Best 12 Things to Do in Kunming: Your Ultimate Travel Bucket List!

Things to Do in Kunming
Dive into Kunming: 12 Essential Stops on Your Journey!

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in China, has so much to offer.

From its captivating natural sites to its bustling streets filled with history and culture, this city never ceases to amaze.

Ready to dive into the magic?

Let’s explore!

Things to Do in Kunming

1. Stone Forest (Yunnan Shilin)

Wandering through the Stone Forest, it feels as if nature itself has carved out an art gallery.

The labyrinth of limestone formations rising eerily from the ground resembles an army of petrified trees, hence the name.

But did you know it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site?

It’s a testament to the power and beauty of natural phenomena.

Location: Stone Forest Avenue, Stone Forest Yi Autonomous County, Kunming City, Yunnan Province

How to Get There:
  • From Kunming Airport to Stone Forest Scenic Area: Takes about 1.5 hours by the Airport-Stone Forest special bus. Buses run at 10:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 2:30 PM, 4:30 PM, and 7:00 PM. Costs 45r per person.
  • From Kunming Eastern Bus Terminal to Stone Forest: Just over an hour. Buses leave when full and cost 43r each.
  • From Kunming South Station to Stone Forest West Station: Buses run from 7 AM to 7 PM, taking roughly 20 minutes. Costs 18r or slightly more. Once there, take the 99 bus, which takes about 40 minutes.
Ticket Prices:
  • Full price: 130RMB
  • Student discount: 65RMB
  • Free entry: For active military, kids under 1.2 meters, and seniors 70 years and older. This covers the main Stone Forest, smaller Stone Forest areas, and the Stone Forest Karst Geological Museum.
Places to Check Out:
  • Main Stone Forest: A vast and magnificent field of tall stone pillars, some reaching over 40 meters! You’ll find notable spots like “Lotus Peak,” “Sword Pond,” and “Phoenix Wing.”
  • Smaller Stone Forest: A more delicate, garden-like area with sharp stones and lush meadows. The famous “A Shi Ma” stone column is here!
  • Karst Geological Museum: Discover the wonders of earth’s history across seven exhibits, from gemstones to fossils and much more!
  • Want a quieter experience? Visit in the morning. Fewer people mean better photos, and it’s cooler! By noon, you can enjoy the museum without the crowds.
  • Dress the part: Rent traditional Yi attire inside. It’s affordable and adds to the experience!
Things to Do in Kunming

2. Green Lake Park (Green Lake, Cuihu Lake)

Ever had one of those moments where you just want to sit, reflect, and be one with nature?

Green Lake Park provides just that serenity.

As you stroll along, you’ll likely spot the elegant Black-headed Gulls.

Their grace perfectly encapsulates the ambiance of the place.

Isn’t it surreal how a place can be so calm amidst a bustling city?

Travel Suggestions:

1-Day Trip: Start at Wuyi Road Metro Station, then explore:

  • Jingxing Street: Home to Nie Er’s old house and the Eastern Bookstore.
  • Anti-Japanese War Victory Memorial Hall: Right opposite the flower and bird market.
  • Corner Tower: Locals call it the “Wine Glass Tower” – a perfect spot for photos!
  • Kunming Confucius Temple: A historic site with over 300 years of stories.
  • Green Lake Park: Just a short walk from the temple, a tranquil place where locals jog in the morning.
  • Huang Gong East Street: A famous photo spot with its iconic yellow wall.
  • Zhu De’s Old Residence: Dive into the history of this prominent military figure.
  • Yuantong Zen Temple: A peaceful Buddhist temple, over 1200 years old.
  • Southwest United University’s old site: Located inside the current Yunnan Normal University.
  • Yunnan University: Right next to Green Lake, you’ll need to book a visit.
  • Wenlin Street: Relax with a coffee on this historic and artsy street.
  • Old site of the Army Martial Arts Academy: Older than the Huangpu Military Academy by 15 years!

