Despite the numerous possibilities of getting cheap and diverse food in the streets of Dali, some may miss the own kitchen or the act of cooking itself. For all those, but also for photographers and people interested in local food culture, two markets in Dali shall be recommended. The large numbers of vegetables and fruits are being cultivated in the fields between the Old Town of Dali and the Erhai Lake and the Old Town or its surrounding and Xiaguan (下关).
The range of food reaches from every green leaf vegetable, bananas as far as fish, meat, sauce and spices. Fish and Chicken could not be any more fresh, since they can be inspected by potential buyers directly on-side and subsequently get slaughtered. The prices are in relation to western ones decidedly cheap.
The first market is located in the south of the south gate (南门) to the Old Town. Concretely in the middle of Lüyu Road (绿玉路). This one is the more calmer one, but also the smaller one of the both. On four rows under a vault iron construction stalls are stretching; sorted according to vegetables, fruits and meat. On the western edge smaller shops are connecting. Some sell prepared food, some more or less useful odds and ends. The works on the fields, the harvest so to speak, are taking place in the morning and starting with the early afternoon, sellers and their suppliers are gathering at the markets.
The second market in Dali is situated in the northwestern part of the Old Town. You find the Entrance at Pingdeng Road (平等路) corner Bo’ai Road (博爱路). It provides eight rows of longer distance plus stalls on the streets surrounding it. Probably about two times bigger than the other one. This does not necessarily mean, that the variety of offered goods is even more numerous. Perhaps in nuances. It is difficult to decide from which seller you want to buy from, because many are offering the same, if not exact same food.
You also find some sellers wearing the traditional clothing of the local Bai every now and then. The atmosphere seems to be similar at both places, even though the latter one appears slightly more hectic. Hygiene freaks here should either turn a blind eye or avoid the markets in general. Remains of meat, vegetables or other ones often times make their way to the ground; before the next selling day approaches they get rid of it though as good as possible. Anyway you will not find fresher food in Dali than here.