How to Plan a Trip to Kunming

How to Plan a Trip to Kunming

By Sunny XieUpdated May. 17, 2021

As the capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming is normally a transit city to access its surrounding Yunnan destinations, due to its convenient flights/trains from major cities of China and some Asian countries. That said, Kunming itself is rich in natural beauty and ethnic culture, which is worthy of the typical stay of 2–3 days.

COVID prevention note: Kunming is open for tourism [December 2020], however you’ll need a green health code and a mask (for flights/trains). Most international travel mentioned here is currently severely restricted, but if you’re already in Mainland China, Kunming is almost as visitable as ever.

Follow our guidelines and find out what might interest you and how to plan a Kunming tour.

Yunnan Minority village

1. Best Times to Visit Kunming, Weather Tips

With a yearly temperature range that avoids extremes of hot or cold, Kunming is known as the “Spring City”. As you can imagine, the weather there is (relatively) pleasant for travel all the year round.

The best months to visit Kunming are from March to October to appreciate the flowers’ blossom and participant in various ethnic festivals.  

Seasonal Attractions and What to Wear:

The altitude in Kunming is 1,500–2,800 meters (4,900–9,200 feet): hat, sunglasses, and sun block are advisable in all seasons for protection from strong UV rays.

More on Kunming Weather>>>

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2. Getting to Kunming and Traveling Around

Kunming is one of the biggest cities in south China, equipped with a far-reaching and well-developed transportation network. The plentiful choices of convenient transportation make it easy for you to get to and from Kunming. 

By Air:

Kunming Changshui International Airport, around 30–40 minutes’ drive from downtown Kunming, is the fourth largest Mainland China gateway airport following Beijing’s, Shanghai’s, and Guangzhou’s with direct flights to many countries in Asia as well as San Francisco and Sydney.

By Train:

Kunming has five train stations and serves as the province's railway hub. Kunming Railway Station is the most used, only 20 minutes’ drive from downtown Kunming.

Bullet train services include those to:

 Contact us for Kunming tours

Traveling around Kunming:

Public transportation, including city buses, subway, and taxis, is convenient for traveling around the city. In addition, you could take a public bicycle at CN¥2 per hour or CN¥10 per day to ride around Kunming.

More on Kunming Transportation>>>

How to Get to the Stone Forest from Kunming

The stone forest is around 80 km (50 miles) from Kunming city. There are three main ways to get there:

It would be much easier to take a Stone Forest tour with private transport and an expert guide to show you the best sights in a well-planned day trip. See our 3-Day Kunming Highlights Tour for a smart way to visit the Stone Forest alongside Kunming City’s essence.

stone Forest

3. Consider Kunming 6-Day Visa-Free Transit

If you’re from the U.S., Canada, Australia, or another permitted nationality including most of Europe, you just need to bring your passport and an onward air ticket to a third country or region to visit Kunming. For more details, read How to Visit China Without a Visa.

Consider our 3-Day Kunming Highlights Tour

4. Things to Do in Kunming and Extension Tours

Kunming is more like an urban garden than a city, and it is worth staying 2–3 days there to see the best of the city. 

More on Things to Do in Kunming>>>

Extending a Kunming Tour:

If you are a fan of photography, the following two places cannot be missed.

Check out our Kunming tours that explore its surrounding areas for more Yunnan tour inspiration or contact us for a customized tour.

Contact us for Kunming tours

5. Kunming Hotels and Where to Stay

Choosing where to stay in Kunming mainly depends on your schedule and activities there.

If this is your first time to Kunming, choose to stay downtown for convenient shopping, eating, and nightlife.

Recommended downtown Kunming hotels:

For morning exercise and a local life experience, choose to stay near to Green Lake Park.

Recommended hotels near Green Lake Park:

If you are a big fan of karst landscapes, you may choose to stay near the Stone Forest.

Recommended Stone Forest hotels:

For your extension tour to Yuanyang Rice Terraces, there are plenty of choices of local boutique hotels.

Recommended Yuanyang hotels:

Feed the black headed gulls

6. Kunming Food and Where to Eat

Food plays quite an important role in a tour. Thanks to its unique climate and diverse ethnic culture, the various foods in Kunming should not fail to interest you as well as please your stomach.

Must-try food in Kunming:

Restaurants to try these tasty foods at:

Check out Kunming Food and Kunming Restaurants for more information.

Crossing the bridge noodles

7. Consider Touring Kunming with Us

China Highlights provides tours with 'No shops, no factories, no detours'. Travel with us to explore the less-crowded part of the Stone Forest and other smart travel arrangements. Our professional tour guides will show you the best locations for photographs and greatly enhance the smoothness and enjoyment of your tour.

Here are our most popular Kunming tours, which can all be customized.

Or contact us to let us know your preferences for a tailor-made Kunming tour.

 Contact us for Kunming tours

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