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Kunming Travel Guide

Kunming Overview

Kunming is the capital of Yunnan Province, is the political, economic and cultural center and also the transport and communication hub of the province. Kunming has no bitter cold in winter and heat in summer with blossoms opening all the year round. Hence it has enjoyed the reputation of the ‘Spring City’. With a history more than 2,400 years, it owns its importance to the fact that is was the gateway to the well-known South Silk Road that facilitated trade with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar and India.

Kunming’s alluring high land scenery, bewitching karsts landform, varied and exotic habitats and customs, places of historical interest can be found at major scenic spots in and around the city, such as Dianchi Lake, Stone Forest, Villages of Ethnic Culture, and Grand View Garden. Besides, the city is the place one can fully experience Yunnan’s minority culture with 26 ethnic minorities like Yi, Bai, Miao, Dai and Naxi in the region, each of them has their own featured festivals.

Yunnan is an important passage between southwest China and Southeast Asia. it has developed advanced highway, railway, river, and air transportation systems. The Chengdu-Kunming Railway and the Guiyang-Kunming Electric Railway link Yunan to the national railway network. So far more than 50 regional, national and International flight routes have been opened. Kunming Wujiaba International Airport boasts an air transportation network connected to all major countries in Southwest Asia. An across-province highway network, with Kunming as the center and national and provincial highways as the framework, has been formed in the province. The highways linking its major cities are all high-ranked. Its main watercourses are the Jinsha River and the Lancang-Mekong River, and its key ports include the Jinghong Port, Simao Port, Dali Port, Shuifu Port and Suijiang Port.

Kunming Facts
Kunming Geography
Kunming History
Kunming Climate & Weather
Kunming Transportation
Best Time for Kunming Travel
Best Places for Kunming Travel

Basis Information

• Chinese Name: 昆明
• Location: Located in the middle of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau
• Area Code: 0871
• Zip Code: 650000
• Area: Kunming has an area of 21,018 sq km.
• Main attractions in Kunming:

Administration Distribution

Administrative Division: The prefecture-level city of Kunming has jurisdiction over 14 subdivisions; five districts, one county-level city, five counties and three autonomous counties.

Kunming is bounded by Qujing City to the east, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture to the southeast and Yuxi City to the southwest, Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture to the west and Zhaotong City to the northeast. Kunming also borders with Panzhihua prefecture level city and Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan province. Kunming plans to add two new districts to its existing four urban districts (Panlong, Wuhua, Guandu, Xishan) over the next few years

Population: Kunming has a population of 3.89 million. Urban Population is 1.69 million, including 26 ethnic groups. The city is the place one can fully experiences Yunnan’s minority culture with 26 ethnic minorities like Yi, Bai, Miao, Dai and Naxi in the region, each of them has their own featured festivals.

Located in the middle of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, Kunming is located at an altitude of 1,900 m above sea level and at latitude just north of the Tropic of Cancer.

Kunming is close to Dianchi Lake in the south, surrounded on three sides by mountains and faces the Dianchi Lake plain. Kunming is the forefront and the portal that China facing Southeast Asia, South Asia and even the Middle East, of southern Europe and Africa. It has unique location advantage of connecting Guizhou-Guangxi to the coast in the east, passing through Sichuan and Chongqing into the central plains in the north, reaching Thailand and Cambodia via Vietnam and Laos in the south, and connecting Myanmar, India and Pakistan in the west.

Kunming has a long history, splendid culture, and it is one of the first batch of 24 national historical and cultural cities that the state council released which has more than 2200 years history of the city and 3000 years of civilization of Dianchi area. About 30000 years ago, there was human life in Dianchi lake area.

Tens of thousands of years ago the ancestors of Kunming had lived a life of savage that they ate the raw meat and drank the blood and they lived in the cave in this area with the primitive life. About four thousand to seven thousand years ago, there was settled agricultural nation in Dianchi Lake area, and they were engaged in primitive agriculture and hunting, raising livestock and poultry, and other activities, and has been able to spinning and weaving. Dianchi Lake area and rice planting have at least about one thousand years of history so far.

In Bronze Age clan tribal was formed in Dianchi Lake region, mainly Pu people. Di and Qiang people and other nomadic people came into Dianchi Lake area across the Jinsha River from Shaanxi, Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan area, mixed together with local Pu people and formed Yunnan ethnic fusion, which promoted the exploration and development of Dianchi Lake area.

Kunming History in Details

Kunming, with a history more than 2,400 years, owns its importance to the fact that is was the gateway to the well-known South Silk Road that facilitated trade with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar and India. In this page, you will find the brief introduction of the history of Kunming.

Early History
As early as the Paleolithic Age, 30,000 years ago, Dianchi Lake area (now Chenggong Longtan Mountain area) had human lived. Kunming is one of the birthplaces of mankind.

