Kunming     昆明

In the wonderfully relaxed Yunnan Province, even the capital city is chilled-out. While it is home to several million people, Kunming is a world away from China’s bustling mega cities, both figuratively and literally. Although it is developing rapidly, the pace of life in the city remains remarkably slow compared to elsewhere in China. The streets are largely clean and the sky is usually clear. Located at an elevation of 1600m, the weather is mild all year round, earning Kunming the moniker of “Spring City”.

There’s no real pressure to see or do anything in Kunming. Kunming’s primary purpose for travelers is as a transport hub, both for exploring Yunnan Province and, increasingly, as a link to south-east Asia. Ultimately, this is a stopover city; a place to relax and recuperate for those on overland journeys.

Kunming might not be cutting-edge, but there is a growing art and nightlife scene. It might not have any must-see attractions, but there are some interesting sights. The city is blessed with some lovely parks, temples and ample opportunities for accessible out-of-town adventures. And with its excellent weather all year round, those who aren’t on a strict timetable could easily find themselves prolonging their stay in Kunming. While you wouldn’t go out of your way to fit Kunming into a travel itinerary, no one would regret spending a day or two, or three, in Kunming.

Who should travel to Kunming?

People traveling to places in Yunnan Province like Dali, Lijiang and Xishuangbanna, as well as those crossing into south-east Asia overland, might need to transit through Kunming. If so, it’s well worth spending some time in the city as long as you’re not on a tight schedule.

How long is needed to see Kunming?

One or two days is generally enough, but you might need longer if you plan to do a day trip to the Stone Forest. And it’s very easy to while away several more days in the peaceful environs of Kunming.