Kunming Arrival and Departure:
Transport To and From Kunming
By Air – Flying to Kunming
Somewhat secluded from other major Chinese cities, it makes most sense to travel to Kunming by air. However, overland journeys from places like Chengdu, Guilin and Guangzhou are manageable.
Kunming Wujiaba International Airport (昆明巫家坝国际机场)
Located just 8km south-east of the city center, Kunming Wujiaba International Airport is the 7th busiest airport in China. It is a relatively nondescript airport with just the standard range of facilities: the usual range of overpriced restaurants and shops, as well as ATMs and baggage storage. However, it runs efficiently and is well connected domestically with regular flights to all major destinations in China. It also serves as a transfer point to destinations within Yunnan Province. Internationally, there are regular flights to numerous destinations in Asia including Hanoi, Bangkok, Singapore, Luang Prabang, Yangon, Seoul, Dhaka and Hong Kong.
There are also flights from Kunming to Lhasa. The travel agency at the Camellia Hotel can organize Tibet travel permits along with a one way ticket.
A new airport is under construction about 20km east of Kunming which will replace Wujiaba Airport by the start of 2012.
Kunming Wujiaba Airport’s website: www.ynairport.com
Getting to and from Kunming Wujiaba Airport
By Bus: Public buses #52 and #67 go from the city center to Kunming Airport. Bus #52 runs from 6am-10pm, costs ¥1, and can be caught at the stop by Jinbi Square. However, because the public buses make so many stops, the journey can take as long as 50 minutes. There are also express shuttle buses to and from the airport but since they cost ¥15, you might as well take a taxi.
By Taxi: There’s a taxi rank outside arrivals. The fare from Kunming Airport to the center will cost around ¥20-25.
Traveling to and from Kunming By Train
There are four train stations in Kunming but you will only need to use the Main Train Station (昆明站), also known as the South Train Station, which is located at the southern end of Beijing Lu. A taxi fare from here to the city center should be around ¥10. Alternatively, Bus #3 runs from the bus stop across from the train station to the city center (Jinbi Square).
Kunming is fairly well connected to the rest of China by rail, but due to its relative isolation journeys can be painfully long. That said, train journeys are the best way to see the beautiful Yunnan countryside. Though it is slower than the bus, some travelers like to take the train to Dali (around 9 hours; ¥100-140). There are a few trains leaving Kunming between 9pm and 11pm and there is also a morning train. There is no train to Lijiang or Xishuangbanna.
There are a few destinations outside of Yunnan Province that can be reached by train in a reasonable amount of time. There are numerous departures each day to Nanning (about 12 hours) and Guiyang (about 10 hours); as well as a few daily departures to Chengdu (about 18 hours), Guilin (18 hours), Chongqing (20 hours) Guangzhou (24 hours). The more masochistic can also take direct trains to Beijing (T62; 38 hours), Shanghai (37 hours) and Xian (35 hours).
The queues at the Kunming’s main train station can be very long, but aren’t the worst you will find in China. Staff don’t speak much (if any) English but are patient with foreigners. Alternatively, most hotels, hostels and travel agents can purchase tickets for a fee of anywhere from ¥30-150.
Traveling to and From Kunming By Bus
With quite a good network of highways, long distance bus is by far the best way to get around Yunnan Province. Buses leave every hour to Dali (4-6 hours; ¥80-110), Lijiang (about 9 hours; from ¥140) and Jinghong in Xishuangbanna (about 12 hours; from ¥150) from around 7am until 9pm. Sleeper buses are available on all these routes. Buses leave roughly every two hours for Ruili (about 13 hours; from ¥200) and Hekou (about 10 hours; from ¥100) from around 10am until 8pm. There are also buses to Jianshui (3 hours; from ¥45) leaving roughly every half hour from 7am to 8pm.
Buses to Dali, Lijiang, Jinghong and Jianshui don’t need to be booked in advance – you can just turn up at the station and get on the next one. But you might want to arrange other tickets through a travel agent.