Half-Day Trip: Highlights include:

  • Yunnan Army Martial Arts Academy
  • Huang Gong East Street or Zhao Mansion
  • Inside of Green Lake Park
  • Other attractions
Things to Do in Kunming
Spotlight on Some Attractions:
  • Nie Er’s old house: From the north exit of Wuyi Road Metro, pass the small street behind (with the flower and bird market), and you’ll find it near Jingxing Flower and Bird Market.
  • Eastern Bookstore on Wenming Road: Established in 1926, it was a favorite of scholars and has been renovated in 2018.
  • Corner Tower: Also known as “Wine Glass Tower”, it’s a photographer’s delight!
  • Kunming Confucius Temple: Over 300 years old, but most of the structures you see were restored later.
  • Green Lake Park: Originally a private garden, now a bustling city park.
  • Huang Gong East Street: Known for its yellow walls, but rumor has it, they’re now painted red.
  • Zhu De’s Old Residence: Zhu De began his military career here in 1909, forming a bond with Yunnan for over 50 years.
  • Yuantong Zen Temple: One of the oldest Buddhist temples in Kunming, originating from the Tang Dynasty.
  • Southwest United University’s old site: Located inside Yunnan Normal University. If time permits, check out the memorial hall.
  • Yunnan University: Located near Green Lake. A reservation is needed for a visit.
  • Army Martial Arts Academy’s old site: Known as the “Cradle of Officers”, it was founded 15 years before the Huangpu Military Academy.

If you have extra time, explore the local markets!

I visited the Donghua Market, where locals shop.

You’ll find great deals, like blueberries for just 20r per kilogram

3. Go Shopping in Kunming

Kunming’s shopping scene is a delightful blend of the old and the new.

From the quaint charm of Wenlin Street to the modern allure of Park 1903, there’s something for everyone.

For those who love a bustling ambiance, Nanping Pedestrian Street is the place to be.

And if luxury brands are your calling, you can’t miss Spring City 66.

Things to Do in Kunming
Nanping Pedestrian Street

One of Kunming’s historic streets, Nanping was once the city’s hub for finance, commerce, and entertainment.

Today, it has transformed into Kunming’s largest commercial pedestrian street and is a must-visit spot for many tourists.

Large malls and supermarkets line the street, offering visitors a one-stop service for

  • shopping,
  • dining,
  • and entertainment.

Come nightfall, with street musicians serenading the crowds, hordes of visitors flock to snack stalls to sample local delicacies.

It’s a bustling atmosphere.

Things to Do in Kunming
Nanqiang Pedestrian Street

It was once a gathering place for industries like

Dating back to the early Qing Dynasty, Nanqiang is one of the only two remaining historical and cultural districts in Kunming.

  • jewelry,
  • jade,
  • felt,
  • wood,
  • and bamboo crafts.

Now, it’s dominated by dining and entertainment venues, with the famous Xiangyun Food City located here.

Beyond tasting delicious food, the area boasts old residential buildings that offer a glimpse into the past, mostly originating from the late Qing Dynasty and early Republican period.

Nearby landmarks like the Golden Horse and Jade Rooster Archways, as well as the East and West Pagodas, stand as iconic structures in the city center.

After snapping some photos, you can wander around the nearby Dongsi Street and Biji Alley.

Things to Do in Kunming
Kunming Old Street

The history of Kunming’s Old Street traces back to the Dali Kingdom during the Song Dynasty, with over 900 years of history and it remains vibrant to this day.

It’s not only one of the most energetic commercial districts in Kunming but also one of the city’s most iconic representations.

The existing layout of the Old Street was established during the Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty, and many of the shops and residences showcase architectural styles from the Qing Dynasty and the Republican era.

Things to Do in Kunming

4. Western Hills and Dragon Gate

Looking for the perfect spot to see Kunming in all its glory?

The Western Hills provide a panoramic view of the city, with Dian Lake shimmering below.

At its peak, the Dragon Gate stands, a testament to the intricate craftsmanship of ancient China.

