Dali City Transportation
Throughout its years of development, local endeavors for advancement have been rewarded with a great rise in area living standards. Nowadays, this is a tourist destination replete with every convenience in transportation and public facilities, making it accessible for visitors from home and abroad.
Dali Airport is located to the east of New City, 13 km (8 mi) from South Gate. Direct flights include Dali-Kunming (Daily), Dali-Chengdu (Daily), Dali-Chongqing, and Dali-Xishuangbanna (Daily). You can fly to many large cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong via Kunming.
Alternatively, you can go to Kunming Changshui International Airport by plane. It is located in the southeast of Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province. (It is one of the most important and the busiest international airports of China.) You can then take the Airport Shuttle bus from Kunming airport. They operate 6:30-22:00 (Beijing time).
Kunming is the transportation hub of Yunnan province. You can take the train to Kunming first and then transfer the high speed train to Dali. At present, there are many high speed trains from Kunming to Dali Train Station (in Dali New City-Xiaguan), leaving during about 06:30-21:30 every day, the trains need only about 2-3 hours time for arriving. So travelers can easily choose the ideal train for their travel planning.
There are one or two trains daily from Lijiang to Dali and back. The ride takes nearly 2 hours. And also some daily trains from Lijiang to Kunming via Dali.
Buses from Kunming West Bus Station take about 4,5 hours and cost about 100 yuan for an ordinary bus and around 130 yuan for an express luxury bus.
Buses coming south from Lijiang will stop outside the old town, from where it is possible to get a taxi or walk to the main guesthouses.
There is also a bus service to Xiaguan from Jinghong, Xishuangbanna prefecture. The bus on this route is a sleeper bus so you can get a fairly comfortably bed and a blanket. This service may be useful for people who have arrived in China from northern Laos, e.g. Luang Namtha.
Taxis in Dali Old Town generally cost less 10 Yuan (though most drivers will ask for 10 Yuan). For other locations outside Dali Old Town, all prices are negotiable.
By City Bus
Buses can get you to the main spots of Dali conveniently. For instance, you can take bus 4 or 8 from central Xiaguan to the ancient city, taking about 30 minutes and costing 1.5 yuan. You can take minibuses to locations that are outside the town, such as to Butterfly Spring, Shaping, and Xizhou.
Bikes are also available at many guesthouses and rental huts around town. Bikes vary greatly in quality so shop around for the best deal. Merida and Giant are among the better brands to consider.
Dali Old Town is small enough to get around on foot; Cangshan Mountai, Erhai Lake, Three Pagodas are all very close to the Old City. Cangshan Mountain runs north-south next to the city. As you look at the mountains and face west, the Erhai Lake is at your back (east). You’ll realize that the entire Dali Old Town gently slopes from the mountains to the lake.