Yunnan Province's

KUNMING

Global Mark : 11.96

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
2 4 3 3 2 3 2 3

2

10.67

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend Range AVER.
23 87%  (20) 61%  (14) 70%  (16) 5 to 17 13.26


Description : A relax-modern city with some sights to check and convenient connections to the rest of China.

Comments : If you go to Yunnan, you will have to go through Kunming one way or another. Most of the travelers do not mind.

What to do : Prepare your trip in Yunnan / Walk or cycle the town / Visit Temples or the Stone forest / Shop & eat /

What you may not like : The fast disappearance of the small old streets / The entrance fee at the Stone Forest / The Tour to the Stone Forest / Waiting for a room or a bed to be available in the high season

How long ? One day to check the city / One or two more days to check the other sights around the city.

How to come here ? From Guizhou or Guangxi, train is the best option. If you arrive from Nanning, check out the scenery as the train pass through the Stone Forest (no entrance ticket yet)


Where to stay ? 

Get precise info, book online and save money !  >> Hostels

  • The Camellia Hotel (316 3000, Fax 314 7033), Dorm 30 in 3, 4, 7 or 12 bed's rooms / Dble 140 / The backpackers' favorite. // Go there for the nice and relaxed lobby, the peaceful garden that just the No3 Building (where the dorm are), the relative quietness, the acceptable sanitary (only on the First Floor), the services offered (bicycle, tickets, laundry...), the proximity to the Laos &  Burma consulates  and the restaurants (1/F buffet breakfast for 20Y) of the area

  • Upriver Club (310 6615 Fax 531 9322), 7 Houxin Rd, Bus No 59 from Train Station or Bus No2 up to Jinbi Lu then 10mn walk / Dorm 25 in basic but clean 7 bed's room / Sgl with bath 80 / Dbl or Trpl with bath 100 /A new and promising place for backpackers. Very clean rooms and good sanitary but unfortunately no windows (but ventilation). Promised services includes bicycle and internet. The proximity of the restaurant and club might make it popular for socializing but noisy to stay.

  • Kunhu Hotel (313 3737), 15mn from the Train Station / Dorm 25 or 26 in 3 or 4 bed's rooms / Sgle or Dble without bath 60 and 68 / Dble 128 /Go there for the proximity to the Bus & Train Station / The cheapest rates in town / The  relatively big rooms. /What you may not like there : the common toilet (mid-high separation only) and bathroom (2 people's) / The overwhelmed and therefore unsmiling staff / The noise of the street and Chinese guests

  • Chun Cheng Hotel (363 3271) / Dble without bath 68(LS) or 88 (HS) / Dble 128(LS) or 168 (HS) /A good alternative to the Kunku Hotel, during the LS, considering that the sanitary are much nicer.

Tip : The rooms fills up fast during HS. Your chances to get in are very limited if you arrive in the afternoon. So arrive early, reserve a room, leave your bag and come back at 10 or 11am when people are checking out. If no rooms are free you can consider booking an evening sleeper out of Kunming and checking the place at a fast pace. 


Backpacker's Tips : Istanbullu Aykut, Turkey (July 07)
« Kun Hu Hotel on Beijing Lu is still the good place to stay if you are just overnighting waiting for a bus but the rates have changed. The dorm is 30 Yuan (4 USD) and double room 70 Yuan (9.3 USD).
There is a direct sleeper bus from Kunming to Vientiane in Laos. It leaves from the long distance bus terminal everyday at 17.00 and costs 380 Yuan for Vientiane or 280 for Luang Prabang. It is a very bumpy ride but has decent road stops. 26 Hours to Luang Prabang and 35 to Vientiane during the lighter time of the rainy season

Backpacker's Tips :  Angela (Nov 04)
« The Hump hostel has reopened and we would like to invite the passplanet.com community to check our free laundry, excellent meals, pool table, movies and friday night parties. Our friendly staff will be glad to assist you in all matters. For more information, please contact me at: 0086-135-77055557 , angelazy3@hotmail.com  Or our office at 0086-871-3640359 »

