Got Guests in Town? 5 Great Places to Visit in Kunming

Got Guests in Town? 5 Great Places to Visit in Kunming

Great! After months of prodding, you’ve finally convinced one of your friends or family members to travel all the way to wild Yunnan to visit you. The only problem is now you’ve got to entertain someone who’s just dropped a couple of thousand bucks on a place they’ve never heard of. Of course it’ll be great to spend time together, but no visitor gets off a 12 hour plane ride without some expectations.

 

Luckily, Kunming has a lot to offer a host who wants to show the lesser-known side of China. From spectacular vistas to back-alley restaurants and antique shops, you’ll find activities that will keep your guests entertained for days.

1) 1910 Gare du Sud 火车南站 View In Map
Considered by many to be the best Chinese restaurant in town, Gare du Sud combines good food, fast service and spectacular atmosphere. Built at the turn of the century as a colonial French railway station, the restaurant’s décor is astounding. Being inside such a well-preserved building is a great way to introduce the unique history of Yunnan.

The restaurant also offers a great introduction to Yunnanese cuisine. The soybean congee with fried strips of bread is its specialty, but is a little bland. The tree ear with walnuts, or really any mushroom dish, is a must. The steamed ribs with yams is another solid Yunnan dish, as well as the fried goat cheese strips. It has a helpful picture menu and seasonal specials. It’s quite reasonably priced, so it can get a little busy at dinner time- it’s best to go at 19:00 or 20:00.

Add: 8 Houxin Jie, Kunming
地址:昆明后新街8号
Tel: 0871 316 9486
Opening hours: 11:30-14:00, 16:30-21:00

2) Yuantong Temple 圆通寺
The history behind Yuantong temple makes it one of the most interesting sights in Kunming. Built during the Nanzhao Kingdom period over a 1,000 years ago when Yunnan was still independent, Yuantong was one of the first places Buddhist missionaries from India and Southeast Asia chose to evangelise. It has a fascinating blend of Chinese and Southeast Asian architecture. It is such an important symbol of the connection between China and the Southeastern Asia that the King of Thailand personally donated a golden Buddha to the temple at great cost.

 

It is especially well suited for short-term visitors thanks to this unique style and proximity to Green Lake. The easiest way to go is to walk out of the east gate of Green Lake and go up the hill on Yuantong Road (圆通路). It’s about a 15 minute walk. Buses 85 and 101 can also take you there. Tickets are 10 RMB

3) West Hills Forest Park 西山森林公园
The mountains of Kunming provide endless opportunity for exploration. The easiest way to access them is to take a bus to the West Hills Forest Park and walk around. You’ll of course be encouraged to stay on the path and see the major sights, like the Dragon Gate and Huating Temple. Each tourist site is a pretty hefty stair walk from where the bus lets you off, and to see all or even most of them can be exhausting. From the tourist’s perspective, most of the temples are pretty “standard,” and not so desirable if you’ve already seen some. The real treat is the fantastic view of Kunming from the top.

Another alternative is to simply leave the main path at the top and explore the massive forest reserve on your own. Hundreds of paths snake between the trees, sometimes leading to isolated cliffs and sometimes to hidden creeks and ponds. It’s a fun way to get out of the city without really roughing it.

Take the number 5 bus from Kunshi Road Station to the end station. From there you can either take the number 6 to West Hills or get on one of the minibuses just outside the station. This is recommended since it’s only a few RMB more and they take you all the way to the top.

4) Green Lake (Cui Hu) 翠湖 View In Map
One of the most famous, and therefore most crowded, parks in Kunming, Green Lake is one of those rare sights that’s worth shouldering through throngs of people. Besides the idyllic weeping willows dipping into the crisp jade water and ancient bridges arching over fields of lotus, the people who come to Green Lake are one of the treasures of the city.

Every weekend the park fills with members of local minorities and retirees for a park-wide jam session and hoedown. Dozens and dozens of circles form around the lake as minorities perform songs and traditional dances together. The open and free-form style might just have you joining in if you feel inclined. Again, a great many people come to watch, but it’s a still and enjoyable example of the southwestern lifestyle.

Add: Green Lake Park, Cui Hu North Road, Kunming
地址: 昆明市翠湖公园翠湖北路

5) Bird and Flower Market 花鸟市场
Although recent construction has destroyed a lot of the old shops, there is still enough of Kunming’s old central market left to enjoy some shopping. The bird and flower market itself is unremarkable; in fact tight caging of the pets might be a little off putting to animal lovers. Just keep walking down the main road a bit until you see some jade shops. There will be a number of three and four story buildings with various jewelry sellers on the first floor. Just walk in to any of these buildings.

Jade is king here, with pieces ranging from the low thousands to millions of RMB. There are Thai, Burmese and Vietnamese craftsmen selling jewelry, tapestries, wood and stone carvings, and more. Excellent antique shops abound. Even if you’re not looking to buy, anyone could easily kill an afternoon poking around window shopping. Most places close at 17:00. Remember you have to bargain hard!

Kunming Bird and Flower Market昆明景星花鸟市场View In Map
Add: Yongdao Jie, Kunming City Center, Kunming
地址:昆明市中心甬道街

So now that you know where to go, get out there and enjoy some quality time exploring all that Kunming can offer. 

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Keywords: Attractions in Kunming visiting Kunming parks temples Kunming good places to visit Kunming

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