Travels Through Dali With a Leg of Ham

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7 Days
Spring, Summer, Fall
About this Journey

Chronicled in her award-winning book Travels Through Dali With a Leg of Ham, this is a journey of cultural and culinary discovery designed by WildChina founder, and Dali native, Mei Zhang.

Travels Through Dali With a Leg of Ham

Growing up in Dali, the sweet, nutty aroma of sizzling ham always signaled a good meal for WildChina Founder Mei Zhang. Join a group of like-minded travelers and embark on a trip she personally designed.

Savor in the age-old traditions behind local delicacies, step into the kitchens of Yunnan’s specialty chefs, and revel in the fascinating tales of artisanal Dali.

What we love
  • Visiting Mr. Yang's farm and seeing ham in its different stages of curing
  • Discovering how Dali boasts its own unique cheese culture, a remnant of earlier Mongolian influence
  • Taking part in a traditional Bai three-course tea ceremony
Yunnan province map

Day 1Yunlong/Nuodeng Village

Arrive into Dali Airport and meet your WildChina guide and driver in the arrival hall • Veer far off the highway and follow a narrow river to Yunlong, a village known by locals to have perfected the art of ham curing • Enjoy a welcome dinner with your host • Spend the rest of the evening at your leisure.


Day 2Master’s Well Village

Drive through the countryside to Master’s Well Village • Visit the home of a local salt maker • Shelter under a makeshift cover and watch how salt is extracted from a well and then crystalized, using a traditional process unchanged for centuries • Watch how the salt is prepared for market • Taste the final product, a salt with a sweet aftertaste referred to as tu yan (土盐) • Visit a local farm and see ham in its different stages of curing • Visit the local market and whet your appetite for dinner • Admire the skills displayed as the ham is scorched, cleaned, and cut.

Day 3Yunlong to Shaxi

Pass the turnoff for Master’s Well Village and continue further north to Shundang Village, another of the eight famed salt villages • Admire the Qing-era fortifications that protect the path leading into the village and marvel at how different Shundang is from Master’s Well • Now home to very few, the abandoned old village is a great place to explore as you wander past traditional tombstones and down long-forgotten lanes • Leave behind the covered bridges of Yunlong and continue on to Shaxi, once a bustling trade town on the Ancient Tea Horse Road.

Day 4Shaxi

Step into the home of Mrs. Shi Fumei, a local cheesemaker, to learn how the region boasts its own unique cheese culture, and how to cook your own over a wood-fired stove • Wait for your delicious cheese snack to cool as you chat with Mrs. Shi while she stitches cloth shoes • Pray for fertility in the Shibaoshan Grottoes where Jianchuan’s earliest craftsman carved, in sandstone, the popular sculpture Ah-Yang-Bai • Visit Stone Dragon Village, where “those who can walk, dance; and those who can talk, sing” • Meet the region’s folk music king and watch a captivating musical performance full of longing and lust, wantonness and excitement.

Day 5Shaxi to Dali

Drive from Shaxi towards Dali Old Town, stopping on the way for a traditional Bai three-course tea ceremony • Feel removed from the rest of China’s tea culture as you reflect on your life with a bitter, sweet, and lingering tea • Visit the old town of Xizhou and learn about traditional Bai architecture • Try Xizhou baba, a local snack, before getting hands-on and making your own Xizhou baba with the locals • If time permits, visit local artisan Mr. Yang, a wool felt painting master as we enter his 150-year-old courtyard home and learn local techniques for this traditional craft.

Day 6Weishan and Dali

Drive to Weishan, a town home to mainly Yi and Hui ethnic groups (~1-hour drive) • Meet Madame Chen, a lady in her 80s who reigns over the most famous pickle ’empire’ in the region • Head into Madame Chen’s central courtyard and watch her staff prepare vegetables for pickling • Look above the workers’ heads at the rows and rows of meter-high jars, filled to the brim with vegetables in pickling liquor • Enjoy lunch at South Street restaurant • Tantalize your taste buds with a cross-cultural culinary experience at Gil’s Casa Bai.

Day 7Depart Dali

Rise early to watch the sunrise over Erhai Lake • Spend the morning enjoying Dali’s dynamic interwoven streets • Transfer to the airport and check in for your flight to your next adventure.


