Dali City Guide For Nomads & Expats

Are you a nomad or expat looking for a new home base? Look no further than the stunning city of Dali!


This historic city offers an incredible range of activities and experiences. From exploring ancient culture to experiencing the modern Chinese lifestyle, there’s something for everyone. Dali is a city located in Yunnan Province, Southwest China, and is known for its stunning natural beauty. With its lush forests, crystal clear lakes, and towering snow-capped mountains, it’s the perfect destination for nature lovers. Dali is home to the famous Cangshan Mountain Range, where you can explore the picturesque terraced tea fields, peaceful villages, and towering limestone peaks.


Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a peaceful stroll, Dali has plenty to offer to a wide variety of travelers. There are plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, including rock climbing, mountain biking, kayaking, and more. For those looking for something more relaxing, Dali has plenty of picturesque spots for bird-watching, fishing, and camping.


With so much to explore, Dali is the perfect place for nomads and expats to get outdoors and enjoy nature. From its stunning landscapes to its diverse wildlife, Dali has it all. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide to help you become a Dali expert and make the most of your time in this enchanting city.

cafe seating by water in dali china

What are the Best Places to Work Remotely In Dali?

Dali, located in the Yunnan Province of China, offers a serene and picturesque setting for remote work. Here are some of the best places to work remotely in Dali:

Cafés and Teahouses:

  •    Renmin Road: This vibrant street in Dali Old Town is lined with numerous cafés and teahouses that offer a cozy atmosphere and free Wi-Fi. It’s a popular spot for remote workers to set up their laptops and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea.
  •    Erhai Lake: Situated on the shores of Erhai Lake, you can find several lakeside cafés and teahouses that provide a tranquil environment and beautiful views. It’s a peaceful place to work while enjoying the serene surroundings.

Co-working Spaces:

  •    Maka Space: Located in Dali Old Town, Maka Space offers a shared co-working environment with flexible membership options, high-speed internet, comfortable workstations, and meeting rooms.
  •    Maker Bazaar: Situated in Dali New Town, Maker Bazaar is a creative co-working space that provides a collaborative community, dedicated desks, and a range of amenities for remote workers and entrepreneurs.


  •    Dali Library: Dali Library, located in Dali Old Town, offers a quiet and conducive environment for studying and working. It provides free Wi-Fi and a peaceful atmosphere for focused work.

Hotels and Guesthouses:

  •    Many hotels and guesthouses in Dali offer comfortable rooms and common areas where remote work can be conducted. Look for accommodations that provide reliable Wi-Fi, quiet spaces, and work-friendly environments.

Outdoor Spaces:

  •    Yu’er Park: This scenic park in Dali Old Town offers beautiful gardens, benches, and shaded areas where you can work outdoors while enjoying nature.
  •    Cangshan Mountain: If you prefer a more adventurous setting, you can hike up Cangshan Mountain and find a serene spot to work with breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes.

When choosing a place to work remotely in Dali, consider factors such as the availability of reliable internet connection, comfort, noise levels, and any additional amenities you may require. It’s also advisable to respect the policies of the establishments and ensure that you have permission to use the space for work purposes.

cultural festival celebration in dali china

Culture In Dali

Dali is a city steeped in culture and tradition. There are many cultural attractions to explore such as the historic Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Temple, the Dali Ancient City, and the Dali Museum. The city is also home to a variety of ethnic minorities, including the Bai, the Yi, the Hui, and the Naxi, each of which has its own unique customs and traditions.


Dali City is a beautiful destination in the Yunnan province of China. Located on the border of Tibet and Myanmar, Dali is known for its unique culture and rich history. Dali’s culture is heavily influenced by its geographical location, bordering both Tibet and Myanmar. This gives the city an eclectic mix of cultural influences, which can be seen in its architecture, cuisine, and customs.


Dali’s architecture is a blend of traditional Chinese and Tibetan styles, and includes beautiful temples and pagodas. The city’s traditional buildings are adorned with intricate carvings and colorful decorations, and are a popular tourist destination. Many of the city’s temples are important pilgrimage sites for believers of both Buddhism and Taoism.


