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Travel Guide Asia China Yunnan Kunming



Kunming - Centre at night

Kunming - Centre at night

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Kunming (昆明) is the capital of Yunnan province. It is known as the "City of Eternal Spring" because of its year-round sunshine and pleasant, moderate climate. An easy-going and convenient hub for travel in Yunnan, Kunming has a population of around 6 million. It's also noticeably unpolluted for a Chinese city of this size.



Sights and Activities

  • The Flower and Bird Market is where a selection of weird and wonderful birds, animals and plants are sold.
  • The Central Square is particularly interesting early in the morning, when hundreds of local residents enjoy public co-ordinated tai chi sessions.
  • Cuihu Park is a large natural park with a lake and nice scenery, near Kunming.



Events and Festivals

China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.

Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.

The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.




The temperature is pleasant all year, from a daytime average of about 15 °C in December/January to about 24 °C from April to August. Rainfall is higher during the summer months, but there are plenty of hours of sunshine during these months as well. December to March is very dry.



Getting There

By Plane

The Kunming Wujiaba International Airport (昆明巫家坝国际机场) (IATA: KMG, ICAO: ZPPP) has flights to most major cities in China, as well as to other parts of Asia. The airport is located 4 kilometres south and east of the city. Some of the major local airlines servicing this airport are Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. There are several foreign airlines flying into Kunming, which include Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Silk Air, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

By Train

There are direct trains to Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Chengdu, Guiyang and Nanning, as well as Hanoi in Vietnam. Within Yunnan, there is an overnight sleeper train to Xiaguan (Dali New Town).

By Car

If you have access to a car, Kunming is well connected to other large cities by modern, major highways.

By Bus

There are buses to many major cities throughout China. There are also many buses to local destinations within Yunnan, including Dali, Lijiang and Shangri-La.

  • West Bus Station (西部汽车客运站), Chunyu Lu / Yining Lu intersection, is the station most likely to be used by foreigners because it has destinations on the northwestern tourist circuit. It is known by locals as Majie bus station (马街客运站). From here, there are buses heading west and northwest to Yunnan cities and towns including: Lincang, Dehong Prefecture, Jingdong, Lancang, Shangchong, Nujiang Prefecture, Diqing Prefecture, Baoshan, Lijiang, Dali, and Shangri-La.
  • South Bus Station (南部汽车客运站), Xin Kunluo Lu, has buses to towns in southern Yunnan including: Pu'er, Xishuangbanna, Jinghong, Yuxi, Jianshui, Shiping, Yuanyang, Lüchun, Honghe, Luang Prabang and Vientiane (in Laos), and many others. Buses also go from here to Hekou, the border with Vietnam, from where there are further connections to Sapa and Hanoi by bus and/or train.
  • East Bus Station (东部汽车客运站), Dongsanhuan Hongqiao Flyover, has buses heading to east and southeast Yunnan including: Shilin, Hekou, Yiliang, selected destinations in Honghe Prefecture, Wenshan Prefecture, Luliang, Shizong, and Luoping.
  • North Bus Station (北部汽车客运站), Longtou Lu, has buses going to the north of Yunnan including: Qujing, Zhaotong, Xundian, Songming, Lüquan, and Dongchuan.
  • Northwest Bus Station (西北部汽车客运站) Puji Lu, has buses going to the northwest Yunnan including: Wuding, Yuanmou, Yongren, Huaping, Panzhihua, Chuxiong, Datao, Taoan, Lüfeng, Shuangbai, Nanhua, Mouding, Yimen, and Anning.



Getting Around

By Public Transport

Buses are many and frequent. Taxis are cheap and convenient.




There are plenty of opportunities for cheap, tasty food. One option is a small cluster of noodle-and-dumplings places to the north of the central square. The streetmarkets offer interesting snacks to the adventurous. If you're craving western food, there are a few western and fusion places on Dongfeng Lu, East of the Central Square.





  • The Hump Hostel is a nice cheap city centre hostel. This place has big dorms and a buzzing bar. The Hump Hostel is located at Jinmabiji Square, Jinbi RD (金碧路金碧), telephone: 871-3640359.
  • The Cloudland Youth hostel is a quiet hostel although a little bit more expensive when compared to The Hump. The Cloudland is located at No 23 Zhuan Tang Lu (篆搪路23号), telephone: 871-4103777.


The western travellers' favourite is the Camellia Hotel, which offers a range of accomodations from small dorms to fairly nice doubles. If you book a room here, ask for it to be at the front of the hotel as these rooms are refurbished and double-glazed, whereas the ones at the back of the hotel are scruffy and cost the same.


There are plenty of top-end 4- and 5- star hotels in Kunming, including the monstrous and shiny Kai Wah Plaza International, and the Green Lake Hotel.

View our map of accommodation in Kunming or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)






Keep Connected


Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area.
Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.


China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 25.051001
  • Longitude: 102.702011

Accommodation in Kunming

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Kunming searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Kunming and areas nearby.


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