Kunming (昆明 Kūnmíng /kwn-ming/), with a mild climate, is known as the Spring City. It is the capital and the largest city of Yunnan Province and acts as a transportation hub providing easy access to southwestern China and Southeast Asia (pandemic permitting). As a tourist city famous mainly for natural scenery, it also has a rich ethnic cultural heritage and some interesting history.
Here are 7 interesting facts about Kunming you should know before you visit it.
1. Basic Kunming Facts
Previous names: Tuodong, Yunnan-fou
History: The city is in a mountain valley that was important as a trade route in the region. It was strategically important and often changed hands among empires and kingdoms. During WWII, it was a strategic allied city and a supply base.
Geography: The city is on the east shore of the large Dianchi lake surrounded by mountains. It has natural resources that have been exploited to make it a city with some manufacturing. Its most famous nearby tourist cities are: Dali (251 km / 156 mi) and Lijiang (315 km / 196 mi).
Transportation: Kunming Changshui International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in China. Kunming has three train stations offering excellent high-speed and overnight connectivity with most of China, and it even operates trains to Southeast Asia. More on Kunming Transportation>>>
Economy: The city is developing as a tourism and resort region, and as an industrial center with commercial connections to Southeast Asian countries.
2. Kunming is home to karst wonders.
Karst landforms in China are concentrated in Yunnan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. Kunming's Stone Forest Scenic Region in Yunnan is especially known for its masterpieces of limestone scenery including waterfalls, lakes, causeways, and caves. It is praised as "the best natural phenomenon" and "a model land of karst characteristics".
More on The Stone Forest>>>
3. Kunming is one of China's most suitable metropolises for human habitation.
Kunming is neighbored by Dianchi Lake and Western Hills, providing a large natural air conditioner and excellent air quality. Average daily temperatures in Kunming range from 3–16°C (38–60°F) in January to 17–25°C (62–77°F) in August, avoiding extremes of hot and cold, with flowers blossoming in its four seasons, hence its name "Spring City".
Kunming has very good air quality. Its air quality index (AQI) is usually around 38, and Kunming is rated as one of China's top five provincial capitals for least air pollution.
Take our 3-Day Essence of Kunming Tour and explore this beautiful and comfortable city.
4. Kunming is a great winter escape… including for black-headed gulls.
Every year from November to March, tens of thousands of black-headed gulls from Siberia migrate to Kunming and spend a much warmer winter there. The best places to appreciate this unique phenomenon are Dianchi Lake and Green Lake Park.
It would be a unforgettable experience to feed these little angels if you happen to "migrate" to Kunming in winter to escape your own chillier climes. Join our 7-Day Memorable Yunnan Winter Trip for this special experience.
5. Kunming has the biggest wholesale flower market in China.
Kunming's climate is like spring all the year round. You will even see dainty roses still blooming in January, hence its name "Flower City".
With its unique climate, Kunming has become the most prolific wholesale flower market area in China and Dounan Flower Market is one of the biggest wholesale markets of the region with comparatively cheap prices for amazing flowers.
When you are in Kunming, it is worth walking around the flower market and exploring both the local flower species and exotic flowers. Buy a bunch of flowers to brighten your Kunming trip.
Contact our Kunming experts for more recommendations of flower markets in Kunming.
6. Folk Arts can be seen everywhere in Kunming.
Yunnan is home to 25 of China's 55 official minorities, giving it a diversity of cultures. As the capital of Yunnan, different cultures and folk arts can be found in every corner of Kunming.
When hanging out in a park on weekends, you may see a group of seniors gathering in a corner to entertain themselves with ethnic dancing, music, or singing that may have a history as rich as Peking opera's.
When passing a minority village, a festival is often taking place, some with a history of thousands of years. Wandering in the countryside, you may find every tile-roofed house has a "tile cat" standing on it, which is a local handicraft with a long history. The colorful patterns on the national costumes are still embroidered by the hands of skillful minority ladies.
Consider our 6-Day Yunnan Ethnic Minorities Tour to discover more of the local arts.
7. Kunming was a base for the WWII Flying Tigers.
In 1941, a group of US volunteer pilots known as the Flying Tigers came to China to assist with the Anti-Japanese War. Kunming, as an important city on the Burma Road, became the main base of the Flying Tigers.
In Kunming, you could delve into WWII history at Kunming City Museum, which displays many photos and artifacts chronicling the Flying Tigers vital role in flying the Hump, after the Burma Road was blocked.
China Highlights is proud to have assisted former Flying Tigers soldiers Frank Gleason and George Hightower seek their past footsteps.
Feel free to make an inquiry if you are interested in the history of the Flying Tigers.
Touring Kunming with China Highlights
We have designed several excellent tours including Kunming based on our years of experience. We are happy to introduce our popular tours, and these can all be customized:
- 3-Day Essence of Kunming Tour
- 6-Day Kunming, Dali, and Lijiang Highlights Tour
- 8-Day Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Shangri-La Tour
Contact us with your needs for a Kunming tour and we will tailor-make your own unique tour with a choice of exclusive experiences.