Kunming (昆明; Kūnmíng) is the capital of Yunnan Province in China. Known in China as the City of Eternal Spring, Kunming is at an almost-tropical latitude but with a 2000 m (6600 ft) altitude, which gives it a very temperate climate. However, in winter it has been known to snow, so if visiting in December–February, pack warm. Also, when it rains - it's cold.
The air is also quite clean compared to other Chinese cities, even though the traffic-congested streets still emit more than their fair share of pollution. The population of the prefecture of Kunming is now close to 10 million and the city is expanding rapidly, with numerous highways and modern buildings. Largely because of the fine climate, flower-growing is a major industry; tourist attractions include flower exhibits and auctions and a huge botanical garden.
In addition to its own charms, Kunming serves as a base from which to explore Yunnan province. Some routes to or from Kunming are described in Hong Kong to Kunming overland. The most popular route within Yunnan runs north and west from Kunming, and is described in Yunnan tourist trail. Kunming is also the jumping off point for trips to the tropical paradise area Xishuangbanna down in southern Yunnan near the Laotian border.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Kunming is one of the most important transport hubs of Southwest China. It is well connected to the rest of China by road, rail and air and also has good air links to Southeast Asia and a few outside the region, such as flights to Kolkata.
Some historic routes no longer exist. The old French-built railway to Vietnam is no longer in service, but a new railway along a similar route (Kuning to Hekou North 河口北), with regular passenger service, has been opened to replace it. There are also buses along that route, and a new bullet train link all the way to Singapore via Vientiane is perennially under discussion. The Burma Road, which terminated in Kunming, no longer exists but there are newer and better roads over much of that route and rail over some of it.
The area is known for the Yí (彝) people, an ethnic minority prevalent in and around Kunming. Especially at popular tourist sites, you may see people dressed in traditional Yi garb and selling handicrafts or showing off local dances.
Kunming is well connected to anywhere in China or Southeast Asia and reasonably easy to reach from outside that region.
1 Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG IATA). It receives flights from South-East Asian cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as well as plenty of domestic connections throughout China. There are also a few flights outside the region, such as Amsterdam Schiphol, Kolkata and Delhi. When flying into the airport, look out the window for beautiful terraces in the countryside near the city.
The new Changshui Airport is about 25 km north-east of the city area, and the old Wujiaba airport is no longer in use. Immigration can sometimes be congested. A taxi ride to the city centre will take approximately 30–40 minutes, at peak times you can expect to double this, as Kunming suffers major traffic congestion.
The airport is served by metro Line 6, which goes to the East Bus Station, where you can transfer to line 3 and the rest of the metro system (or catch a bus). The hours of operation for line 6 are from 07:00-19:00 daily. Trains are 5-10 minutes apart at peak times, and up to 30 minutes at other times. A ride to the central train station costs ¥6 as of June 2018. If taking the metro to the airport, make sure to get off at Airport Center/Kunming Airport station, not Airport Front.
Another transport option are shuttle buses named Airport Express. There are six lines with different operation times (~08:00-00:00 for most popular lines), single ride costs ¥25.
You can book air tickets from the Air China Office, Wallton Building, 448 Baoshan Jie (0871)3159171, from any number of travel agents in the King World Hotel a few blocks north of the train station on Beijing Lu, or from other agents around town. Tickets to Beijing are usually about ¥1600 to 2000, to Hong Kong about ¥1200 to 1500, with closer destinations getting ever cheaper as China's domestic carriers jostle for market share.
Two High Speed Rail lines come to the 3 Kunming South (Kunmingnan) Station which is 20 km southeast of downtown, in one of the city's newly developed areas, and is connected with the city center by a subway line. The two high-speed lines connect Kunming to Guangzhou (9 hr) via Nanning, and to Shanghai (11½-12 hr, as compared to around 40 hr on a "conventional" train) via Guiyang, Changsha, Nanchang, and Hangzhou. Some trains continue directly to other major destinations on China's high-speed rail network, including Beijing (12 hr), Wuhan, Nanjing, Fuzhou and Xiamen.
The train service to destinations inside of Yunnan is still fairly limited. From Kunming Station, there is an overnight sleeper train to Xiaguan (Dali New Town) and Lijiang. Another line (a new standard-gauge line) runs to Hekou (on the Vietnamese border, where one can cross the border and take a Vietnamese narrow-gauge train to Hanoi), via Jianshui and Mengzi. From the new Kunming South Station, one can go to cities along the Kunming-Nanning and Kunming-Guiyang high-speed line, or take a non-stop "commuter" train to Yuxi.
There are discussions underway about extending the Hekou line to Hanoi and possibly all the way to Singapore via Vientiane and Bangkok, but no final agreement on these proposals has yet been announced.
Kunming's third rail terminal, 4 Kunming North (Kunmingbei) Station, the main hub of Yunnan's formerly grand narrow-gauge network, is mostly of interests to rail fans. As of 2016, most of its building has been converted to a railway museum (see below), while the working passenger station occupies one of the rooms of the building. From there, 3 trains a day run to destinations within Kunming's metropolitan area, thus offering you an inexpensive way to ride a meter-gauge train.
All three stations are accessible by metro. If taking the metro to Kunming Railway Station, take Exit A from the metro station and follow the blue signs for "购票乘车" to get to the railway station.
Kunming has moved its bus stations to the edge of the city in a bid to decrease traffic congestion. There are four bus stations for each of the cardinal directions (N,S,E,W). The general rule of thumb is you should go to the bus station in the direction you want to travel (e.g. if you are headed to Dali or Lijiang you will need to use the West Bus Station (Xibu Keyun Zhan); or if you are headed to Jinghong or Jianshui or Vientiane (Laos) you will need the South Bus Station).
The bus stations next to the train station are no longer long-distance bus stations.
The long-distance buses are excellent - cheap, reliable, comfortable, however, overnight sleepers can be cold, bumpy and dirty, check out the bus before you buy the tickets. People smoke in the bus in China, which is a big problem if the weather is cold and all bus windows are closed.
There are international departures to Laos and Vietnam, though these services are not always running. The bus to Laos goes all the way from Kunming to Vientiane, and cost approximately 550,000 kip or US$80 and last 38 hours if you go all the way. You can get off at stops in between like Luang Prabang or Udomxai (Oudomxai), and the cost of the ticket is comparative. From Vientiene to Luang Prabang, there are also VIP night buses with reclining seats as well as several daily local buses. There is a better chance of getting the slightly more expensive sleeper if you book the day ahead. The buses will make rest stops at local restaurants with standard Lao squat toilets. From Vientiane to Luang Prabang is about 12 hours, from Luang Prabang to Udomsai is about 5 hours, and climbs up a mountain road with severe potholes and many scenic villages clinging to the side of the road. From Udomxai to Kunming, is claimed to be about 19 hours but leaves at 12:30 and arrives about 09:30 the next morning. The road on the China side of the border is several lanes wide with many tunnels and smooth pavement. There are many freelance money changers on the China side of the border; there is no bank or currency exchange at Kunming's South Bus Station.
The journey to Vietnam is less arduous. Buses to Hekou, the border city on the Chinese side, leave regularly. There were night buses which allow you to leave Kunming at 20:00 and arrive at Hekou in time to cross the border as soon as it opens, but the bus only needs 7 hours now so times might have changed. The bus station in Hekou is about 3 km from the border crossing, and public buses go there. From there, you can take one of the many buses to Sapa, bus or train to Hanoi, or elsewhere. To reach the Eastern bus station from the railway station, you can take bus 60 (¥2, ~30 min).
Kunming has generally good roads but they are often badly overloaded with traffic, and not only at peak times. By Western standards, the driving is often appalling; see Driving in China. For any journey by ground transport, a generous allowance for traffic delays is good planning.
The metro system consists of four lines, with more under construction. The metro operates from approximately 07:00 to 22:00, and fares are ¥2–10 depending on distance traveled. To buy a single-journey ticket card, select your destination on one of the ticket machines and insert the required cash. The machines give change, but only accept paper money—no coins, cards, WeChat, or Alipay. Swipe your ticket to enter the metro and insert it when you leave, similar to the Shanghai metro system.
Line 6 from the airport to eastern suburbs was the first line to go into service, followed by Line 1 and Line 2, which temporarily combined as one line run from south to north through the city center and via Kunming Railway Station. Line 3 is an east–west line connecting to Line 6.
English signage on the metro system is pretty good.
City buses costs ¥1-2 per trip and cover most of the city. They operate from about 06:00 until late evening 21:30/22:00! (from first stop, which means, if you go from last stop, you can get bus also at 23:00 going back to first stop). They stop at every stop along their assigned route, but not all bus routes stop at all physical bus stops! Don't be surprised to see a bus driving right past a stop, as it may not be on their route. Stops are usually 500 m to 1 km apart. Bus drivers are lead footed, and often race each other, especially on the ring roads. They tend to stop suddenly too, so get a good hand hold. Some of the bus stops are at the sides of the road but some bus stops are in the middle of the road and appear to have been designed to provide maximum inconvenience and danger for passengers. There have been reports of pickpockets on crowded buses, especially just before "Spring Festival", when people need extra cash. It is possible to get a bus card, which reduces the cost per trip to ¥0.90. The card itself costs ¥20 and is bought at bus stations. Bus Nos. 52 and 67 run to the airport and may cost ¥2 depending on the bus and hour. Also some other buses cost ¥2. These usually go longer distances such as to "villages" around Kunming. Bus routes are marked on some local maps (purchased from street vendors or kiosks) but are not always accurate. You can check the following Chinese only website (bus 10) but at least there is a map with the bus stop and you can quickly change bus number in the URL (this only works for regular bus, not c62 and the like).