Location: Xishan Road, Xishan District, Kunming City

One-day itinerary:

1⃣️Tea Horse Flower Street →

2⃣️Take a bus to Nie Er’s Tomb Visitor Center →

3⃣️Take the Dragon Gate cable car up the mountain →

4⃣️Walk down the mountain to visit the Dragon Gate Grottoes →

5⃣️Take a battery-powered car back to Nie Er’s Tomb Visitor Center →

6⃣️Take the Dianchi cable car to Haigeng Park on the opposite side of Xishan.

‼️Practical Information:

Scenic area closing time: 17:30

Last bus: 18:00

Last cable car: 17:30

Bus fare is 12.5 yuan one-way,

Dragon Gate ticket is 30 yuan,

Dragon Gate cable car fare is 25 yuan one-way, and the battery-powered car fare is 10 yuan one-way.

Considering that going uphill is more tiring than descending, this itinerary mostly avoids walking uphill.

The entire visit to Xishan takes about 2.5 to 3 hours.

The Xishan Scenic Area is a place that locals also visit.

When here, you can experience the Dianchi cable car, Climb to Kunming’s highest point, Lingxu Pavilion, And touch the Dragon Gate for good luck.

Don’t miss this place when in Kunming.

Things to Do in Kunming
For climbing Xishan, two routes are recommended:

1️⃣ A: Take a minibus from the foot of the mountain to the Dragon Gate entrance

→ B: Take the cable car to the mountain top →

C: Walk downhill to see attractions (passing by the Dragon Gate) →

D: After descending, take a battery-powered car to the scenic entrance (position A).

Then, you can choose to either 1. take the Dianchi cable car to the other side or 2. take a minibus back to the foot of the mountain to catch the subway.

This is the popular group tour route, and the downhill part on segment C is not a detour.

However, be careful when it’s rainy as the path can be slippery. Those with knee issues should avoid this downhill route.

2️⃣ A: Take a minibus from the mountain foot to the Dragon Gate entrance →

D: Battery-powered car to the base of segment C →

C: Climb upwards to see attractions (passing by the Dragon Gate) to the mountain top →

B: From the mountain top, take a cable car down to the Dragon Gate entrance.

Then, you can choose to either cross Dianchi by cable car or buy a minibus ticket back to the subway station.

This route involves climbing from the base of the mountain to the top and then descending via the Dragon Gate cable car.

An advantage is that the view of Dianchi is better when coming down by cable car.

A drawback is a short detour is needed.

I took this route when it was rainy, and it felt pretty good.

There are photographers at the Dragon Gate cable car station, and the photos are immediately available, costing about 20 yuan each.

I also took a photo of a friendly older man on my way down.

Things to Do in Kunming
Plan your route before buying tickets.

f you plan to take the Dianchi cable car to the opposite side, you don’t need to buy a return bus ticket.

Be careful not to make duplicate purchases.

The section from the mountain base to the Dragon Gate by minibus can also be walked; there are attractions along the way, and the minibus ride takes about 5-8 minutes.

Things to Do in Kunming

5. Discovering Yunnan’s Culture (Yunnan Ethnic Village)

The Yunnan Ethnic Village is more than just a tourist spot; it’s a journey through the rich tapestry of 26 ethnic cultures.

As you wander through, the vibrant costumes, traditional dances, and unique architectures make it evident why Yunnan’s culture is celebrated.

Inside the ethnic village, you can see buildings from 25 minority groups in Yunnan.

At specific times, there are also performances or activities by these ethnic minorities, as shown in pictures 2 and 3.

For instance, in the Dai village, there’s a water-splashing activity that lets visitors experience the joy of their Water-Splashing Festival.

It’s recommended to refer to the schedule while touring.

Things to Do in Kunming
Tickets: Separate for daytime and nighttime
  • Adult daytime ticket: 90 yuan, discounted daytime ticket for students and elderly: 45 yuan (I bought the adult daytime ticket on a platform for 78 yuan, which was cheaper)
  • Adult nighttime discounted ticket: 50 yuan, student and elderly nighttime discounted ticket: 45 yuan
  • Ticket plus “Call of the Plateau” package: 190 yuan per person (“Call of the Plateau” is a performance; other performances are included in the ticket price)
  • Ethnic Village Operating Hours: 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM
  • Daytime ticket touring hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Nighttime ticket touring hours: 5:30 PM to 10:00 PM
Things to Do in Kunming
Additional paid services:

1⃣️ Hiring a tour guide: Mandarin 200 yuan for 3 hours, English 400 yuan for 3 hours. Guides generally wear ethnic costumes during the tour.

