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Kunming

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Kunming (昆明; Kūnmíng) is the capital of Yunnan Province in China.

Understand

Known in China as the City of Eternal Spring, Kunming is at an almost-tropical latitude but 2000 m (6600 ft) altitude which gives it a very temperate climate. The air is also quite clean compared to other Chinese cities, even though the traffic congested streets still emit more than their fair share of pollution. However temperate it may be, in winter it has been known to snow, so if visiting in December-February, pack warm. When it rains - it's cold. In addition to its own charms it serves as a hub from which to explore Yunnan province. If you do not have a lot of patience with miscommunications then it's best to have a translator. The city has a population of around 3 million, the prefecture near 6 million. Both are growing fairly rapidly; the prefecture is predicted to hit 10 million by 2010.

Get in

Some routes to or from Kunming are described in Overland Kunming to Hong Kong. Routes to the West are in Yunnan tourist trail.

By plane

Kunming International Airport (KMG) has flights from South-East Asian cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, as well as plenty of domestic connections through China. Currently the airport is located about 9km south-east of the city area, with a taxi ride to the city area costing about ¥20-25. At peak times you can expect to double this, as Kunming has major traffic flow issues.

A new airport is currently in the planning stages, and it is thought that it will be located about 60km north-east of the city area. It is estimated to be completed some time in the next 5 years, as they also have to build the transport infrastructure to the new location.

You can book Air tickets from Air China Office, Wallton Building, 448 Baoshan Jie,(0871)3159171 or any number of travel agents in the King World Hotel a few blocks north of the train station on Beijing Lu. Tickets to Beijing are usually about ¥1600 to 2000, to Hong Kong about ¥1200 to 1500, with closer destinations getting ever cheaper as China's domestic carriers jostle for market share.

Camellia Hotel has a reliable and cheap booking service, and the Laos Consulate is located inside the Camellia Hotel building too.

By train

The South train station has recently been refurbished and has a ticket office on its lower level. The station serves destinations throughout China including Nanning, Guilin, Chengdu (Sichuan), Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xi'an. The train service to destinations inside of Yunnan is poor except for an overnight sleeper train to Xiaguan (Dali New Town).

By bus

Kunming has moved its bus stations to the edge of the city in a bid to decrease traffic congestion. There are four bus stations for each of the cardinal directions (N,S,E,W). The general rule of thumb is you should go to the bus station in the direction you want to travel (e.g. if you are headed to Dali or Lijiang you will need to use the West Bus Station (Xibu Keyun Zhan); or if you are headed to Jinghong or Jianshui you will need the South Bus Station).

The bus stations next to the train station are NO LONGER long-distance bus stations.

The long distance buses are excellent - cheap, reliable, comfortable, however, overnight sleepers can be cold, bumpy and dirty, check out the bus before you buy the tickets. Non-smokers should be aware that people smoke in the bus in China, which is a big problem if the weather is cold and all bus windows are closed.

There are international departures to Laos and Vietnam, though these services are not always running. The bus to Laos goes all the way from Kunming to Vientaine, and cost approximately US$50 and last 40 hours if you go all the way(this is not confirmed, but there have been some reports that, due to better roads built in the last few years, the whole journey now only takes 28 hours). You can get off at stops in between like Luang Prabang, and the cost of the ticket is cheaper. Either way, its a long ride and a little expensive, although not more than one would expect. The buses are clean but make stops in unexplained places for short periods. As for necessities, the bus stops along the way at dingy restaurants and even nastier restrooms at gas stations. Still, its a manageable journey if you need to go from Laos to Kunming or visa versa.

The journey to Vietnam is less arduous. Buses to Hekou, the border city on the Chinese side, leave regularly. There are night buses which allow you to leave Kunming at eight p.m. and arrive at Hekou in time to cross the border as soon as it opens. The bus station is just a few blocks from the border crossing. From there, you can take one of the many buses to Sapa, bus or train to Hanoi, or elsewhere.

WARNING: Beware of con men who may help you to board the bus and then ask for a "luggage fee" or "Chinese gasoline fee". There is no such fee, the ticket price is all inclusive. They may present fake bus company ID cards or threaten to call the police if you express suspicion. Stay firm and refuse to pay and they will eventually leave.