Taxis start at ¥8. Make sure the driver uses the meter to avoid being scammed. Sometimes, taxi drivers will ask for a flat fee, but you should avoid this, because usually such flat fees are much more expensive than using the meter for rides within the city. As usual, care should be taken when traveling at night or long distances. Larger taxis cost more than smaller taxis. Also be aware that taxis are zoned and cannot access all areas. Don't be surprised if a taxi driver cannot take you to your destination as it may be outside their zone. Only certain taxis are allowed into the central areas at certain times. This is to allow all taxis a chance at the lucrative business areas. It is especially difficult to get a taxi around 18:30, when taxi shifts switch and drivers need to return their cars. A fuel tax of ¥3 has been added to fares and is explained on a small sign on the dashboards of all taxis. Thus for each ride you'll have to add ¥3 to the meter reading to calculate your actual fare.
Bicycles can be rented at some hostels for about ¥20 a day. There are bike lanes along the edges of many major roads and traffic generally moves fairly slowly. In addition, a scheme in the Dianchi (lakeside) area of town provides bicycle rental as a public service, similar to schemes in Paris and London. However, registration is a prerequisite and it is unclear how accessible the system is to foreigners, particularly short-stay tourists.
- 1 Kunming City Museum (昆明市博物馆; Kūnmíngshì Bówùguǎn), 93 Tuo East Road, Guandu District (官渡区拓东路93号; Guāndùqū Tuòdōnglù) (about 1 km east of Tangzixiang Station on Metro Line 2 and about 870 metres south of Tuodong Stadium Station on Metro Line 3. Bus routes 1, 62, 109, 117, 145, 213 and a1), ☏ . 09:30-17:00, no entry after 16:30. A simple museum whose main attraction is a central pillar taken from an old temple (now destroyed) and other relics from the Dian Kingdom (a tribute state of the Western Song dynasty). A large part of the museum is taken up by a series of shops selling fossils/minerals (many of the fossils are fakes) plus overpriced Chinese paintings, textiles, porcelains and some furniture. Free, including a tour.
- 2 Kunming Flying Tigers Memorial (昆明飞虎队纪念馆), 458 Beijing Road, Panlong District (盘龙区北京路458号) (about 200 m south of Dongfeng Square Station at the intersection of metro lines 2 and 3, directly opposite Chahua Park), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, no entry after 16:30. The Flying Tigers were fighter pilots — officially called the American Volunteer Group — who fought the Japanese in China through much of World War II, both before and after the US entered the war. Despite a whole range of problems, they shot down several hundred enemy planes. Kunming was one of their main bases. Free.
- 3 Kunming Zoology Museum (昆明动物博物馆; Kūnmíng Dòngwù Bówùguǎn), 32 Jiaochang East Road, Wuhua District (五华区教场东路32号; Jiāochángdōnglù) (in the north of Kunming between the first and second ring roads, approximately 600 m directly west of the Carrefour supermarket at the intersection of Longquan Road and Baiyun Road; bus routes 92, 115, 139, and 146 run close to the museum (92 and 146 are best as they stop outside the main entrance); or take routes 9, 10, 55, 59, 74, 84, 96, 129, 175 or z63 to the Xiaocaiyuan (小菜园) bus stop just south of Carrefour and walk from there), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Anybody interested in Yunnan's animals through the ages could spend a couple of hours here. The museum is adjacent to, and indeed shares a compound with, a university science campus. The exhibits are arranged on five floors starting with dinosaurs, fossils and skeletons on the ground floor and working up to a tropical rain forest replica on the uppermost floor. There are sections with preserved fish and amphibians, stuffed animals and preserved insects. The exhibits seem to concentrate on creatures that are, or were, to be found in Yunnan. Most exhibits are labelled in English and Chinese but the longer explanations and information boards are generally Chinese only. Overall it is a pleasant, clean, museum with the exhibits well presented and usually well lit. It is not really an interactive museum; there is plenty to point at and peer at but not much to do. There is a small table offering mementos for sale but otherwise no shop. Nor is there any onsite catering. ¥40.
- 4 Yunnan Art Museum (云南美术馆), 118 Wuyi Road, Wuhua District (五华区五一路118号) (near Exit A of the Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. Occupies the building where the Yunnan Provincial Museum (listed below) used to be. Free.
- 5 Yunnan Nationalities Museum (云南民族博物馆; Yunnan Minzu Bowuguan), 1503 Dianchi Road, Xishan District (西山区滇池路1503号) (on the north shore of Dianchi Lake; the nearest bus stop is Yunnan Nationalities Village (云南民族村), which is served by bus routes 24, 44, 73, 94, 135, 165, 184, 233, a1, a9), ☏ . Tu-Su 09:00-16:30. Free.
- 6 Yunnan Provincial Museum (云南省博物馆; Yúnnánshěng Bówùguǎn), 6393 Guangfu Road, Guandu District (官渡区广福路6393号) (about 2 km southwest of Xingyao Road Station on Metro Line 1; catch bus no. z84 from the station if you don't want to walk), ☏ (general enquiries), (exhibition enquiries), (tickets), (group bookings). Tu-Su 09:00-17:00, no entry after 16:30. A large museum containing artifacts from the past 2,500 years. The items presented are reasonably well lit and the interior is amazing. A slow stroll through the museum may take two hours. Descriptions are mainly given in Chinese. The permanent exhibitions are on the two upper floors, while the ground floor hosts temporary exhibitions. Free.
- 7 Yunnan Railway Museum (云南铁路博物馆; Yúnnán Tiělù Bówùguǎn), Kunming North Railway Station, 913 Beijing Road, Panlong District (盘龙区北京路913号火车北站; Pánlóngqū Běijīnglù Huǒchēběizhàn) (Section 1 is in the main railway station building, Section 2 is 500 m to the east of the railway station; Kunming North Railway Station can be reached by metro train on Line 2; the metro station is on the south side of the railway station), ☏ . W-Su 09:00-16:00.
- 8 Yunnan University Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology (云南大学伍马瑶人类学博物馆), Yunnan University, 2 Cuihu North Road, Wuhua District (五华区翠湖北路2号云南大学) (just south of the main university gate on Beimen Street (北门街); bus nos. 92, 139 and 187 stop near here), ☏ . Reportedly closed during the university's summer and winter vacation periods. Fascinating museum with an impressive collection of minority and Han artifacts from around Yunnan. Highlights include painted wooden torso armor of the Yi people, fearsome warriors of a traditionally caste society who historically controlled the mountainous region between Sichuan and Yunnan and whose queen was instrumental in negotiating the entry in to Yunnan of the Mongol Horde at the dawn of the Yuan Dynasty, ushering in the first real period of Han control thus beginning the widespread Sinification in Yunnan province. Unfortunately the showy modern glass presentation makes photography of some artifacts rather difficult. Free.
- 9 Daguan Pavilion (大观楼; Dàguānlóu; lit. Grand View Pavilion), 284 Daguan Road, Xishan District (西山区大观路284号) (inside Daguan Park (大观公园; Dàguān Gōngyuán); bus routes 4, 22, 52, 95, 100, 104, 124, 131, 262, 258, z13 and z39), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 07:00-19:00. Daguan Park in the western part of Kunming races the Dianchi Lake in the south and the Western Mountains in the west. The pavilion, with a history of more than three hundred years, is a three-floor square structure with flying eaves and golden-lacquered ornamentation. The top floor of the pavilion provides an all-embracing view of the vast Dianchi Lake and the peaks of the Western Mountains. A 180-character couplet is hanging down the pavilion, which is lauded as the number one couplet past and present. The park is the most fascinating garden in urban Kunming. ¥20.
- 10 Fulintang Drugstore (Bi'anguo Branch) (福林堂(彼岸国药店)), 31 Guanghua Street, Wuhua District (五华区光华街31号) (at the corner of Guanghua Street and Wenming Street; about 540 metres from Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3; the nearest bus stop is Weiyuan Street (威远街), which is served by bus routes 133 and 189), ☏ . Opened in 1857, this is the oldest established drugstore in Kunming. The traditional style building has remained largely unchanged since the 19th century and has been included on China's national heritage list.
- 11 Guandu Ancient Town (官渡古镇), Guandu District (官渡区) (bus routes 31, 165, 169, 174, 185, 186, 232, 253, 255, 908, a12, c143, c85, d28, k15 and k42; the nearest metro station is Xingyao Road Station on Metro Line 1, which is about 1.3 km from the town), ☏ , . Open all day. An historic town that was founded during the Tang Dynasty and was once part of the kingdoms of Nanzhao and Dali. A number of old buildings are preserved here, including several temples. Free.