2⃣️ Battery-powered car service: 400 yuan for a 7-seater every 2 hours, 600 yuan for a 13-seater every 2 hours.

3⃣️ Mini-train service: 30 yuan per person. You can hop on and off anywhere. The service runs until 5:30 PM during the day.

4⃣️ Bicycle rental: 150 yuan for 2 hours.

5⃣️ Shared children’s car.

6⃣️ Feeding elephants, elephant food costs 30 yuan per serving.

7⃣️ Fees for the “Call of the Plateau” performance can be seen in picture 18. (

Some packages include both the performance and the ticket, totaling 190 yuan)

Things to Do in Kunming

6. Yuantong Temple

Yuantong Temple is situated on Yuantong Street in the city area of Kunming.

It’s the oldest and largest Buddhist temple in Kunming, established during the Nanzhao period of the Tang dynasty.

Over 1,200 years ago, when the Nanzhao king dispatched his son to expand the city, they built the “Putuoluo Temple” to suppress a troublesome dragon.

However, the temple was destroyed during a war in 1255 and was later rebuilt in 1301 and renamed “Yuantong Temple.”

The current layout dates back to the Qing dynasty.

Nestled among lush greens and serene ponds, the Yuantong Temple stands as a beacon of Buddhist culture.

A visit here is not just about the visuals but the feeling of peace that envelopes you.

Address: No. 30, Yuantong Street, Huashan Street

Ticket Price: 6 yuan

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday (6:00 AM to 12:00 AM)

Things to Do in Kunming

Historical Sanctuary: Located at the foot of Yuantong Mountain, this temple is a peaceful sanctuary amidst the bustling city.

It has a long history and retains an ancient charm.

Included Offerings: The ticket includes 2 candles and 3 incense sticks.

Donation & Good Fortune Pastries: There’s a merit box where you can donate according to your wishes, and in return, you can take some pastries from the table – implying a progressive rise in fortune with each step.

Photography Restrictions: Remember not to take photos of the Buddha statues.

Feline Friends: There are several friendly cats in the temple, lazily basking in the sun.

Hidden Marine Life: It is said that there are clownfish in the pond beneath the Jiao Curse platform; you can try your luck.

Things to Do in Kunming
The Temple Has Several Unique Features that Might Puzzle the Average Visitor:
  • Downhill Design: Yuantong Temple has a unique downhill layout. Instead of ascending, visitors walk downhill, moving deeper into the temple.
  • Distinctive Deities: While most temples’ main halls are named “Daxiong Treasure Hall” and enshrine Sakyamuni Buddha, Yuantong Temple’s main hall is named “Yuantong Treasure Hall.” It usually enshrines the Goddess of Mercy (Guanyin) but currently houses the “Three Bodies of Sakyamuni,” while Guanyin is placed in another hall.
  • Dragons of Symbolism: Inside the “Yuantong Treasure Hall”, there are two huge, ten-meter-tall carved dragons that appear to be listening to Sakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, symbolizing the relationship between the imperial power and Buddhism.
  • Melting Pot of Buddhist Traditions: Yuantong Temple uniquely houses elements of Han Buddhism, Southern Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism. The main hall enshrines golden statues representing the three forms of Buddha. There’s also a hall with a Southern Buddhist style, a hall dedicated to Sakyamuni Buddha, and statues representing masters from both major Tibetan Buddhist sects.

Behind the Yuantong Temple, the steep cliffs of Yuantong Mountain are lined with lush ancient trees and shrubs.

This spot is one of Kunming’s “Eight Great Scenic Views.”

Especially during sunset, the scenery is breathtaking.

