Dali Ancient City is well known for its traditional arts and crafts. It is particularly famous for its marble and hand woven handicrafts. The marble from Dali is used in construction and decorative objects. Dali is so famous for its marble, that the Chinese name for marble is literally Dali Stone. Many unique items can be found along the streets by the artisans who created them. The new”Foreigner”Street is filled with shops selling traditional Bai ethnic snacks and the famous Three Course Tea ceremony. The ceremony is used for receiving guests and includes three courses of teas. The first course is very bitter, the second is sweet, and the third is normal tea.
Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake are praised as the city’s leading scenic areas. Most attractions lie between these two landmarks, such as the Butterfly Spring, and the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple. Ethnic minorities have inhabited in this area for generations, with the Bai Minority making up the majority of its population (65%). The customs of the ethnic minorities bring charm to daily life. Each spring, celebrations and festivals bring the city to life. Celebrations such as the March Street Festival and Butterfly Fest provide excellent opportunities to learn about local folk customs.
Erhai Lake is the largest highland lake next to Dianchi and one of the seven biggest fresh water lakes in China. It means, “sea shaped like an ear”, in Chinese. Implying that the lake is ear shaped and as large as a sea, hence it was so named. The dimension is 41.5 km. by 8.4 km. with an average depth of 10 meters, covering an area of 250 squ. km. It is like a crescent lying between Cangshan and Dali city as seen from Cangshan Mount. In a sunny day, the crystal waters of Erhai Lake and the snow mantled Cangshan Mount radiate with each other. Thus the scene was commonly described as “Silver Cangshan and Jade Erhai”.
Cangshan Mountain, two km west of Dali, form the backdrop for Dali City. Together with Erhai Lake, the imposing mountain range makes Dali a true vacation getaway. The stunningly beautiful mountainboasts high snow capped peaks, shifting clouds, and babbling streams. With an average height of 4000 m, it has a cluster of 19 soaring peaks. The highest peak, Malong, spires 4,122 m high. On Shengying peak, there is a huge chess board covering 460 square metres!