- 12 Kunming Pump House (昆明自来水厂泵房旧址), 6 Cui Hu East Road, Wuhua District (五华区翠湖东路6号) (inside the park's east gate, which is on the southeast side of the park; visitors walking through the gate will see the museum about 100 m directly ahead of them. There is a bus stop just south of the east gate, which is served by bus routes 100, 101, 124, 133, 235 and z5), ☏ . W-Su 09:30-16:30. As a result of droughts parching Yunnan, the reservoirs surrounding Kunming are of vital importance. The specter of Kunming's taps suddenly running dry is of great concern for residents. The two-room "History Museum of Kunming Water Supply" (昆明市自来水历史博物馆) is inside the Green Lake Park, and is housed in the building that once pumped 1,000 m³ of water daily from Green Lake's spring-fed Nine Dragon Pond (九龙池) and along a 9.5-km network of municipal water pipes. The pump station was completed in 1917 and started operating in 1918. It continued to be used until 1957. The current museum still contains what appear to be the two original French-made electric water pumps, along with a small collection of old photos and other curios, such as tokens that could be used to buy water from any of the more than 50 public water taps that were part of the system. Free.
- 13 National Southwestern Associated University Site (国立西南联合大学旧址), Yunnan Normal University, 298 Yi Er Yi Street, Wuhua District (五华区一二一大街298号云南师范大学校园内) (the nearest bus stop is the Yunnan Normal University bus stop, which is served by bus routes 10, 22, 55, 64, 65, 84, 96, 111, 205 and 244), ☏ . Open all day. The National Southwestern Associated University was a wartime amalgamation of Peking University, Tsinghua University and Nankai University. It was established in Changsha in 1937 following the occupation of university campuses in Beijing and Tianjin by Japanese forces and was originally known as the Changsha Temporary University. In 1938, the university relocated to this site in Kunming following heavy air raids on Changsha and continued to operate here until the end of the war. The site, which is now part of Yunnan Normal University, is a national level heritage site and is open to the public. Free.
- 14 Yunnan Military Academy (云南陆军讲武堂旧址), 22 Cui Hu West Road, Wuhua District (五华区翠湖西路22号) (near the west gate of Green Lake Park; nearby bus stops include the Provincial Library (省图书馆), which is served by bus routes 125 and 133 and the Science and Technology Museum (科技馆), which is served by bus routes 100, 101, 124, 133, 235 and z5), ☏ . Tu-Su 08:00-17:00 (academy), 09:00-17:00 (museum). The Yunnan Military Academy is a historic military academy that was founded in 1909 during the final years of the Qing Dynasty. It continued to operate after the Xinhai Revolution (1911) and was one of the most important military academies in China up until its closure in 1935. A number of prominent Communist military leaders received their training here. A museum at the site explains the history. The museum is in three sections with bilingual information boards and artefact labels. Free.
- 15 Zhu De's Former Residence (朱德旧居), 4 Honghua Lane (红花巷4号) and 3 Xiaomeiyuan Lane (小梅园巷3号), Wuhua District (五华区) (about 400 m east of Green Lake Park's east gate. The nearest bus stop is Luofeng Street (螺峰街), which is served by bus nos. 92, 125 and 187), ☏ . 09:00-18:00. Zhu De (1886-1976) was one of the Communist Party's most revered political and military leaders in the 20th century. Most notably, he was the Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army during both the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War. He also held the position of Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army during the Korean War. This residence was Zhu De's home from 1921 to 1922. It is now a museum with exhibits on Zhu De's life. Free.
- 16 Qiongzhu Temple (筇竹寺; Qióngzhúsì; lit. Bamboo Temple), Heizhu Highway, Yu'an Mountain, Xishan District (西山区玉案山黑筇公路; Xīshān Qū Yùàn Shān Hēizhú Gōnglù) (on the south side of Jiaoye Park (郊野公园). Bus routes C61, C62 and C63; bus C62 departs from a bus stop on Kunzhou Road (昆州路) just south of the West Bus Station, which is accessible via Metro Line 3), ☏ . 08:30-17:00. An amazing work of art hidden in a temple several kilometers up in the mountains encircling Kunming. For the most part, it is a normal temple, but in one room, there is a series of sculptures that is an incredible work of art. A mixture of life-like figures in totally fantastical positions (man whose eyebrows grow down to the floor, monks riding giant fish), this is some trippy artwork that is worth the trip. ¥10.
- 17 Tanhua Temple (昙华寺; Tánhuàsì; also known as Tanhua Nunnery 昙华庵), 533 Tanhua Road, Panlong District (盘龙区光明路昙华路533号; Pánlóngqū Guāngmínglù) (at the foot of Tuiying Mountain in the eastern outskirts of Kunming City, about 4 km from the city centre; bus routes 132 and z99 stop outside the south gate; you can catch bus z99 just outside Exit B of the Jinma Temple metro station on Line 3), ☏ . 07:00-17:00. Built in 1634. According to historical records, before the temple was erected, there had been a thatched shack where Shi Shiqiao, a scholar of the Ming Dynasty, buried himself in books. Shi Tai, grandson of Shi Shiqiao, donated the estate for the shack whereon the temple was built.
In the backyard there was an epiphyllum tree, which is called tanhua in Chinese, hence the name. The temple went through many renovations during the Qing Dynasty. It is well-known for its flowers and plants. It has been a scenic spot for more than three hundred years, and an epitome of Kunming, the Flower City of the Southern Frontier. The epiphyllum tree was planted in the side court of the depository of Buddhist Scriptures. There is a stone tablet on which four characters are carved The Epiphyllum Brings Luck. After the erection of the temple, the original epiphyllum withered and died. The epiphyllum now standing taller than the eaves of the temple sprang from the root of the original one at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, and is about 300 years old. It bursts into flowers in mid-summer. The big loquat tree in the backyard is said to have been planted in the early Ming Dynasty.
In the South Garden there are flowers and rockeries with winding paths among the flowers and the zigzagging corridor surround the Lotus Pond, where you can watch fish. The East Garden is shaded by tall cedars and cypresses and include seven smaller gardens and a Children's Playground.
The old temple has resumed its original grandeur. It has become one of the most famous scenic spots in Kunming. Free.
- 18 Yuantong Temple (圆通寺; Yuántōngsì), 42 Yuantong Street, Wuhua District (五华区圆通街42号) (at the foot of Yuantong Hill in the northern part of Kunming; to the south of Kunming Zoo. Bus routes 4, 59, 74, 83, 100, 101, 129, 234 and a2), ☏ . 06:00-24:00. With a history of more than 1,200 years, Yuantong Temple is the grandest and most important Buddhist temple in Yunnan Province. King Yimouxun of the Nanzhao Kingdom built the temple in late eighth century. The restorations from the Qing Dynasty onward has not changed the unique mixed architectural style of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties.
Unlike all other Buddhist temples, you enter Yuantong Temple from above and descend along a gently sloping garden path. A memorial archway with four Chinese characters is standing halfway. The temple complex is built around Yuantong Hall, which is surrounded by a very large pond. A delicate stone bridge which has an elegant octagonal pavilion stands in the center and connects the hall and the temple entrance. The pavilion is connected to the rest of the complex by various bridges and walkways.
Sakymuni, Amitabha and the Medicine Buddha, all Yuan Dynasty statues, are found in the main hall. The surrounding 500 Buddhist Arhats which are carved in the walls are noted for their perfect proportions and lively appearances. Also in this temple hall are two ten metre high pillars from the Ming Dynasty, each engraved with a dragon trying to extend their bodies and claws into the air. Outside, on each side of the main hall, there are stone staircases carved out of the mountainside and wind their way to the top of the hill. There are ancient inscriptions along the way and various stone artworks considered the most important historical relics in Kunming. From the top of the stairs, you are presented with a terrific panoramic view of the entire complex. In 1982, Thai Buddhists sent a 3.5 metre copper statue of Sakymuni, which is now placed in the Copper Buddha Hall combining Chinese and Tai styles.
Surrounding the temple pond are a series of halls where you will find old women praying, people sitting and chatting, ongoing classes in Buddhist scriptures, a magnificent calligraphy studio, an exhibit of temple photographs, a temple shop, a restaurant and more.
Yuantong Temple is a real working temple. Buddhists from many different countries come here on pilgrimages to pay homage. There are special Buddhist services twice each month, and the Buddhist Association of Yunnan Province is also here, making it a centre of Buddhism in Yunnan. ¥6.
- 19 Zhenqing Temple (真庆观), 82 Tuodong Road, Panlong District (盘龙区拓东路82号) (700 m west of Tangzi Lane Station on Metro Line 2; the nearest bus stop is Baita Road Intersection (白塔路口), which is served by bus nos. 1, 62, 109, 117, 145, 213, a1 and a2), ☏ . 08:00-17:30. Kunming's largest and most important Taoist temple. Free.
