Kunming (昆明; Kūnmíng) is the capital of Yunnan Province.
Known in China as the 'City of Eternal Spring', Kunming is at an almost-tropical latitude but 2000 m (6600 ft) altitude which gives it a very temperate climate. The air is also quite clean compared to other Chinese cities. However temperate it may be, in winter it has been known to snow, so if visiting in December-January, pack warm. In addition to its own charms it serves as a hub from which to explore Yunnan province. The city has a population of around 3 million, the prefecture near 6 million. Both are growing fairly rapidly; the prefecture is predicted to hit 10 million by 2010.
Kunming International Airport (KMG) has flights from South-East Asian cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as well as plenty of domestic connections through China. Currently the airport is located about 9km south-east of the city area, with a taxi ride to the city area costing about ¥20-25. At peak times you can expect to double this, as Kunming has major traffic flow issues.
A new airport is currently in the planning stages, and it is thought that it will be located about 60km north-east of the city area. It is estimated to be completed some time in the next 5 years, as they also have to build the transport infrastructure to the new location.
You can book Air tickets from Air China Office, Wallton Building, 448 Baoshan Jie,(0871)3159171 or any number of travel agents in the King World Hotel a few blocks north of the train station on Beijing Lu. 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.
Camellia Hotel has a reliable and cheap booking service, and the Laos Consulate is located inside the Camellia Hotel building too.
The South train station has recently been refurbished and has a ticket office on its lower level. The station serves destinations throughout China including Nanning, Guilin, Chengdu (Sichuan), Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an. The train service to destinations inside of Yunnan is poor except for an overnight sleeper train to Xiaguan (Dali New Town).
Kunming has several bus stations. In general, the most useful are the ones on Beijing Lu (north of the train station). Confusingly, there are two within half a kilometer from one another. The smaller station is to the left of the station (if you are looking at the front of the station from Beijing Lu). The other station is a five minute walk north of the train station walking on Beijing Lu. This is the larger of the two bus stations. To make matters more confusing, they both serve many of the same locations, so travellers are advised to check both. They serve destinations in Yunnan including Jinghong, Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian, Hekou and Ruili. 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.
It also has international departures to Laos and Vietnam, though these services are not always running. The bus to Laos goes all the way from Kunming to Vientaine, and cost approximately US$50 and last 40 hours if you go all the way. You can get off at stops in between like Luang Prabang, and the cost of the ticket is cheaper. Either way, its a long ride and a little expensive, although not more than one would expect. The buses are clean but make stops in unexplained places for short periods. As for necessities, the bus stops along the way at dingy restaurants and even nastier restrooms at gas stations. Still, its a manageable journey if you need to go from Laos to Kunming or visa versa.
The journey to Vietnam is less arduous. Buses to Hekou, the border city on the Chinese side, leave regularly. There are night buses which allow you to leave Kunming at eight p.m. from the bus station next to the train station and arrive at Hekou in time to cross the border as soon as it opens. The bus station is just a few blocks from the border crossing. From there, you can take one of the many buses to Hanoi, Sapa or elsewhere.
Kunming has very bad traffic conditions and not only at peak times. It's worth planning ahead if you have somewhere to get to.
Bicycles can be rented at most hostels and hotels for about ¥20 a day. There are bike lanes along the edges of many major roads and traffic generally moves fairly slowly.
City Buses are ¥1 apiece and cover most of the city. 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 ususally 500m to 1km 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 located in the middle of the road and appear to have been designed to provide maximum inconvenince and danger for passengers. There have been reports of pick-pocketing on crowded buses, especially just before "Spring Festival", when they 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. Bus routes are marked on some local maps (purchased from street venders or kiosks) but are not always accurate.
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 6:30pm, when taxi shifts switch and drivers need to return their cars.
Yuantong Temple (圆通寺; Yuántōngsì), (At the foot of Yuantong Hill in the northern part of Kunming).
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 meter high pillars from the Ming Dynasty that are 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 meter 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 working temple that also represents the Buddhism of China today. Buddhists from around the world come here on pilgrimages to pay homage, there are special Buddhist services two times each month, and the Buddhist Association of Yunnan Province is located here. Yuantong Temple plays a very important role in history and in the modern world.
Tanhua Temple (昙华寺; Tánhuàsì; also known as Taohu Nunnery), Guangming Road, Panlong District (盘龙区光明路; Pánlóngqū Guāngmínglù) (At the foot of Tuiying Mountain in the eastern outskirts of Kunming City, about 4km from the city centre), ☎ +86 871 3857297. Free.
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 three hundred 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.