In addition to its unique architecture and food, Dali has many festivals and customs that are unique to its culture. The most famous of these is the annual Water-Splashing Festival, a celebration of the New Year in the Dai Calendar.

Food In Dali

Dali is renowned for its delicious cuisine that blends together Chinese, Tibetan, and Bai cultures.


Yangrou fan, or local fried rice, is one of the most beloved dishes in the city. This flavorful meal is made with fresh vegetables, mushrooms, and pork, and is often served with a variety of condiments. Another popular dish is suanla tang, or Dali-style beef hotpot. This hearty dish is cooked slowly over a low flame with a mixture of beef, chili peppers, and various Chinese herbs. It is an ideal dish for colder days in the city, and can be served with steamed buns or noodles. Dali also offers a variety of street food, including noodles, dumplings, and grilled meats.


The city is also known for its unique tea, such as the famous Pu’er tea, which is said to have been discovered in Dali’s forests. Additionally, the region is also known for its sweet and savory snacks, such as the traditional moon cake and the Bai-style sticky rice cake. If you’re looking for an authentic experience, the best way to sample Dali’s unique food culture is to visit one of the local night markets, where you can find a variety of street food vendors offering a variety of delicious dishes.

Healthcare in Dali

Dali, located in the Yunnan Province of China, has healthcare facilities that cater to the medical needs of both residents and visitors. Here is an overview of healthcare in Dali:


Public Hospitals:

  • Dali City People’s Hospital: This is the main public hospital in Dali, offering a wide range of medical services and specialties, including internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics, pediatrics, and more.
  • Other Public Hospitals: There are several other public hospitals and clinics in Dali that provide general healthcare services and specialized treatments.

Private Hospitals and Clinics:

  • Dali has a few private hospitals and clinics that offer medical services and consultations. These facilities may provide a higher level of comfort and personalized care, but the costs can be higher compared to public healthcare providers.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):

  • Dali, being in the Yunnan Province, is known for its rich heritage in Traditional Chinese Medicine. You can find TCM clinics and hospitals that specialize in traditional herbal medicine, acupuncture, and other traditional treatment methods.

Emergency Services:

  • For emergency medical care, it’s advisable to call the emergency hotline number (120) or go directly to the nearest hospital’s emergency department.
  • Public hospitals in Dali generally have emergency services available, but it’s recommended to confirm the availability and location of emergency services beforehand.

Health Insurance:

  • It’s important to have comprehensive health insurance coverage that includes medical expenses in China. Check with your insurance provider to ensure coverage in Dali and understand the terms and conditions of your policy.

It’s always recommended to consult with healthcare professionals and explore options with travel insurance to ensure you have the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding healthcare services in Dali.

Staying Fit and Healthy in Dali

Dali, with its scenic landscapes and peaceful surroundings, offers opportunities to stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways to stay fit and healthy in Dali:


Outdoor Activities:

  • Cycling: Dali is known for its beautiful cycling routes. Rent a bicycle and explore the picturesque countryside and scenic paths around Erhai Lake or up the slopes of Cangshan Mountain.
  • Hiking: Cangshan Mountain offers a range of hiking trails suitable for different fitness levels. Enjoy the fresh air, stunning views, and the challenge of reaching the mountain peaks.
  • Walking and Jogging: Dali’s Old Town and lakeside areas provide pleasant settings for leisurely walks or invigorating jogs. Take a stroll along the ancient city walls or enjoy a lakeside jog around Erhai Lake.

Yoga and Meditation:

  • Dali has a tranquil atmosphere that lends itself well to practicing yoga and meditation. Many yoga studios and retreat centers offer classes and workshops that allow you to rejuvenate your body and mind.

Local Markets and Healthy Eating:

  • Visit local markets in Dali, such as Dali Old Town or Xiaguan, to find fresh and organic produce. Embrace the local cuisine, which often includes vegetables, herbs, and locally sourced ingredients.
  • Experiment with cooking traditional Yunnan dishes at home, using nutritious ingredients like wild mushrooms, fresh herbs, and locally grown produce.

