Kunming travel guide

Kunming Tourism | Kunming Guide

You're Going to Love Kunming

Nicknamed the "Spring City" thanks to its mild climate, Kunming is a relaxed city with temples, lakes, museums and shopping opportunities aplenty. An easy-going city that has adapted well to modern life, it's a wonderful place to spend a vacation in southern China.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Kunming

1. Thousands of Years of History

Kunming's past stretches back well over 2,000 years and there are many sights to enjoy, including Taoist shrines like Sānqīng Gé and Buddhist sites like Yuantong.

2. Serene Lakes and Parks

One of the great things about Kunming is how green it is. Head to zoos and see the cherry blossom at sprawling parks like Yuantong Mountain, or picnic by city center lakes like Green Lake in between sights.

3. The Stone Forest

About an hour's drive south of Kunming, the Stone Forest is a fascinating place, filled with limestone pillars and strange rock formations.

4. Some Superb Museums

Back in Kunming, don't miss outstanding museums like the Zoology Museum and the ancient Han artefacts in the Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology.

5. Enthralling Markets

If you love to shop, Kunming is a fabulous destination, offering the colors and smells of the Flower and Bird Market, and a vast selection of bargains at Zhangguanying Secondhand Market.

1. Thousands of Years of History

Kunming's past stretches back well over 2,000 years and there are many sights to enjoy, including Taoist shrines like Sānqīng Gé and Buddhist sites like Yuantong.

2. Serene Lakes and Parks

One of the great things about Kunming is how green it is. Head to zoos and see the cherry blossom at sprawling parks like Yuantong Mountain, or picnic by city center lakes like Green Lake in between sights.

3. The Stone Forest

About an hour's drive south of Kunming, the Stone Forest is a fascinating place, filled with limestone pillars and strange rock formations.

4. Some Superb Museums

Back in Kunming, don't miss outstanding museums like the Zoology Museum and the ancient Han artefacts in the Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology.

5. Enthralling Markets

If you love to shop, Kunming is a fabulous destination, offering the colors and smells of the Flower and Bird Market, and a vast selection of bargains at Zhangguanying Secondhand Market.

What to do in Kunming

1. This 'saint Your Everyday Buddhist Temple

Situated in Xishan Forest Park, just across the Dianchi Pool from Kunming, Huating is a magnificent Buddhist creation. Notable for its eastern facing orientation (unlike north, as with most similar temples), Huating was built in the 11th century by the Song Dynasty, and it was built on a grand scale. Nowadays, it's still Yunnan's largest religious institution, and touring the halls is a feast for the eyes, largely thanks to the huge collection of "arhats" (sculptures of Buddhists who have obtained spiritual bliss, or Nirvana). Don't miss the Ming-era Taihua Temple as well. It's almost next door and combination tickets are available.

2. A Petrified Wonderland

Although it's around 50 miles outside Kunming, Shilin is a must-see attraction during your stay. Also known as "the Stone Forest", it's a magical geological formation which resembles a thicket of massive stalagmites rising from the Yunnan landscape. While the central part of the forest is incredible, it can get packed. Thankfully, a mile or two away, the equally beautiful Naigu Stone Forest is often largely deserted. Both have UNESCO-protected status, and both will take your breath away.

3. Endless Ethnic Excitement

The blocky, modernist exterior of this museum on the Guangfu Road belies its exotic, fascinating collection. If you ever wanted to know about Yunnan's complicated ethnic patchwork, this is the place to be. While the area is predominantly Han Chinese, Chinese muslims (Hui) and peoples like the hill-dwelling Yi have all played a part. Aside from the engaging ethnography lesson, the museum houses a trove of archaeological treasures, with Han-era carvings and gold goddess statues from the Song Dynasty just a few of the delights in store.