The mountain rocks are adorned with precious carved inscriptions, enhancing the spiritual atmosphere with

  • the distant sounds of bells,
  • drums,
  • and Buddhist chants.
Things to Do in Kunming

7. Dian Lake

At Dian Lake, especially the Lucheng Scenic Area, nature seems to paint a picture with every sunrise and sunset.

And if you’re at the Western Hill, the lake appears as a shimmering mirror, reflecting the skies.

Visit Duration: 5-7 hours

1. Boat Fun:

Cost: $90/hour per boat

  • Check out the popular transparent boat that’s all the rage on social media! It’s perfect for fun photos and family bonding. But keep in mind, it’s a short ride. An hour is plenty!
  • Need a ride? Go to: Haihong Wetland Park.
Things to Do in Kunming
2. Haigeng Park:

Feed the red-beaked gulls (if it’s the right season)

  • This park is great for a stroll to see the Dianchi Lake. You can also bike or have a picnic. In winter, you can see the red-beaked gulls that come from Siberia.
  • Tip: If you’re skipping the boat fun, just head straight here. And if it’s gull season, bring some bread!
3. Kunming Cable Car:

Cost: $40 (one-way)

  • Hop on to see the breathtaking view of Dianchi Lake! Each car can fit up to 6 people. You don’t have to share – avoid any awkwardness!
  • There’s also the option to take a short electric cart ride for $10 to the main scenic area or just walk. If you’re feeling lazy, just take the cart!
4. Sanqing Pavilion:
  • You can climb the mountain, but it’s a bit steep, especially for the elderly or kids. Take the small transport options for a comfy experience!
5. How to Get Back to the City?
  • Best Way: Take the eco-friendly bus for $12.5 per person. Hop on near Nie Er’s tomb.
  • Other Options: You can take the bus/subway and get off at the second-last stop (listen for announcements). If you prefer a cab, get one from the last stop. A ride back to Nanping Road walking street costs about $25-30.
  • Not Recommended: Don’t take the cable car back. It’s pricier and you’ll need another cab!

8. What to Eat in Kunming

While the city offers a plethora of delicacies, wild mushrooms stand out.

Unique in flavor and rich in texture, they’re a culinary delight not to be missed!

Things to Do in Kunming
Rice Noodles:

If you’re in Kunming, these meaty rice noodles can’t be missed!

Top of the list.

Right by my place, add some exciting stinky tofu and a sprinkle of spice for a treat.

From a renowned Kunming brand, you’ll love their thick tofu rice noodles.

Dive into their soup – it’s bursting with flavor!

You’ve got to taste it! Delicious is the word for their rice noodles!

Mushroom and meat rice noodles? One of a kind!

And guess what? They have honey-coated chicken feet too. Simple place, but trust me, their rice noodles are lip-smacking good.

Get ready for a big bowl packed with taste, no extras needed.

Everyone’s talking about this modern spot! Their rice noodles bring something new to the table.

Things to Do in Kunming
Yunnan Special Dishes:

It’s buzzing at this place! It’s cozy, so remember to go early and grab a spot.

Planning a group outing?

Here you’ll find ample food in a heartwarming atmosphere.

Feeling adventurous? Their insect platter is the talk of Yunnan.

Out of all chain restaurants, this one wins my heart. True flavors await! Their fried ribs? The finest in Kunming.

Ever had smoked ribs? Theirs are a delight, plus they offer deals for groups.

Experience Dali dishes in style: food served on overhead trays with delightful singing.

Their chicken and crispy potatoes stand out! A no-fuss place, but guess what? The food speaks for itself.

Things to Do in Kunming
Dai Flavors:

Step into a world with Dai decorations. Bringing a big group?

The peacock feast is a festive choice. Located in the heart of Kunming’s walkway.

Their herb grilled fish is a crowd-pleaser. Wallet-friendly and yummy!

Their roasted pork skin and belly are crowd favorites.

A hip Dai restaurant that feels just like that other popular place you know.

An undiscovered treasure serving genuine Dai-style grilled meat.

