You can book Air tickets form 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 RMB, to Hong Kong about 1200 to 1500 RMB.
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, 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 is on Beijing Lu (next to the train station). It serves destinations in Yunnan including Jinghong, Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian and Ruili. The long distance buses are excellent - cheap, reliable, comfortable. It also has international departures to Laos and Vietnam, though these services are not always running.
Bicycles can be rented at most hostels and hotels for about 20 RMB a day. It is a very bicycle friendly city - good bike lanes, flat terrain, slow moving traffic.
City Buses are 1 RMB apiece and cover most of the city. Especially useful is the number 5 bus which runs along Dongfeng lu, and passes the Camelia Hotel, Government Square, and the Provincial Museum.
Taxis start at 8 RMB and usually have reliable meters. As usual, care should be taken when travelling at night or long distances (agree on a price ahead of time), but Kunming's cabbies are comparatively honest.
Provincial Museum - admission is 10 RMB - the museum has several permanent exhibitions on the history of the Kunming area and contains a collection of artefacts dating back over 2500 years. The collection is excellent, the exhibition visually spectacular & has a large amount of information in English. This really is a great museum.
Kunming City Museum, 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). Admission is 5 RMB, free on Sundays, and includes a tour. As at August 2006, the main attraction, the fossil & dinosaur exhibition is currently undergoing complete renovation & is not open for visitors. A large part of the museum is taken up by a series of shops selling fossils/minerals (warning : many of the fossils are fakes) plus overpriced Chinese paintings, textiles, porcelains & some furniture.
Kunming Botanical Gardens
Cuihu Lake Park, Greenlake Park, located near the University in the Northwestern part of town, is a pleasant expanse of park and lake that serves as a mellow hang-out.
Village of Ethnic Culture
Jindian (Golden Temple) Park
Western Mountain Forest Reserve
Stone Forest - located about 2 hours by bus from Kunming (luxury buses depart regularly from east side of main railway station - 20RMB to Stone Forest - other buses may charge RMB90 for the same trip. Note : if one of the touts working in front of the train station assist you to find your bus their RMB10 commission will be added to your fare) this is a UNESCO listed site of remarkable Karst geography. Good weekend trip & lots to see. Entry is a little pricy at RMB140 per person per day but you can get an annual pass for RMB160 for unlimited entry to the Stone Forest & 4 other nature reserves. It is not possible to chenge currency at the sole local bank & their ATM often does not work. Very good Youth hostel (RMB160/night double) or can get room at Stone Forest Hotel (inside the nature reserve) for RMB200/night for good a/c double room (including horrible breakfast). Local restaurants are pricy but noodle shop in main street has great food from RMB3 per bowl. See : http://www.chinastoneforest.com/
Jiuxiang Scenic Spot, a complex of caves and scenery about 80 Km outside of Kunming. Tour buses cost about 300 to 400 RMB and usually include admission. Otherwise, public buses run from the Eastern bus station to the town of Jiuxiang or nearby towns. If you time it right, you can get a direct bus, otherwise two buses will do, for a total cost of about 35 RMB per person. Entrance to the park is a steep 90 RMB.
Grand View Pavilion
Qiongzhu (Bamboo) Temple
Local Muslim culture and food
As elsewhere in bigger cities close to mountainous regions, you can buy fairly good quality fake Outdoor and Camping gear in Kunming. Shops can be found in a courtyard at 20 Dongfeng Donglu and on Baoshan Jie close to the central square. Bargain hard.
The flower and bird market in Kunming is a good place to look for local minority souvenirs, jade, and Chinese games. The market is currently undergoing major construction: most of the small stalls have been torn down and the old houses are being demolished. It is unclear what will replace the old market; there are conflicting reports of new buildings or buildings "in the old style" replacing them, as well as the possibility that the market will move inside. Some of the stalls on the edges of the market still remain for the time being.
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 RMB1-2 per skewer for a great steet meal.
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.
Vegetarian Restaurant, accross from the Buddhist temple, serves somewhat pricey immitation meat dishes from a 1,500 year-old tradition. Dishes range from 5 to 98 RMB. The crispy "duck" is especially good.
Freedom Bar on Renmin Donglu a few blocks West of Beijing lu, is 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.
Camelia Hotel is a long standing relatively cheap hotel/hostel. It is located on Dongfeng Donglu a few blocks east of Beijing Lu. Dorms are 30 RMB, Doubles 120 to 240 RMB; prices are fixed. Rooms are clean, staff is polite and mostly English speaking. Showers, laundry, and internet/business services are available. Laos and Myanmar maintain their consulates in the main building on the ground floor from which you can obtain visas.
City Cafe is a cafe, bar, and erstwhile guesthouse off Dongfeng Donglu, a block West of Camelia Hotel on the North side of the street. Upon last inspection it was still renting rooms, however it has occasionally shut down for unknown reasons in the past. Doubles should go for about 20 to 30 RMB 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.
Hump over the Himalayas is a cafe, bar, and hostel on Jinbi Lu. It is on the third floor and has a balcony where you can have drinks while overlooking Jinbi Square. Dorm beds are 25 RMB per night with a 25 RMB deposit for the key. The staff speaks some English. Upon arriving, you will be handed a card for each night you stay which entitles you to a small breakfast consisting of a coffee and three or four pieces of toast and jam.
Spring City Inn (also known as Yunnan Machinery Hotel). A new hotel built in a quiet courtyard off busy Baita Lu. Fantastic value, exceptionally clean twin rooms, nice staff, a/c, breakfast included. Standard rooms with ensuite bath are RMB 138 (June 2006). For laundry service go just around the corner to the Aoma Meili Pub (10 RMB/kg).
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 RMB).