Wedged between the Erhai Lake and the Cang Shan Mountains at an altitude of 1975 m above sea level, Dali is one of the main tourist hangouts in China. Dali has a mild climate, with an annual mean temperature of 15 C and only about 56 days of frost and an average annual rainfall or 1100 mm.
Already inhabited during neolithic times, Dali became an important market place just off the Burma road during the time of the Han dynasty. As early as 109 BC, the Han Emperor Wu Di set up administrative institutions. The King of the Menshe tribe founded the state of Nanzhao (Southern Princedom) in 739. Nearly two centuries later, in 937, Duan Siping, chief of the Bai, overthrew Nanzhao and founded the Dali kingdom, which lasted until Kublai Khan conquered it in 1253 and integrated it into Yunnan province.
In the region of Dali live mostly Bai. Especially the women dress in a very colourful style. A good time to visit is when one of the many festivals is due.