The capital city of Yunnan province is among the most famous historical and cultural cities in China and lies in the middle of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau in Southwest China. It is known as the "city of eternal spring" due to its perpetual mild weather, providing the ideal climate for plants and flowers to grow and making the city being covered with blossoms and lush vegetation all-year round.
In addition to many places of historical interests, today the city continues to shine with its diverse ethnic customs.
As the home to 25 ethnic groups, Kunming is endowed with a remarkable traditional folk culture. Each group has its unique legends, featured costumes and festivals, making the city even more enchanting for visitors.
Kunming is also captivated visitors with its alluring plateau scenery and bewitching karst landform.
With its proximity to Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, the city serves as a popular hub for connections with many of Southeast Asian countries. It is indeed a must-see.
1. Shilin (Stone Forest)
Among many peculiar and breathtaking natural landscapes, Shilin, about 120km southeast of Kunming, is the best known, which takes only a three-hour drive from Kunming. It is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan.
Covering an area of 400 sq km, it is home to a series of towering and steep intricate karsts that come in all shapes and sizes. It is a geological park of typical karst formation, consisting of rock caves, arches and pavilions.
Those natural stone masterpieces are in the shape of animals, plants, swords and even humans, with some elegant, some rugged, but each is lifelike with its own distinct characteristics.
A local saying goes that "It is a waste of time without being in Shilin while visiting Kunming".
2. Dianchi Lake
Lying at the foot of the Western Hills in Kunming city, the lake is regarded as the cradle of Yunnan culture and also called as Kunming Lake.
With a stunning landscape and an elevation of 1,885 meters, it is praised as "a pearl on the plateau".
With an area of 300 sq km, it is the largest freshwater lake in Yunnan and the sixth largest in China. Its west side is covered by lush forest, while the east side is dotted with fisheries and agribusinesses. Fishermen there still catch fish by sailing boats on the lake today.
The lake is most beautiful at dawn and sunset. If you want to truly enjoy the surroundings and feel close to nature, then take a boat ride around the ocean-like lake.
3. Bamei Village
Chinese poet Tao Yuanming of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 317-420) once described a legendary fairyland called the "peach blossom valley" in his works. It was a place completely isolated from the rest of the world, and people there lived a simple, pastoral life. But this imaginary place came true when Bamei Village was discovered.
Bamei means 'cave in the forest' in local language. Surrounded by hills, it is a hidden Shangri-la of primitive flavors and a place without roads and electricity. Bamei River is the only access in and out of the village. Visitors can only reach there via small boats that travel some 20 minutes through a long, dark tunnel, making people feel as if they are going back in time.
Upon arrival, a visitor will become emerged into an agricultural wonderland with clear streams, green fields, bamboo groves, banyan trees and few tourists.
People there support themselves within the village and almost have no contact with the outside world. Therefore, the local traditions and customs are fully preserved.
The village attracts tourists who are looking for places off the beaten path in pursuit of solitude and quiet.
4. Jiuxiang Cave Scenic Area
Jiuxiang Cave Scenic Area is located 90 km away from Kunming. It is famous for its striking natural landscapes, deep valleys, magnificent underground scenery, and enchanting ethnic customs and cultures.
With a total area of about 200 sq km, there are more than 100 karsts caves in the resort, making it the biggest cave clusters in China, which are listed as one of China's national-level scenic areas.
It has five major scenic spots, namely, the Triangular Caves, the Overlapping Rainbow Bridge, the Upper Big Cave, the Long Sandy Bank and the Bright Moon Lake.
The place has a mild climate all the year round, with an average temperature of 15C throughout the year.
5. Kunming Flowers and Birds Market
The Flowers and Birds Market within the city is the most attractive shopping market where spring reigns all year around. Since 1983 the market has been built into a comprehensive public spot for leisure, shopping and trading.
A multitude of shops and stores stand along the street display a huge variety of flowers, rare plants and different seeds and fertilizers.
Strolling in the market street, visitors are easy to be lured by the beautiful blossoms, dedicate plant crafts and a mixed melody of bird singing.
The market also acts as a trading center for various kinds of antiques, including coins, jade articles, jewelry, porcelains, potteries, stone carving, and other handicrafts.
Old buildings within the market are also well preserved, where you can stop to get a cup of tea in many Western-style restaurants, shops and teahouses.
If you go
Kunming Wujiaba International Airport has regular flights to and from South-East Asia, as well as plenty of domestic connections through China. A one-way air trip from Beijing to Kunming takes 3.5 hours and costs about 1,500 yuan (170 euros). A flight from Shanghai takes three hours and costs about 1,400 yuan (159 euros).
Controlled by a subtropical highland climate, Kunming has spring-like weather year round, with an annual average temperature of 15 C, peaking at 20 C in summer and falling to 7.5 C in winter. Winter is short, cool and dry, with mild days and crisp nights. Summer is long, warm and humid. The rainy season lasts from May to October, often bringing daily showers.
Nan Yao Market (the largest open market dealing primarily with local specialties and handicrafts)
Yunnan Curio Building (stores with handicrafts of various ethnic groups)
Flowers and Birds Market (offering pets, curios, artwork and handcraft)
Ivory carving Dai Zhu Bian (bamboo basketry of Dai ethic group)
Qiguo Ji (steaming-pot chicken)
Braised Jizong (mushroom) in soy sauce
Kunming Lu Ya (Kunming bittern duck)
Yunnan Guoqiao Mixian (over-the-bridge rice noodles)
Shao Mai (steamed pork dumplings)
Chou Tofu (fermented smelly bean curd)
Dian Eight Articles (eight cakes with eight different flavors)
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