Things to Do in Kunming
Unique Snacks:

This chain serves up black rice cakes with crispy fried dough and a sweet-spicy kick.

Breakfast goals! Time-tested snack corner in a vintage area.

Their rice cakes are gigantic! Mouthwatering rice cakes to grab and go, though a tad pricey.

Imagine grilled potatoes, tofu, rice cakes, and a world of flavors to choose from.

Bliss! Everyone’s raving about the Vietnamese roll stuffed with mushrooms.

Potato lovers rejoice! From spicy to tangy, they’ve got you covered.

Although it’s a tiny shop, their bamboo-flavored fried potatoes and sweet fries are dreamy.

Got a craving? Their zesty dumplings hit the spot.

Savor the crunch of their roasted pork feet, and guess what? They’re not oily.

Things to Do in Kunming

Experience Yunnan in a cup with their signature milk tea.

The floral oolong with just a hint of sweetness is refreshing.

Matcha meets Oreo in their standout milk tea.

Two thumbs up!

Pocket-friendly milk tea bursting with ingredients. Cheers!

Book a Half-day Kunming Street Food Tour and savor every delicious bite!

Things to Do in Kunming

9. Kunming Dragon Gate

Apart from its scenic beauty, the Kunming Dragon Gate holds significant historical importance. It’s like stepping back in time!

It costs 30 for the area and 25 for the cableway ride. If you just want the cableway experience, you can go straight to the Dianchi Cableway.

Guess what? From the Longmen area, you can see the whole Dianchi Lake!

It’s super cool! The ride down on the cableway is the best because you can see all of the lake’s beauty.

I really love the open-air cable car.

It’s a fun ride for 20 minutes, and the views are worth every penny!

If you love walking and climbing, Longmen has great paths.

It’s a bit steep, but the views at the top are worth it.

I had a blast walking up and riding the cableway down.

Things to Do in Kunming

10. Why Kunming is the City of Eternal Spring

With its pleasant climate and the enchanting Flowers and Birds Market, it’s no wonder Kunming earned its nickname.

The market is a burst of colors, fragrances, and sounds, reflecting the city’s vibrancy.

Guide to Kunming’s Dounan Flower Market

Nestled in the heart of Kunming, the Dounan Flower Market is a vibrant kaleidoscope of colors and fragrances, offering visitors a captivating glimpse into China’s flourishing floral industry.

This guide takes you on a journey through its bustling lanes, unveiling the secrets and splendors of one of Asia’s largest flower markets.

Getting There:

Taking the subway is super easy! Transfer from Line 1 to Line 4 and get off at Jingui Street, Exit B.

You’ll be right at the main entrance of the flower market.

Don’t get off at Dounan; it’s a bit of a walk from there, and it’s not the best route.

Beware of Movable Vendors:

Stay clear of flowers sold by elderly men and women, especially from movable carts or stands.

These flowers might be discarded ones, painted to look fresh.

They might look good when you buy them, but they’ll show their true colors the next day.

Plus, there’s no telling if the paint used is safe.

I’ve made that mistake; the painted flowers I bought wilted and looked fake by the next day.

Buying Flower Crowns:

If you’re in the market for a flower crown, buy from established stalls.

Avoid those sold by the elderly as their flowers might not be the freshest.

Make sure the flowers aren’t painted.

A good flower crown should cost between 3-5 yuan.

They’re great for photos!

Things to Do in Kunming
Choosing the Right Flowers:

Avoid flowers in mesh bags; their quality is hard to determine.

Instead, go for fresh cut flowers wrapped in cardboard, like the ones shown in the third photo.

I bought 20 roses for 5 yuan, and after some care, they blossomed beautifully at home.

When to Visit:

During the day, the market caters to tourists.

At night, it’s more for wholesalers.

At around 8 PM, the market closes briefly to stock up on fresh flowers.

If you visit around 9 PM, you’ll find the freshest flowers delivered continuously.

Plus, you might get a great deal as wholesalers place their orders.

Choosing Your Flowers:

Decide what type of flowers you want, then explore the fixed stalls in the market.

