Kunming is the modern capital city and transportation hub in the southern Yunnan province of China. The city is known as “the Spring City” because every season there is like spring. It has a large student population. There are lovely bridges, pavilions and temples. In a amazing location it’s surrounded by snow capped mountains and red lands.
Green Lake Park is a beautiful green space for relaxing and strolling. The roads along the park are lined with trendy cafes, tea houses and shops. The park has four small sub-lakes and four islands.
Mid-Lake Islet offers visitors the Lotus Temple, Fish-Viewing Pavilion and Mid-Lake Pavilion.
Goldfish Islet is a great place for strolling among cedar and camphor trees.
Bamboo Forest Islet has about 40 categories of bamboo. You can also see folk artisans here putting on plays, singing and dancing. Near this islet is Nine-Dragon Pond which is actually a spring and locals believe is home to nine dragons.
Palm Islet has a variety of subtropical plants.
One of the best things about Green Lake Park is that you can see thousands of red-beaked seagulls from early November to late May. Visitors can buy bread to feed them.
TCG Nordica is an art gallery, exhibition hall and cultural center. It offers live jazz and dance, art and photo exhibitions and an English corner on Mondays. You can find a nice restaurant here offering Scandinavian and Chinese food.
Yuantong Temple is the largest Buddhist complex in Kunming. The temple is over 100 years old and a hall has a statue of Skyamuni which was a gift from the King of Thailand. The temple sits at the foot of Luofeng Hill in the northern part of the city. It was built during the Tang Dynasty.
Yunnan Provincial Museum was once housed in a 1950’s-era building and now has a home in a new modern building.
Here you can find exhibits on Dian Chi or Dian Lake, prehistoric and early cultures. The highlight is the section on Yunnan minorities with great displays of ethnic costumes and musical instruments.
Bamboo Temple is a most serene temple with no photographing inside. It was built during the Tang Dynasty and rebuilt in the 19th century by master Sichuanese sculptor Li Guangxiu and his apprentices.
To the south of Kunming is the shoreline of Dian Chi or Dian Lake, dotted with settlements, farms and fishing enterprises. The lake is elongated about 40 km from north to south. You can see fanchuan (pirate-sized junks with bamboo-battened canvas sails) upon the water. The area around the lake is for enjoying the scenery and for hiking.
Nancheng Mosque was originally built over 400 years ago. The mosque was torn down in 1997 in order to build a larger version.
Sanqing Ge, near the top of the mountain, was a country villa of a Yuan-dynasty prince and was later on turned into a temple dedicated to the three main Taoist deities. Sanqing refers to the highest level of Taoist “enlightenment”. If you prefer you can get a chairlift to the summit.
The Stone Forest Scenic Region has many scenic areas for visitors to enjoy like the Greater and Lesser Stone Forests also known as the Lizijing Stone Forest, Naigu Stone Forest, Zhiyun Cave, Long Lake, Moon Lake, Qifeng Cave, and the Dadie Waterfalls.
These intricate stone formations are in the shape of columns, cones, pagodas and mushrooms as well as animals, plants and some even as human figures. It has been declared a World Heritage site as part of the South Chine Karst.
If you want to get away from the crowds take a look at Naigu Stone Forest which is 8 km northeast of the Greater and Lesser Stone Forest. It is older and quieter and also a World Heritage site. Naigu literally means “ancient black” in the language of the Yi ethnic group. This stone forest consists of the Eastern Area, Western Area, Baiyun Lake, Baiyun Cave, and Old Battlefield. It features spiky stones, karst caves, a large waterfall, vast grassland, and an impressive causeway of black volcanic blocks.
About 250 km northeast of Kunming you’ll find the Dongchuan Red land with an altitude of 1,800 – 2,600 meters. Some of the best times to visit are May to June when the red fields have just been ploughed and before the crops grow and September to November in the autumn season when the fields become more colorful with Yunnan’s unique white cole flowers.
The Western Hills are 2,350 meters above sea level on the shore of Dianchi Lake. From the hills you can get awesome views of Dianchi lake and Kunming City.
The Dragon Gate Grottoes are the most important part of Western Hills Forest Park. The grottoes were carved out of the steep cliffs. You can hike right up to Dragon Gate using a flight of steps.
The Dragon Gate:
Huating Temple is located in the middle of the Western Hills. This 900-year-old temple is one of the largest temples in Yunnan Province. It is well-known for its colorful statues combining the Buddhism and Taoism styles. You can see many Buddha figures in the temple.
.Taihua Temple sits on Taihua Hill, the highest hill in the scenic area. This is the oldest temple in the Western Hills and is known for its architecture and rare species of flowers.
Sanqing Pavilion perches on the cliff of Luohan Hill. It is a Taoist temple with unique architecture.
Black Dragon Pool is one of the ancient scenic spots located at the foot of Longquan Hill. It is surrounded by towering old trees and bamboo groves. The water is deep and clear. It is divided in two by a bridge, one deep and one shallow. Here you’ll find the Lower Temple and the Upper Temple.