The Warring States Period
In the 3rd Century BC, Chu entered Yunnan, set fortification at Jinning, and built Dian Kingdom. The kingdom last for 300 years, and Kunming is one of the ancient capital in China.

Han Dynasty
In 109 BC (Western Han Dynasty), Emperor Wu conquered Yunnan and expanded territory to Yunnan, setting Yizhou at Dianchi Lake Area, Kunming was the Guchang County of the 24 counties under the administration of Yizhou.

The Three Kingdoms, Sui, Tang and Song Dynasties
During Shu Kingdom, Zhuge Liang conquered Yizhou and changed its name to Jianning. Nanzheng

In Sui Dynasty, its name was changed to Kungzhou. Later in Tang and Song Dynsty, it belonged to Nanzhao Kingdom, Dali Kingdom, and these kingdoms set capital here.

Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty
In 1275AD, Yuan Dynasty established the Yunnan Zhongshusheng and Zhognqing Road, and Kunming County is the capital of Zhongqing Road. The ruling center of Yunnan moved to Kunming from Dali. And Kunming became the province’s political, economic and cultural center.

During Ming Dynasty, Zhongqing Road was changed name into Yunnan Mansion. During Ming and Qing Dynasties, Qing’s army conquered Beijing, Zhang Xianzhong’s peasant army retreated to Kunming, he implemented a set of political, economic and cultural systems and ruled here for 12 years. During Southern Ming Dynasty, Kunming became the regime of Gui King Wu Sangu.”

Modern and Contemporary
During the Revolution of 1911, Kunming outbreak “Chongjiu Uprising” and overthrow the Qing dynasty in Yunnan, abolished the government, and the provincial capital is still Kunming.

1928, formally established the city of Kunming.

In 1949, Yunnan was peacefully liberated under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the People’s Government. Kunming’s development has entered a new era.

Kunming is located on a 1.2-mile (2-km) high plateau with mountains to the north, east and west. The well-known sentence “Kunming is a city of eternal Spring.” indicates the typical climate character of Kunming. It is perpetually enjoying tourist season because of the mild climate and plentiful fine days with an average temperature of 19.7 centigrade. Weather here changes little throughout the year with no severe Summer or cold Winter.

Kunming has two seasons rather than four. Wet season and dry season; wet season ranges from May to October and the dry season begins in November and lasts till April in the following year.

Characters of the four seasons in Kunming
Spring is warm and dry in Kunming and quite comfortable. Fresh breezes and quick evaporation create beautifully sunny days.

Summer days are not very hot; most being cloudy or rainy. The average temperature in Summer months is 21 degrees Celsius.

Kunming in autumn is charming with clear blue skies and crisp air; very pleasant.

In Winter, it contrasts with other southern cities in that there are no truly cold days, but mostly cool days with abundant sunshine, averaging about 20 sunny days in each Winter month.

Climate Data Table for Kunming

                Month
Item
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
maximum
temperature
(℃)
15 17 21 24 25 24 24 24 23 20 17 15
minimum
temperature
(℃)
2 4 7 10 14 17 17 16 14 12 7 3
Rainfall (mm) 11.6 11.2 15.2 21.1 93.0 183.7 212.3 202.3 119.5 85.0 38.6 13.0
Days of rainfall 4.4 4.6 5.5 6.8 12.2 17.4 20.3 19.3 15.8 13.0 7.3 3.8

♦ Spring (March to May): Spring is warm, dry and rainless, and the temperature change is big. Early spring in March people can see snow mountain. At the start of spring, flowers are everywhere in Kunming that the peach trees are in bloom and the willows are turning green, and you can go to Yuantong Hill to see cherry blossom. This period of time in Kunming, there are many fruit, flowers and ethnic festivals, the scenery of Kunming is the most beautiful during this time.

♦ Summer (June to August): Summer is not scorching heat, but concentrated rainfall, and the heavy rain. The rain in summer accounts for more than 60% of annual rainfall. May to October is Kunming’s rainy season, basically there is shower every day. Kunming city annual average temperature of about 15 ℃, the hottest month average temperature basic between 19 ℃ to 22 ℃.

♦ Autumn (September to October): Autumn is cool, and the sky is high and the weather fine. The weather dry and autumn cool quickly, so people must prepare a sweater or coat if travel there. As long as it rains, the temperature will be slightly down, tourists would better take a trench coat.

♦ Winter (November to next February): Winter is not extremely cold with adequate sunshine. Bevies of black-headed gulls fly from distant Siberian Lake Baikal to avoid the cold weather and fall perch of Panlong River, Chestwood, Dianchi Lake in Kunming city. So in winter people can come to watch those elves.

