5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in Kunming

5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in Kunming
By Matt Poulter , eChinacities.com

It’s easy to spend your free time in Kunming in the Wenlin Street bubble of foreign cafes and bars. However, you’ll kick yourself if you leave the Spring City without having experienced some of the more unusual activities Yunnan has to offer. Here are our five suggestions.

1) Hang out on a beach 1900 metres above sea level
Only in China can you find a beach 1900 metres above sea level! Fuxian Lake is located about 40 miles (65KM) southeast of Kunming and is China’s second deepest freshwater lake. There are several resorts located around its perimeter at Chengjiang, Luchong and Sunshine Coast, all of which boast their own beaches of imported sand.

Sunshine Coast is probably the most developed of the resorts. The hotel features a bowling alley, archery range and of course a KTV. The hotel notches up three stars and rooms are upwards of 200 RMB, so if you’re looking for a cheaper option head to the lakeside road which is packed with more basic accommodation.

The family restaurants which you’ll also find here offer many local specialties; not surprisingly fish features prominently. One fish you shouldn’t eat if you happen to spot it on the menu is the endangered kanglang fish (抗浪鱼). The fish has been a delicacy from the Qing dynasty onwards and is now facing extinction. Indeed, we can’t help wondering how it has even lasted this long!

As for the beaches themselves, they are relatively clean and great for children, which means they are packed with families at the weekends and on holidays when the weather is good. What makes a trip to the beach really worth it in our eyes is Fuxian Lake itself. The waters are clean and private motorised boats are banned. Rubber rings and peddle boats can both be rented from around the beach area. However, there’s nothing quite as relaxing as simply lying on your back, and floating on the gently undulating surface of the lake while staring up at the clear blue sky.

Fuxian Lake抚仙湖
Getting there and away:
Considering its proximity to Kunming, Fuxian Lake is somewhat difficult to get to. If you have the budget, minivans and drivers can be hired for 300 RMB each way including motorway tolls. This isn’t so bad if you’re a larger group splitting the cost. There are also public buses which run from the South Bus Station, which itself can be reached from the Green Lake area by taking bus 85 from Wenlin Jie to the end of the line at Juhua Cun (菊花村), switching to line 12 and riding it to Zhaoxi Cun (照西村). From the South Station there are frequent departures to Chengjiang for 20 RMB. The trip takes about two and a half hours. After reaching Fuxian Lake, it is easy to hire a van or motorbike to take you wherever you want to go.

2) Dance with dwarves and see dead butterflies
The Dwarf Empire made international news when it was launched in July, 2009. Many media outlets mistakenly reported that Dwarf Empire was some kind of utopian commune founded by the dwarves themselves. In fact it is a business venture attached to the World Ecological Garden of Butterfly, with an entrance fee of 80 RMB.

Consisting of about 100 dwarves, but with plans to expand, Dwarf Empire is part theme park, part variety show. Daily performances are held at 10:30 and 15:30 during which the dwarf performers sing, dance and perform acrobatics to techno music in front of a backdrop of miniature turreted castles and mushroom houses.
We had quite a heated debate before deciding to go as to the morals of visiting. Is Dwarf Empire providing its employees with a legitimate means of earning their living, or is it just exploiting them and cashing in on the fact that they are dwarves? Well, probably a bit of both is our conclusion after visiting. If you’re still undecided, we’ll mention that all the dwarves seemed genuinely enthusiastic about what they were doing and were happy with their salary, accommodation and general treatment. Aside from the variety show, the location itself isn’t much and can be walked around within half an hour.

If you have a feint heart, the you best not enter the World Ecological Garden of Butterfly, which is a horror house of dying butterflies lying limp and shredded wherever you look.

Dwarf Empireat World Ecological Garden of Butterfly世界蝴蝶生态园内小矮人帝国View In Map
Add: Heiqiaomu Village, Biji Town, Xishan District, Kunming
地址:昆明市西山区碧鸡镇黑荞母村
Tel: 087 1572 6239
Opening hours:daily 10:00-17:00
Getting there and away:
World Ecological Garden of Butterfly (Dwarf Empire) 世界蝴蝶生态园, lies about 25 miles (40km) southwest of Kunming. Private cars can be hired from the West Bus Station or jump on any bus heading towards Haikou and tell the driver you want to get off at hudie yuan 蝴蝶园. From there, motorcycle taxis can be hired to take you the remaining 5km.

