方) was filmed in Dali. People are attracted by its quiet and romantic vibe. In this article, you will learn about how to plan a trip to Dali through considering these aspects:

What Are the Must-Sees?

"Wind, flowers, snow, and the moon" are Dali's romantic theme. This is also the best summary of Dali's scenery.

Dali Old TownDali Old Town

Here we have handpicked Dali's most popular five attractions suitable for all kinds of visitors.

Attractions Typically Visit Time Recommended ways to visit
Erhai Lake 1 day Biking
The Cangshan Mountains 1 day Cable car + hiking
Dali Old Town Half a day Strolling
Xizhou Town 2 hours Strolling
Shaxi Ancient Town Half a day Strolling

Some local cultural experiences are highly recommended to add into your trip plan, such as learning to make flower cakes and trying Bai tie-dyeing in a traditional Bai village at the foot of Cangshan.

Fengyangyi Village, Shaxi Ancient Town, and Xizhou Ancient Town are picturesque settings in the popular TV drama 去有风的地方. If you're interested in visiting these captivating locations, feel free to contact us, and we'll create your trip based on your preferences and needs.

Our recommendations are for your reference. You should make adjustments based on your own interests and preferences. We are happy to create a trip for you according to your requirements.

Also see the Ultimate 7 Things to Do in Dali or Top 7 Attractions to See in Dali to get some inspiration.

How Many Days for a Dali Trip

It takes 4 days for a Dali trip that visits the essential attractions and has some cultural experiences. Here is our suggested itinerary:

  • Day 1: Dali arrival + Dali Old Town
  • Day 2: Cangshan Mountains exploration with tie-dyeing experience
  • Day 3: Bike around Erhai Lake with flower cake making
  • Day 4: Departure

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

Our tours are flexible. The itinerary can be adjusted according to group size, time, budget, interests, and other requirements. Just contact us.

Extending Your Dali Tour

To fully enjoy the landscape of Yunnan, you could extend your trip to Kunming and Lijiang. A week's journey is recommended — see 7-Day Kunming, Dali, Shaxi, and Lijiang Tour, outlined below:

  • Day 1: Kunming arrival + free time
  • Day 2: Stone Forest + Dian Lake; transfer to Dali by a bullet train
  • Day 3: Dali Old Town + the Three Pagodas + flower cake making
  • Day 4: Jianchuan Ancient Town + Shaxi Ancient Town
  • Day 5: Transfer to Lijiang; Lijiang Old Town
  • Day 6: Dragon Snow Mountain + Baisha Village
  • Day 7: Lijiang departure

Contact us if you have any questions or requests. You could also tell us your interests and requirements, and we will create a trip for you.

Best Times to Visit Dali


The best times to visit Dali are from March to May and mid-October to November.

As the saying goes "March in Dali witnesses a superb view": you will see a beautiful Dali in March and April, when the flowers are in full bloom and there is lots of sunshine and fresh air.

Top Weather Tips:

  • Sun protection is important because UV rays in Dali is strong.
  • The daily temperature variation is great, especially after the rain. Layered clothing that can be easily carried is advisable.
  • Rain mainly falls in July and August. It is likely to spoil views for periods of a few hours.

Check out Dali Weather to discover the best places to go in each season in Lijiang and more top tips.

How to Get to Dali

Dali has an airport and a railway station that connect with other cities in China and Yunnan.

Several domestic cities have direct flights to Dali, such as Beijing (4 hours), Shanghai (4 hours), Guangzhou (3 hours), Chongqing (2 hours), Guiyang (2 hours), and Kunming (1 hour).

Driving and taking a bullet train are the two main ways to get to Dali from other cities in Yunnan.

From Kunming to Dali, it's a 2 or 2½ hours' journey by a bullet train.

From Lijiang to Dali, driving is recommended (2½ hours) or a 2 or 2½ hours' journey by normal train.

From Shangri-La to Dali, driving is the only way (4½ hours).

Where to Stay in Dali

A lake view hotelA lake view hotel

Hotels in the four best places to stay in Dali with convenient locations, regional features, and good reviews are recommended here for your reference:

Dali Old Town — Most Popular Choice

  • Luxury and special: The One Resort
  • Boutique: Xianju Suhuaying Inn, Gurong Hotel, Dali E-outfitting Boutique Hotel
  • Economical: Dali Landscape Hotel

Erhai Lake — Scenic Accommodation

  • Luxury and special: Fansu Guanyun Lake View Light Luxury Inn
  • Boutique & Economical: Manshan Yise Resort Hotel, Munwood Panorama Resort Hotel

Xizhou Town — Quiet Relaxation

  • Luxury and boutique: The Linden Centre, Sky Valley Heritage Boutique Hotel

Shaxi Ancient Town — Stopover between Dali and Lijiang

  • Boutique: Shaxi Landscape Hotel, Sunyata Shaxi Hotel, Qing Jing Courtyard

Check out Where to Stay in Dali — 7 Best Boutique Hotels for more details.

Find Your Ideal Dali Tour Here

All our itineraries are customizable. If you have any ideas or requirements, contact us. We will create a trip for you based on your group size, time, budget, interests, preferences, and other requirements.

See our popular Dali tours for inspiration:

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create Your Trip

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