In recent years, the old temple has resumed its original grandeur. It has become one of the most famous scenic spots in Kunming.
Daguan Pavilion (大观楼; Dàguānlóu; lit. Grand View Pavilion), (Inside Daguan Park (大观公园; Dàguān Gōngyuán)). 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.
Qiongzhu Temple (筇竹寺; Qióngzhúsì; lit. Bamboo Temple), Yu'an Mountain, Xishan District (西山区玉案山; Xīshānqū Yùànshān). An amazing work of art hidden in a temple a mile or two up the mountains encircling Kunming. A mixture of life-like figures in totally fantastical positions (man whose eyebrows grow down to the floor, monks ridding giant fish), this is some trippy artwork that is worth the trip.¥10.
Kunming Zoology Museum (昆明动物博物馆; Kūnmíng Dòngwù Bówùguǎn), 32 Jiaochang East Road (教场东路32号; Jiāochángdōnglù) (Situated in the north of Kunming between the first and second ringroads, approximately 600 metres directly west of the Carrefore supermarket at the intersection of Longquan Road and Baiyun Road. Bus routes 4 and 92 (route 4 terminates just around the corner) run close to the museum, alternatively take routes 9, 55, 59, 74 or 96 to the Carrefore and walk from there.), ☎ +86 871 5130101, . 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 dinosoars, 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 momentos for sale but otherwise no shop. Nor is there any onsite catering.¥80 Yuan (September 2008).
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 metres to the east of the railway station), ☎ +86 871 6138610, . 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 provided access to both sections.
Yunnan Provincial Museum (云南省博物馆; Yúnnánshěng Bówùguǎn), 118 Wuyi Road, Wuhua District (五华区五一路118号; Wǔhuáqū Wǔyīlù) (Quite central, situated on the southern side of the junction of Dongfeng West Road (东风西路) and Wuyi Road, bus routes 26, 52, 66, 73, 95, 98 and 100 all stop nearby), ☎ +86 871 6179536, 6179528, . 9:30AM-5:30PM, closed Monday. A smallish museum containing artifacts from the past 2,500 years. The items are presented quite and are reasonably well lit. For persons who are particularly interested in history one and a half hours might be sufficient. Descriptions are given in Chinese and English. Occasionally, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions on the ground floor. The permanent exhibitions are on the two upper floors, access by stairs only.Adults ¥10, students ¥5.
Kunming City Museum (昆明市博物馆; Kūnmíngshì Bówùguǎn), 71 Ta East Road, Guandu District (官渡区拓东路71号; Guāndùqū Tàdōnglù), ☎ +86 871 3153310. 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 af tour.
Streets and areas
Kunming flower and bird market (昆明花鸟市场; Kūnmíng Huāniǎo Shìchǎng), (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). 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.
Kunming Zoo (昆明动物园; Kūnmíng Dòngwùyuán), (A few hundred metres north east of Green Lake, a few hundred metres east of Yunnan University, buses 101, 92, 95 to south side, buses 4, 22, 59. 74, 83 to north entrance), ☎ +86 871 5154546. The Zoo was built in 1953 and has over 300 species. There is a peacock garden, butterfly enclosure, avery and aquarium. In spring the zoo is reputed to be a sea of flowers, in particular the blossom of cherry trees and weeping Chinese crabapple 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.¥10 with further ¥3 for the butterfly and peacock park.
Kunming Botanical Gardens (昆明植物所; Kūnmíng Zhíwùsuǒ), . These gardens are 12km from Kunming proper and, together with the Black Dragon Park, 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 spucles of camellias. Yunnan Province boasts more than 100 species of camellia. These gardens were one of the earlies gardens to collect the cedar.
Dianchi (滇池湖; Diānchíhú; also known as Kunming Lake, Kunming Pond, and Southern Lake of Yunnan in ancient times). Plateau lake with beautiful scenery. The lake is 40 by 8 kilometers and is 1,886 meters above sea level. The lake water and the sky seem joining mutually like a city sea, dense mist and rolling water are on the surface of the lake, and sails are strolling above the water. It claims to be a pearl on the Yungui Plateau. It is the largest lake in Kunming. The west side of the lake is the mountain forest, while on the east side are lands dotted with the fisheries and agribusinesses. Traditional fishing boats still sail on the lake. The most beautiful view appears at dawn and sunset. The ocean-like lake is the best place to go for those people who wish to get away from the bustling city and be close to the nature.
Green Lake Park (翠湖公园, Cuìhú Gōngyuán), (Located near Yunnan University in the north western part of town). 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 seaguls 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.