3) Show off your golfing skills
Located in the Haigeng Olympic Training Base, Haigeng Minigolf is one of Asia's largest mini golf courses, with two 18-hole courses, and host to an annual international mini-golf competition. The courses are well presented and have an interesting range of holes. Adults and children alike will find themselves cheering in triumph and howling with frustration. One round costs 40 RMB per person and two rounds can be played for 60 RMB per person. Discounts are possible if you are coming with a large party.

Attached to the courses is an outdoor bar, which would look more at home in Hawaii, and a restaurant which frequently hosts well received BBQs. Drinks and food are both reasonably priced and overall the location makes for a great day trip, especially if you are going with a group of friends or you have young children in your family.

Haigeng Minigolf Park海埂迷你高尔夫公园View In Map
Add: Kunming Haigeng Sports Center, 57 Hubin Lu, Haigeng, Kunming
地址:昆明市海埂湖滨路57号昆明体育训练基地
Tel:087 1461 4337
Opening hours:10:00 – 22:00
Getting there and away: taxis from central Kunming cost around 30 RMB

4) Hang on with your life on Kunming’s rocks
If you wake up one morning and realise that your Kunming life resembles one long slow and dreamy valium trip, what better way to snap out of it than going rock climbing! Yunnan’s temperate climate and abundance of limestone caves and cliff faces mean there are plenty of options for rock climbing in and around the city.

Red Point is the largest climbing gym in Kunming. It has a 100 square metre wall and is frequented by many high level climbers. Their shop sells rock climbing clothing and equipment and occasionally hosts small climbing competitions. Flying Eagle is another option with a nice ambience. It has a 70 square metre wall, a bar and another clothing shop. The climbing community is a friendly lot and it is probably best to ask them about the best outdoor climbing locations around the city. More information can be found in local online forums. Remember, when going walking or climbing in the Yunnan countryside, always leave a plan of your route and your expected return time with a trustworthy friend. In the last few years there have unfortunately been several fatal accidents involving foreigners.

Flying EagleView In Map
Add: 2F, 20 Xuefu Lu, Kunming
地址:昆明市学府路20号2楼
Opening hours:(around)11:00-19:00 
Entry: 10 RMB
Red PointView In Map
Add:1 Huancheng Dong Lu, Building 49, Sujia Cun, Dongjiawan, Kunming
地址:昆明市环城东路苏家村董家湾49幢1号
Opening hours: (around)11:00-19:00
Entry:20 RMB

5) Learn the secrets of Yunnan cuisine
If you’re not so much of a thrill seeker, or have the upper body strength of a nine year old girl, why not try a cooking class in the city instead? One well established venue for cooking is Paul’s Cooking Classroom. That’s the same Paul who runs Paul’s Shop, one of the many locations in the city where you can buy Western Groceries. Somewhat bizarrely for a Chinese owned grocery shop which has lots of western customers, they teach western style cooking.

Most westerners here want to learn how to make some of Yunnan’s delicious dishes. We’re trying to cement a popular cooking revolution in order to get Paul’s to teach us the secret ingredients and cooking methods of some of these local delicacies. By the time you read this article, hopefully we’ve been successful. In case we haven’t, bear in mind that there are plenty of local students who have delicious country recipes from their villages stored in their heads. For a small fee or even the chance to practice their English, they are often more than willing to teach a foreigner. Many of the local online forums have advertisements for their services.

Paul's Cooking Classroom at Paul’s Shop西餐教室View In Map
Add:13 Tianjundian Xiang, Kunming
地址:昆明市天君殿巷
Tel: 087 1535 4210
Opening hours: 10:00-22:00

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Keywords: Unusual activities Kunming dwarf empire Kunming Kunming beach 5 things you didn’t know you could do Kunming

1 Comments

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Pan Swee Chin
comment|16404|0

Is Paul's Cooking Class on? If yes, are there more current details? Thanks.

May 31, 2011 00:09 Report Abuse