Flowers of the same type are usually clustered together, making it easy to compare.

Don’t be shy about asking for prices; you might get a pleasant surprise.

Always buy from established stalls in the market.

Market Layout:

The first floor has fresh-cut flowers like

  • roses,
  • baby’s breath,
  • sunflowers,
  • and eucalyptus leaves.

The second floor offers

  • succulents,
  • vases, pots,
  • and bonsai.

The third floor has

  • essential oils,
  • handmade soaps,
  • flower teas,
  • and beaded bracelets.

It’s a small area but has a cozy atmosphere.

Shipping Flowers:

There are many courier services on the first floor, but shipping can be expensive.

Instead, consider carrying your flowers home.

If you’re flying, as long as your flowers are within your carry-on or checked baggage weight limits, you’re good.

I carried my flowers as hand luggage; the flight attendants were super helpful in storing them.

If you check them in, consider packing them in a cardboard box for protection.

Things to Do in Kunming

11. Kunming Golden Temple

Magnificent and awe-inspiring, the Golden Temple glistens under the sun, offering a spiritual experience like no other.

Guide to Jindian (Golden Temple) in Kunming

1. Transportation: Buses go directly to the entrance of the Golden Temple. (Entrance is free)

2. Food: There are snack stalls near the entrance and by the Tianmen. However, their taste is average and not highly recommended. Behind the Golden Temple hill, there are many rural restaurants that offer roasted chicken, roasted piglets, and lamb – great for group activities.

3. Mountain Overview: Although not a very high mountain, there’s plenty to see – mountains, flowers, scenery, birds, myth, and rich cultural history. It may seem uninteresting in youth, but as you age, every corner turns picturesque.

Things to Do in Kunming

4. Daoist Symbolism:

  1. Step Count: The “Yingxian Bridge” to the first Tianmen consists of 72 steps, and from the first Tianmen to the second Tianmen, there are 26 steps.
  2. Symbolic Representation: They represent the Daoist 36 celestial masters and 72 earthly evils.
  3. Deities’ Domain: These 108 deities are under the command of the Xuanwu Emperor. As you enter the Tianmen, you step into the realm of Zhenwu.
  4. Tianmens’ Significance: The three Tianmens symbolize the highest realms in Daoism: Taiqing Sky, Shangqing Sky, and Yuqing Sky.

5. Historical References:

  1. Origins of Parrot Mountain: Outside the Taihe Palace gate, the Ming Dynasty left behind four characters “鹦鹉春深” on a red wall. In ancient times, many parrots were found here, leading to its name Parrot Mountain.
  2. Ming Feng Mountain Myth: Additionally, during the Ming Dynasty, many peacocks flew in these forests, which locals thought were phoenixes, giving it another name, “Ming Feng Mountain”.

6. Botanical Gardens:

Dive into a world of botanical wonders and lush landscapes as you explore the many facets of this garden.

Each section offers a unique blend of flora, from the delicate blooms to the towering greens, ensuring a mesmerizing experience for every visitor.

  1. Camellia Showcase: The botanical garden features a dedicated camellia garden.
  2. Burst of Blooms: Explore the greenhouse flower area.
  3. Azalea Attractions: Wander through the azalea garden.
  4. Aquatic Allure: Admire the serene water garden.
  5. Majestic Magnolias: Discover the magnolia garden.
  6. Rosy Retreat: Lose yourself in the rose garden.
  7. Bamboo Bliss: Explore the lush bamboo garden.
  8. Gymnosperm Gems: Visit the gymnosperm area.
  9. Precious Plants: View the rare and endangered plants area.
  10. Landscaping Wonders: Learn in the gardening demonstration area.
  11. Bonsai & Birds: Enjoy the parrot garden, which also serves as a bonsai area.
  12. Cedar Serenity: Relax in the cedar lawn garden.
    Things to Do in Kunming

    7. Folklore:

    • There’s a saying, “A mountain isn’t renowned for its height, but for the presence of immortals.”
    • Folklore has it that Chen Yongbin encountered the immortal Lu Dongbin three times on Ming Feng Mountain. Lu indicated to Chen that this was a blessed and magical place, leading him to construct a palace here.

