Dali: How China Does a Hippie Town

Dali: How China Does a Hippie Town

China is not the chilliest place to travel. It tends to be crowded and Chinese tastes tend to run towards posh, fancy-feeling places or towards shack-ish restaurants. I loved it- but its never really matched my crunchy-hippie-bohemian style.

Until Dali.

Dali isn’t like anywhere else in china. Its a hippie town- and I LOVED it

Its about 4 hours from Kunming and I fell in love the moment I saw the mountains

dali yunnan China

It has an old town with that lovely Chinese architecture that has always stolen my heart. Its so charming and forbidding simultaneously. There are many minority cultures living in that area that make some beautiful batiks. There were numerous old ladies wearing the traditional Naxi blue clothing. I was there for the Chinese New Year….. and then some more time since I didn’t buy train/bus tickets ahead of time and got trapped though its a lovely place to get yourself trapped in.

dali yunnan China

I sort of got lost in Dali. I had big plans to hike in the mountains and visit the temples but instead I did was visitors do- ate, drank, and made merry, for a lot longer then I initially planned. Which really- is sort of the history of the place. Back in the 50’s there was pot growing in the street. Its filled with expats who have that look of someone who fell into a rabbit hole and never got out.

dali yunnan China

Why is Dali a Hippie Town?

um- I really couldn’t figure that out

It has an extremely large expat community for such a small area but its easy to see why when you just look around at the beauty (and clean air). Its also home to several Chinese minorities and perhaps the blend of cultures has contributed to a more laidback vibe then that of places. I know it has a long history of being more chill when it comes to certain kinds of “recreation” (Don’t do drugs in China- you can get a death penalty for it) but I really don’t know what makes it such a hippie area except that its reputation attracts like- minded people

dali yunnan China

big earings, big headbands…. I’m back in the boho game

Dali was one of the few places I’ve just felt relaxed in China. I met Chinese people my age who were hitching-hiking around Yunnan, Chinese with dreads selling crafts, Chinese who weren’t glued to their phones on WeChat the whole time. I don’t mean this to insult general Chinese youth- but I’ve never had people in Nanchong talk to me about communism vs capitalism or about environmental issues. I think that there are a lot of underlying issues about why many (most?) Chinese 20-soethings are obsessed with their phones-shopping-Wechat but regardless- I do enjoy having those sorts of conversations and meeting a different crowd.

dali yunnan China

Also. Cake! maybe its a hippie town cause of all the good cake

I went for runs, got massages, and drank a lot of lassis. We hung out at the infamous Bad Monkey bar and I bought massive earrings, funky scarves and got into my old bohemian style. It was actually a really great place to start my travels because I got into the laid-back, enjoy-a-place vibe. Dali is a lovely place to travel in China, but I think its a particularly awesome place for expats to visit, because its really unlike anywhere else in China

dali yunnan China

bliss

For Those Who Want To Know
– I stayed at both 5 elements and the Jade Emu Hostel. The latter was much nicer then the former.
– busses run from Kunming are 4 hours, trains are cheaper but take longer. Its a good idea to take a sleeper train if possible
– Best food was at the Happy Panda that served simple cheap Yunnanese food. They sort of had an English menu

Since the earthquake in Nepal so many people have contacted me asking if I was safe and then asking if I have gotten news about my friend. I truly appreciate that. Unfortunately I still have not heard anything but will let people know if I do.