Dali Ancient City
The ancient city of Dali sits at the base of Cangshan Mountain and was built during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) under the command of Emperor Hongwu. Originally the city was surrounded by a large wall and had four gateways facing north, south, east and west. Over time this has nearly all disappeared though the North and South wall towers have been restored.
The city's distance from the modern city of Dali lets it keep its historic feel as you imagine stepping out of modern China and into the past. As you arrive at its historic gate you get a sense of all this place has seen through the centuries and know that you are somewhere very special. It is protected from modern construction by the Chinese government and is pedestrian only so it gives visitors a true sense of history as they stroll through its ancient paved streets.
You can walk along the cobbled stones or the base of the ancient wall and admire the beauty and heavenly scent of the flowers the people are so proud to cover their city in especially during the Flower Festival (14th February). This is a time when each family puts flowers outside their house to make a "hill of flowers". Or you can buy a marble souvenir from one of the local craftsmen to remember your trip as this area is famous for its uniquely formed marble.
The Bai's ethnic customs have long been famous throughout China and are now getting the appreciation they deserve so much from further shores. Many festivals showcase this area and its people's culture such as Raosanling (usually in late March or early April, or 22-25 February in Chinese lunar calendar) in which Bai minority gather to have a 3 day journey to traditional sites around the city as well as the "Festival of the Third Month" which is celebrated with an open air market that has been held in Dali for over 1000 years on the 15th day of lunar March (usually around the late April or early May).