Tai Chi and Martial Arts:

  • Dali is home to many martial arts schools and academies where you can learn traditional Chinese martial arts, such as Tai Chi or Kung Fu. These disciplines promote physical fitness, flexibility, and mental well-being.

Wellness Retreats and Spas:

  • Dali offers several wellness retreats and spas that focus on relaxation, detoxification, and holistic well-being. Treat yourself to massages, healing therapies, and other wellness treatments.

Outdoor Sports:

  • Dali’s natural surroundings provide opportunities for outdoor sports like rock climbing, paragliding, and water sports. Engage in these activities with proper guidance and safety precautions.

Remember to stay hydrated, protect yourself from the sun, and listen to your body’s needs while participating in any physical activities. If you have any specific health concerns or conditions, it’s advisable to consult with healthcare professionals or seek guidance from fitness instructors or trainers in Dali.

city street market dali china

Things to Do In Dali

Dali, located in the Yunnan Province of China, offers a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, and a range of activities for visitors to enjoy. Here are some things to do in Dali:


Explore Dali Old Town:

  • Wander through the ancient streets of Dali Old Town, characterized by traditional Bai architecture, cobblestone roads, and historic buildings.
  • Visit attractions like the Three Pagodas, the ancient city walls, and the Foreigner Street (Huguo Lu) to experience the local culture and history.

Erhai Lake:

  • Take a boat trip on Erhai Lake, one of the largest highland lakes in China. Enjoy the scenic beauty, visit traditional fishing villages, and learn about the local fishing culture.
  • Explore the small islands in the lake, such as Jinsuo Island, which offers panoramic views and cultural insights.

Cangshan Mountain:

  • Hike or take a cable car up Cangshan Mountain to enjoy breathtaking views of Dali Old Town and Erhai Lake.
  • Explore the numerous trails, waterfalls, and temples on the mountain, and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility.

Bai Ethnic Minority Culture:

  • Learn about the Bai ethnic minority, one of the prominent ethnic groups in the Dali area. Visit Bai villages like Xizhou and Zhoucheng to experience their unique architecture, traditions, and handicrafts.

Three Pagodas:

  • Visit the iconic Three Pagodas, located near Dali Old Town. These ancient Buddhist pagodas date back to the Tang Dynasty and are an important cultural and architectural symbol of Dali.

Xizhou Ancient Town:

  • Explore the charming Xizhou Ancient Town, known for its well-preserved Bai architecture, traditional courtyards, and local markets. Sample local snacks and tea while experiencing the Bai culture.

Shaxi Ancient Town:

  • Take a day trip to Shaxi Ancient Town, located southwest of Dali. This historic town features ancient temples, traditional courtyard houses, and a lively local market.

Yunnan Cuisine:

  • Taste the flavors of Yunnan cuisine, known for its diverse ingredients and unique flavors. Enjoy local specialties like Crossing the Bridge Noodles (Guoqiao Mixian) and Steam Pot Chicken (Qiguoji).

Dali’s Temples:

  • Visit significant temples in Dali, such as Chongsheng Temple, Jianji Temple, and Guanyin Palace, to appreciate the region’s religious and architectural heritage.

Traditional Crafts:

  • Discover the local craftsmanship of Dali by visiting workshops and galleries showcasing traditional crafts like tie-dyeing, marble carving, and silver jewelry-making.

These are just a few highlights of what Dali has to offer. Take the time to explore the unique culture, natural landscapes, and historical sites to fully immerse yourself in the charm of this enchanting destination.

Best Time to Visit Dali

The best time to visit Dali, China, largely depends on your preferences and the activities you plan to engage in. Here’s a breakdown of the different seasons in Dali:


Spring (March to May):

  • Temperature: Average highs range from 15°C to 22°C (59°F to 72°F).
  • Spring in Dali brings mild temperatures and blossoming flowers, making it a beautiful time to explore the city and its surrounding natural landscapes.
  • The weather is generally pleasant for outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, and exploring the ancient town.

