Despite being in a robust location, Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province is a city usually forgotten. Most visitors treat it as a stopover location for the insanely popular Lijiang and Shangri-la. However, it’s a city you should not miss – it’s not overly touristic like its neighboring cities. You will come across unique attractions (eg. the one and only million years old Shone Forest) and historical spots. Not to mention, there are more than 800 edible mushrooms for all you foodie!
Here’s a complete itinerary for what to do in Kunming if you have just one day:
Dragon Gate at Western Hill (Xishan)
Dragon Gate, located at the top of Western Hill, is the most scenic spot in Kunming. It provides a great view of Kunming city, and also the famous Dian lake. In addition, you will find temples built on the cliff. The locals believe that touching the gate will bring you good fortune, so don’t miss out on the experience!
Take the subway line (pink line #3) and get off from Western Hills station. You can hop on the tourist bus near the subway station to travel to the entrance of Dragon Gate. From the entrance, you have the option to take the cable car, go via electronic cart or by go up on foot. I highly recommend you to take the cable car and walk down after you are done exploring the top.
Recommended time: 2 hours
Dounan Flower Market Store
It’s said to be the largest flower wholesale market in Asia. In this huge (like, really huge!) market, you will find more hundreds of species of over 3 million flowers! You will come across fresh roses, water lilies, orchid, daisies, and many other exotic flowers.
Getting there: Take the subway line (red) and get off the Dounan station. The market is about 10 minutes walk from the subway station.
Recommended time: 1 -2 hours
Green Lake Park
Also as Cuihu, this is the popular hangout place for the locals. You will see people singing, dancing, performing Chinese opera in this beautiful park. There are many things you can do: tea tasting, canoeing, join a taichi class, feed the birds, dress in traditional Chines costume. If you are lucky enough to be there from November to March, you will come across thousands of seagulls around the warm lake.
Getting there: Take bus 100, 101, 124, 133, 235, or Z5 to Cuihu Dongmen (East Gate of the Green Lake Park) Station
Recommended time: 2-4 hours
Following are two recommended spots within walking distance from the Green Lake Park:
This is one of the most beautiful universities in China. There are a well-manicured garden and unique historic buildings in this school of 120 years. It is a nice place to wander around and mingle with local students who want to practice their English.
This Buddhist temple is built in more than a hundred years ago, during the Tang dynasty. It’s well known for its turtle-filled pond and Theravada-style architecture. The interesting part about this temple is, visitors enter the temple from the above and descend along a sloping path. If you are lucky, the friendly Tao monks may give you a quick tutorial on the basics of Tao.
Opening hours: 6:30am – 6pm daily
Entrance free: 6 RMB