Backpacker's Tips :  Vito Donatiello, Italy (July 04)
« Camelia hotel : i am very happy with this place, one of the cleanest hostel i have ever been, for only 30 yuan i was in the new block, third floor, it has a nice tv room, big and clean kitchen with 2 fridges, very clean toilets. As july 2004 the breakfast-buffet (all you can eat) was 15 yuan, good deal. I also rent a bike from them for 2 yuan per hour.
Kunming is slowly recovering from the sars turism drop down of the last year, so many hostel and bar are re-opening after the hard time.
Bus to Dali: i was a bit disappointed that in any places (website, lonely planet, hotels, travel agencies) was adviced to take the train rather than the bus ... in fact the first half of the trip to dali is very painfull, the road are so bad and it is more a roller coaster ... the point was that it seems not caused by last weeks of rain but it seems more a long term problem ... However, the train is always full and you must book few days in advance ... So sometimes the bus becomes the only option if you don't/can't wait few days. Book the bus from the hotel because the price is always the same, i paid 103 yuan from Camelia, and while i was waiting the bus to leave at the bus station i checked the price, i thought if you go yourself to the bus station. You could save the commision but the price is the same 103 yuanand if you book from the hotel you will get a free transportation to the bus station »

Backpacker's Tips :  Quang-Tuan Luong (Dec 02)
« I stayed at the Camelia hostel. They have bike rentals which is a great way to go around the city. The hostel section is a separate building at the back of a complex which houses the regular hotel, and is referred to as "dorms" while in fact I got a double room to share with only one roommate. I found a few old streets with wooden houses W of the intersection of Zhengyi Lu and Dongfeng Lu. The largest row was on the NW, in a street parallel to Zhengyi Lu. The train to Shilin leaves at 8.10am, and not 8.32 as mentioned in the Lonely Planet (LP), arriving at 9.46. It leaves Shilin at 16.32, arriving in Kunming at 18.05. The night train for Dali leaves at 23.30.»

Backpacker's Tips :  Matt, Australia (August 02)
« The hostel  the Hump was unfortunately closed down in October last year. Having managed the Hostel I would like to thank every single backpacker that made the Hump what it simply was, a cool place to hang out and enjoy the presence of other travellers in a unique Chinese city. So it is unfortunate but true. Never mind, the brains trust behind the hump are planning grander and more sustainable things in the future for travellers to China. We are a company of travellers and are dedicated to taking you to parts of Yunnan and China still yet unearthed. We believe this variation is necessary. »

Backpacker's Tips :  Sandrine Prioux, France (Feb 01)
« Forget the Camellia or the Kunhu. A new GH has just opened : the Hump (0871) 3644197, on Jin Bi Lu, well located near the New Era Hotel and the International Library's new location. Clean & friendly dorm at Y20. Great terrace to relax.  Plenty of bars around where Chinese and backpackers have fun. For other friendly bars, check near the university »

Camellia Hotel

chahua binguan

Upriver Club

shanghe Kuaiguan

Kunhu Hotel

kunhu fandian

Chun Cheng Hotel

chuncheng fandian


Where to eat ? 
Plenty of options around the hotels. For the latest spots, ask the travelers or check the KMS (Kunming Scene) free publication, available in a lot of restaurants or hotels. 

Internet ?  China Telecom, 10Y per hour, 8 to 18:30

Bike ?  Camellia hotel or Kunhu Hotel, 2Y per hour


Visa ? 
You can conveniently store on visas at the Camellia Hotel :

- To Laos : valid 7, 14 (30US$) or 30 days (35$), 2 nights delay / Same day was also reported possible against a US$20 extra fee / No need to have the visa stamp of a third country on your passport
- To Burma : 4 weeks for 85Y but you will need to fly there / Someone reported that it was possible to enter Myanmar via Ruili and continue onward by booking a US$100 tour through a travel agent in Kunming. Any confirmation ? Yes, thanks! See below...


What to see / visit ?

