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Kunming Introduction

Kunming (昆明) is the capital of beautiful Yunnan Province (云南) located in the far southwestern corner of China.  Its proximity to other neighboring provinces such as Guizhou, Sichuan, and Tibet as well as its shared border with Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam make it one of the most popular holiday destinations in China.  Kunming is also increasingly becoming a travel hub as the closest major city in China to both India and Thailand in addition to the growing popularity of nearby Dali and Lijiang in Yunnan Province.

Known as the "Spring City," Kunming boasts some of the best weather in China with a consistently pleasant climate and some of the freshest and cleanest air of any major city in the country.  Kunming also offers the traveler a wide range of things to see and do from Ming Dynasty relics to the luxuries of modern department and convenience stores.  Excellent cuisine and shopping opportunities are abundant, and an array of historical and cultural attractions will keep anyone busy for as long as he or she is here.

Fast Facts about Kunming

Location:Southwest China, Yunnan Province.  Kunming Map
Elevation:1890 meters (6200 feet) above sea level
Population:          4 million
People:Predominately Han Chinese with considerable quantities of Dai, Bai, and other ethnic minorities
Language:Mandarin (普通话) and Kunming Hua (昆明话)
Local Cuisine:Over the Bridge Noodles; Yunnan ham; goat cheese; Dai Minority food
Dialing Code:+86 871 (from abroad); 0871 (from within China)
Getting There:Air, train, bus
Getting Around:Walking, bicycle, public bus, taxi
Weather:Consistently temperate with both mild winters and summers; Can be visited at any time of the year; Rain is prevalent during the Summer; Winters are dry and sunny
Sister cities:Denver, USA
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Wagga Wagga, Australia
Zürich, Switzerland
Claim to Fame:Known as the "Spring City"; the Chinese terminus of the Burma Road during World War II

Kunming Restaurants

While Kunming is not especially known for it’s local cuisine, Yunnan-style Chinese food is increasingly becoming popular in other parts of China.  Yunnan is even getting some global recognition as Pu’er tea and other local products are becoming more well-known.  Recently, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, an upscale Chinese food chain in the United States has included Yunnan options in it’s menu.

Travelers without the time for a trip to the Xishuangbanna area of southern Yunnan can at least sample its native cuisine at any one of the Dai minority restaurants in town. 

Kunming is also lucky enough to include several excellent western-style cafes that definitely hit the spot if you have the cravings and/or the shakes from what seems like endless amounts of rice and noodles. 

Better yet, Kunming also seems to be one of the cheapest major cities in China for all of these dining options.

Kunming Transportation

As the capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming is easily reachable over land by train and long-distance bus.  The city also has an international airport that offers direct and connecting flights to and from all over China and the rest of the world.

Kunming’s pleasant weather makes traveling on foot within the city an attractive option as distances between destinations can often be managed.  Like in most other Chinese cities, walking and cycling around a city can offer travelers a glimpse into the daily life of the locals that tourist attractions might not provide.  In addition, particular areas of the city, like Green Lake Park, the Bird and Flower Market, and Yunnan Universtiy are pleasant areas to explore on a sunny day, and are all within walking distance of each other.

The rainy season puts a damper on the sunny strolls, but the often short distances make readily available public buses and taxis very affordable and convenient options.