Dressing Tips

♦ Spring (March to May): Kunming day and night temperature difference is big, there are saying that “four seasons in one day”. In spring and summer people can bring a thin unlined upper garment. The weather in Kunming is a bit dry. Suggested that drinking more water and eating more fruit and vegetables.

♦ Summer (June -August): Kunming ultraviolet ray is very strong, the weather is changeable, umbrella and sun hat can use all the year round in Kunming, and girls don’t forget to bring sunscreen.

♦ Autumn (September to October): From May to October is the rainy season in Kunming, if it rains the temperature will be lower, so tourists have better to take a windcoat and light sweater.

♦ Winter (November to February): The average temperature in Kunming in the coldest month will be 6 degree to 8 degree. People who are easily getting cold would better bring down jacket. “Take enough clothes of different seasons and prepare solid food” would be useful travel advise according to the special climate of Kunming.

Airport

Kunming Changshui International Airport
♦ Address: Changshui village, Guandu District, Kunming City, Yunnan Province
♦ Official website: www.ynairport.com

Kunming Changshui International Airport is China’s gateway to Southeast Asia, South Asia and the connection of the Eurasian airport. In 2013 passenger throughput is 29690000, ranked seventh in the Chinese mainland. Kunming Changshui International Airport is China’s seventh throughput of more than 20000000 airports, and it has opened the domestic, international and regional routes for more than 100 routes.

Rail

There are 5 train stations in Kunming, they are Kunming Railway Station, Kunming South Station, Kunming North Station, Kunming West Station, Kunming East Station. The major passenger train stations are Kunming Railway Station, Kunming South Station and Kunming North Station.

Kunming Railway Station
It is the main and center station of Kunming. It was opened to public since 1958, and is the first-class railway station under the jurisdiction of the Kunming Railway Bureau. It is the hub of Chengdu-Kunming Railway, Kunming Railway, Nanning-Kunming Railway and Shanghai-Kunming Railway. Kunming has six waiting platforms and a total of 12 station tracks.

♦ Address: Intersection of Beijing Road and Zhanqian Road, Guandu District, Kunming City.
♦ How to get: there are many buses that can reach Kunming Railway Station, like bus No.2, 23, 24, 25, 31, 32, 44, 47, 58, 59, 60, 64, 68, 80, 83, 86, 107 and other buses, and you can also take the subway line 1 to there.

Kunming South Railway Station
Located in the center of Gongcheng New District, and was put into operation in 2015 and became the first station in the western and southwest of China. It is the terminal station of Shanghai-Kunming passenger railway line, Beijing-Kunming passenger railway line, Yunnan-Guangxi express railway and so on, and it is also the stop station of all bullet trains to Kunming. Now it aims at freight transport where there are South Railway Freight Container Center, Nanning-Kunming Railway Slow Train Stop, and in total of 4 pairs of trains pass by.

♦ Address: Gongcheng New District, Kunming
♦ How to get: New South Railway Station is 3 km away from the administrative center of Kunming of Gongcheng New District, and 7 km from Dianchi Lake, 28 km from Kunming Railway Station. There is Subway Line 1 and Subway Line 4 will pass by Kunming South Railway Station.

Kunming North Railway Station
It is the stop of Kunming-Hekou railway, and there is just one train from Shiju station to Wangjiaying station that will stop here. Kunming-Hanoi railway is an important international passage between China and Southeast Asia, which is only one using meter-gage railway in China national road as yet. Kunming-Hekou railway or called Yunnan-Vietnam railway starts from Kunming Yunnan to Hekou Yao Nationality Autonomous County in the China-Vietnam border, the total length is 468 km. There are 62 stops along this rail and it is a trunk railway that connects China with Vietnam.

♦ Address: 913 Beijing Road, Panlong District, Kunming City
♦ How to get: Kunming North Railway Station is in the Kunming city, it is easy to get there. There are many buses to reach as bus No.3, 9, 22, 23, 29, 50, 61, 70 and other buses.

Bus

There are 5 bus stations in Kunming, and they were all put into use since 2010.

Kunming East Bus Station
Located in the west side of Liangmiansi Overpass, the extension cord of Forth Ring East Road and Renming Road, which is first class passenger bus station. The buses sent to Wenshan Prefecture, Honghe Prefecture (Gejiu city, Kaiyuan City, Mengzi City, Mile County, Luxi County, Hekou City, Pingbain City, Jinping City), Qujing City (Luliang county, Shizong county, Luoping county), county of Kunming city like Shilin county, Yiliang county, and partial inter-provincial buses.

♦ Address: between East Third Ring Hongqiao Overpass and Liangmiansi Overpass, 1 km from Hongqiao Overpass, Panlong District
♦ How to get: taking bus No.28, temporary No.1 and No.2, BRT 54 and K2.

