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How to Plan a Kunming Tour

Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province in Southwestern China, has the very pleasant reputation as “Spring City”. With super convenient net of transportation to the rest of the province and the country and some parts of the world, Kunming City is mostly planned as a start of the amazing Yunnan trip! Besides, with abundant sunshine and various colorful blooming flowers around the year, this warm city is your top ideal getaway to enjoy slow life and understand beauty of Yunnan! Check our ultimate Kunming trip planning guide to know how to get to & around Kunming, when is the best visiting time, top things to see and do, where to stay, visa requirement, itinerary planning, useful travel tips and more inspiring Kunming tour packages to begin your Kunming discovery!

Kunming Weather & Best Time to Visit

Kunming is known for its weather like spring all year round. With the annual average temperature around 15℃, and the lowest one rarely below 10℃, Kunming is comfortable and recommended to visit any time in a year. The best time to travel is from March to October when you will enjoy diverse festival gathering of local ethnic minorities and blossoms in rich colors. Besides, from December to March is the best time to see the large number of black-headed gulls flying from northern areas and the white snow peaks. From June to August is the rainy season of Kunming, and every time after raining, the temperature drops lower in need of your long-sleeves and trousers for warm keeping. As temperature varies widely from day to night, you are still recommended to prepare some thin coats even in summer, and down jackets are also Okay in winter is you have a sensation of chill. Sun block is always suggested due to the strong UV rays in Kunming with the altitude between 1,500-2,800m.

▶ Learn more about: Kunming Weather, Temperature & Best Time to Visit

How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Kunming, Spring City in China

How to Get to Kunming? Flights & Trains to Kunming

Kunming is the provincial capital enjoys developed net of transportation is most large cities in China. Travelers can easily access to Kunming either by air or rail.

Flights to Kunming

Kunming Changshui International Airport (IATA:KMG) well links Kunming with more than 120 domestic cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Changsha, Wuhan, Guilin, Zhangjiajie, Xiamen, Huangshan, Lhasa, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou, Sanya, Tianjin, Dalian, Harbin, Lanzhou, Luoyang, Nanning, Qingdao, Shenyang, Taiyuan, Urumqi, Xining, Yichang, etc. Besides, visitors also can fly to Kunming from the more than 50 international cities (regions) like Hong Kong, Taipei, San Francisco, Paris, Sydney, Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Yangon, Colombo, Kathmandu, Dubai, Luang Prabang, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, etc.

Kunming Airport is about 23 kilometers away from the city center, and it usually needs about 40 minutes to get there by car or about 1 hour by Kunming Metro Line 6 and Line 3. Airport shuttle buses are also available to the downtown.

Trains to Kunming

Three major railway stations, namely Kunming Railway Station, Kunming East Railway Station, Kunming South Railway Station and Kunming North Railway Station are under service for bullet trains and normal trains to and from Kunming City. At present, Kunming has daily high speed trains with Beijing (11 hours), Shanghai (11 hours), Hong Kong (7.5 hours), Xian (10.5 hours), Guangzhou (6.5 hours), Chengdu (5.5 hours), Chongqing (4 hours), Guiyang (2 hours), Guilin (8 hours), Hangzhou (10 hours), Changsha (5 hours), Wuhan (6.5 hours), Shenzhen (7 hours), Nanchang (7.5 hours), Nanning (4 hours), Nanjing (10.5 hours), Suzhou (12.5 hours), Zhengzhou (8.5 hours), and more destinations in China. Visitors can get to Kunming with sightseeing along the way and new technology experience. Besides, the China Thailand Railway linking China, Laos and Thailand is under construction and is said to be put into operation in 2022 or 2023.

▶ Learn more about: How to Get to & Around Kunming | Kunming Bullet Trains

How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Kunming Changshui International Airport
How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Kunming South Railway Station
How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Kunming Bullet Train

How to Get Around Kunming

Kunming has metro system linking the city center with the airport, railway stations, major bus terminals, attractions and many places in the downtown conveniently. So far in April of 2020, Kunming Metro Line 1, Line 2, Line 3 and Line 6 are under operation. Besides, local buses and public bikes are also easy at hand to take you to any places you want in the city. And Kunming East Bus Station and Kunming North Bus Station are the two large bus terminals that offer many daily distance coaches to Stone Forest, Jiuxiang Scenic Area, Jiaozi Snow Mountain, etc. Moreover, our local private transfer service is also recommended for your comfortable transfer during your Kunming discovery!

