Dali Art Factory is a hidden gem of creativity, art and cool’ness in the otherwise touristy Dali city in China’s Yunnan province. The renovated disused factory is now home to contemporary galleries and art spaces, a photographic museum, bookshops, artisan workshops, local workspaces, bars and cafes, as well as a music studio and a three-story climbing wall.
Here are a quick intro and recommendations to the places you should visit (find directions in the bottom):
Think Wei Wei’s plastic planet meets granny’s retro-chic world. A small gallery cum store home to bright Marilyn Monroe prints, bums and busts in shiny plastic, retro Piaggio and Vespa motorbikes and a small café, where you can knock back a cup of Joe. It’s 20Y to get in, but that earns you a free coffee or tea.
Dali Photographic Museum
Occupying the second floor of the backyard building, this gallery and library space aims to tell Dali and Yunnan’s history through old photos from the 1900s. It’s a rare insight into how the city and area used to be when the first settlers came to China and Yunnan’s (important) role for the British during Second World War. It’s free to get in.
Dolphin Book Store
Hidden in a corner of the second floor, this is a small café and bookstore. It’s bright, welcoming and inspiring, so even though all the books are in Chinese, the focus on photography coffee books and Yunnan knowledge makes it worth exploring for westerns, too. Not least it gives a library feeling to the café, which is a good place to work, read or hangout since silence is requested. Prices are around 20-30Y for drinks and cakes.
No Name Bar
Covered in street art, rusted plates and empty beer bottles, this bar serves a wide range of local and imported beers. It’s trashy chic and open mostly in the evening, where they also have occasional events such as live music.
Rock Climbing Adventure (check the name)
An approximately 3 story-climbing wall and a (tiny!) bouldering world let you try wall (rock) climbing. They can introduce you to the concept of climbing and arrange climbing trips to the nearby rock climbing areas of Dali.
It’s only open when weather permits.
Check their website out – Rock Solid Adventure
Beer & Snacks
Similar to the No Name Bar above, Beer & Snacks sports the same rustic ambience and trashy hip theme. It’s just beyond the gates of Dali Art Factory in the row of shop houses on the left-hand side. Look for the “Beer and Snacks” street art painting on the wall.
The Pottery Workshop
Giving life and a voice to the ancient art of pottery, this is a combined workspace and shop. Behind big windows a work area is designated to the designers and half-produced pottery line the walls. In the store you can buy cool Chinese inspired coffee and tea mugs, bowls and the “good luck” big-mouthed cats. Prices are very reasonable (e.g. 40Y for a coffee mug), and can provide an alternative souvenir from Yunnan.
Check out their website – The Pottery Workshop in Dali
Location: Just outside Dali Art Factory you turn to the right, and find a small house in the back alley.
Need Shop (leather & jewellery workshop)
Actually a workspace for a number of individual artisans, this place functions as a combined workshop and store front. Inside, the crafts (wo-)men are working with chisels, leather pieces and arm bolts, and in the centre, you’ll find a small selection of their products up for sale.
Location: Just outside Dali Art Factory, in the row of houses on the right-hand side
There are various events taking place at Dali Art Factory, so do check their website for any happenings when you’re in town – DALI ART FACTORY.
Where is Dali Art Factory?
Show this to the locals and/or plot it into Bing Maps:
Address: CangPing Street 56, Dali Old Town, Dali, Yunnan, China
Have you been to Dali Art Factory? What do you think? Are there any new places you can recommend, or any changes to existing?
Help other travellers, by commenting below.
Happy travels! 🙂