Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in China, is dubbed as the City of Eternal Spring, because it enjoys Spring-like weather all year-round. Being only four hours’ flight from KLIA2 on AirAsia, let’s check out why Kunming should be on your bucket list:
1. Kunming is ethnically diverse
Yunnan is home to 52 ethnic groups out of the 56 that can be found throughout mainland China. At the same time, the combination of the minority groups makes up a third of Yunnan’s population, while the Han makes up the majority. Travellers should head to Yunnan Nationalities Village, which is 10 kilometres or 30 minutes’ drive away from Kunming city centre to learn about Yunnan’s colourful ethnic groups and interact with the local minority people. Travellers should also catch the energetic musical extravaganza called Dynamic Yunnan that showcases cultural performances of Yunnan’s multi-ethnic population.
2. Kunming is spiritual
Being home to Mahayana, Hanayana and Tibetan Buddhism, Kunming proves to be religiously tolerant. Travellers should visit Yuantong Temple (Kunming’s largest and oldest Buddhist temple) that showcases the diversity of design styles drawn from the three distinct Buddhist schools presented in a harmonious way, while at the same time offering travellers a respite from Kunming’s urban bustle.
3. Kunming is not called Flower City for nothing
Travellers should head to Dounan International Flower Centre, the largest flower market in Asia that sells over 1,600 kinds of flowers, to truly understand how flowers play significant role to Kunming’s economy. This market is open only at night and sells 20 million flowers every time. In 2017, around 6.5 billion flowers were sold in this market, generating revenue worth RMB5.33 billion. These flowers are also exported to 50 countries –70% of China’s flower exports come from this market. Travellers who are into plants and flowers should also visit Kunming’s World Horticulture Expo held annually in March (the best times to see flowers in Kunming are in March and April). Travellers should also swing by The City of Flower complex located in the eastern side of Kunming and only 20 minutes from Kunming Changshui Airport that is home to an impressive greenhouse filled with flowers from all over Yunnan (great for taking selfies), a hotel and shopping centre.
4. Kunming is beautiful from the above
Travellers should head up to Xishan (Western Mountain Hills) Scenic Spot to admire the full view of Kunming city, which sits in the middle of Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau at an altitude of 1,890 metres above sea-level. Expect a great deal of climbing up and down narrow stairways and passages when trying to reach the popular Dragon Gate for a full view of Kunming.
5. Kunming has otherworldly landscape
The Stone Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These natural stones, which are as tall as trees, have been in existence for over 270 million years and they are unbelievably gorgeous!
6. Kunming has magical karst caves
Jiuxiang Scenic Area is the place for travellers to explore Kunming’s unique karst caves. When walking inside these caves, travellers will be fascinated by the geological formations accentuated by mesmerising lighting effects. Travellers should check out the Twin Waterfalls (the film location for the movie called ‘The Myth’ starred by Jackie Chan) and the beautifully lit ‘Fairy Palace’ (a collection of majestic stalactites huddled together that look like a pantheon of fairies).
7. Kunming has notable Muslim-friendly culinary offerings
Foodies simply must eat at Xiao Dao Ya halal restaurant on Chongren Street (walking distance to Yongning Mosque) that offers divine meat dishes (especially its spicy lamb chops); Dalv Xingyue Bay No. 9 restaurant (a short drive from Yunnan Nationalities Village) serving lavish local dishes; and the compact Yi Yan halal restaurant (located in Qiancheng Square in Chenggong District close to the Dounan International Flower market) that is famous for its fusion flower-inspired cuisine. Travellers should also try the popular ‘crossing-the-bridge’ noodles, derived from an old tale concerning the wife of an imperial scholar who was studying for his exams on an island in the city of Mengzixian in Yunnan bringing him food that became soggy as she crossed the bridge, so she separated the ingredients and mixed them after crossing the bridge, hence the name. In the same tradition, when travellers order the ‘crossing-the-bridge’ noodles, they will need to mix all ingredients and condiments together that come in separate plates. Don’t forget to also savour local delicacies such as flower cake (Muslims need to ask whether the pastry uses lard when it is being made) and rose jam.
Good to know:
- Malaysians need to apply for a normal visa from the People’s Republic of China’s embassy prior to visiting Kunming. The People’s Republic of China also offers 72-hour visa-free transit tour to Kunming to 51 foreign countries via Kunming Changshui Airport; Malaysia IS NOT one of those countries (refer to http://www.chinese-embassy.info/ for more information). Travellers from the specified 51 countries need to show international travel documents and flight tickets to be granted visa-free transit status.
- Though breezy, the weather in Kunming is dry, so travellers are recommended to drink plenty of plain water. During our visit in the summer time, the temperature went up to between 29° and 33° Celsius.
- Avoid visiting during mid-July to August, which coincides with local summer vacation, including the People’s Republic of China Golden Weeks (semi-annual seven-day national holidays): one falls during Chinese Lunar New Year (January or February), while the other is in conjunction with China’s National Day, beginning 1 October. March, early April, late October and November might be ideal for international travellers to visit Kunming.
- When travellers explore Xishan Scenic Area, Stone Forest and Jiuxiang Scenic Area, they will need to walk a great deal. Be sure to wear comfortable and practical footwear!
AirAsia operates 14 one-way weekly flights between KLIA2 and Kunming Changshui International Airport. Visit www.airasia.com for more information.