How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Kunming Metro Line 2

Top Attractions & What to Do in Kunming

Stone Forest

A Kunming visit shall not miss the Stone Forest that is listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site and praised as “Essence of Karst Landform in the World”. Walk in this maze of about 12 square kilometers to meet the countless big and small stone peaks and stalagmites created from 270 million years ago. There not only preserves diverse shapes of stone teeth, karst caves, lakes, waterfall, underneath rivers, etc. but also has the sharp sword-shaped karst landscape to make to wonder entering another amazing planet.
Recommended Visiting Time: half to 1 day
Transfer from City Center: about 1.5 hours by car (driving 85km)

Western Hills (Dragon Gate)

Near the downtown, it is the best place for locals to climb high and gaze far. Dragon Gate on the peak enjoys quite outstanding stone carvings by stonemasons from Qing Dynasty. Get up to the Western Hills to have a bird’s eye view of Kunming City and the terrific sightseeing of Dianchi Lake like a sapphire.
Recommended Visiting Time: 2-4 hours
Transfer from City Center: about 30 minutes by car (driving 17km)

Kunming Green Lake

Take a leisure stroll at the “Eye of Kunming” with exquisite Chinese traditional pavilions and corridors to have a closer feeling of local citizens’ life such as gathering, dancing, singing, business talking, etc. Green Lake is also the top favored place to play with those lovely black-necked gulls from Siberian in winter time.
Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours
Transfer from City Center: in downtown

Dongchuan Red Land

Embrace this dreamy colorful wonderland for photographers no matter you are shutterbugs or ordinary travelers. Dongchuan Red Land is the great work of earth and local villagers, and the entire higher land of rich layers in major bright scarlet, orange, green, white, purple, etc. is more like jointed by pieces of wool carpets.
Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 days
Transfer from City Center: about 3 hours by car (driving 150km)

Yuantong Temple

Enjoy some peaceful moments at this largest temple site in whole Kunming. With the typical structure like a classic garden and the special combination of three Buddhist sects, Yuantong Temple is the must-visit cultural site there.
Recommended Visiting Time: 1-2 hours
Transfer from City Center: in downtown

Dianchi Lake

This national top largest lake is satisfied for waterscape. Good mood is easily caught with the shimmering lake under sunshine, no matter walking along the bank at Haigeng Park or cruising in the center. Black-necked gulls visiting there in winter is another representative landscape there.
Recommended Visiting Time: 1-3 hours
Transfer from City Center: in downtown

Jiuxiang Karst Cave

Expert visitors call it “Museum of Karst Caves” for its more than 100 big and small karst caves. Take the sightseeing escalator to discover the dazzling wonderland - Jiuxiang Karst Cave in iridescent colored lights, which ignite all the fantastic stalactites and stalagmites and the reflections in the natural karst river very charming!
Recommended Visiting Time: 2-3 hours
Transfer from City Center: about 1 hour & 40 minutes (driving 105km)

Yunnan Nationalities Village

Experience the diversity of ethnic nationalities in Yunnan at this large village as the epitome of the large province family of 26 ethnic groups. Featured ethnic houses, folk customs, performances of songs and dances, etc. are all excellently shown there for your wonderful memory!
Recommended Visiting Time: half to 1 day
Transfer from City Center: in downtown

Apart from the above, you will have many other interesting things to see and do in Kunming, such as learn the culture and history at Yunnan Provincial Museum, stroll at local birds and flower markets, appreciate different blooming flowers in each season, and so forth.

▶ Learn more about: Top Kunming Attractions | Top Kunming City Attractions | Top Things to Do in Kunming

How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Kunming Stone Forest
How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Dragon Gate at Western Hills
How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Dongchuan Red Land
How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Yuantong Temple
How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Dianchi Lake
How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Jiuxiang Karst Cave

How Many Days to Stay in Kunming

Visitors usually plan 2-3 days in Kunming to enjoy the best essences of this Spring City.

