Dali is located at the foot of the Cangshan Mountain by Erhai Lake, Yunnan Province. It is an ancient city of the Bai Autonomous Region, is widely acclaimed as the "Oriental Switzerland" and the "Chinese Geneva". Situated at the foot of Cangshan Mountain and on the bank of the Erhai Lake, it covers an area of 1,800 square kilometres, and has a population of 432,000 million. It has an average annual temperature of 15.1篊 and an annual rainfall of 1,079 mm. The rainy season comes from May to October.
Its name is originated from that of a local regime in history called Kingdom Dali, meaning "a state of great order". Many of the architectures of the city were built of marble from the ore nearby, and that is why it is also called a city of Dali stone (marble). (Both Chinese writing and pronunciation of "great order" and "marble" are the same.) Marble buildings, marble streets, marble wall foundations and marble wells make the city so bright and limpid as if it is a tranquil fairyland. Each family loves door carving and wall-decoration; every household has a flower garden. While it is freezing season in the north, hundreds of flowers are in blossom here. Among them, camellia, azaleas and orchids are the most fascinating and enchanting ones.
Dali is also celebrated for its scenic beauties of Cangshan Mountain and Erhai. Lake. And also, Dali enjoys a very high fame for its "Four Grand Scenes", namely, Xiaguan’s wind, Shangguan’s flowers, Cangshan’s snow and Erhai’s moon. Especially Xiaguan’s wind, which impresses people so deeply, makes Xiaguan such a place that you should go if you pay a visit to Dali.
It is the greatest delight to you to admire the full moon on a boat at the Erhai Lake. Under the moonlight, you can have an exceptional charming picture of Cangshan Mountain looking at the handsome shadow of itself. When the moon is hazy, the reflection of the Buddhist Temples looks even more mysterious, set off by the dark blue canopy of the heavens in the still of the night. When the moon is clear and bright, Erhai turns to be a unique fairyland, an integral whole of moonbeams, mountain pose and crystalline ripples. But, unless you are personally on the scene, you would not have any idea of its splendour.
In spite of all, the summit of Cangshan Mountain, 4,000 metres high, perennially covered with snow offers a beautiful sight. Though it is in winter, you could feel the spring in the air, at the same time enjoy the translucent snowy summit, glittering under the moonlight!
The Bai nationality having lived there for generations, is the chief inhabitant. Bright and cheerful in disposition, amiable and easy of approach, the Bai people are very hospitable and conversational. Their national costume looks neat and graceful. Both sexes have partiality for white color. A Bai man usually wears a short black gown over his white jacket with buttons down the front, whereas a woman, coiling up the hair over head, often wears a black or blue gown over her white jacket. The daily attire for a maiden is very attractive, i.e., a red close-fitting jacket without sleeves. The Bai girls like to wear one pigtail tied with red string with a colourful towel wrapped round and snowy teasels waving to and fro on the right. Their artistic tradition is quite distinctive, too. They like carved doors and windows, and delicately whitewashed walls. Their national music sounds very sonorous, showing the nation’s bold and uninhabited character.
March Street (Avalokitesvara Market), which has a long history of over a thousand years, is a place of trading. Every year a fair is held from March 15th to 20th. Minority nationalities from seven provinces gather at a piece of grassland at the foot of Cangshan Mountain, in the west of the city with rich array of goods. All the people dressed in their holiday best, go to the market in a continuous stream. Singing, dancing, and horse-racing are being shown simultaneously in the fair. What a distinguished gathering of trade and culture!
Besides, in Dali there are many other beautiful resorts worth of visiting. They are Butterfly Springs, Chickenclaw Mountain, Grottoes of Stone Bell Mountain, the Snake-bone Pagoda, the Natural Bridge, the Mass Tombs, the Nanzhao Stele and the ancient rostrum.