- The Stone Forest "shilin" :  Y80,  1 day       

Three ways to go :
- Join a tour (30Y, leave at 8, come back at 18) from any hotel or from Yongan Lu (8 to 10am). You will stop in plenty of boring places and probably have lunch before reaching the destination. Expect a maximum of 3 to 4 hours there, which for most people is enough. Consider this as a cultural experience to see what a Chinese tour is like. 
-
Take a bus from the Long Distance Bus Station for Y10. From Shilin, there are plenty of buses back to Kunming.  
- Take the new train : leave Kunming daily at 8am (1h30, 6Y), return from Shilin at 14:32 (better take a bus back)

Tip : There is a backdoor entrance to the forest by going around the village. Unfortunately, too many abusers has lead to the dispatch of a guard there. The only way to check the forest for free now seems to come from Nanning to Kunming by train.

- Bamboo Temple : Y6, half a day / Buses leave in front of the Yunnan Hotel, usually in the morning only from 7 to 9. To come back, you will have to negotiate (hard) a seat for Y5.


Backpacker's Tips :  Quang-Tuan Luong (Dec 02)
« The train to Shilin leaves at 8.10am, and not 8.32 as mentioned in the Lonely Planet (LP), arriving at 9.46. It leaves Shilin at 16.32, arriving in Kunming at 18.05. The night train for Dali leaves at 23.30.»

Backpacker's Tips :   Alexey, Russia (Sept 02)
« The price for Stone Forest is now 80 yuan. It is possible to visit Myanmar by land from Ruili but you have to contact travel agency at the border point about two weeks in advance ( tel/fax 0692-4114657, ayemintun@hotmail.com) as bureaucracy takes long time. Visa processing takes 3 days and costs 185 yuan.»

Backpacker's Tips :   Frank Doonan (Sept 01)
« The HUMP is only being allowed to partially open. The popular HUMP Hostal on the third floor will not reopen. Three of the HUMP Restaurant/bars are reopening including the Mandalay Restaurant. The HUMP is planning a sports bar and a fitness and recreation center to try keep attracting foreigners. The Jade Silk Restaurant located behind the HUMP temporarilly closed as a result of the HUMP closing. It may reopen in the future. For more information call 086 0871-3647204 or contact jade_silk@lycos.com .»

Backpacker's Tips :   Anonymous (Sept 01)
« There are a few more attractions in Kunming. One possibility is for example to spend half a day in the Yunnan Ethnic Villages, 6km south. Considered by some as a human zoo, it offers a glimpse into the life of many minorities.  Take bus No44 or minibus from the train station.»

Backpacker's Tips :   Frank Doonan (Sept 01)
« Take a bicycle to Western Hills. Down the hill back is worth it. / Golden temple Jinshi is 6km north and within easy ride too. Or local bus. Has a collection of pre-Han Dianchi culture works. Interesting. / There is a tea garden on the east side of the CHINA MOBILE building on Ren Men Lu (People's Street). It is one of the remaining old tea gardens that were not trashed in the cultural revolution. It is a nice quiet place and not commercial. Most tourists miss it. / Just south of there is the Bird and Flower Market. Kind of junky, but an interesting place to walk through with some very old buildings including a unique restored traditional pharmacy. / Moslem street is just south of there and the Old Mosque is on the south side of Jin Bi Lu one block south of the Moslem Street. To the east of the Mosque is the traditional architecture shopping area called Jin Ma Bi Ji Feng. / The notorious HUMP (Huge Bar/Hostel Complex) is in the northeast corner of this complex. Currently shut down because of Foreign worker visa violations. Should be opening in a couple of weeks. / The Jade-Silk Restaurant is on the south side of this complex on a small back street. Great International food and breakfast. / One block south are the two temple towers and nice gardens. A shopping area is being built between them and part of the old city wall is being restored there. »

 << Discover the Stone Forest...