If you have 2 days

Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
Plan ADay 1: Green Lake + Birds and Flower Market + Yuantong Temple;
Day 2: Western Hill + Dianchi Lake + Yunnan National Museum
City Essence of Kunming3 Days Kunming Spring City Tour
Plan BDay 1: Green Lake + Birds and Flower Market + Yuantong Temple;
Day 2: Stone Forest + Jiuxiang Scenic Area
Side trip to UNESCO World Natural Heritage3 Days Kunming Tour to Stone Forest & Jiuxiang Cave

(Note: the above travel plans exclude the arrival in Kunming one day ahead.)

If you have 3 days

Travel Plan Itinerary Features Recommended Tour
Plan ADay 1: Green Lake + Birds and Flower Market + Yuantong Temple;
Day 2: Stone Forest + Jiuxiang Scenic Area;
Day 3: Western Hill + Dianchi Lake + Yunnan National Museum
Comprehensive enjoyment of Kunming highlights3 Days Kunming Tour to Stone Forest & Jiuxiang Cave
Plan BDay 1: Green Lake + Birds and Flower Market + Yuantong Temple;
Day 2-3: Dongchuan Red Land Photography
Amazing red land photography experience4 Days Kunming & Dongchuan Red Land Tour

(Note: the above travel plans exclude the arrival in Kunming one day ahead.)

If you want to discover all the city highlights with Stone Forest, Jiuxiang Scenic Area and Dongchuan Red Land together in one go, you are suggested plan a 5-7 day trip in Kunming..

Where to Stay in Kunming

Where is the best place to stay during a Kunming trip? For most visitors, staying around the Green Lake area is the best choice. Because the must-see Green Lake, Jinma & Biji Pedestrian Street, and more old sites are easy to access with walking distance for your great savory of local lifestyle of Kunming City. Besides, convenient commercial facilities are arranged around for your easy finding of food and transport. While, if you would like to enjoy some night life of the modern provincial capital and prefer some simple drinking, you can also consider staying around Jinma & Biji Pedestrian Street which is also very popular.

Learn more about:

Where to Stay in Kunming | Recommended Kunming Luxury Hotels | Recommended Kunming Comfort Hotels | Recommended Kunming Budget Hotels

How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Accommodation in Kunming Downtown

What to Prepare for Visiting Kunming

Valid travel documents including passport, air tickets or train tickets (round trip), cash (CNY), clothes of the season, sun block, hat, credit card, necessary digital device like mobile phone, camera, etc., are not to be missed to pack. Usually, we suggest you book the hotel 1 month in advance, and follow the weather 1 week before your setting off.

Kunming 144-hour Visa Free Transit

Since January 1st 2019, China has started the 144-Hour Transit Visa Exemption policy in Kunming for traveler who come from 53 countries, hold valid international travel documents and onward air ticket to a third country or region with confirmed date and seat. Therefore, the qualified citizens from other countries (regions) can stay in the administrative area of Kunming for no more than 6 days via the appointed port of entry & exit - Kunming Changshui International Airport.

▶ Learn more about: Kunming 144-Hour Visa-Free Transit Policy

Extend Your Kunming Tour

To more Yunnan Destinations

Most visitors plan Kunming as a part their exploration of the vast Yunnan Province and usually arrange it at the start for first landing. To enrich your travel experience, you are highly recommended to do as the others to enjoy a classic week long vacation in Yunnan. You can spend 2 days for getting to Kunming and visiting Stone Forest and the city highlights, take a bullet train to Dali and spend 1-2 days there discovering the beauty of Erhai Lake and historical culture of the past Nanzhao Kingdom, transfer to Lijiang to meet the famous Lijiang Old Town and learn the mysterious Dongba culture within 2 days. Following the exciting Tiger Leaping Gorge hiking, enjoy another 2 days in Shangri-La to immerse into the earthly paradise with nice visiting of the holy monasteries and lovely landscapes.

Besides, you can extend from Kunming to Yuanyang to marvel at the unbelievable magnificent Yuanyang Rice Terraces, to Puzhehei to relax at the pleasant wonderland of lotus blossoms, to Luoping to be fond of the golden sea of rapeseed flowers, to Xishuangbanna to feel the enthusiastic Dai ethnic people and the lush tropical forest, etc.

