After a 20 hour train ride from Chengdu to Kunming, we took the 4h bus ride from Kunming to Dali. Only it didn’t take 4h because earlier in the day a truck flew off the cliff so it actually took 9h to reach Dali. Needless to say we were pretty tired when we reached Dali.
Comfort level: low
Dali old town is very pretty and famous, but unlike Lijiang the old town is still used and retains its functionality. We spent a day wandering around the old streets and admiring the buildings.
Our food obsession in Dali was Fried Ersi 炒咡丝 (I had never seen it made anywhere else):
Originally we had wanted to spend a longer time in Dali as M needed to extend his visa, but for some strange and unknown reason the Visa extension office in Dali stopped extending any foreigners tourist visa since a new law passed on July 1st, 2013. Apparently in Dali, the only way they will extend a tourist visa is if you provided a certified (official stamp) itinerary of your trip in China with a tour group . However in reality no one knows what the official stamp looks like so really they still won’t extend your visa. We met a foreigner who had over stayed his visa as a result of the new bureaucratic changes and was now in limbo.
The visa officers suggested to M since he had a multiple entry visa to take a bus to Hong Kong or Laos or Vietnam as a solution. We were seriously considering a 16h bus ride to Laos when we decided to call the visa office in Lijiang a 3.5h bus ride away. They assured us over the phone that it was no problem to extend a visa the first time, so we cut our stay in Dali short and off we went to Lijiang.