Other cultural sights
- 20 Yunnan Nationalities Village (云南民族村; Yúnnán Mínzúcūn), 1310 Dianchi Road, Xishan District (西山区滇池路1310号; Diānchílù) (near Dianchi Lake; bus routes 24, 44, 73, 94, 135, 165, 184, 233, a1, a9), ☏ (enquiries), (emergencies), (complaints), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-18:30. Covering an area of about 133.3 ha. An ethnographic display of the architecture and ways of life of Yunnan's minority populations. Adult ¥90, child 6-18 ¥45, seniors 60-70 ¥45, seniors over 70 free.
Parks and nature
- 21 Baohai Park (宝海公园), 121 Baohai Road, Guandu District (官渡区宝海路121号) (Northeast of the Kunming International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Bus routes 122 and k52), ☏ . 08:00-19:00. The park covers an area of 250 mu (16.67 hectares) and is one of Kunming's largest modern parks. It features camphor, azaleas and other native plants. ¥5.
- 22 Black Dragon Pool Park (黑龙潭公园; Hēilóng Tán Gōngyuán), 1 Lan'an Road, Panlong District (盘龙区蓝桉路1号) (take bus no. 249 from the Longtou Street Station on Metro Line 2), ☏ . 08:00-18:00. Black Dragon Pool Park is a rare large garden, is the Kunming plum resort, known as the" Longquan exploration plum". The" Tang Mei" legend from Nanzhao transplant, with the tranquility Caoxi Temple" Yuan Mei" is considered to be Yunnan's most precious Gu Mei. The park features trees that are rare, not only because of their scarcity in the area, but also for their astounding age and size. Entry is pricey at ¥20 per person per day;.
- 23 Dianchi Lake (滇池湖 (Diānchíhú); also known as Kunming Lake or Kunming Pond or Dian Pond). Plateau lake with improving scenery. Historically the a pearl on the Yungui Plateau, the ecosystem was severely damaged in the 1960s by conversion of wetland into farmland. Great efforts are made starting from the 1990s to reverse this damage. Today the northern tip of the lake is gated by a series of causeways. Trawlers are working around the clock to purify the water. The best places to see the lake are along 24 Guanjing Road (观景路) and 25 Haigeng Park (海埂公园) near the Yunnan Nationalities Village (listed above). Here you can see tourists holding up snacks to feed flyby seagulls, oppposite of the lake here is the Western Mountain. The lake proper is 40 by 8 km and is 1,886 m above sea level. It is the largest lake in Kunming. Traditional fishing boats still sail on the lake.
- 26 Green Lake Park (翠湖公园, Cuì Hú Gōngyuán), 67 Cui Hu South Road, Wuhua District (五华区翠湖南路67号) (near Yunnan University in the north western part of town; bus routes 100, 101, 124, 133, 235 and z5 stop at the park's east and south gates), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 07:00-23:00. A pleasant, smallish expanse of park and lake that serves as a mellow hang-out. Musicians sometimes practice along the paths. Plenty of goldfish and lotus plants can be seen. In the mornings it is a popular place for people to perform their morning exercises. During December and January many seagulls arrive in the region and in the mornings many people feed the birds or photograph them as they swoop past to catch the thrown food. There are a number of restaurants and tea shops near the lake and the northern edge is close to Wenlin Street where there are many restaurants. Free.
- 27 Jindian Park (昆明金殿公园; Kūnmíng Jīndiàn Gōngyuán; lit. Kunming Golden Temple Park. Other names include Jindian National Forest Park 金殿国家森林公园 and Jindian Scenic Area 金殿名胜区), Chuanjin Road, Panlong District (盘龙区穿金路) (on Mingfeng Mountain, 7 km northeast of Kunming, a taxi is around ¥20 and takes 20 minutes, buses 10, 47, 50, 57, 69, 71, 76, 142, 146, 147, 235, z85 and z90 go there as well), ☏ . 07:30-18:00. The park, sprawling for more than 133.3 hectares on the Mingfeng Mountain, is a national forest reserve comprising natural scenery mingled with sites of historical interest and man-made gardens. Some 12% of the surface are lakes or ponds. On the Mingfeng Mountain stands the exquisite and serene Golden Temple, 6.7 meters in height and 7.8 meters in width, and cast of 250 tons of solid bronze. It is the largest bronze hall in China. ¥50 to visit this park only. A combo ticket, which includes entry to both this park and the World Horti-Expo Garden as well as a return trip on the cable car connecting the two places, may be purchased for ¥130.
- 28 Jingxing Street Flower and Bird Market (景星街花鸟市场; Jǐngxīng Jiē Huāniǎo Shìchǎng), Jingxing Street, Wuhua District (五华区景星街) (very central and situated within the area bounded by Dongfeng West Road (东风西路) to the south, Wuyi Road (五一路) to the west, Renmin West Road (人民西路) to the north and Zhengyi Road (正义路) to the east; close to the Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3). If purchasing cute little puppy dogs, live crickets, birds, live bird food, tortoises and other things creepy, crawly and/or fluffy is your thing then it is here to be had... along with a few flowers and a great many trinkets. The most obvious stalls begin where Wuyi Road meets Dongfeng West Road but other sellers can be found on other streets within the district.
- 29 Kunming Botanical Gardens (昆明植物园; Kūnmíng Zhíwùyuán), 132 Lanhei Road, Panlong District (盘龙区蓝黑路132号) (take bus no. 249 from the Longtou Street Station on Metro Line 2; get off at the Black Dragon Pool Park), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su 09:00-17:00. These gardens are 12 km from Kunming proper and, together with the Black Dragon Pool Park (黑龙潭公园), constitute a national scenic area. The gardens have introduced precious flowers, traditional medicinal herbs, important trees and endangered plants of the province. Also they have cultivated many plants for domestication and the protection of their migration. The gardens have collected some 4,000 species of plants and established 10 special plant gardens and experimental districts. The camellia garden is unique in the country and has collected 40 species of camellias. Yunnan Province boasts more than 100 species of camellia. These gardens were one of the earliest gardens to collect the cedar. ¥10 (West Garden), ¥5 (East Garden).
- 30 Kunming Zoo (昆明动物园; Kūnmíng Dòngwùyuán), 92 Qingnian Road, Wuhua District (五华区青年路92号) (a few hundred metres north east of Green Lake and a few hundred metres east of Yunnan University; buses 4, 59, 74, 83, 100, 101, 129, 234 and a2 go to Yuantong Hill on the southeast side of the zoo; buses 4, 22, 59. 74, 83, 100, 101, 129, 234, a2 and z63 go to the north entrance), ☏ . 07:30-18:30, no entry to large animal section after 16:30. The Zoo was built in 1953 and has over 300 species. There is a peacock garden, butterfly enclosure, aviary and aquarium. In spring the zoo is reputed to be a sea of flowers, in particular the blossom of cherry trees and weeping Chinese crab apple trees. Overall the zoo is a pleasant enough place but with a slight air of weariness and decay about it. Local people also use it as a place for performing exercise or playing cards and mahjong. ¥20 for general entry with a further ¥80 for the circus.
- 31 Western Mountains Forest Reserve / Xishan Scenic Area (西山森林公园 Xīshān Sēnlín Gōngyuán), Xishan District (西山区) (the easiest way to get here would probably be to catch a metro train to the Western Mountains Forest Reserve Station on Line 3; you can also take a cable car here from behind the Kunming Nationalities Village; the cable car fare is ¥40 for a one-way ride or ¥70 for a round trip; you can trek down from the mountain if you want to save money), ☏ . M-F 08:30-17:00, Sa Su 08:00-17:30. The forest reserve on the west bank of the Dianchi Lake consists of the Huating, Taihua and Luohan Mountains, which extend for more than 40 km at an altitude of 2,500 m. This is a colossal natural forest reserve, its lofty chain of mountains crisscrossed by gurgling brooks and streams. Ancient trees heap up rich piles of foliage, and birds warble and flutter in the midst of fragrant flowers. Viewed from the southeast corner of Kunming, the entire forest reserve looks like a beautiful maiden reclining leisurely by the Dianchi Lake, her long hair quivering in the limpid water. Hence the nickname of the Western Mountains Forest Reserve peak, Sleeping Beauty. Entry to the park is free but there is a fee to enter the Dragon Gate (see below).
- 32 Dragon Gate (龙门, Longmen) (the cable car mentioned above terminates near the gate; you can get here by foot as well). The Dragon Gate is the most famous sight here, it is built on the steep rock hills, which was cut in the years from 1781. On March 3, every lunar year, hundreds of Kunming people crowd up to the hills for celebrating their traditional distinguished gathering called Spring Touring, dancing and singing on the green western hills. Entrance to the Dragon Gate is an additional ¥30, a golf cart ¥12.5, and the lift for ¥25.
- 33 World Horti-Expo Garden (世界园艺博览园), 10 Shibo Road, Panlong District (盘龙区世博路10号) (bus routes 47, 69, 71, 182, 204, 228, 235, 249, a12, a1, k18 and k43), ☏ . 08:00-17:00. The garden was constructed for the 1999 Kunming International Horticulture Exposition but is still in use and displays a wide variety of plants. It attracts many locals who can buy annual tickets at a fraction of the cost charged to foreigners, and is a popular site for wedding photographs. ¥70 to visit this park only. A combo ticket, which includes entry to both this park and the World Horti-Expo Garden as well as a return trip on the cable car connecting the two places, may be purchased for ¥130.
