Dali: Marble Factory, Old Town, Bai People, San Ta Pagodas, Terraced Agriculture

On our way to Dali's Old Town we stop to visit a marble factory, where various decorative and useful items are being made from marble quarried nearby. There is a huge adjoining gift store which manages to make a few sales to our group.


At marble factory
Marble factory worker


The city of Dali dates back at least as far as the Western Han Period (202BC - 8AD), when it was called Yeyu, and later Zicheng. During the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) it was called Yangjumie, and in 779 it was made the capital of the Nanjao Kingdom. After being destroyed and abandoned during the time of Kublai Khan it was rebuilt again in 1382, during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The Ming city walls still stand, and in the late 1990s the walls and many historic buildings within the Old Town area were refurbished or reconstructed. The city now attracts a great many tourists, and inevitably the Old Town area has taken on a bit of the feel of a theme park or tourist shopping area, but that doesn't prevent it from being attractive and interesting.

South Gate

This is the upper part of the Nancheng Men (South Gate) of Dali's Old Town.

Naxi women

These are women of the Bai people, a minority that has lived in Dali and nearby parts of Yunnan for about 2,000 years.


At right, colorful items for sale in the Old Town. We are not sure if their designs have anything to do with the Bai people.

Colorful cloth items

Woman carrying vegetables
Man carying balloons

A woman carries vegetables through town in the traditional way. Meanwhile a cluster of balloons walks through town all by itself.


Xi Men Mosque


Yunnan Cafe Bar, popular with tourists. Try the yak steak and potato.

Restaurant entrance with selections displayed
Restaurant entrance with vegetables displayed

Restaurants often display the foods they offer right at the entrance, including live fish and such. You can't get vegetables much fresher than these.

Scene in Old Town
Arch, stream and flowers

3 Pagodas

A short distance north of Old Town are the San Ta (3 Pagodas). The tallest and oldest of them is Qianxun Ta, built around 800. As we pass by we stop to take a photograph of the pagodas (against a backdrop of the Cang Shan mountains), but we don't visit them on this trip.

Terraced agriculture

We are now on a bus on our way to Lijiang. I snap this picture from the bus window to show an example of the terraced agriculture which is so prevalent in Yunnan Province. On a later trip with more time I hope to get more and much better shots of it.