Yunnan Nationalities Village (云南民族村; Yúnnán Mínzúcūn), 1310 Dianchi Road (滇池路1310号; Diānchílù), . 9AM-6:30PM. Expensive and basically a minority Disneyland, this tourist attraction highlights how the Han Chinese view their minority citizens as ethinic sideshows. Tromp around and see faked architecture of various Yunnan minorities. If you do not have time to get outside of Kunming, this might be your best bet to experience the province's minority culture. Otherwise, do not bother, just hang out in the real thing in Xishuangbanna or in the northwest.¥70.
Jindian Park (昆明金殿公园; Kūnmíng Jīndiàn Gōngyuán; lit. Kunming Golden Temple Park), (On Mingfeng Mountain, seven kilometers northeast of Kunming, a taxi is around ¥20 and takes 30 minutes, bus 10 goes there as well), ☎ 8. 8AM-7PM. 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.A day ticket purchased at the Southern gate of what is now known as the ''World Horti-Expo Garden'' is ¥100 (June 2008).
Western Mountain Forest Reserve. 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 kilometers at an altitude of 2,500 meters. 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, Sleeping Beauty. Dragon Gate (Longmen) is built on the steep rock hills, the carved stone Dragon Gate consists of the major part, which was cut in the years from 178l. No tourist can but be astonished at such elegant carving on such precipitous hills. 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.
The stone forest near Kunming
Stone Forest (石林; Shílín), About 2 hours by bus from Kunming, luxury buses depart regularly from east side of Kunming main railway station, ¥26 to Stone Forest, other buses may charge ¥90 for the same trip, if one of the touts working in front of the train station assist you to find your bus their ¥10 commission will be added to your fare, . This is a UNESCO listed site of remarkable Karst geography. Good weekend trip and lots to see. It is not possible to change currency at the sole local bank and their ATM often does not work. Very good Youth Hostel (¥160 for doubles) or can get room at Stone Forest Hotel (inside the nature reserve) for ¥200 for good a/c double room (including horrible breakfast). Local restaurants are pricy but noodle shop in main street has great food from ¥3 per bowl.Entry is a little pricy at ¥140 per person per day but you can get an annual pass for ¥160 for unlimited entry to the Stone Forest and four other nature reserves.
Jiuxiang Scenic Area (昆明九乡风景区; Kūnmíng Jiǔxiāng Fēngjǐngqū). This scenic area is 20 sq km and includes five tourist attractions, Diehong Bridge (5km 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 (5km north of Jiuxiang Street, famous for the karst caves), Alu Long [a scenic area 6km 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.
Kunming Art Theater, Dongfeng West Road (五华区东风西路; Wǔhuáqū Dōngfēngxīlù) (Buses 10, 26, 52 and 82).
China Kunming International Art Festival. Three weeks in April/May. Annual festival with music, dance and art.
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. 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 mainfloor of a building). Bargain hard.
Local minority souvenirs, jade, and Chinese games, Flower and bird market (Refer to See Section for directions).
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 available for sale. Also has the Lonely Planet China guidebook (a relative rarity for sale within China itself) for ¥330 (less a 15% discount as at May '09).
Local specialties include:
Over-the-Bridge Rice Noodles (过桥米线; guoqiao mixian) is a typical Yunnan local flavor that could only be tasted in some parts of Yunnan. The Over the Bridge Rice Noodles has along history and it carries with itself a vivid love story. 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 . Surely enough , you are eager to have a taste of Yunnan Over the Bridge Rice Noodles.
Steam Potted Chicken 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 about three or four hours. The same method is used to cook other food and will increase the flavor of the dish.
Yiliang Roasted Duck - The "Goujie Roasted Duck" produced in the Goujie Street of Yiliang is extraordinarily delicious, with the crispy and yellowish skin, soft and tender duck meant, has a special slight flavor of pine needles.
Xuanwei Ham 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 by canned Xuanwei ham.
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 Tonghai Peapowder Candy is made of quality white sugar, rice cerealose, and roasted peapowder(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 the 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 , steet 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 ☎532 2515
Heavenly Manna (吗哪; Mǎnǎ), 74 Wenhua Alley, Wenlin Street (文林街文化巷74号; Wénlínjiē Wénhuàxiàng) (Next to Salvadors), ☎ +86 871 5369399. Yunnan style restaurant. Fantastic food at low prices. Even the drinks are reasonably priced (less than ¥10). Despite this being a Chinese restaurant, the cakes are also worth trying.
The Vegetarian Restaurant is located 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.