- 34 Yunnan Wildlife Park (云南野生动物园, Yunnan Zoo), Chuanjin Road, Panlong District (盘龙区穿金路) (bus routes 235, 241 and 249; you can catch bus 249 from Fengyuan Road (沣源路), just outside the Longtou Street Station on Metro Line 2), ☏ , . 09:00-17:30, no entry after 16:30. ¥100.
- 1 Kunming Theater (昆明剧院; Kūnmíng Jùyuàn), 410 Qingnian Road, Wuhua District (五华区青年路410号; Wǔhuáqū Qīngniánlù) (about 630 metres walk from Jiaolan Bridge Station on Metro Line 2 and about 690 metres walk from Dongfeng Square Station at the intersection of Lines 2 and 3; buses that stop near the theater include bus nos. 1, 4, 50, 56, 77, 78, 83, 91, 112, 129, 133, 161, 189, 234 and a2), ☏ .
- 2 Yunnan Art Theater (云南艺术剧院), 132-134 Dongfeng West Road, Wuhua District (五华区东风西路132-134号; Wǔhuáqū Dōngfēngxīlù) (about 300 metres northwest of Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3; bus routes 5, 10, 26, 52, 66, 82, 84, 98, 116, 124 and k13), ☏ . 19:00-21:30.
- 3 Sunshine Golf Club (昆明阳光高尔夫俱乐部), 6km Kunming-Qujing Highway, Panlong District (盘龙区昆曲高速公路6公里处) (the nearest bus stop is a few hundred metres southwest of the golf club at the Xilunanjun Housing Estate (溪麓南郡小区), which is served by bus no. 150; you can catch bus no. 150 from Fengyuan Road (沣源路) near the North Bus Station Metro Station - the terminus of Line 2. Alternatively catch a taxi from the station; the distance from the station to the golf club is about 4 km), ☏ , fax: , .
- China Kunming International Art Festival (中国昆明国际艺术节). Three weeks in April/May. Annual festival with music, dance and art.
Day trips and excursions
- 4 Stone Forest (石林; Shílín), 70 km southeast of Kunming, about 2 hours by bus from Kunming East Bus station. This is a UNESCO listed site of remarkable karst geography. Good weekend or day trip and lots to see. Visit early to avoid crowds.
- 5 Jiuxiang Scenic Area (昆明九乡风景区; Kūnmíng Jiǔxiāng Fēngjǐngqū), about 65 km east of Kunming (beeline). This scenic area is 20 km² and includes five tourist attractions, Diehong Bridge (5 km southeast from Jiuxiang Street, famous for the karst caves, the twin waterfalls and the huge natural stone dam cluster), Dasha Dam (consisting of picturesque karst caves and thick forest), Sanjiao Cave (5 km north of Jiuxiang Street, famous for the karst caves), Alu Long [a scenic area 6 km west of Jiuxiang Street, famous for the excavated Yi Nationality cliff paintings of Qin (221BC-206BC) and Han (206BC-220AD) dynasties] and Mingyue (meaning the bright moon) Lake. Jiuxiang is known as the museum of karst caves, which boasts its caves as the largest in scale and number (there are about a hundred karst caves) and has the most wonderful in-cave scenes in China. The caves in Jiuxiang fall into four cave clusters: Sanjiao Cave, Dashang Cave, Diehong Cave and Dasha Dam Cave. 66 out of the numerous caves in the area are profitably exploitable and the karst cave cluster is the largest of its kind on Yunnan-Guizhou plateau. The caves in the area are praised for their grandeur, wonder grotesquerie and natural beauty. Jiuxiang, the birthplace of the aboriginal Yi ethnic people, has a strong minority custom color, a long cultural history, and widely spread old myths and tales. These include Hunting Festival, the Worship the White Dragon Festival, Love Song Contest, Bullfighting, Wrestling, Sanxian Dance (Sanxian is a three-stringed plucked instrument), Rattle Stick Dance and so on. Tourists should take enough clothes since they may get wet in boats when they visit the karst caves and the gorges. The folk songs and dances and the local food are also special. What is more, Yangzonghai Lake Scenic Spot and Little White Dragon Forest Park are not far from Jiuxiang Scenic Spot. Tourists can take buses at the gate of the Jiuxiang to go there.
- Dinosaur Valley at Lufeng opened at 2008. This is a national park displaying more than 70 full dinosaur skeleton fossils found in the area, scattered over the mountains about 75 km away from Kunming. Many attractions for kids available. Regular buses go from Kunming's West bust terminal. Very nice for a half-day trip. Entry ¥120.
- Earth Forest. The Earth Forest in Yuanmou County in Chuxiong Prefecture is a scenic spot at the provincial level. Earth Forest, as a representative landscape in the county, comprises Xinhua, Bangguo, Wanbao and Tiger Leaping Beach, covering an area of 50 km². The Earth Forest came into being since geological movement and soil erosion one or two million years ago. Its shape looks like an immense forest and the main component is earth, so it is named Earth Forest. The Earth Forest, the Stone Forest in Kunming and the Colorful Sand Forest in Luliang are called “the Three Forests in Yunnan”.
- Outdoor Equipment. As elsewhere in bigger cities close to mountainous regions, you can buy fairly good quality fake and overrun outdoor and camping gear in Kunming. See our China article for background. Shops can be found in a courtyard at 20 Dongfeng East Road and on Baoshan Street close to the central square, as well as in the enormous garment district on the South Ring Road between the moat and Carrefour shopping centre (check basement and top stories, no self-respecting counterfeit vendor would sell on the main floor of a building). Bargain hard.
- Local minority souvenirs, jade, Flower and bird market (refer to See section for directions).
- Equipment for Chinese games, Flower and bird market (refer to See section for directions). In particular, Yunnan stones (云子) Yúnzǐ for the game of Go (Chinese: weiqi 围棋) are the best Chinese stones. They are quite different from Japanese stones, and much cheaper; see the Yunzi article on the go players' wiki, Sensei's Library. It is also possible to visit the factory (Chinese-only web site) near Kunming. Boards and bowls are also available.
- Mandarin Bookstore, 52 Wenhua Lane 9-10 (end of Wenlin Road, past the police station and turn right). Has some English, French and German books. Has the Lonely Planet China guidebook, which is generally hard to find in China.
- Xinhua Bookstore (in Zhenchi Rd, just south of Xiyuan Rd / Yongxing Rd (about a block outside of the South and West Ring Road)). A typical large (2-storey) bookstore of the national Xinhua chain. A decent map section, with some local area maps available right near the entrance. There is a large space with chairs and tables to sit down and read, or to use your laptop.
- Computer street (near Zoo north entrance, bus 83 from railway station). If you need some IT stuff. Pay attention to counterfeit, and whether international warranty is available.
- Bicycles and accessories, A couple dozen of bicycle stores are concentrated within a couple blocks on the South Ring Road, just east from Zhenchi Lu. (Which means, a few blocks west of the Carrefour store). As of 2016, the stores are all next to each other, on the north side of the street, and carry bicycles priced from ¥300-3000, as well as spare parts and accessories. Bicycles and some accessories are also sold in Wal-Mart and Carrefour stores around town. (refer to See Section for directions).
Local specialties include:
- Over-the-Bridge Rice Noodles (过桥米线; guòqiáo mǐxiàn) is a typical Yunnan local flavor that could only be tasted in some parts of Yunnan. This famous dish consists of several courses and a big bowl of chicken soup with very thick oil on top to keep the heat for cooking the food items, including raw pork, cooked chicken pieces, pork liver, slices of squid and slices of carp for the first course to be dipped into the boiling hot soup. Vegetables are then added afterwards as the second course, and the rice noodles follow as the last course. It is a kind of snack food in Yunnan.
- The name supposedly comes from a husband who isolated himself in a garden for intensive study before his civil service exam; this is the dish his loving wife prepared, and carried over the bridge, to sustain him.
- Steam Potted Chicken (汽锅鸡 qìguō jī) with Tienchi & Steam Potted Chicken with Cordyceps used to be made in a restaurant famous for this course. Later they created a new variety with gastrodia tuber in the soup, becoming one of the well known local nutritious dishes in Kunming. Early in the Qianlong Era of the Qing Dynasty, the steam potted chicken became popular among the common people. Jianshui County has a long history in producing the best pottery ware in Yunnan. Pots produced in this county has different shapes and forms. The steam pot has a hollow tube fixed in the center, up to the height of the pot. Food including the raw chicken pieces, ginger, salt and so forth are put around the tube and the pot is placed onto a bigger pot with boiling water underneath. Steam will come up from the small hole in the middle to heat the food in the pot. The Chicken will be ready in 3-4 hours. The same method is used to cook other food and will increase the flavor of the dish.
- Yiliang Roasted Duck (宜良烤鸭 Yílíang kǎoyā) - The "Goujie Roasted Duck" produced in the Goujie Street of Yiliang is extraordinarily delicious, with the crispy and yellowish skin, soft and tender duck meat, has a special slight flavor of pine needles.
