Driving into Dali, you can easily see the distinction in architecture. Most of the buildings are all covered with white walls and grey accent bricks. We made our way to the hotel, China Tang, and based on the reviews and online photos, was a beautiful luxury hotel right on the lake with stunning views. Once we got the area, we were not even able to get to the front of the hotel since the road was way too small for our car to even fit through. The rooms were also small with a tiny window with no view, suffice to say, we were truly disappointed.
We decided to forfeit the room and booked the Hilton Spa and Resort, closer to the old city. Upon entering the compound, it was miles apart from the first hotel, with an impressive entrance and grandiose lobby. The room was also large and had a luxurious bathroom. The hotel staff were also extremely accommodating. Although the hotel is not located in the Old Town as are most other hotels, the customer service and amenities, along with the room, definitely make up for that fact.
The old town was a few kilometers away and unlike that of Da Li, has an impressive city wall. The town is filled with shops and restaurants. And as with most old towns, offers plenty of local wares and delicacies. The town shops also offers bike rentals for a scenic ride around the nearby lake.