Daddy's Diner (父亲的西餐馆; Fùqīn de Cānguǎn), Store 58, 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)), ☎ +86 871 5844511. Closed on Mondays. New restaurant serving American and Mexican food. The food is inexpensive and pretty good quality and they offer free Wi-Fi access.
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:
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.
Prague Cafe. 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.
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 six feet and enter through three doors, each of them three inches thick. This second bar and dance floor lie about 10-20 feet beneath the Zoo in an old bomb shelter build in the 70's 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 is not the best place to hang out, but you have to see it at least once if you are in town.
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.
Chapter One, 146 Wenlin Street, Wuhua District (五华区文林街146号; Wǔhuáqū Wénlínjiē) (Buses 1, 85, 98, 100, 101, 125, 133, 139), ☎ +86 871 5365635, . Always good for a Beer Lao, and free Wi-Fi access. You can also borrow books and DVDs from their lending library. This is currently Kunming's English-speaker's hangout. Also serves food, but you might want to go across the street to Prague for edibles.Beer or coffee from ¥10, cocktails ¥20-30; main dishes ¥15-35, pizzas a bit more.
Speakeasy Bar (说'吧'; Shuōba), 445 Dongfeng West Road, Wuhua District (五华区东风西路445号; Wǔhuáqū Dōngfēngxīlù), ☎ +86 871 5327047 (Speakeasy_bar@hotmail.com). It is as dodgy as it sounds and just as great! THE place to be late on a Friday or Saturday night.
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), ☎ +86 871 3126036. 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.
There are a number of so-so budget options around the Railway Station and along Beijing Road north of the railway 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), ☎ +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.
Other budget options include:
Kinn One Hotel (京王酒店连锁(昆明南屏店); Jīngwáng Jiǔdiànliánsuǒ (Kūnmíngnánpíngdiàn)), 88 West Dongfeng Road, Wuhua District (五华区东风西路88号; Wǔhuáqū Dōngfēngxīlù) (Close to the centre of town, two minutes walk to the main pedestrianised area, easy to miss as it only has a small entrance onto the street with a lift), ☎ +86 871 6077555 (fax: +86 871 6179689). checkout: 1PM. A fairly new hotel. No english spoken at reception. Very clean, very good service, and the rooms on the north side of the building have a view over the bird market. Internet free in rooms (LAN connection), breakfast comes with room (in the restaurant on the 9th floor), and there is a laundry service available.From ¥120 for a double with en suite.
Camellia Hotel (昆明茶花宾馆; Kūnmíng Cháhuā Bīnguǎn), 96 Dongfeng East Road, Panlong District (盘龙区东风东路; Pánlóngqū Dōngfēngdōnglù) (A few blocks east of Beijing Road), ☎ +86 871 3163000 ext. 6008 (email@example.com, fax: +86 871 3147033), . checkout: 2PM. A long standing relatively cheap hotel/hostel. Excellent breakfast. Rooms are clean, staff is polite and most speak excellent English. Showers, laundry, and somewhat pricey internet/business services are available. Laos maintains its consulate in the main building on the ground floor from which you can obtain visas.Dorms ¥30, doubles from ¥100 without breakfast.
City Cafe & Hostel (Shàmén Chénshì Lǚguǎn), 78 Dongfeng East Road, Panlong District (盘龙区东风东路; Pánlóngqū Dōngfēngdōnglù) (Half a block west of Camelia Hotel on the north side of the street, off Dongfeng East Road), ☎ +86 871 3181644 (firstname.lastname@example.org). A cafe, bar, and erstwhile guesthouse. Upon last inspection it was still renting rooms, however it has occasionally shut down for unknown reasons in the past. and vary in cleanliness. The staff is very nice, though very little English is spoken. There have been a couple complaints of dishonest behavior by the owner concerning the cafe.Doubles should go for about ¥20-30.
The Hump Hostel (昆明驼峰客栈; Kūnmíng Tuófēng Kèzhàn), Jinmabiji Square, Jinbi Road (金马路金马碧鸡广场; Jīnmǎlù Jīnmǎbìjīguǎngchǎng) (Bus 3 from train/long distance bus station (7 stops)), ☎ +86 871 3640359 (email@example.com), . checkout: 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 plates. Have pool table, DVDs and free wi-fi.Dorm ¥25, twins from ¥80.
Yuntel Inns (Kunming Xinying Branch) (云之舍酒店连锁（昆明新迎店）; Yúnzhīshè Jiǔdiànliánsuǒ (Kūnmíng Xīnyíng Diàn)), 128 Wenyi Road, Xinying Neighborhood, Panlong District (盘龙区新迎小区文艺路128号; Pánlóngqū Xīnyíngxiǎoqū Wényìlù), ☎ +86 871 6078588 (fax: +86 871 3321118). Small rooms with free internet. No restaurant.Listed rates for doubles from ¥188, discounted from ¥108, no breakfast available.