- Xuanwei Ham (宣威火腿 Xuānwēi huǒtuǐ) dates back to 1727. Xuanwei ham won a prize at the Panama Fair in 1915. In 1923, Mr. Sun Zhongshan wrote an inscription "Yin He Shi De" (which means "eat properly for a sound mind") for Xuanwei ham and taste it at a food competition held in Guangzhou. Xuanwei ham has been selling well to Southeastern Asia and European countries. As a rule, the Xuanwei ham is processed during the winter. Select the best pork leg and press out the pork blood completely. Rub it with salt and smoke or air it dry after the salt permeates to a certain depth of the pork. Try to test the pork leg in three when the surface of the pork turn in green. The quality standard is to have the ham fragrance from three needles punched in the pork. Cut the ham open from the middle, it looks bright in color and has a clean fresh color. It can be preserved well in cellar with low moisture or in a warehouse with good air conditioning. Xuanwei ham can be bought from any big or small stores. If not convenient for travelling, it is possible to buy canned Xuanwei ham.
- Er Kuai (饵块, ěrkuài) is a chewy rice cake made from steamed rice, which is pounded, kneaded, and rolled into various shapes. The resulting cakes are used in a number of dishes: thinly-sliced erkuai stir-fried with fragrant spicy hot sauce and pork (chao er kuai), cut into square noodles served with gravy (lu er si) or in soup, or rolled into pancakes which are then wrapped around a youtiao (Chinese donut stick) with a sweet or spicy sauce (er kuai bao you tiao), an addictive street snack.
- Red Re-fried Beans are a local favorite, consisting (as the name implies) of a red bean re-fried, often in some mixture of flour and powdered chicken broth and meat tenderizer. A succulent addition to any traditional meal.
- Sweet Tonghai Peapowder Candy is a famous traditional snack. It is very easy to get it from any store and shopping stand. The ingredients of the sweet are quality white sugar, rice cerealose, and roasted pea powder (broad bean or pea).
- Qujing Pickled Chives Flower was first produced in the Guanxu Year of the Qing Dynasty. Main ingredients include chives flower, salt, wine, chili, and brown sugar.
- Sweet Pickled Kaiyuan Chinese Onion - Kaiyuan is a place in the south Yunnan and it is famous for its delicious sweet pickled Chinese onion. It is made of the Chinese onion, salt, chili, brown sugar, wine. After being sealed in a jar for three months, it is ready. It tastes crispy and slightly sweet.
- Smoked Smelly Bean Curd is one of the popular snacks found in the night snack market in Kunming. Quality Bean Curd is used as the raw material and it is smoked over a charcoal fire. If you have chance to be at the night snack market in Kunming, remember to experience it yourself.
- The Eight Treasures of Yunnan - Of all the well-known Yunnan cakes, the Eight Treasures of Yunnan comes first. It is packed in eight small pieces. It consists of one hard-skin cake, a ham-stuffed moon part, two crispy white parts stuffed with puree and two crispy parts stuffed with sesame, peanuts, mushroom and rutabaga pickle.
- Wild Mushrooms (菌子 junzi)
- Old lady potatoes with peppers and fennel (老奶洋芋 laonai yangyu)
- Fried goats cheese (rubing), sometimes served with sugar or black pepper and salt. On the street, girls dressed in Dali minority costumes offer rubing with Hershey's chocolate, rose flavor, and condensed milk. Occasionally mixed in with green beans.
- Local barbeque - at night, street vendors set up charcoal grills to barbeque potatoes, zucchinis, pork, chicken, beef on skewers - all sprinkled liberally with powdered local chili. The taste is excellent and incredibly spicy - typically pay ¥1-2 per skewer for a great street meal.
- Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐 chòu dòufu) - although not strictly a local specialty, this is a favorite among Chinese everywhere. Although it is certainly an acquired taste, it should not be missed.
- Muslim vendors can be found hawking granola-bar type snacks in the older part of town north of the train station. A tough but tasty treat sold by the kilo, the vendor will chop a piece off a huge nut- and honey-filled cake, and make bars or squares as you like.
Many restaurants in Kunming offer localized food delivery. One particularly convenient restaurant delivery service in Kunming is called Lazy Bones Home Delivery. They deliver food for restaurants like Daddy's Diner all over Kunming. Unfortunately they charge a small fee. You can find them on the web or call ☏.
For breakfast, try one of the stands or carts selling ¥1 steamed buns and other cheap food.
- Heavenly Manna (吗哪; Mǎnǎ), 74 Wenhua Alley, Wenlin Street (文林街文化巷74号; Wénlínjiē Wénhuàxiàng) (next to Salvadors), ☏ . Yunnan style restaurant in the very trendy and fashionable Wenlin Street area. Fantastic food at reasonable prices. The drinks are less than ¥10. The cakes are also worth trying.
- Yuanxi Lu (员西路) (next to the zoo). A street full of small restaurants and shops. There's a good place hidden behind an entrance with a small Chinese-style roof on top, selling chou doufu in the entrance. One shop to the left you can try pork brain or just some tasty dumplings. On the opposite side of the street there's a Dai minority restaurant. You can recognize it by its bamboo-style walls.
- Insane Wontons (疯狂馄饨) (near YunDa North Gate; YuanXiLu 圆西路86; across from the YuanTong Movie Theatre, there is also one near the Hump at 人民中路17号昆明走廊一期1D1-FC4). A delicious insanely spicy dumpling (wonton) soup with other (including non-spicy) options as well. Try the Sichuan Spicy Wontons (MaLa HunDun) 麻辣馄饨 or the Strange Flavor Wontons (GuaiWei HunDun)怪味馄饨 for the two best.
The Vegetarian Restaurant is a few doors to the left of the Kunming Zoo main entrance on Yuan Tong Lu, serves somewhat pricey imitation meat dishes from a 1,500-year-old tradition. Dishes range from ¥3.5 to ¥98. The crispy "duck" is especially good.
- Flavor Street (味的道; Wèi de dào), Store 48, Taiyang Xincheng, Longquan Lu (龙泉路泰暘欣城58号商铺; Lóngquánlù Tàiyángxīnchéng) (at the corner of Longquan Road and North Erhuan Road in the new tall orange and white apartment complex Taiyang Xincheng next to the University of Finance and Economics (财经大学), any taxi driver can take you there, and bus routes 9, 74, 84, 114, 115, 129, and 168 also all stop nearby at Caimao Xueyuan (财贸学院)), ☏ . Restaurant with good pizza and amazing Thai hot pot. The owner is very friendly and the service is superb.
In the Kunming Flower and Bird Market, there is a great pizzeria set in a Qing dynasty courtyard house. The prices are more expensive than eating local dishes, but the atmosphere and quality of the food are outstanding. To find it, head to the flower and bird market and as you walk round, keep your eyes peeled for their sign above the stalls.
Along Wenlin Jie there are many Western cafes and restaurants. This street is commonly known as Western Street and the taxi drivers know it well! These cafes include:
- Mazagran Cafe. Has a good selection of Western meals and some delicious cakes and cookies (the millionaire shortbread is a favourite). The clientele is a mix of Westerners (lots of students looking for an afternoon study spot and enjoying the free Wi-Fi) and locals. Its second floor location (the stairs are around the back of the building) and open frontage makes it a good place to people watch. The restaurant was set up by a New Zealand couple who have since moved, but in terms of quality Western food it's one of the best.
- Salvadors (near the intersection of Wenhua Alley and Wenlin Street). Wide variety of western food and imported beer. They make excellent ice cream. A local favorite.
- French Cafe. Offers free Wi-Fi internet and serves a list of French options that cannot be found elsewhere in Kunming. Great homemade baguette, real French pastries, good coffee. The lovely atmosphere and the good music is a plus. It has become a popular spot to hang out and have a beer or two in the evenings.
- Games Cafe. Run by a Frenchman and his local wife, this place offers a stunning collection of boardgames in a few languages (mostly English and Chinese), and is popular with both foreigners and locals. Local and imported beers, home made noodles, various French food and amazing meal-portioned salads.
- Prague Cafe. Cute cafe with an upper level, has books and magazines. Has a variety of meals including Japanese and Western. While this place largely remains a Chinese hangout, several foreigners looking for a quieter lunch or place to study Chinese can be seen. The staff are friendly and the coffee is probably second best in the area. Food is mediocre, pizza is microwaved from a box. Pricey drinks. Disgusting bathroom, ¥50 fine if you poop or throw paper in the toilet.
- Shiping Huiguan (石屏会馆), Cuihu Nan Lu, 24 Zhonghe Xiang (翠湖南路中和巷24号) (near south end of Green lake park), ☏ , . Traditional Yunnanese restaurant in an old courtyard; the amazing building is reason enough for a visit, though the food is also very good. The plate of various fried insects is interesting to try; the river shrimps and the baked fish is also a must. ¥50-100/person.
- Makye Ame (玛吉阿米), Jinhuapu Lu (Inside the Kunming office of Diqing Prefecture) (近华浦路迪庆州驻昆办二楼) (west of the university area), ☏ . A Tibetan restaurant with fantastic atmosphere and design, and nightly stage performances of tibetan songs and dances. Some dish with yak meat must of course be tried; there is plenty in the menu.