Get around

Kunming has very bad traffic conditions and not only at peak times. It's worth planning ahead if you have somewhere to get to.

See

Kunming municipal pump house As a result of the drought currently parching Yunnan, the reservoirs surrounding Kunming are becoming lower by the day. Those reservoirs provide most of Kunming's water and once they are empty there is little chance of replenishment until the rainy season starts, hopefully, in late May.

The specter of Kunming's taps suddenly running dry conjures many images for those of us who live here. Particularly stomach-turning to a resident of the Green Lake area must be the thought of resorting to the final source of water in the neighborhood: Green Lake itself.

In fact, during a cleaner and simpler time in Kunming's history a large number of residents did get their water from Green Lake.

GoKunming recently visited the two-room "History Museum of Kunming Water Supply" (昆明市自来水历史博物馆). The museum is inside present-day Green Lake Park, and is housed in the building that once pumped 1,000 cubic meters of water daily from Green Lake's spring-fed Nine Dragon Pond (九龙池) and along a 9.5 kilometer network of municipal water pipes.

The pump station was completed in 1917 and started operating in 1918. It continued to be used until 1957.

The current museum still contains what appear to be the two original French-made electric water pumps, along with a small collection of old photos and other curios, such as tokens that could be used to buy water from any of the more than 50 public water taps that were part of the system.


The museum is located inside the park's east gate, which is actually located in the southeast of the park. Visitors walking through the gate will see the museum about 100 meters directly ahead of them.

Entry to the museum is free and it is open Wednesday through Sunday from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

Buildings

Yuantong Temple

Yuantong Temple 圆通寺; Yuántōngsì At the foot of Yuantong Hill in the northern part of Kunming 6RMB

With a history of more than 1,200 years, Yuantong Temple is the grandest and most important Buddhist temple in Yunnan Province. King Yimouxun of the Nanzhao Kingdom built the temple in late eighth century. The restorations from the Qing Dynasty onward has not changed the unique mixed architectural style of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties.

Unlike all other Buddhist temples, you enter Yuantong Temple from above and descend along a gently sloping garden path. A memorial archway with four Chinese characters is standing halfway. The temple complex is built around Yuantong Hall, which is surrounded by a very large pond. A delicate stone bridge which has an elegant octagonal pavilion stands in the center and connects the hall and the temple entrance. The pavilion is connected to the rest of the complex by various bridges and walkways.

Sakymuni, Amitabha and the Medicine Buddha, all Yuan Dynasty statues, are found in the main hall. The surrounding 500 Buddhist Arhats which are carved in the walls are noted for their perfect proportions and lively appearances. Also in this temple hall are two ten meter high pillars from the Ming Dynasty that are each engraved with a dragon trying to extend their bodies and claws into the air. Outside, on each side of the main hall, there are stone staircases carved out of the mountainside and wind their way to the top of the hill. There are ancient inscriptions along the way and various stone artworks considered the most important historical relics in Kunming. From the top of the stairs, you are presented with a terrific panoramic view of the entire complex. In 1982, Thai Buddhists sent a 3.5 meter copper statue of Sakymuni, which is now placed in the Copper Buddha Hall combining Chinese and Tai styles.

Surrounding the temple pond are a series of halls where you will find old women praying, people sitting and chatting, ongoing classes in Buddhist scriptures, a magnificent calligraphy studio, an exhibit of temple photographs, a temple shop, a restaurant, and more.

Yuantong Temple is a real working temple. Buddhists from many different countries come here on pilgrimages to pay homage. There are special Buddhist services two times each month, and the Buddhist Association of Yunnan Province is also located here, making it a center of Buddhism in Yunnan.

Tanhua Temple

Tanhua Temple 昙华寺; Tánhuàsì; also known as Taohu Nunnery Guangming Road, Panlong District (盘龙区光明路; Pánlóngqū Guāngmínglù) At the foot of Tuiying Mountain in the eastern outskirts of Kunming City, about 4km from the city centre +86 871 3857297‎ Free

Built in 1634. According to historical records, before the temple was erected, there had been a thatched shack where Shi Shiqiao, a scholar of the Ming Dynasty, buried himself in books. Shi Tai, grandson of Shi Shiqiao, donated the estate for the shack whereon the temple was built.