Summer (June to August):

  • Temperature: Average highs range from 22°C to 26°C (72°F to 79°F).
  • Summers in Dali can be warm, with occasional rain showers.
  • Despite the warmer temperatures, summer is a popular time to visit, especially for those interested in enjoying the picturesque landscapes, visiting Erhai Lake, and participating in water activities.
  • Be prepared for higher tourist crowds during this season.

Autumn (September to November):

  • Temperature: Average highs range from 18°C to 22°C (64°F to 72°F).
  • Autumn offers pleasant weather with cooler temperatures and less rainfall compared to summer.
  • This season is ideal for outdoor activities, hiking in the mountains, and exploring the ancient town while enjoying the fall foliage.

Winter (December to February):

  • Temperature: Average highs range from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F).
  • Winters in Dali are relatively mild but can be chilly, particularly in the mornings and evenings.
  • This season is less crowded, making it a good time to explore the city and enjoy the peaceful ambiance.
  • It’s also a great time for hot springs visits and enjoying the cultural aspects of Dali.

Overall, Dali can be visited year-round, and each season has its own unique charm. Spring and autumn offer milder temperatures, beautiful natural scenery, and fewer crowds. Summer is popular for outdoor activities and enjoying the lake, while winter provides a quieter and more serene experience. Consider your preferences for weather, activities, and crowd levels when deciding the best time to visit Dali.

historical temple in dali china

Weather in Dali

The weather in Dali is mild and pleasant year round. The average temperature is around 15°C (59°F) in the winter months and 25°C (77°F) in the summer months. Generally, the weather is sunny and dry. In the summer months, there are occasional showers and thunderstorms. The area is also known for its high humidity, especially during the summer months.


The best time to visit Dali is between April and October as the temperatures are warm and the skies are clear. During this period, there is plenty of sunshine for outdoor activities. It is also the ideal time for adventurers who want to explore the nearby mountains and national parks.

Cost of Living in Dali

Dali, located in the Yunnan Province of China, generally has a lower cost of living compared to major cities in China. However, it’s important to note that the cost of living can vary depending on individual lifestyles and preferences. Here’s an overview of the cost of living in Dali:



  • Rent: The cost of renting an apartment or house in Dali can vary depending on factors such as location, size, and amenities. Generally, rental prices in Dali are lower compared to larger cities in China.
  • Buying Property: Purchasing property in Dali can be relatively affordable compared to major cities, but it’s important to research and understand local property regulations and market conditions.

Food and Groceries:

  • Local Markets: Shopping at local markets and street vendors in Dali can be more affordable compared to supermarkets. You can find fresh produce, meat, and local specialties at reasonable prices.
  • Dining Out: Eating at local restaurants and street food stalls in Dali is generally more cost-effective compared to upscale establishments or international cuisines.


  • Public Transport: Public transportation in Dali, including buses and taxis, is relatively affordable and convenient for getting around the city and nearby areas.
  • Private Vehicles: If you own a car or motorcycle, the costs associated with fuel, maintenance, and insurance will vary depending on your usage and preferences.


  • Electricity, water, and internet services are essential utilities that contribute to the cost of living. The expenses for these utilities will depend on factors such as the size of your accommodation and your usage.


  • Healthcare costs in China can vary depending on factors such as the type of medical service, location, and whether you have health insurance coverage. It’s advisable to have comprehensive health insurance to cover medical expenses in Dali.

Entertainment and Recreation:

  • Dali offers various recreational activities and attractions, such as visiting historical sites, exploring natural landscapes, and participating in cultural experiences. The costs associated with these activities will vary depending on your preferences and the specific attractions you choose to visit.