Sunyata Hotel Shaxi
Luxury Boutique

Ideally located near Shaxi Old Town, Sunyata Hotel Shaxi is a celebration of the local culture, with warm woods, soothing earth tones, and natural elements.

The One Resort Dali
Luxury Boutique

Offering a modern and fresh twist on classical Chinese design and spectacular mountain views, The One Resort Dali perfectly balances tradition and luxury within the city walls of the Old Town.


Recomended Seasons

Arrival & Departure

This journey starts and ends in Dali, Yunnan Province. Dali Airport (DLU) is served by a number of Chinese airlines and has direct flights to many different domestic cities.

To/From Beijing: At least twice per day (~3 hours, 30 minutes)

To/From Shanghai: Once per day (~3 hours, 30 minutes)

To/From Xi’an: At least once per day (~2 hours, 30 minutes)

To/From Chengdu: At least twice per day (~1 hour, 30 minutes)

To/From Guilin: At least once per day (~2 hours)

What’s Included

  • All on-ground transfers with in-transport refreshments
  • Services of a WildChina English-speaking guide
  • All accommodation costs, based on double-occupancy, with daily breakfasts, taxes and service fees included, as noted in the itinerary
  • All admission fees and expenses, as noted in the itinerary
  • All meals, as noted in the itinerary, and drinking water
  • Airport transfers to/from domestic flights at the start and end of your trip, as listed in the itinerary

What’s Excluded

  • International and domestic flights, plus relevant taxes
  • Chinese tourist visa, which is required for most foreign passport holders
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Meals, apart from those included in the itinerary, and alcohol
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Excursions and activities not included in the itinerary
  • Discretionary gratuities for guides and drivers
What to expect

Trip Difficulty: Moderate Adventure

Your journey is considered a moderate adventure. Moderate adventure includes full days outside the hotel, with drives up to 3 or 3 ½ hours on mainly well-maintained, paved roads. We may spend up to 4-5 hours walking, hiking, and/or biking.

Your Guides

Your guide will arrange the logistics of your trip, including meals, hotel reservations, sites, and activities, as well as providing you with information about the local region. Your WildChina guide is specific to each local region and will be confirmed during booking.

Health and Safety

WildChina puts the safety and comfort of our guests, guides, and drivers at the top of our priority list. We’ve spent the last few months reviewing our safety protocols, and in light of this pandemic, we’ve instituted a number of new procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all members of a WildChina journey. View our Health and Safety procedures.


Meals and Water

Meals are included, as listed in your itinerary. We strive to arrange meals that highlight authentic local cuisine in clean, local establishments.

It is safe to drink bottled mineral water, but tap water, even in 5-star hotels, is not safe for drinking. We will provide bottled water, tea, and snacks throughout your journey.

We request guests with severe allergies to consult their physicians prior to traveling and to bring all necessary medicines with them. Inform us ahead of time of specific allergies, such as peanuts or shellfish, or sensitivities to MSG, so that we can do our best to ensure these items are not used in your meals.

Why WildChina

We’re on the ground with you

Our team of advisors will design every detail of the trip with you through close consultation, then orchestrate your entire journey while on the ground. We’re in the same time zone as you, so we can fulfill requests and handle issues without a hitch. With over 40 staff in China and an expansive network of operational partners across the country, we have the manpower to ensure your journey is safe, reliable and comfortable from beginning to end.

Your trip, your way

Flexibility is our highest-ranking compliment. We pull off journeys for pioneers with a 6-hour layover to Hollywood’s elite, and everywhere in between. Our team regularly pulls off unprecedented logistical feats; nearly any time frame or budget is within our realm. No matter how you wish to experience China, we are here to bring that dream to life.

We embody passion

WildChina guides are carefully handpicked for their knowledge and charisma, then meticulously trained to maintain our exceptional service standards. They are expert storytellers and passionate natives of the regions where they guide, having the perfect combination of local insights and service know-how to bring you seamless once-in-a- lifetime moments all across China.

The little things, the big picture

Supporting inspired local economies allows you to experience the soul of the destination, while also protecting and cultivating China’s artisanal culture. From watching artisans creating their handcrafts, to picking organic vegetables for dinner on a local farm, our tours are designed to showcase and protect China’s heritage, both natural and human.

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