In the backyard there was an epiphyllum tree, which is called tanhua in Chinese, hence the name. The temple went through many renovations during the Qing Dynasty. It is well-known for its flowers and plants. It has been a scenic spot for more than three hundred years, and an epitome of Kunming, the Flower City of the Southern Frontier. The epiphyllum tree was planted in the side court of the depository of Buddhist Scriptures. There is a stone tablet on which four characters are carved The Epiphyllum Brings Luck. After the erection of the temple, the original epiphyllum withered and died. The epiphyllum now standing taller than the eaves of the temple sprang from the root of the original one at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, and is about three hundred years old. It bursts into flowers in mid-summer. The big loquat tree in the backyard is said to have been planted in the early Ming Dynasty.

In the South Garden there are flowers and rockeries with winding paths among the flowers and the zigzagging corridor surround the Lotus Pond, where you can watch fish. The East Garden is shaded by tall cedars and cypresses and include seven smaller gardens and a Children's Playground.

In recent years, the old temple has resumed its original grandeur. It has become one of the most famous scenic spots in Kunming.

Other buildings

Museums

Streets and areas

Parks

Do

Theaters

Other

Buy

Eat

Local specialties include:

Many restaurants in Kunming offer localized food delivery. One particularly convenient restaurant delivery service in Kunming is called Lazy Bones Home Delivery. They deliver food for restaurants like Daddy’s Diner all over Kunming. Unfortunately they charge a small fee. You can find them on the web or call ☎532 2515

Budget

Mid-range

Chinese

The Vegetarian Restaurant is located a few doors to the left of the Kunming Zoo main entrance on Yuan Tong Lu, serves somewhat pricey imitation meat dishes from a 1,500 year-old tradition. Dishes range from ¥3.5 to ¥98. The crispy "duck" is especially good.

Western

In the Kunming Flower and Bird Market, there is a great pizzeria set in a Qing dynasty courtyard house. The prices are more expensive than eating local dishes, but the atmosphere and quality of the food are outstanding. To find it, head to the flower and bird market and as you walk round, keep your eyes peeled for their sign above the stalls.

Along Wenlin Jie there are many Western cafes and restaurants. This street is commonly known as Western Street and the taxi drivers know it well! These cafes include:


Splurge

Drink

Several western-style retro-bars can be found on Tuo East Road east of Bailong Road, and catering mostly to a local clientèle afford an opportunity to mingle with locals.

Other bars include:

wine is 10-15% off during happy hour.


Sleep

Budget

There are a number of so-so budget options around the Railway Station and along Beijing Road north of the railway station.

Other budget options include:

Mid range

Splurge

Cope

Visas

Visas for nearby countries can be obtained in Kunming.

The new adress is: Here you are the adress

老挝人民民主共和国驻昆明总领事馆 Consylate General of Lao People's Democratic Republic in Kunming

办公处:昆明市官渡区彩云北路6800号昆明外国领馆区(世纪金源大酒店旁) Adress of the Consulate General of LAO PDR in Kunming: 6800 North Caiyun Rd.(next to EMPARK Hotel)

邮政编码:650200

Stay safe

Kunming is located in an earthquake zone and the last earthquake happened in 2009.

There were some bomb incidents in 2008 including one in bus No.54 and one inside Salvadors' Coffee House.

There are lots of pick pockets in buses, so try to keep your bags safe.

There have also been reports of bag slashing in the commercial city center.

Recent travelers to Kunming (2010) have reported barber shops, massage centers, and other small shops involved in various cons. One such involves an older woman entering the shop and demanding a larger amount than was quoted. The woman together with the workers apply pressure and it can be especially intimidating to be surrounded by a shop filled with angry Chinese while your head is covered in soap (and it is dripping into your eyes), all your clothes and passport are locked in a closet (and they have the key), or together they are blocking the exit. If you give in to the much larger demanded amount, the service will continue. Disagreement can result in variations of the shop workers pushing you out with your hair half cut/full of soap, barefoot, or simply not allowing you to leave while one (or many) of the workers surround you attempting to pick your pocket. To date, so many incidents have been reported to the PSB in Kunming that they are considering setting up the first ever Tourist Police unit in Yunnan Province.

Get out

Related Information


WikiPedia:Kunming


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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [3].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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