For our 2nd wedding anniversary we left the city for a few days to visit the mountain village of Dali.
It took approximately 5 hours by bus each way to Dali and aside from the odd settlement, most of the scenery is that of rural farmland. Dali is a city and just a short drive from the city is the ‘Old Town.’ Dali is perhaps the closest place to get away to from Kunming given Yunnan’s huge distances between locations, it’s also the beginning of many backpacker’s journeys to Tibet.
We stayed at a quiet inn just outside the old town’s walls and we enjoyed absolute peace and quiet in our room with it’s mountain view. When we first arrived the temperature read 33 degrees! It was so hot we hid in a cafe with air-con until the evening before perusing the many tourist shops.
Dali is essentially a Chinese tourist destination and it’s brimming with people walking along with their selfie sticks and occasionally photographing the few Laowai they meet as though they were baby pandas. At one point we were sat in a window seat of a restaurant and Chinese girls were taking it in turns to pose in-front of the window so that they appeared in the shot with us!
Aside from plenty of cheap tourist shops there was also a good selection of places to eat with lots of Western food options. On our final night we found an Italian called Dolce Vita Dali, and the food there was the best Italian we’ve had outside of Europe. It was delicious.
Aside from mountains, Dali also boasts a rather large lake which normally we would have liked to cycle around or at least explore but after the first day the weather turned grim and heavy rain set in for the duration.
We did visit a small museum though and for 10RMB it was a steal.
Overall, Dali was originally described to us as a haven of western food and an escape from the city that many of the expats here continually return to over and over again. Personally, although I enjoyed getting out of Kunming and having some nice food and relaxation, it’s not somewhere I would personally visit more than once – it just isn’t big enough, and given it’s the rainy season, going up a mountain or round a lake isn’t that appealing either. I’ve found that I like looking at the countryside but I prefer living in a big city, and unfortunately Kunming just doesn’t have enough going on for me.
We’re looking forward to our next spot of travelling around Europe after Christmas and deciding where to call home based on those travels. I know this much – it’ll have to be a city with lots going on!