Kunming South Bus Station
It is in the east of intersection of Forth Ring South Road and Caiyun Road, which is first class passenger bus station. The buses sent to Pu’er City (except Jingdong county and Shangyun town of Pu’er city), Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Yuxi City (except Yimen county), Honghe Prefecture (Jianshui county, Shiping county, Yuanyang county, Lvchun county, Honghe county), Jinning county (belongs to Kunming city) and partial international buses.

♦ Address: East of New Luokun Road, Guandu District, 1.6 km away from Guangfu Road and New Luokun Road.
♦ How to get: there are 12 buses to Kunming South Bus Station, people can take bus No.12, 46, 170, 149, 165, 178, 179, 154, C4, C5, C6, C7, C12, C13, C14, and 186.

Kunming West Bus Station
It is in the east of intersection of Chunyu Road and Yining Road, which is first class passenger bus station. The buses sent to Dali Prefecture, Baoshan City, Dehong Prefecture, Lincang City, Nvjiang Prefecture, Diqing Prefecture, Lijiang City (Ancient Town Area, Yulong county, Yongsheng county, Ninglang county), Jingdong county (belongs to Pu’er city) and Shangyun Town (belongs to Lancang county, Pu’er city)

♦ Address: Northeast of intersection of Chunyu Road and Yining Road, Majie Town, Xishan District
♦ How to get: taking bus No.6, 7, 80, C2, C11, C8 to Kunming West Bus Station.

Kunming North Bus Station
It is in the Fengyuan Road, 1000m of west of Kunming Qujing Highway, which is first class passenger bus station. The buses sent to Qujing city (except Luliang county, Shizong county, and Luoping county), Zhaotong city, Kunming city (Xundian county, Songming county, Luquan county, Dongchuan Area) and partial inter-provincial buses.

♦ Address: Yangchang Longtou street, Panlong District
♦ How to get: taking bus No.25, 92, temporary 3 to Kunming North Bus Station

Kunming Northwest Bus Station
It is in the middle between north of Third Ring West Road Gaoxin District and Kunsha Road, which is second class passenger bus station. The buses sent to Chuxiong Prefecture, Yimen county (belongs to Yuxi city), Kunming city (Anning city, Fumin county, Luquan county), Huaping county (belongs to Lijiang city), Panzhihua city (belong to Sichuan province).

♦ Address: Westsouth of Puji village, Wuhua District, 800m away from Kunsha Road
♦ How to get: taking bus No.8 to Kunming Northwest Bus Station

It’s suitable for travelling Kunming throughout the whole year. However, the best time to visit Kunming is from March to October. There are many Yunnan ethnic festivals during these months and there are most fruits and flowers in this period. For this reason, travelling in this season will bring you ultimate pleasure and happiness.

♦ Stone Forest – Stone Forest Scenic Spot, is located in Lunan county, 86 kilometers away from Kunming city. The scenic area is make up by the large and small stone forest which are the ancient stone forest, Dadie Water, Long Lake, Moon Lake, Zhiyun Cave, Qifeng Cave of seven scenic areas. The county has a total of stone forest area of 400 square kilometers, is a high-profile scenic spot both at home and abroad of karst landscape as the main body, is praised as “the world wonders”.

♦ Jiuxiang Scenic Area – Jiuxiang Cave is a national scenic area, and is located in Yiliang county Kunming city, the scenic area has more than 40 kilometers distance from Yiliang County. Jiuxiang is a national key scenic spot and it is a new cave in Yunnan province that is given priority to with karst cave landscape. The scenic area featuring by Karst cave landscape is a large comprehensive tourist scenic area combining the karst cave, gorges scenery, ethnic customs and cultural landscape.

♦ Western Hill – Western Hill is a National Forest Park, national AAAA level scenic spot and one of the core scenic areas in National Dianchi Lake Tourist Resort. It is located in the 15 km of western suburbs of Kunming city and is composed of Huating Mountain, Taihua Mountain, Luohan Mountain etc. The mountain is stretching over 40 kilometers, the altitude of 1900 ~ 2350m. According to ancient legend there was a phoenix stopped for a rest in the Western Hill, the people who saw it but did not know it so just called it green chicken, so it also called the Green Peacock Mountain. And because seen from afar, its undulating skyline resembles a graceful young lady sleeping on her back, hence the name of the “sleeping beauty”.

♦ Dianchi Lake – Dianchi Lake is located in the south of Kunming city at the foot of the Western Hills. Its northern end is near Kunming Daguan Park, and its south reaches Jinning County, 5km away from the urban area. Here has been summer resort and tourist resort all the time. The shape of Dianchi is crescent, from north and south it is 39km long, 13.5km wide, the average width of about 8km. The shoreline is about 200 km. The lake covers an area of 300 square meters, ranking the first in Yunnan Province, and the maximum depth of the lake is 8m, average depth of 5m, water storage capacity of 1.57 billion. It is the sixth largest inland freshwater lake in China.