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Mt. Cangshan, where the story of Dali begins


Dali, an ancient city sits at the corner of southwest China, luring tourists worldwide for its serenity scenery, classic architectures, rich ethnic flavor, exquisite handicrafts and most importantly, its profound culture and slow pace life style. Cangshan Mountain, one of the top four highlights of Dali, is a place where the story of Dali Begins.

Composed of 19 peaks with average elevation above 3500m, Cangshan runs from north to south. Malong Peak, the highest one, is 4122 above sea level. It is snow-capped all year around. The snow mountain clusters cast reflections on the Erhai lake, bringing out an astonishing visual wonder named Silver Cangshan and Jade Erhai.

Winter here is a pure white world and in summer, the mountain summit is stilled loaded with snow. Scenery here varies constantly. Cangshan is home to dense forest, diversified flora&fauna species and rich cultural relics.


mountain cangshan

Mount Cangshan is famous for snow, clouds and springs

Cangshan Clouds


Cloud in Cangshan is different: you do not need to crane your head to see them, they will envelop you gently, leading you into a world of aerial beauty. In a romantic city like Dali, even clouds are bestowed with life and moving love stories. “Jade Ribbon Cloud” and “Wangfu Cloud” (Overlooking for Husband Cloud) are two most famous clouds here. Each Spring and Autumn, the “Wangfu Cloud” will emerge near the summit of Yuju Peak. Its very appearance will stir the waves in Erhai Lake. Legend had it that this cloud is the incarnation of Dali princess. She is looking for her lover buried at the bottom of Erhai Lake. When she drifts above this lake, the lake will become so restless that even boats will be overthrown. Thus local fishermen will stay at home when this cloud appears. “Jade Ribbon Cloud”, however, indicating the coming harvest in the year.

Cangshan Streams


What is interesting here is that between every peak develops a stream, which converges into the Erhai Lake. These 18 streams originate from the heart of forest, instilling Cangshan Mountain with 18 characters and 18 kinds of tender feelings. Against the eternal emerald background, these spirits play hide and seek with trees and rocks, fumbling and stumbling, leaving merrily songs behind. Loaded with classic poetries and simple folklore of Cangshan Mountain, they never cease their steps and are forever vibrant. If the burning flowers here can be compared as the emotion of Cangshan, then these pure and lively streams can be compared as its soul. Without their nourishment, Cangshan will lose its majority poetic charm. Qingbi Stream (Crystal jade Stream), is the king of among all steams here. Flanked by Malong Peak and Shengying Peak, Qingbi Stream plummets down bravely from the cliffs, sparkling and splashing. The pool at its foot features transparent water and round stones. Staring at this waterfall, you will find all words will fail you when it comes to describe its beauty.

Cangshan Peaks

Cangshan is a magnificent symphony with the 19 soaring peaks as its keynotes. 19 peaks piece into the sky and constitute a dragon which dances from North to south, composing a natural breath holding natural wonder. The stately Cangshan gives Dali a masculine power and character, thus the tender Erhai nestles at its foot, can have the most sweet dream, for the past millennia. 


Cangshan Pools

Xima Pool: Located at the intersection of Yuju Peak and Longquan Peak, the 3920m Xima Pool is famed as the “Pool of Mountain Summit”. Water is brisk clear. The first emperor of Yuan Emperor Kublai once paused here to clear his horses, hence its name. Surrounded by the most diversified flora species include Azaleas, the 4500m2 Xima Pool well lives up to the name as a high altitude garden. It measures 1.5m in depth and once was a dam in ancient times.


 cangshan-dali cangshan-mountain-cloud

 Silver Cangshan Mountain and Jade Erhai Lake

 Clouds in Cangshan Mountain are eye-dazzling

 cangshan valley cangshan-biqing-stream

 Biqing Stream: the most beautiful stream here

 the tranquil valley in Mt Cangshan

Cangshan Historical Relic Sites

Cultural relics abound in Cangshan also. Traces of New Stone Age , relics of Taihe City( NanZhao Kingdom’s Ancient Capital) and the Dali Kingdom still remain here, shedding light to the past glorious history and splendid culture. By now, there are 21 New Stone Age cultural relic sites spotted in Dali, with large quantities of stones axes, hammers and potteries unearthed. From 739 to 779, Taihe City was the capital as wells as the cultural, political and economy center of Nanzhao Kingdom. Sitting against Cangshan Mountain and facing Erhai Lake, it is easy to defend and hard to defeat. The distance between north wall and south wall is about 500m long. After 779, with the capital moved to another city, it was deserted. Among the ruins still erects the famous Nanzhao Dehua Monument composed during Tang dynasty, which gives detailed information on the political systems, economy conditions and their wish to live in peace with center China.

Cangshan Flora&Fauna

Cangshan features distinctive vertical landscape, and its lower to upper area are occupied by grassland zone, pine tree zone, Fir&Shrub Zone, High Mountain Meadow Zone respectively. The Fir trees which inhabit the cliffs with altitude over 3000m, is honored as gentleman tree.

Blessed with diversified flora species, Cangshan well lives up to its name as a “highland garden”. You can see Top Eight Flowers in Yunan here: Camellia, Azaleas, magnolia flower, primrose, lily, gentian flowers, orchids, green Meconopsis. Besides, there are 41 kinds of Azaleas which occupy Cangshan from its foot to an altitude of 4100m. They vary on height, color and petal shapes. The shortest Azaleas measures only several centimeters while the tallest will grow to over 15m. In the kingdom of Azaleas, you can appreciate the most eye-dazzling blossoms here and see the rare species unseen elsewhere in the world.

The remote and dense forest offers a paradise for animals also. Cangshan is home to deer, blue sheep, bison, mountain donkeys, wild boar, fox, pheasant and the rare Elaphurus davidianus.

Travel Tips

How to ascend Cangshan: You can take the cableway from March Street in Dali Ancient City, which covers a distance of 1668m will bring you to Zhonghe Temple which sits at the waist of Cangshan Mountain in 20 minutes. The round ride cost is 35RMB. Horses are available for renting, the cost is around 80RMB.

How to Tour Cangshan: Ascending Cangshan, you can overlook Dali. the Jade Ribbon Road stretches 18km long, leading to scenic spots include Peach Stream, Gantong Temple and Qingbi Stream.

Dali Marble: Cangshan is famous for Dali marble which is characterized by fascinating patterns and creamy hand feel.


Special Tips: March to April is the best travel season for most festivals will be held during this period. It is ideal time for hiking the Cangshan Mountain or wandering around the Erhai Lake. The ethnic minorities include Bai Minority, Li Minority and Naxi Minority will dress up and throng into Dali ancient town during April 17 to April 23, bringing various specialty products, herbs, handicrafts. March Street Fair will take place during this period also.

Nearby scenic spots include Butterfly Spring and Three Pagodas. As to shopping or night life, the Huguo Road (Foreigners’ Road) where oriental blends with occidental is your top choice. If you want to see the marvelous local architectures, you can visit Xizhou Ancient Town.


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