Travel to Kunming (Yunnan)

Update:24 Mar 2007

Budget hotels in Kunming:

Camelia Hotel has:

  1. A very clean dormitory with beds for 30 Yuan.
  2. Toilets with clean Western seats (a rarity in China, most de Chinese toilets are just a hole in the ground).
  3. An inner court with a touristy restaurant, the exterior decorated in Yunnan style, with Chinese folklore shows by ethnical minority groups from Yunnan. The food in the restaurant is nothing special and costs about 30 Yuan for one meal. During the shows there is a very nice atmosphere in the restaurant with about 100 tables full of guests but as soon as the folklore show is over all the Chinese stand up and leave the restaurant. I suddenly found myself completely lonely and had to finish my plate all alone in the huge empty restaurant except for the waiters cleaning up so make sure you're finished with eating by the time that the performance is over.
  4. A backpackers pub and internet cafe where you can surf on the internet half an hour for free per day.
  5. A map of Yunnan is for sale in the hotel shop.
  6. Bicycle rental for 2 Yuan per hour, 15 Yuan per day. You have to leave 200/400 Yuan deposit.
  7. The embassy (consulate) of Burma and Laos are also situated in the hotel. A visa for Laos for 15 days costs 270 Yuan and is ready in 3 days and is valid for 2 months. In principle should you be able to get a 28 days visa to Laos for for an extra 50 Yuan, but when I tried they didn't give it.
  8. On the opposite side of the road of the hotel there is a Chinese buffet restaurant. In the middle of the room there is a huge iron plate full of delicious Chinese dishes for 5 Yuan per person.

For other budget hotel visit


English Corner in Kunming:

The English Corner is a sort of club for Chinese students studying the english language. You will find this club in all the bigger Chinese cities. It is a perfect occasion to meet young Chinese people who are able to speak english. The members of The English corner often approach tourists on the street and invite them to one of their english conversation evenings in a hotel or restaurant. In Kunming they normally get together on tuesday , wednesday, friday and saturday from 7.30-11pm in the Busiest Section Hotel. As a thanks for taking part you get free food and drinks (beer).


Yuguan Vegetarian restaurant, situated on the 1st floor opposite Yuantan Si temple. This is a very original vegetarian restaurant where they have made perfect vegetarian copies of all sorts meat and fish dishes. You can order "vegetarian chicken" and "vegetarian fish" completely made from mushrooms, special roots and lots of vegetables that really taste like the fleshy originals.

Money Exchange

Money exchange, Bank of China : is always closed during the Chinese national day celebration from 1 October until 8 October !!, some offices are half open but do not exchange Travelers Cheque's, so you're better off exchanging Travelers cheque's before the 1st of October. In Kunming the Kunming Hotel will luckily exchange Travelers cheque's at the same rate. In Urumqi could Holiday Inn not exchange Travelers cheque's only cash. Make sure that you have enough cash to get through the whole Chinese national celebration. The ICBC bank has cash machines on several places with connection to VISA.

There is delicious snake penis wine (!) for sale in one of the streets in the muslim area around Shuncheng Jie

Mail and Parcel Post:

China post office : to send packets from China to Europe is very easy you can choose between :

China sea post : to send a packet by the Chinese sea post from Kunming to Europe costs around 170 Yuan for 1 kilo plus 5 Yuan per extra kilo, the sending time is 2 months.

China land post : to send a packet by the Chinese land post from Kunming to Europe costs about 277 Yuan for 5 kilo, the sending time is 1 month.

China air post : to send a packet with the Chinese air post from Kunming to Europe costs about 485 Yuan for 5 kilo, the sending time is 10 days.

Markets in Kunming:

The muslim market near Shunchen Jie is cozy and very central. You have to bargain very much and not let yourself be fooled by the dream amounts that the put as starting price. I had to bargain from 110 Yuan to 25 Yuan for a pocket knife (which is still not a very good price in China). If you are not very good at bargaining you better go to the market that starts in the street west of the station square and follows the rail lines. There are also some street food stalls where you can eat chips and chili sauce with chop sticks!

Half day trip by bicycle from Kunming:

it's very nice to cycle to the lake south west of Kunming and to the Western Hills, about 1 hour cycling.

Transport tip in Kunming:

If you look around you will see lots of red Honda mopeds that are waiting on the street corners for passengers. If you like to travel by moped this is a very fast way of moving about in the city.

Climate Kunming:

In the beginning of October it was continuously cloudy and the air felt heavy as if it would start raining any moment. Some days in the late afternoon we had an hour of sun but not more. The temperature stayed around 20¡ãC. Kunming lies about 2000 meter above the sea level. Some people that I met who had been in Xian had not seen the sun for more than one month.

Back packers and other travelers travel from Kunming mainly on the following routes:

  • To Dali and Lijiang by bus
  • To Laos, there is a night bus to Jinghong at 20:00
  • To Tibet, by flight to Lhasa
  • To Xian by train via Chengdu.
    Travelers who want to avoid the touristy routes better choose other other routes.

Travel by public transport from Kunming to Dali:

  • There are express mini buses every hour between 9am en 15.30
  • The trip takes about 5 hours along a very modern motor way with beautiful views in the beginning of the trip
  • One ticket for the bus costs 80 Yuan
  • There is also a night bus and a night train but since the modern fast motor way has been built between Kunming en Dali these alternatives are less interesting
  • The mini bus lets you off in new Dali (Xiguan), if your plan was to visit old Dali where most backpackers hang out you have to catch local bus no 4 and travel another 30 minutes for 2 Yuan
  • Local transport straight from Kunming to Lijiang is less frequent, only one night bus.


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