It’s important to create a budget and plan your expenses accordingly based on your individual circumstances and lifestyle choices. Costs can vary significantly depending on personal preferences, accommodation choices, and spending habits. It’s advisable to research and gather information specific to your situation to have a more accurate understanding of the cost of living in Dali.

three pagodas temple in dali china

Visa Requirements in Dali

Visa requirements for Dali, China, are generally the same as the visa requirements for entering China as a whole. Here’s an overview of the visa requirements for visiting Dali:


Visa Categories:

  • Tourist Visa (L Visa): If you are visiting Dali as a tourist, you will typically need a tourist visa. The L Visa allows you to stay in China for a limited period for tourism purposes.

Visa Application:

  • Chinese Embassy/Consulate: To obtain a visa, you will generally need to submit your application to the Chinese embassy or consulate in your home country or the country where you are currently residing.
  • Documentation: The application process requires a completed visa application form, a valid passport, passport-sized photos, proof of travel arrangements (e.g., flight bookings), and other supporting documents as required.

Duration of Stay:

  • The duration of stay permitted on a tourist visa will depend on the type of visa issued and the regulations of the Chinese government. Typically, tourist visas allow stays of up to 30 days, 60 days, or 90 days.
  • It’s important to check the specific visa requirements and duration of stay allowed for your nationality.

Visa Extensions:

  • If you wish to extend your stay in Dali or China beyond the permitted duration on your tourist visa, you may need to apply for a visa extension. This process usually requires submitting the application to the local Public Security Bureau (PSB) before your current visa expires.

Work and Study Visas:]

  • If you plan to work or study in Dali, different visa categories and requirements will apply. Work visas (Z Visa) and study visas (X Visa) have specific criteria, including sponsorship from a Chinese employer or educational institution.

It’s important to note that visa regulations can change, and specific requirements may vary based on your nationality and personal circumstances. It’s advisable to consult with the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country or seek professional advice to obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding visa requirements for visiting Dali or any other destination in China.

Jobs & Work Requirements in Dali

Dali, located in the Yunnan Province of China, offers job opportunities primarily in the fields of tourism, hospitality, and agriculture. Here’s an overview of jobs and work requirements in Dali:

Work Eligibility:

  • Citizens and Permanent Residents: Chinese citizens and permanent residents have the right to work in Dali without any restrictions.
  • Work Visa: If you are not a Chinese citizen or permanent resident, you will generally need a valid work visa (Z Visa) to work legally in Dali. Work visas are issued based on factors such as skills, qualifications, and employer sponsorship.

Job Market:

  • Tourism and Hospitality: Dali’s rich cultural heritage and natural landscapes make it a popular tourist destination, leading to employment opportunities in hotels, resorts, restaurants, tour agencies, and related services.
  • Agriculture: Dali is known for its agriculture, particularly the cultivation of crops like rice, vegetables, tea, and fruits. Jobs in agriculture may include farming, crop cultivation, and agricultural processing.

Language Requirements:

  • Mandarin Chinese is the official language in China. While some employers may require proficiency in Mandarin, there may be job opportunities for English speakers in the tourism and hospitality sector, catering to international visitors.

Work Culture:

  • The work culture in Dali, like in other parts of China, is influenced by Chinese customs and practices. Punctuality, respect for hierarchy, and strong work ethic are valued in the workplace.

Job Search:

  • Local Job Websites: Check local job websites or online platforms that cater to job opportunities in Dali or the Yunnan Province.
  • Networking: Networking is important in China, and building connections through local contacts, professional organizations, or expat communities can be beneficial for job opportunities.
  • Local Employers: Reach out to local employers in the tourism, hospitality, and agricultural sectors directly to inquire about job openings.

Work Permits and Legal Requirements:

  • To work legally in Dali, you will need to comply with the work permit and visa regulations set by the Chinese government. This typically involves securing a work visa (Z Visa), obtaining a work permit from the local authorities, and registering with the local Public Security Bureau (PSB).

It’s important to research specific job requirements, industry regulations, and legal obligations for working in Dali. Consulting with local authorities, recruitment agencies, or seeking professional advice can provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding job opportunities and work requirements in Dali or any other destination in China.

Enjoy your trip to Dali, China!

Always blue skies,

The Insured Nomads Team