Kunming travel information guide
Yunnan is the most varied of all of China's provinces, with terrains
as widely divergent as tropicall rainforest and icy Tibetan highlands.
It is alos the sixth largest provinces in China and the home of a third
of all China's ethnic minorities, and it harbours half of all China's
plant and animal species.
The jurisdiction of Kunming covers 6,200 sq.km, including four city districts
and four rural counties (which supply the city with fruit and vegetables).
The centre of the city is the roundabout near that prominent landmark
the Kunming Department Store. The main shopping-eating-theatre district
is the sector immediately south-east of this. The older back-alley maze
is north and north-west of Zhengyi Department Store. Most of the recreational
features are beyond this old quarter (Cuihu Park, the zoo, Yuantong Temple).
The main markets are on Daguan Jie, at the western side of the town -
nad this is also the direction for the best out-of-town sights.
Being one of the six biggest air terminals in China, Kunming has international
airlines, linked with Singapore, Bangkok, Chiangmai, Yangon, Vientiane,
Kuala Lumpur and Hongkong, and has forty domestic airlines as well. It
also has railways reaching Hai Noi, the capital of Vietnam and cities
of China and the highways radiating to all over the country.
If fine weather is what you're looking for in a vacation, you'd be hard
pressed to find a better destination than Yunnan. Known throughout the
country as the City of Eternal Spring, Yunnan's capital city of Kunming
enjoys some of the most temperate weather in China. With the average summer
temperature peaking out at 27 degrees Celsius (80°F) and the winter's
coldest temperatures around 3 Celsius (35°F), Kunming's climate makes
it a popular destination for foreigners and Chinese alike - especially
during February's Spring Festival when schools take a month-long break
and other parts of China are covered in snow.
Yunnan's Chinese name means "South of the Clouds," which is
especially apt considering the dreary weather in Sichuan, the province
immediately to the north. But every now and then, the clouds decide to
migrate and settle over the Spring City. Summer is the monsoon season
in Yunnan, with an average of 8.8 inches (223.5 mm) of rain falling on
Kunming in July alone. In contrast, a mere .4 inches (10 mm) falls in
January. The rain is heaviest from June through August, with September
seeing a gradual tapering off. Twice as much rain falls in the four months
from June to September as in the remaining eight months put together.
So for your visit to Kunming, don't forget to bring your short-sleeved
shirts and sunglasses. But if you're visiting in the summer, throw a raincoat
in the pack as well. It's likely the Spring City will decide to let some
April showers fall on you during your visit.
The Kunming, Green Lake, Camillia and Golden Dragon hotels each have foreign
exchange counters. The highest concentration of moneychangers is in front
of the Kunming Hotel. Rates are usually among the best in China.
Most of the major sights are within a 15-km radius of Kunming. Local transport
to these places is awkward, crowded and time-consuming; it tends to be
an out-and -back job, with few crossovers for combined touring. If you
wish to take in everything, you'd be looking at something like five return
trips, which would consume about three days. You can simplify this by
pusshing Black Dragon Pool, Anning Hot Springs and the Golden Temple to
the Background, and concentrating on the trips of high interest - the
Bamboo Temple and Western Hills, both of which have decent transport connections
with special express buses in the morning. Lake Dian presents some engrossing
circular-tour possibilities on its own. Better yet, buy a map, hire a
good bicycle and tour the area by bike.
The Yanan Hospital (Yanan Yiyuan) is on Jiaosanqiao Lu, about one km north-east
of the Kunming Hotel - there's a foreigners' clinic on the 1st floor of
the outpatients' building. The Yunnan Comprehensive Quick Recovery Qigong
Sanatorium is one of the four main qigong research bases in China. Their
recent advertisement in the China Daily concluded; If you think you might
qualify for treatment, their contact address is; Shenzhen Yunxing Kunming
Touring Company, Chuanjin Lukou, Kunming.
Kunming has some great food, especially in the snack line. Regional specialities
are herbinfused chicken in an earthenware steampot (Qiguoji), Yunnan ham
(xuanwei huotei), across-the-bridge noodles (guoqiao mixian), goat cheese
(rubing) and various Muslim beef and mutton dishes. One of the best side
dishes in the restaurnats is toasted goat cheese - very tasty. The chief
breakfst in Kunming, as throughout most of Yunnan, is noodles (choice
of rice or wheat), usually served in a meat broth and chilli sauce.
You have to do a fair bit of digging to come up with inspiring purchases
in Kunming. Yunnan specialities are jade (related to Burmese), marble
(from the Dali area), batik, minority embroidery (also musical instruments
and dress accessories) and spotted brass utensils. Other crafts to considers
are some of the basic utilitarian items that are part of everyday Yunnanese
life, eg the large bamboo waterpipes for smoking angel-haired Yunnan tobacco,
local herbal medicines (Yunnan-made baiyao is a blend of over 100 herbs
and is highly prized by Chinese throughout the world) and the qiguo or