4. Croon Some Karaoke Or Guzzle Yunnanese Delicacies

When the sun sets, Kunming wakes up - or something like that. In any case, the city's commerce and nightlife is centered around the Kundu Night Market neighborhood, where tea houses, street food vendors, cinemas, swanky bars and jumping karaoke joints all jostle for tourists' and locals' attention. Be sure to dive into Kunming's food culture when you hit the market, as it's one of China's hidden culinary gems. Hotpot-style rice noodles with pork, mushroom stews, and "rubing" - a kind of grilled cheese - are all dishes that foodies will want to get their teeth into.

5. Grottoes And Gorgeous Views

An enchanting forest park around 8 miles west of Kunming, this is the place to head for a ramble and some time out, away from the energy of the city. It's also famous for the Dragon Gate - a network of grottoes carved into the limestone by a group of daredevil Taoists. Seeing their handiwork at such heights really gives you a new found respect for Taoist religious fervor. A cable car also runs to the top of the park, where you can get exceptional views of Dianchi Lake, so have your camera handy - it's a hell of a place to freshen up your Instagram account.

1. This 'saint Your Everyday Buddhist Temple

Situated in Xishan Forest Park, just across the Dianchi Pool from Kunming, Huating is a magnificent Buddhist creation. Notable for its eastern facing orientation (unlike north, as with most similar temples), Huating was built in the 11th century by the Song Dynasty, and it was built on a grand scale. Nowadays, it's still Yunnan's largest religious institution, and touring the halls is a feast for the eyes, largely thanks to the huge collection of "arhats" (sculptures of Buddhists who have obtained spiritual bliss, or Nirvana). Don't miss the Ming-era Taihua Temple as well. It's almost next door and combination tickets are available.

2. A Petrified Wonderland

Although it's around 50 miles outside Kunming, Shilin is a must-see attraction during your stay. Also known as "the Stone Forest", it's a magical geological formation which resembles a thicket of massive stalagmites rising from the Yunnan landscape. While the central part of the forest is incredible, it can get packed. Thankfully, a mile or two away, the equally beautiful Naigu Stone Forest is often largely deserted. Both have UNESCO-protected status, and both will take your breath away.

3. Endless Ethnic Excitement

The blocky, modernist exterior of this museum on the Guangfu Road belies its exotic, fascinating collection. If you ever wanted to know about Yunnan's complicated ethnic patchwork, this is the place to be. While the area is predominantly Han Chinese, Chinese muslims (Hui) and peoples like the hill-dwelling Yi have all played a part. Aside from the engaging ethnography lesson, the museum houses a trove of archaeological treasures, with Han-era carvings and gold goddess statues from the Song Dynasty just a few of the delights in store.

4. Croon Some Karaoke Or Guzzle Yunnanese Delicacies

When the sun sets, Kunming wakes up - or something like that. In any case, the city's commerce and nightlife is centered around the Kundu Night Market neighborhood, where tea houses, street food vendors, cinemas, swanky bars and jumping karaoke joints all jostle for tourists' and locals' attention. Be sure to dive into Kunming's food culture when you hit the market, as it's one of China's hidden culinary gems. Hotpot-style rice noodles with pork, mushroom stews, and "rubing" - a kind of grilled cheese - are all dishes that foodies will want to get their teeth into.

5. Grottoes And Gorgeous Views

An enchanting forest park around 8 miles west of Kunming, this is the place to head for a ramble and some time out, away from the energy of the city. It's also famous for the Dragon Gate - a network of grottoes carved into the limestone by a group of daredevil Taoists. Seeing their handiwork at such heights really gives you a new found respect for Taoist religious fervor. A cable car also runs to the top of the park, where you can get exceptional views of Dianchi Lake, so have your camera handy - it's a hell of a place to freshen up your Instagram account.

