Kunming Province of Yunnan, known as the City of Eternal Spring, is regarded as China’s most livable city because of its diversity in food, culture and of course its year-long favorable climate. It is also one of the most laid-back provinces in China you can visit, perfect for travelers who like to kick it back and for families that would like to experience a different kind of China. https://youtu.be/I7xAa01otQU Here are my learnings on the best discoveries and travel tips for your awesome Kunming China experience! GETTING THERE Manila to Kunming As of this writing, there’s is no direct flight from Manila to Kunming, China. Flights have layovers in either, Xiamen, Guangzhou, Taipei or Hong-Kong. Planning a day trip to these Cities is optimal. My flight had a Xiamen layover but wasn’t able to go around because of time-constraint but absolutely enjoyed the 100% sustainable in-flight fares. Kudos to Xiamen Air for being the World’s first airline to support UN’s Sustainable Development Goals! WHAT TO DO Shilin Stone Forest Shilin is a 270-Million-Year-Old scenic site situated in Yi autonomous county 90 kilometers away from Kunming. It is called a stone forest because of its many tall rocks that shoot up the ground like stalagmites that resemble like petrified trees. Two parts of the site, the Naigu Stone Forest, and Suogeyi Village have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2007. The Stone Forest covers an area of 300 square kilometers (186 miles). Because of its topography, Shilin Forest can get bitingly cold even on a sunny day. Bring extra pocket warmers! Admission: CNY175 for adults; CNY87 children from 6 to 18 years old; Free for children under 6 years old or 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) and seniors over 70 years old. Xishan Forest Park Xishan Forest Park is home to Kunming’s highest point known as the Dragon’s Gate. There is a saying – “If you do not visit Western Hills, you haven’t visited Kunming; if you do not come to Dragon Gate, you haven’t been to Western Hills”. The Park offers an unobstructed view of the city of Kunming. Admission: 40Y for Dragon Gate Grottoes; 20Y for a combo ticket (including Huating Temple and Taihua Temple);100Y for the combo ticket (including Dragon Gate Grottoes, one-way Dragon Gate Ropeway, one-way sight-seeing battery car, round-trip tourist bus, magnolia garden, Huating Temple, Taihua Temple and Xuyun Memorial Hall); Yunnan Nationalities Village There are a total of 56 nationalities in China and 52 of them can be found in Yunnan. This Ethnological theme park exhibits their homes, food, music, and culture. The village is just 10-kilometers away from downtown Kunming. The Village covers an area of 84 hectares (208 acres), including 31 hectares (76 acres) of water area. Each village performs traditional songs and dances in front of their traditional houses. Participating is highly encouraged! The Bai nationality boasts of their shiny black locks and tanned skin. The village thrilled the audience with their Hair Dance. Admission: CNY90 Adult; Free for children no taller than 1.2 meters (3.9 feet). Golden Temple It’s not really made of gold! Also known as Tongwa Temple, the Golden Temple houses the biggest copper temple in China. There is a regular Chinese Opera every afternoon, so make sure to check the temple schedule to catch the performance. The temple is also popular for kids, as it immerses them to the dying art of Chinese Opera. If you have time to spare, try to don the costumes and make-up! Admission: CNY30 Adult; CNY15 for children between 1.2 and 1.4 meters (3.9 – 4.6 feet); Free entry for children below 1.2 meters. Jiaozi Snow Mountain Jiaozi Snow Mountain has an elevation of 4,223 meters above sea level. The best time to go is between November and March when the mountain becomes white and rivers & waterfalls are frozen. Because of the distance from downtown Kunming (150 kilometers away, or about 6-hour bus ride), it is best to book at the Jiaozi Snow Mountain Hotel a night prior to your planned ascend. You can experience the local way of merrymaking at night that includes a lot of local wine, roasted goat, and a big bonfire! The hike begins after a short bus ride up the gondola station, definitely a perfect spot to take photos! The hike can last for 4-6 hours, depending on your pace. The path is paved but it gets slippery at times because of frost, so wear proper hiking footwear! Canned oxygen is highly necessary, so don’t ascend without at least 2 cans per person! The frozen lake on top of Jiaozi is ready for your #OOTD game! Admission: CNY84 Adult; CNY57 for children between 1.2 – 1.4m (3.9 – 4.6ft); Free for children under 1.2m. Jiuxiang Caves Also