'7 Days Inn (7天连锁酒店; 7Tiān Liánsuǒjiǔdiàn), Qingnian Road, ☎ +86 871 8098088. 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 located in the city, do not be surprised to find no view from your window. Think Best Western.Doubles from ¥150.
Spring City Star Hotel, 241 Baita Road, ☎ +86 871 6161666. Formerly known as Spring City Inn (and before that Yunnan Machinery Hotel). The hotel is in a quite courtyard off busy Baita Road, close to a secondary school. Fantastic value, exceptionally clean twin rooms, nice staff, a/c, breakfast included. For laundry service go just around the corner to the Aoma Meili Pub (10RMB/kg). No elevator in this four floor hotel. Free internet.Standard rooms with en suite bath are ¥138 (December 2008).
Fairyland Hotel, (7 km from airport nearby Yuantong Temple), ☎ +86 871 6353777. Rooms with free internet.¥180 with breakfast.
New Era Apartments, 99 Dongfeng West Road (东风西路99号; Dōngfēngxīlù) (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, in the same building as the New Era Hotel and seem to be related to the ''Fairyland Hotel'' but might or might not be run by the same company), ☎ +86 871 2364684 (fax: +86 871 3635308). En-suite rooms with double bed, sofa, mediocre TV, good cable internet access, approximately 30 square metres of space, well lit, nicely decorated, uncramped, clean and comfortable. A fridge and microwave might be provided in the room. The apartments do not occupy all the floors of the building so the single, somewhat overworked, lift does not stop at all floors but will often keep you waiting. Also the set of lifts in the main lobby of each floor do not stop at all, presumably because they are used by some other hotel in the same building. The rooms overlooking the square below can be noisy 9AM-10PM if some event is in progress in the square. Nearby are various eastern and western-style restaurants and fast food outlets, a very badly organised Carrefore supermarket, various retail plazas and small stores.Doubles ¥180-240 (August 2008), depending on length of stay and haggling skills.
Grand Park Hotel, 20 Hong Hua Qiao, Wuhua District (五华区洪化桥; ) (20 minutes by car from Kunming International Airport), ☎ +86 871 5386688 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +86 871 5381189), . Top business and leisure hotel with splendid view of Green Lake. 300 rooms and some duplex 2 bedroom suites.
Green Lake Hotel, 6 Cuihu South Road (+86 871 5158888), (fax: +86 871 5153286), . 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.
Kunming Hotel, Panlong District, ☎ +86 21 61226688 ext. 7800 (email@example.com), . Jin Jiang Hotels' flagship hotel, the four-star Kunming Hotel features highly business-oriented, but very luxurious rooms and meeting areas.
Kai Wah Plaza International Hotel, 157 Beijing Road, ☎ +86 871 3562828 (fax: +86 871 3561818), . A large, elegant hotel with glass lobby, panoramic views, and a shopping center next door. 555 rooms.
Zhen Zhuang Ying Binguan, 514 Beijing Road, ☎ +86 871 3165869. A very beautiful hotel in a large garden, the Chinese president and other high-ranking officials stay here when in Yunnan, but not much English is spoken. 86 rooms.
PSB - visa extentions, (On Baijing Road (Beijing Road) near Jinbi Road). M-F 9AM-noon, 1PM-5PM. It takes five working days to get the visa extention. If you are going to Dali it takes only half a day here.¥160.
Visas for nearby countries can be obtained in Kunming.
Lao Consulate, (firstname.lastname@example.org). This used to be on the first floor of the Camellia Hotel, 96 Dong Feng Road East, next to the Laotian Airlines office. They moved to their own building in September 2009.
Kunming is located in an earthquake zone and the last earthquake happened in 2009.
There were some bomb incidents in 2008 including one in bus No.54 and one inside Salvadors' Coffee House.
Buses here seem to be lots of pick pockets. It seem like many people know of this.
Visit the hot springs at Anning - 34 kms from Kunming.
The West Hills (西山 Xi Shan) provide a good view of the city and have a few ancient Daoist (Taoist) caves of sculptures. Take bus #5 West to the end of the route, then Bus #6 or a minibus. In total the trip should take no more than an hour and a half. From the #6 bus stop either take a minibus up to the main gate or walk about 3 hours. There is an entrance fee to the grottos (¥30).