Bus Schedules :  Long Distance Bus Station

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Jianshui 40 mini 4 day time + ?
Yuanyang 60 sleep 13 18:30 1 na
Xiaguan 54/71/109 O/S/L 5.5 to 11 7:30 to 21:30 ++ 30mn
Dali 56 ordi 5.5 to 11 7:30, 9:00 2 na
Dali 74/111 S/L 5.5 to 11 19:30,20:30,21:30/13:30 3/1 na
Lijiang 118/156 S/L 15 15:30,17,17:30/7:30 3/1 na
Jinghong 137 sleep 20 to 27 8:30 to 20:30 10 hour
Baoshan 113 sleep 18 17,17:30,18,18:30 4 na
Ruili 157 sleep 24 10,11:30,13,14,15,19:30 6 na
Manshi 138 sleep 20 10:30 1 na
Hekou 96/101 S/L 15 19/9:30 1/1 na
Guangzhou 228 sleep a lot 19 1 na
Nanning 131 sleep 30 9 to 18:30 8 hour
Stone Forest 16 ordi 2 to 3 7:40 to 10:10 6 30mn

Bus Schedules : Yunnan Tourist Transport Co (reservation 7185102 / 7187225).

To Price Type Duration Time Nb Freq.
Xiaguan 100 luxe 6 8:30,9:30,10:30,13,14 5 na
Lijiang 150 luxe 9 8:30 1 na

Trains  << Click there

There is now a train to Dali (Xiaguan). At the time of writing, it was running only once every two days (8.5 hrs, 85Y hard sleeper). Check !

Backpacker's Tips :  Jason Chambers, USA  (June 03)
« I can say that passenger service does exist. It takes two days, and only Hard Seat is available. The trains move slowly, but the scenery along the "La linge acrobatique", and you must spend the night in the town of Kaiyuan. No other foreigners were seen for 2 days, and most of the people on the train were from hillside tribes. Savy travelers only for this route, as there are very few travelers taking this route. In fact the city you must sleep in Kaiyuan doesn't seem to have any hotels authorized to accept foreigners. This makes it even more difficult.»

Backpacker's Tips :  Sigurd Wenneberg, Sweden  (March 03)
« Just want to inform you that to my best knowledge there is for the time being no longer any passenger trains from Kunming to Hekou - in China. There is a daily Daewoo A/C minibus from Kunming to Hekou in the morning at 9:45. It takes 11 hours.»

Backpacker's Tips :  Davide Gallino, Italy (Aug 01)
« From Kunming there's a weird sleeper bus that will take you, in 12 hours, to Hekou - aka the border with Vietnam (the city of Lao Cai). Now it is possible to enter Vietnam without specifying the entry port (but i had already made the visa in Rome - in Hekou there's is really nothing to do but cross the border walking on the Friendship Bridge built in 2000). From Lao Cai is one hour of bus to the mountain village of Sapa - full of minorities and a very nice place to trek. For 6 dollars you can get a clean double room, hot shower, with magnificent views on the valley and a nice terrace. The best place to eat seems to be the (expensive) Gecko bar. western style and clean, run by Alain; the Victoria resort is not so inspiring, but that's my opinion of course. »

The trip from Kunming to Xishuangbanna (Jinghong) : S Bus / SS / L & R / 137Y / 24 hrs

The bus trip from Kunming was supposed to take 20 to 24 hours but I made the mistake to ask at the Bus station what bus was the best. I was absolutely recommended the 15:30. It proved out to be the oldest and slowest bus available but, as a positive consequence, it was more than half empty and each passenger had two sleepers... We left one hour late and between meals, mechanical problems or accidents on the road (there seems to be a lot of them), were still more than 6 hours. We arrived at 18:30 the next day. The road is turning all the time (you will bump a lot with your sleeping partner if you are unlucky enough to get one)  and the scenery really nothing special. This make the plane an option to seriously consider if you do not have so much time in China.

Backpacker's Tips :  Ruth McAllister, Canada (Oct 01)
« By air, Kunming to Jinghong is 520rmb one way plus 50 rmb for airport tax. The flight is only 45 minutes long, but saves you a 15-20 hour bus ride. You can take city buses to the airport in Kunming for only one rmb. Arriving at the airport in 'Banna, there is a 4 rmb mini bus ride into town. A taxi should cost about 20 rmb.»

See also the trip from Anshun to Kunming...