known as the Museum of Karst Caves, Jiuxiang Caves is 90 Kilometers away from downtown Kunming and it boasts more than 100 karst caves and is the largest cave group system in China. The area is a large comprehensive natural wonder combining karst cave and gorges scenery. The tour includes a quick gorge boat ride. The entire tour can last up to 2-3 hours, so wear proper footwear and attire! You can opt to begin or end your tour with a delicious spread of farm-to-table dishes: boiled greens, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, wild chicken, and steamed eggs. Best enjoyed with local wine! Grand View Park The park consists of seven tourist areas, including Jinhuapu, Louwailou (pavilion beyond pavilion), Mindscape Garden, East Garden, Yu Manor, Lu Garden and New West Garden. The park includes the three-storied Grand View Pavilion, which provides a spectacular view of sparkling Dianchi Lake and the Western Hills. Admission: Entrance Fee CNY 90 per person, includes boat ticket and tour guide fee CNY 120 per person, includes boat ticket, tour guide fee, and chairlift Free of charge for children below 1.3 meters (4.2 feet) Nanqiang Street Alley Nestled in downtown Kunming is the Nanqiang street alley, the oldest street in Kunming. The street has restaurants and dessert spots that offer more than the usual Chinese fare, also, if you love coffee (or have grown tired of drinking teas) the street has a couple of cafes that you should definitely check out. This is what locals call “Talk Show“. Couldn’t understand a word they were saying but it was very entertaining, to say the least! You can try your hands on Chinese Caligraphy too! Green Lake Park Green Lake Park is regarded as one the most beautiful parks in Kunming. The water is green, the bamboos around the lake are green, and willows in summer and spring are verdant, hence the name the Emerald of Kunming City. Make sure to grab a Tanghulu, candied hawthorn berries on skewers. Sweet and tarty! For a couple of Yuan, you can get yourself a bag of bird food which you can feed to black-headed gulls that migrate from Siberia.
WHERE TO EAT
Flower 17 Style Hot Pot Bar Flower 17 is a romantic flower-themed restaurant that serves a variety of ingredients and 2 broths of your choice. The restaurant is earnest about its floral theme, and everything we ate is in a shape of flowers! Fresh Beef Shop Another Hot Pot restaurant, but as the name suggests, Fresh Beef Shop is serious about cows! We were served with a hot-pot platter of beef from all different parts of the cow, in addition to a selection of barbeques and noodles. Dream Bar We capped one of our night off with libations paired with good music along the oldest street in Kunming!
WHERE TO STAY Sofitel Kunming Sofitel Kunming is one of the few hotels that have a lot of English-speaking staff, as a result, your stay will be comfortable most especially if you do not have a tour guide. Kunming Sofitel 777 South Huancheng Road Xishan District, Xishan, 650034 Kunming, China +86 871 6863 9888 Related Post: Sofitel Kunming Redolence Garden Boutique Hotel The hotel is previously a housing compound for an affluent Chinese family. The property has a lot of open spaces and a small bridged pond. Kunming Redolence Garden Boutique Hotel No. 3 West Village Road, Dianchi tourist resort, Xishan, 650228 Kunming, China +86 136 3876 7771 FINAL THOUGHTS As one of China’s important ancient and cultural cities, it continuously thrives a history which can be traced back to 30,000 years. Today, Kunming is in the forefront of the progression, but every nook and corner screams of the culture that the city has long preserved, originating from its Silk Road history (Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar, India and beyond). If you think seeing an entire village with tanned skin is already a big break from your usual Chinese, then seeing a multitude of culture in one big lazy susan is Melting Hot-Pot indeed. Getting around the city on your own is expedient, but because of the language barrier and considering how big the city is, it is best to book an English-speaking tour guide. Getting in China requires Visa. More information on how to obtain here. Hotels utilize standard two-prong power receptacles. An extension cord with USB ports is still a must! There are plenty of banks everywhere that accepts most international debit cards. Live an Awesome Life, BOOM of TEAM OUR AWESOME PLANET Disclosure: Our tour is courtesy of Yunnan Tourism. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights. P.S. The Great Firewall of China can be bypassed, but installing and purchasing a plan has to be done beforehand. I used ExpressVPN and it worked like a charm.