    8. The Golden Temple:

    1. Material Revelation: The Golden Temple is not made of gold but cast in bronze.
    2. Historical Production: During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Yunnan was China’s leading producer of copper.
    3. Initial Inspiration: Inspired by a temple in Hubei, Daoist priest Xu Zhengyuan and Yunnan’s governor Chen Yongbin built the first copper temple.
    4. Emergence of a Moniker: This dazzling structure became known as the “Golden Temple.”
    5. Relocation: In the later years of the Ming Dynasty, as the fortunes of Yunnan’s Mu family declined, the first copper temple was relocated to Jizu Mountain in Binchuan.
    6. Wu Sangui’s Contribution: The present temple was cast by Wu Sangui to consolidate his rule and seek divine protection.

    9. Historical Artifacts:

    • After reconstructing the Zhenwu Copper Temple, a “Seven-Star Sword” was hung inside, representing the weapon Zhenwu used to conquer demons. Wu Sangui also left behind a 6 kg wooden-handled sword at Taihe Palace, showcasing his military prowess.
    Things to Do in Kunming

    12. Daguan Yuan Park

    A place where scenic beauty meets poetic charm.

    Every corner of the Daguan Yuan Park whispers tales of ancient times.

    Overview: Xishan District’s backyard for city dwellers.

    1. Tickets: Free of charge
    2. Directions: Navigate to Daguan Park or Daguan Tower. Accessible by bus or personal vehicle.
    3. Operating Hours: 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
    4. Recommended Duration of Visit: 3 hours (The park is expansive with plenty to see, do, and photograph.)


    Daguan Park & Tower: The park is named after the “Daguan Tower” within its premises.

    This tower is renowned for its hundred-character couplet.

    Beyond the Daguan Tower, the park also boasts other historical structures:

    Yu Garden: The former residence of the singer Yu Chengqing’s family.

    Built by his ancestor, who was once the Mayor of Kunming, the red mansion seen today is a renovated version.

    However, some ancient buildings within the premises still stand sentinel, preserving the history of this grand estate.

    Things to Do in Kunming

    Lu’s Villa: The private villa of the Yunnan military officer, Lu Daoyuan.

    Currently well-preserved, this villa comprises traditional Chinese architectures.

    It features three pavilions, with the “Bu Xi Zhou Stone Boat” being the most renowned and picturesque.

    Scenic Beauty & Flora: Adjacent to Cao Hai, aside from its historical architectures, Daguan Park promises mesmerizing views along its extended coastal lines.

    You can gaze across the waters at the “Sleeping Beauty” of Xishan.

    Visitors can look forward to:

    Recreations & Entertainment: Beyond leisurely strolls, the park also hosts a plethora of fun-filled activities and games:

    • Drop tower.
    • Ferris wheel.
    • Bumper cars…
    • and more!


    As you venture through Kunming, each experience, from the tranquil shores of Dianchi Lake to the bustling Bird and Flower Market, weaves a story of Yunnan’s rich tapestry.

    This city, with its delightful blend of nature and culture, undoubtedly earns its place on any traveler’s bucket list.

    Whether you’re marvelling at the Stone Forest’s unique formations or indulging in local delicacies, Kunming promises a journey of unforgettable moments.

    So, pack your adventurous spirit and explore these 12 gems that make Kunming truly remarkable.

    Happy travels!

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: What is the best time to visit Kunming?
    A: Spring and autumn are ideal, thanks to the pleasant weather.

    Q: Can I find English guides at the Yunnan Nationalities Village?
    A: Yes, many guides are multilingual, including English.

    Q: Is it safe to eat street food in Kunming?
    A: Generally, yes. But it’s always a good idea to eat at popular spots and check hygiene standards.

    Q: How long should I spend at the Stone Forest?
    A: At least half a day to truly soak in its magnificence.

    Q: Are there any entry fees for the Western Hills?
    A: Yes, there’s a nominal fee, but the panoramic views make it worth every penny!


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