1. This 'saint Your Everyday Buddhist Temple

Situated in Xishan Forest Park, just across the Dianchi Pool from Kunming, Huating is a magnificent Buddhist creation. Notable for its eastern facing orientation (unlike north, as with most similar temples), Huating was built in the 11th century by the Song Dynasty, and it was built on a grand scale. Nowadays, it's still Yunnan's largest religious institution, and touring the halls is a feast for the eyes, largely thanks to the huge collection of "arhats" (sculptures of Buddhists who have obtained spiritual bliss, or Nirvana). Don't miss the Ming-era Taihua Temple as well. It's almost next door and combination tickets are available.

2. A Petrified Wonderland

Although it's around 50 miles outside Kunming, Shilin is a must-see attraction during your stay. Also known as "the Stone Forest", it's a magical geological formation which resembles a thicket of massive stalagmites rising from the Yunnan landscape. While the central part of the forest is incredible, it can get packed. Thankfully, a mile or two away, the equally beautiful Naigu Stone Forest is often largely deserted. Both have UNESCO-protected status, and both will take your breath away.

3. Endless Ethnic Excitement

The blocky, modernist exterior of this museum on the Guangfu Road belies its exotic, fascinating collection. If you ever wanted to know about Yunnan's complicated ethnic patchwork, this is the place to be. While the area is predominantly Han Chinese, Chinese muslims (Hui) and peoples like the hill-dwelling Yi have all played a part. Aside from the engaging ethnography lesson, the museum houses a trove of archaeological treasures, with Han-era carvings and gold goddess statues from the Song Dynasty just a few of the delights in store.

4. Croon Some Karaoke Or Guzzle Yunnanese Delicacies

When the sun sets, Kunming wakes up - or something like that. In any case, the city's commerce and nightlife is centered around the Kundu Night Market neighborhood, where tea houses, street food vendors, cinemas, swanky bars and jumping karaoke joints all jostle for tourists' and locals' attention. Be sure to dive into Kunming's food culture when you hit the market, as it's one of China's hidden culinary gems. Hotpot-style rice noodles with pork, mushroom stews, and "rubing" - a kind of grilled cheese - are all dishes that foodies will want to get their teeth into.

5. Grottoes And Gorgeous Views

An enchanting forest park around 8 miles west of Kunming, this is the place to head for a ramble and some time out, away from the energy of the city. It's also famous for the Dragon Gate - a network of grottoes carved into the limestone by a group of daredevil Taoists. Seeing their handiwork at such heights really gives you a new found respect for Taoist religious fervor. A cable car also runs to the top of the park, where you can get exceptional views of Dianchi Lake, so have your camera handy - it's a hell of a place to freshen up your Instagram account.

Where to Eat in Kunming

Standout eateries in Kunming are easy to find. Some of the best include Yíng Jiāng Dǎi Wèi Yuán, where sweet and sour cooking is a specialty, the rigorously organic Tǔ Shēngshí Guǎn and 1910 La Gare du Sud, which cooks up Yunnan dishes in an old colonial-era property. Meals will cost about CNY60-CNY100.

When to visit Kunming

Kunming in March
Estimated hotel price
$22
1 night at 3-star hotel
Kunming in March
Estimated hotel price
$22
1 night at 3-star hotel

Kunming averages around 60°F all year-round and doesn't experience great climatic extremes. To catch local festivals, schedule a trip between October and March.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Kunming

Plane

Changshui International Airport has excellent domestic connections. From the airport, bus 919 costs CNY13 and there's an express bus which costs CNY25. Taxis will charge about CNY100.

Train

You can travel by rail to Kunming from Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou. The journey from Beijing takes 12 hours (at least) and prices start at CNY1,000.

Car

From Hong Kong, follow the G80 through Nanning all the way to Kunming. The G56 runs directly to Kunming from Shanghai as well.

Bus

Long distance buses are run by the Chinese state and provide a cheap, comfortable alternative to trains.

Plane

Changshui International Airport has excellent domestic connections. From the airport, bus 919 costs CNY13 and there's an express bus which costs CNY25. Taxis will charge about CNY100.