- Grand Park Kunming, 20 Hong Hua Qiao, 650031, Kunming (五华区洪化桥; ) (20 minutes by car from Kunming International Airport), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Top business and leisure hotel with a splendid view of Green Lake. 300 rooms, including some 2-bedroom suites. Starting from USD 85.
The main club area is in the Wuhua district, specifically Kundu Bar Street. Clubs are open until 05:30 or 06:00. There are probably more than 10 clubs to suit every style and taste.
Kundu Bar Street
- Soho (苏荷), In the Kundu Bar District. closes at 03:00. This is a popular national franchise bar. They have singers throughout the night and DJs to spin the music. The distinction this place has is that they don't hire bar girls. In most Chinese clubs, the hot girls you see work for the club to give the place an image or to sell you beer and sell more tables. The girls you see in this club are customers or brought by customers. So you get a more real experience without getting pressured to buy alcohol all the time. ¥40 a beer, ¥240 a dozen.
- s.Muse (diagonally across from mask). closes at 06:00. Another franchise club that opens until 06:00. They have the best location in the whole district. Right in front of the square. ¥50 a beer.
- Camp David.
Wen Lin Street (Wen Lin Jie)
This long street is full of 20-30 small lounges/bars that locals and university students visit.
Several western-style retro-bars can be found on Tuo East Road east of Bailong Road, and catering mostly to a local clientèle afford an opportunity to mingle with locals.
Other bars include:
- Shelter Bar (防空洞酒吧; Fángkōngdòng Jiǔbā), 295 Yuantong East Road (圆通东路295号; Yuántōngdōnglù) (near the back entrance of the Zoo, north side of Yuantong Mountain). The bar is unique. Entering through the doors, there is a jazzy scene with plenty of comfortable places to lounge. Sometimes they even have video games set up. But the thing that sets this bar apart from other bars lies through the doors next to the bar. Passing through them, you go down some steps about 2 m (6 feet) and enter through three doors, each of them 7 cm (3 inches) thick. This second bar and dance floor lie 3-6 m (10-20 feet) beneath the Zoo in an old bomb shelter build in the 1970s when Mao was frightened by the prospect of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Try to make yourself heard over the blaring music as large, ominous ventilation pipes hang over you. It is not the best place to hang out, but you have to see it at least once if you are in town.
- Dyonysos (狄俄尼索), Baoshanjie 1, 8th floor (盘龙区宝善街宝善1号8楼(近前景动感天下)); (a few buildings north-west of Jinbi square). A high class live-music bar. Very good Yunnan snacks and great selection of drinks. Usually six singers a night with other musicians playing in between. Little bit pricy but great to entertain guests in the city center.
- Freedom Bar, Renmin East Road (人民东路; Rénmíndōnglù) (a few blocks West of Beijing Road). A club and bar with dance music, a small dance floor, and plenty of alcohol. During happy hours foreigners are allowed three free drinks: either 3 whiskeys or 3 beers.
- Aoma Meili Pub (敖玛梅里餐厅; Áomǎ Méilǐ Cāntīng), 60 Dongfeng East Road (东风东路60号; Dōngfēngdōnglù) (right by the Camellia Hotel), ☏ . This well-known western restaurant is undergoing some changes to be more of a bar. There are no other bars near the Camellia Hotel, so it is really nice! It is one of the few places with a Western bartender as well. He has lived in Yunnan for a few years, and is really good to get information from. He said he just started here, so as soon as he gets all the equipment he promised some great cocktails! Good food, nice atmosphere.
Near railway station
There are a number of so-so budget options around the railway station and along Beijing Road north of the station.
- Golden Bridge Hotel (金桥大酒店; Jīnqiáo Dàjiǔdiàn), Railway Station South Square, Panling District (盘龙区火车南站广场; Pánlóngqū Huǒchēnánzhànguǎngchǎng) (just outside the railway station to the left), ☏ . Not a bad option. From ¥40.
- Kunming Leshi Hotel (昆明乐仕宾馆; Kūnmíng Lèshì Bīnguǎn), 9 Nanba Road, Xishan District (西山区南坝路9号; Xīshānqū Nánbàlù), ☏ , fax: . Small rooms without internet access except for more expensive ones, which have internet access against surcharge. Chinese restaurant. Listed rates for doubles from ¥168, discounted from ¥108, no breakfast available.
- 1 MamaMoon Hostel, 永平路鑫都韵城小区10栋2单元1801室 Building 10 Unit 2 #1801, Xindu Community, Yongping Road (difficult to find, but the location on Baidu Maps is correct – it's in an apartment building next to a barbershop a little ways north of the train station; look for the number "2" above the door, enter 1801# on the keypad and go up to the 18th floor). Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 13:00. Small, casual hostel in an apartment building. Good wifi, friendly vibe, squat toilet. Bunks and private rooms available. Some of the bunks are in the common area, so they can be noisy. Doesn't seem to do the required police registration, so don't stay here as your first stop in China. Bunks from ¥20.
- 2 The Hump Hostel (昆明驼峰客栈; Kūnmíng Tuófēng Kèzhàn), JB2-2 Jinmabiji Square, Jinbi Road, Xishan District (西山区金碧路金马碧鸡广场JB2-2幢; Xīshān Qū Jīnbì Lù Jīnmǎbìjī Guǎngchǎng JB2-2 Zhuàng) (bus no. 3 from train/long distance bus station (7 stops)), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. This place is a cafe, bar and hostel. It is on the third floor and has a rooftop garden where you can have drinks while overlooking Jinbi Square. The staff speaks some English. Great selection of western style dishes. Has pool table, DVDs and free Wi-Fi. Dorms from ¥50, doubles from ¥298, twins from ¥328.
- 3 Xingyi Hotel (兴彝酒店), 128 Wenyi Road, Xinying Neighborhood, Panlong District (盘龙区新迎小区文艺路128号; Pánlóngqū Xīnyíngxiǎoqū Wényìlù) (the nearest bus stop is the Xinying Road (新迎路) bus stop, which is served by bus nos. 47, 72, 158. You catch bus no. 47 from a bus stop on Beijing Road just north of the Dongfeng Square Metro Station), ☏ . Small rooms with free internet. No restaurant. Doubles from ¥90.
- 4 Kunming Cloudland International Youth Hostel (昆明大脚氏国际青年旅舍), 23 Zhuantang Road, Wuhua District (五华区篆塘路23号) (860 m south of Panjiawan Station on Metro Line 3; south of the corner of Xichang Road and Renmin West Road, west of Government Square), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A great hostel with a great atmosphere. Very clean with a good, inexpensive restaurant. Also close to a number of other restaurants within a 15 minute walk. Dorms rooms from ¥50. Doubles from ¥175.
- 5 7 Days Inn (Qingnian Road Branch) (7天连锁酒店 (昆明青年路店); 7Tiān Liánsuǒjiǔdiàn), 87 Qingnian Road, Wuhua District (五华区青年路87号) (500 m west of Chuanxin Gulou Station on Metro Line 2), ☏ . Very clean rooms with helpful, yet non-English speaking staff. Rooms with free internet. A free computer is also usually available in the lobby. The rooms come equipped with a satellite dish that covers channels from all over China (only one or two English channels). Because it is in the city, do not be surprised to find no view from your window. Think Best Western. Doubles from ¥132.
- 6 Fairyland Hotel (Nanping Pedestrian Street Baida Branch) (云上四季连锁酒店(昆明南屏步行街百大店)), 1st Floor, Kunming Department Store Building, 1 Dongfeng West Road, Wuhua District (五华区东风西路1号昆明百货大楼F1) (400 m from Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3; the lobby to the right of the New Era Hotel entrance), ☏ . Since the hotel lobby is on the first floor, Fairyland has the advantage of receiving walk-ins first, but there are several other hotels in the same building that represent better value. Rooms have a slight odor and oddly color coordinated (yellow and orange) furniture. Room has flat screen TV, but there is no computer in the room. Very central location. No English speaking staff. Be careful that staff will tell you that other hotels are not in the building or are elsewhere. To view other hotels go directly to the 9th floor. Doubles start from around ¥300.
- 7 Spring City Star Hotel (Jifeng Branch) (春城之星(集丰店)), 636 Beijing Road, Panlong District (盘龙区北京路636号) (300 m south of Chuanxin Gulou Station on Metro Line 2), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Formerly known as Spring City Inn (and before that Yunnan Machinery Hotel). This budget hotel has relocated to Beijing Road, just after the Anti-Smuggling HQ. It is a 13-storey building, with a restaurant on the 3rd floor. Still gives fantastic value, with exceptionally clean twin rooms, nice staff, a/c, very strong free Wi-Fi and breakfast included. There's a tour agency that helps with booking tours to Shilin, Jiuxiang and beyond beside the main counter. ¥10 off and free luggage storage if you are a member or use a member's card. Standard rooms with en suite bath start from ¥108.