Most Popular Kunming Yunnan Tour Packages:

8 Days Classic Yunnan Tour (Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La)

6 Days Best of Yunnan Tour (Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)

11 Days Amazing Yunnan Tour (Kunming / Yuanyang / Jianshui / Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La)

How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Yuanyang Rice Terraces
How to Plan a Trip to Kunming Lijiang Old Town

Transportation from Kunming to More Hot Destinations in Yunnan:

ToDali Lijiang Shangri-La Yuanyang Xishuangbanna
By Flight50 minutes55-60 minutes75-90 minutes/1 hour
By Train2-3 hours3 hours/ //
By Private Car4-4.5 hours6.5 hours 8.5-9 hours4.5-5.5 hours6.5 hours
By Coach4 hours6-6.5 hours9.5 hours5-6 hours7-8 hours

Learn more about:

Kunming to Dali | Kunming to Lijiang | Kunming to Shangri-La | Kunming to Yuanyang | Kunming to Xishuangbanna

To more Destinations in China

Moreover, Kunming is well connected with many hot destinations in China by direct flights and bullet trains, so it is also a great idea to travel Kunming and Yunnan with more places around China to savor more amazing landscape, culture, history, ethnic minority customs, food, etc. in one go, such as Guilin with Karst landform wonders, Guiyang with wonderful ethnic beauties, Chengdu with adorable giant pandas, Beijing with profound ancient royal Forbidden City, Shanghai with modern cityscape, Xian with impressing Terracotta Warriors, Zhangjiajie with incredible Avatar Mountains, and more like Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Yangtze River, Lhasa, etc. If you have any idea about planning your Kunming trip, please feel free to contact us for help!

Most Popular Kunming China Tour Packages:

14 Days Wild China Tours from Shanghai to Yunnan on Expresses (Shanghai / Zhangjiajie / Kaili / Xijiang / Kunming / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)

10 Days Classic Sichuan & Yunnan Highlights Tour (Chengdu / Leshan / Mount Emei / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)

9 Days Meet Yunnan Nature & Culture from Hong Kong by Bullet Train (Hong Kong / Kunming / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming)

Zhangjiajie Zhangjiajie Wulingyuan

Travel Kunming with China Discovery

To enjoy a relaxing and joyous trip experience, you can choose our private transfer service for traveling in and around Kunming. Our professional local guide and driver will escort you from your hotel, train station, airport to all attractions with comfortable private car with speed and safety and let you catch the highlights of every site and this city, so you can get really relaxed on the way and focus on what you are interested. Please contact us directly to tell your needs if you are interested!

If you are considering a personal trip to Kunming and other destinations in China but do not want to do the detailed planning of every transportation, hotel and connection of each attraction, you can feel free to contact our travel expert for professional advices and recommendations, and we will help you sincerely to plan your Kunming tour, Kunming Yunnan tour or customize your own one according to your interests, needs and budget!

We have helped many global travelers enjoy their memorable trips to Yunnan for the past few years. Among them Mr. Elie & his wife from Belgium had 15 great days in Yunnan during their 69 days China trip customized with us and shared us their special travel story. Travel with China Discovery to create your wonderful Yunnan trip memories!

Recommended Kunming Tours

Top 3 Kunming tours chosen by most customers to explore Kunming in the best way. Check the detailed itinerary, or tailor your own trip now with us.

Susa's Group from Germany - Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon
8 Days Brilliant Yunnan & Zhangjiajie Avatar Mountains Tour

Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming / Zhangjiajie

Yangshuo Biking Experience
9 Days Guilin Karst Landscape & Diverse Yunnan Tour

Guilin / Lijiang / Shangri-La / Kunming

Naxi People Dancing at Sifang Street in Lijiang Old Town
10 Days Beijing & Yunnan Treasure Tour (5 Destinations)

Beijing / Kunming / Dali / Lijiang / Shangri-La

Start planning your tailor-made holiday to China by contacting one of our specialists. Once inquired, you’ll get a response within 0.5~23.5 hours.

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