Train

You can travel by rail to Kunming from Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou. The journey from Beijing takes 12 hours (at least) and prices start at CNY1,000.

Car

From Hong Kong, follow the G80 through Nanning all the way to Kunming. The G56 runs directly to Kunming from Shanghai as well.

Bus

Long distance buses are run by the Chinese state and provide a cheap, comfortable alternative to trains.

Airports near Kunming

Airlines serving Kunming

KLM
Good (847 reviews)
British Airways
Good (4,745 reviews)
Delta
Good (4,443 reviews)
Air France
Good (975 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (2,102 reviews)
United Airlines
Good (4,944 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (6,212 reviews)
Finnair
Good (772 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (928 reviews)
Korean Air
Excellent (768 reviews)
Japan Airlines
Excellent (949 reviews)
China Eastern
Good (70 reviews)
Thai Airways
Good (212 reviews)
China Southern
Excellent (39 reviews)
Air China
Good (40 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (557 reviews)
Vietnam Airlines
Good (138 reviews)
XiamenAir
Good (31 reviews)
Batik Air
Good (55 reviews)
Scoot
Good (247 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Kunming

Some of the best places to stay in Kunming include the luxurious Wyndham Grand Plaza and the Lakeview Golf Hotel, along with the similarly upscale Intercontinental Kunming.

Popular Neighborhoods in Kunming

Guandu – Styled as Guandu "Old Town", this attractive area has been built in a historical style and is home to many of the city's finest temples.

Panlong – Situated in northern Kunming, Panlong is a tidy area with a diverse population and is a great base away from the center of town.

Beimen – Another central neighborhood, Beimen is home to Yuantong Temple and park, which is a great place to relax with its cherry trees and zoo.

Guandu – Styled as Guandu "Old Town", this attractive area has been built in a historical style and is home to many of the city's finest temples.
Panlong – Situated in northern Kunming, Panlong is a tidy area with a diverse population and is a great base away from the center of town.
Beimen – Another central neighborhood, Beimen is home to Yuantong Temple and park, which is a great place to relax with its cherry trees and zoo.
Most popular hotel in Kunming by neighborhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Kunming

Most booked hotels in Kunming

Kunming Cloudland International Youth Hostel
2 stars
Excellent (9.3, 206 reviews)
$20+
Kunming Upland International Youth Hostel
2 stars
Excellent (8.7, 221 reviews)
$14+
Grand Park Kunming
5 stars
Excellent (8.6, 194 reviews)
$51+
Holiday Inn Kunming City Centre
4 stars
Excellent (8.5, 139 reviews)
$61+
Sofitel Kunming
5 stars
Excellent (8.2, 65 reviews)
$93+
Kunming Jin Jiang Hotel
4 stars
Good (7.6, 1 review)
$42+

How to Get Around Kunming

Public Transportation

City buses charge CNY1 for most journeys (CNY2 on models with air conditioning) and run from 6:00 until around 23:30 every day.

Taxi

Taxis charge a meter drop of around CNY8, then CNY2 per mile after that.

Car

Car rental options include Senlong, Luchang and Linteng, where you'll find smaller vehicles for around CNY50.

Public Transportation

City buses charge CNY1 for most journeys (CNY2 on models with air conditioning) and run from 6:00 until around 23:30 every day.

Taxi

Taxis charge a meter drop of around CNY8, then CNY2 per mile after that.

Car

Car rental options include Senlong, Luchang and Linteng, where you'll find smaller vehicles for around CNY50.

The Cost of Living in Kunming

Shopping Streets

The best place to shop for crafts items, clothes and electronics is the market at Zhangguanying, but there are also malls like the Golden Eagle Shopping Center and Brilliant Plaza.

Groceries and Other

Local supermarkets include Carrefour and Zhenxin, and you can expect to pay around CNY11 for 12 eggs.

Cheap meal
$3.63
A pair of jeans
$72.58
Single public transport ticket
$0.29
Cappuccino
$3.77
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