Travel Guide Asia China Yunnan Kunming



Kunming - Centre at night

Kunming - Centre at night

© Gelli

Kunming (昆明) is the capital of Yunnan province. 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.



Sights and Activities

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 kilometres from the town), ☏ +86 871 67262799, +86 871 67273379. 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.
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) (The museum is 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), ☏ +86 871 63163863. 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.
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.
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 1km 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), ☏ +86 871 63306314. 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.
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 metres south of Dongfeng Square Station at the intersection of metro lines 2 and 3. Directly opposite Chahua Park), ☏ +86 871 63199122. 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.
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 metres 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). alternatively 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), ☏ +86 871 65199680. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 66138610. W-Su 09:00-16:00. This is a smallish museum dedicated to the various narrow gauge railways constructed to link Yunnan with other places. These railways were brought into existence principally through French-Chinese collaboration but the equipment originated in various countries. The museum is in two sections: The first contains maps, documents, models, information boards and small artifacts. The information boards and artifact labels are generally in Chinese and English, but many of the copies of original documents and annotated drawings are in French and Chinese. The second section of the museum houses various locomotives and rolling stock. Non-commercial photography is permitted but, as both sections of the museum are poorly lit, a tripod might be useful. Railway enthusiasts can probably browse contentedly for an hour or two but small children and people with no interest in history or railways might find 15 minutes to be more than long enough. Adults ¥10, children ¥5, one ticket provides access to both sections.
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.), ☏ +86 871 65034167. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 68240933, ✉ [email protected]. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 68181881. 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.
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 4km 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), ☏ +86 871 63845448. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 65193762. 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.
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.
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), ☏ +86 871 65318808, ✉ [email protected]. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 65223628, ✉ [email protected]. 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).
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), ☏ +86 871 65154546. 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.



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

Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG IATA). has 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. Kunming Changshui International Airport (Q1371636) on Wikidata Kunming Changshui International Airport on Wikipedia edit

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.

By Train

Kunming Railway Station, south of downtown, serves destinations throughout China including Hekou, Nanning, Guilin, Chengdu (Sichuan), Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an.

At the end of 2016, two new High Speed Rail lines opened. They come to the new 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 new 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, 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.

By Car

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

By Bus

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. Non-smokers should be aware that 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, ~30min).



Getting Around

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.

By Public Transport

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, an east-west line connecting to Line 6, was opened in 2017.

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).

By Bike

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.

By Taxi

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.




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.

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 & 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 ☏ +86 871 532 2515.




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. 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.




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), ☏ +86 871 3532868. 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), ☏ +86 871 3524196, fax: +86 8713536598. 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.
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.
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)), ☏ +86 871 63640359, ✉ [email protected]. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 63321118. Small rooms with free internet. No restaurant. Doubles from ¥90.
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 metres south of Panjiawan Station on Metro Line 3. South of the corner of Xichang Road and Renmin West Road, west of Government Square), ☏ +86 871 64103777, ✉ [email protected]. 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.
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 metres west of Chuanxin Gulou Station on Metro Line 2), ☏ +86 871 64884769. 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.
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 metres from Wuyi Road Station on Metro Line 3. The lobby to the right of the New Era Hotel entrance), ☏ +86 871 68119668. 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.
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 metres south of Chuanxin Gulou Station on Metro Line 2), ☏ +86 871 66296666. 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.
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 metres 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), ☏ +86 871 63633348, fax: +86 871 63633608. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 66030888. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 65386688, fax: +86 871 65381189, ✉ [email protected]. Top business and leisure hotel with splendid view of Green Lake. 300 rooms and some duplex 2 bedroom suites. From ¥595.
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), ☏ +86 871 65158888, fax: +86 871 65153286. 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. edit
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), ☏ +86 871 63138888. Jinjiang Hotels' flagship hotel, the four-star Kunming Jinjiang Hotel features highly business-oriented, but very luxurious rooms and meeting areas. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 63562828, fax: +86 871 63561818, ✉ [email protected]. A large, elegant hotel with glass lobby, panoramic views, and a shopping center next door. 555 rooms.
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), ☏ +86 871 63624999, fax: +86 871 63636556, ✉ [email protected]. 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.
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), ☏ +86 871 63100088. 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.

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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

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