Dali: an Enigma of China’s Glorious Past

North Georgia University students excursion with Minds Abroad, Cang Mountains, Dali
Dali, a city in the southern part of China has become a popular tourist destination and a favorite hot spot for those who are visiting the country to learn Chinese or for gap year jobs. The city has been divided into the Old City region and the New City region for better preservation and maintenance. Many architectural structures from the past have been rebuilt and others preserved, making Dali a favorite destination among both natives and foreigners.

What to Visit in Dali

Dali is a place close to the Kunming City of Yunnan Province in China. Yunnan Province has increasingly become a popular study abroad destination. It is the place of residence of 51 out of 52 ethnic minorities of China and if one wants to see the variety of culture and lifestyles of China, Yunnan is the appropriate destination. Another factor that favors Kunming city as a popular destination for gap year jobs and Chinese language programs is its vicinity to some of the most beautiful and historically important places in China.

Dali is both a city of historical importance as well as a tourist hotspot. The city was the capital of the Bai kingdom of Nanzhao that flourished between the 9th century and the mid 12th century. The city lies in the Muslim dominated region of China, as is evident from its architecture and lifestyle.

Today, Dali has been divided into two cities, the old and the new one. The new Dali city has all the modern amenities and comprises the administrative division of both the sections. The city, now an international tourist spot, has taken charge of the maintenance and preservation of the older town which is a place that is still lost in time. All those who visit the Yunnan Province to learn Chinese or for other gap year programs must also take a trip to Dali along with Lijiang. One can fly to Dali from Kunming in barely 40 minutes.

The modern Dali City has a ‘Foreigners Street’ where one will come face to face with Western food and music and hordes of English speaking business owners. This place is a visitor’s hub, both from the country and outside. In contrast, the old city has many architectural structures which have been revamped for preservation. These include Guanyin Palace of Copper Rain which was rebuilt in 1999 and the Jianji Great Bell of Nanzhao which was recast in 1997. This was an effort to restore the old city to its former glory and today these two places have become places of interest for tourists dabbling in the history of the city. The Dali museum also offers an insight into the glorious past of the region. One can also go to Shaxi which is a nearby historical town. This town was a major destination in the ancient trade route, famous for import and export of tea of China.

But this is not it. The city features the Demi Gods and Semi-Devils Film City, which is an interesting site to visit. It features sections which depict the Song, Xia and Liao dynasties. Visitors are allowed to sit on the throne and don the robe of the emperors for a fee. One is also allowed to pick up weapons for examination. But they are all replica items, but built totally according to the specifications of the original.

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