- 8 Yunnan Shadetree Inn (Nanping Pedestrian Street Branch) (云樾兰亭连锁酒店(昆明南屏步行街店)), Kunming Department Store Building, 1 Dongfeng West Road, Wuhua District (五华区东风西路1号昆明百货大楼) (400 m from Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3; in the same building as the Fairyland Hotel, New Era Apartments and New Era Hotel, front desk is in room 910 on the 9th floor), ☏ , fax: . Good value hotel but hard to locate. It's on the 9th floor in the same wing as the Fairyland Hotel and New Era Apartments. Rooms are respectably clean with better color coordination (dark wood and white). Both doubles and singles have stand-up showers along with a small-sized kitchen containing mini-fridge, sink and cabinets. There is a flat screen TV with a small sofa and sitting area. Downsides are the room has a slight, but tolerable, odor, the bathroom is Asian-style where the entire floor gets wet (but there are Western-style toilets), and the front desk reception knows no English, so come prepared with phrases to ask to see the room and to negotiate prices. Rooms have free internet with computer. Very central location. Room rates start from around ¥250.
- 9 Expo Garden Hotel (云南世博花园酒店), No.5, Shibo Road, Panlong District (盘龙区世博路5号) (just up the hill from the entrance to the Expo Garden; there is a bus stop outside the hotel which is served by Airport Express Bus Route 3, as well as bus nos. 47, 69, 71, 182, 235, 249, a1 and k18), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 7 km from the downtown area and taxis are not easy to find so probably not a good choice unless you need to be in the area. Modernised deluxe rooms face inwards towards an Atrium that is used for noisy events at weekends. Outside rooms are OK but have rock-hard mattresses. Helpful staff all keen to practice their English. From ¥530.
- 10 Grand Park Hotel Kunming (昆明君乐酒店), 20 Honghua Bridge, Wuhua District (五华区洪化桥20号) (20 minutes by car from Kunming International Airport; 700 m east of Panjiawan Station on Metro Line 3), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 300 rooms and some duplex 2 bedroom suites. From ¥595.
- 11 Green Lake Hotel (昆明中维翠湖宾馆), 6 Cui Hu South Road, Wuhua District (五华区翠湖南路6号) (about 200 m from the intersection of Cui Hu South Road and Yuantong Street; close to the east gate of Green Lake Park; buses that serve the area include routes 100, 101, 124, 133, 235 and z5), ☏ , fax: . A modern, luxury hotel. The bar has a panoramic view of Green Lake Park, and private car tours of the area are also offered. 293 rooms.
- 12 Kunming Jinjiang Hotel (昆明锦江大酒店), 98 Beijing Road, Guandu District (官渡区北京路98号) (the Kunming Airport Express Bus (Route 2b) stops right outside the hotel), ☏ . All rooms have cable TV, broadband Internet access, a private toilet and bath with spray-jet tub. Other amenities at the hotel include a massage parlour, a sauna, a fitness center, and a beauty salon. From ¥400.
- 13 Kunming Kai Wah Plaza Hotel (昆明佳华广场酒店), 157 Beijing Road, Guandu District (官渡区北京路157号) (about 400 m south of South Ring Road Station at the intersection of metro lines 1 and 2), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. A large, elegant hotel with glass lobby, panoramic views, and a shopping center next door. 555 rooms.
- 14 New Era Hotel (新纪元大酒店), 1 Dongfeng West Road, Wuhua District (五华区东风西路1号; Dōngfēngxīlù) (400 m east of Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3; pretty much in the city centre, near the underpass where Dongfeng West Road becomes Dongfeng East Road, there is no vehicle access to the hotel from Dongfeng West Road, near the Shuncheng Shopping Mall; it faces the Tommy Hilfiger store), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Expensive for its class given that there are better valued hotels literally next door. The front desk reception speaks English, which is a rarity in Kunming. Rooms generally have great views of the city. There is a gym, but no pool. The single room had a flat screen TV with several American channels (MTV, CNN, HBO), writing desk, sofa. There is free Wi-Fi, but no computer. You can rent laptops from the hotel. The bathroom was very clean, but the tub was slightly moldy. The major plus of the hotel was the complimentary breakfast buffet. From ¥500.
- 15 Zhenzhuang Guest House (震庄迎宾馆), 514 Beijing Road, Panlong District (盘龙区北京路514号) (near Dongfeng Square Station at the intersection of metro lines 2 and 3), ☏ . A very beautiful hotel in a large garden, the General Secretary and other high-ranking officials of the Chinese Communist Party stay here when in Yunnan, but not much English is spoken. 86 rooms. From ¥600.
If you are arriving in China through Kunming, note that there is no telco store in the Kunming Changshui Airport. A convenience store at the arrival hall (level B1) sells one at a hefty price of ¥100, it is not clear what is included in that price (as of Mar 2019).
- PSB - visa extensions (on Beijing Road near Jinbi Road). M-F 09:00-12:00, 13:00-17:00. It takes five working days to get the visa extension. Before it took only a half day to get the visa extension in Dali but now it also takes five working days at the police department in Xiaguan. (Jun 2010). ¥160.
- 1 Lao Consulate (老挝人民民主共和国驻昆明总领事馆), 6800 North Caiyun Road, Guandu District (官渡区彩云北路6800号) (near Exit A of Erji Station on Metro Line 1), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 2 Myanmar Consulate (缅甸联邦驻昆明总领事馆), 99 Yingbin Road, Guandu District (官渡区迎宾路99号) (near Erji Road Station on Metro Line 1), ☏ .
- 3 Royal Thai Consulate (泰王国驻昆明总领事馆), 18th floor, East Tower, Shuncheng Twin Towers, 11 Dongfeng West Road, Wuhua District (五华区东风西路11号顺城双塔东塔18楼顺) (close to Exit B of Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3), ☏ (general enquiries), (visa enquiries), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 08:30-12:00, 13:00-17:30 (office), M-F 09:00-11:30, 13:00-17:00 (visa section).
- 4 [dead link] Malaysian Consulate (马来西亚驻昆明总领事馆), Room 1503, 15th floor, Tower B, South Asia Top City Building, Dianchi Road, Xishan District (西山区滇池路南亚风情第一城B座写字楼15楼1503室) (the nearest bus stop is Fuhai Xiang (福海乡), which is served by bus nos. 44, 73, 89, 91, 106, 120, 203, a1, c8, k15, k25 and z12; you can catch bus no. 44 from Kunming Railway Station), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 09:00-17:00.
- 5 Vietnamese Consulate (越南社会主义共和国驻昆明总领事馆), Room 507, Hongta Mansion, 1/155 Beijing Road, Guandu District (官渡区北京路155号附1号红塔大厦507室) (about 400 m south of South Ring Road Station at the intersection of metro lines 1 and 2), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-17:00. The phone number on the Consulate website is incorrect. An extra 6 was added to to all Kunming phone numbers in 2012.
- 6 Cambodian Consulate (柬埔寨王国驻昆明总领事馆), 14th floor, Guanfang Plaza, 258 Baiyun Road, Panlong District (盘龙区白云路258号官房广场14楼) (the nearest bus stop is the Xinxing Road (新兴路) bus stop, which is servd by bus routes 50, 55, 60, 67, 95, 114, 158, 254 and z5), ☏ .
Regarding concerns about earthquakes, risk of terrorism, please refer to your own country's foreign office advice regarding travel to China.
Travelers to Kunming in 2010 reported barber shops, massage centers, and other small shops involved in various cons. One such involves an older woman entering the shop and demanding a larger amount than was quoted. The woman together with the workers apply pressure and it can be especially intimidating to be surrounded by a shop filled with angry Chinese while your head is covered in soap (and it is dripping into your eyes), all your clothes and passport are locked in a closet (and they have the key), or together they are blocking the exit. If you give in to the much larger demanded amount, the service will continue. Disagreement can result in variations of the shop workers pushing you out with your hair half cut/full of soap, barefoot, or simply not allowing you to leave while one (or many) of the workers surround you attempting to pick your pocket. To date, so many incidents have been reported to the PSB in Kunming that they are considering setting up the first ever Tourist Police unit in Yunnan Province.
Dianchi Lake (滇池) is highly polluted. Do not swim in the lake or eat fish caught in it.
- Shilin – the Stone Forest, a national park full of spectacular stone pillars carved by erosion
- Visit the hot springs at Anning - 34 km from Kunming.
- Dongchuan – known for its colorful terraces
- Travel further north-west to the old towns of Dali (4 hours) or Lijiang (8 hours), both very popular with domestic and foreign tourists. See Yunnan tourist trail for discussion.
- Fuxian lake - one of cleanest and deepest lakes in China (hard to believe when you see how locals wash their motorbikes on the beach). One hour by bus from Kunming. Great one day trip. In Kunming get to South bus station (buses 170, 156; taxi ¥40), really far from downtown. Regular buses to Chengjiang (澄江) for ¥15- ¥20 every hour. There you can take local transport/taxi to lake or walk. Lake is 3–4 km far from Chengjiang bus station. Last bus back to Kunming at 19:00. You also can camp on the beach, recommended not too close to city. Lake is huge, clear, beautiful! You can walk around within a weekend or just a half, to South end of lake, there are also villages with transport to Kunming.
- The tin-mining center of Gejiu, the historic towns of Shiping, Mengzi, and (most impressive of all) Jianshui, and the Yuanyang rice terrace all lie to the south.
- Yuanmou - buses can be taken to here will allow you to explore the Earth Forest.