Chinese Language Blog

72 Hours in Kunming (Part Two) Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in Culture

Kunming is one of many Chinese cities that you can visit visa-free for 72 hours. Three days is just enough to scratch the surface of the Spring City, which is often listed as one of the most beautiful in China. After staying in the city center for the first day, it’s time to do a bit of exploring.

Day Two

Grand View Park

Grand View Park

Our second day in Kunming begins at the scenic Grand View Park (大观公园 – dà guān gōng yuán). It’s only a few kilometers southwest of the city, easily reachable by bus or cab, and only 20 RMB to enter. The park is named after the Grand View Tower, which houses a famous 180-character couplet describing the beauty of the area and the history of Yunnan. It’s not just a clever name – you really do get an incredible view of the Western Hills and Dianchi Lake from atop the tower.

zhè ge gōng yuán tè bié piào liang
This park is incredibly beautiful!

Grand View Tower and the lake.

After climbing the tower, you can explore the many gardens, rent a paddle boat to cruise around the lake, or hit the amusement park to ride the massive Ferris wheel or roller coaster.

Lantern Festival

If you happen to be in town around Chinese New Year, you can visit after dark to check out the amazing Lantern Festival (元宵节 – yuán xiāo jié). Whenever you go, you can easily spend half a day enjoying the park and all its natural beauty.

Downtown and Bird & Flower Market

Downtown Kunming

Kūnmíng fā zhǎn hěn kuài
Kunming is developing very quickly.

After the park, head downtown to walk around Kunming’s many pedestrian streets and squares. As with many other Chinese cities, Kunming has been growing rapidly over the last few decades. Walking around this bustling part of town, you’ll see countless shopping centers, restaurants, cafes, and so much more. You can even get a massage in the street!

Birds and Flowers

Something you won’t want to miss is the unique Bird and Flower Market (花鸟市场 – huā niǎo shì chǎng). Of course, you can buy several different types of birds and flowers here, but that’s not all…

Looking for a tarantula?

nǐ xiǎng mǎi láng zhū ma?
Do you want to buy a tarantula?

You can go home with all sorts of odd pets after shopping here – snakes, lizards, squirrels, multi-colored frogs, and even massive tarantulas.

More scenes of the market.

Even if you’re not in the market for exotic plants or animals, it’s still worth a visit just to check it out. Plus, this is a one stop shop for all your souvenir needs. Pick up some local jewelry, a Yunnan water pipe (they look like huge bongs), or a funny little pouch with Obama dressed as a comrade and a classic Chinglish idiom…

hǎo hào xué xí, tiān tiān xiàng shàng
Good good study, day day up!

After that busy day, it’s time to chill out, grab a coffee (or tea) and eat a nice meal. A great place to head is the area around Yunnan University (云南大学 – yún nán dà xué).

Culture Alley

A tattoo shop on Wenhua Xiang.

Just off campus, you’ll find the bustling Culture Alley (文化乡 – wén huà xiāng). It’s home to a large book store, several restaurants, cafes, bars, tattoo shops, and a nightly street market. A popular gathering place for local expats is Salvador’s Coffee House (萨尔瓦多咖啡馆 – sà’ěr wǎ duō kā fēi guǎn), where you can get great juices, teas, coffees, and Western food. Or you can just hang out on the porch and hear local English teachers complain about their classes over a cheap glass of wine during Happy Hour. Don’t be surprised if Chinese tourists walk by and snap your picture as you hear their tour guide say:

zhè lǐ yǒu hěn duō lǎo wài
There are a lot of foreigners here!

Mmmmm.. Yunnan food.

One of the best restaurants in Kunming is located right next door. Heavenly Mana (吗哪 – ma nǎ) specializes in Yunnan cuisine and everything they cook is fantastic. Order some red bean & mint, broccoli, tomato & goat cheese, spicy tofu, or the classic “Old Grandma’s potatoes” (老奶奶洋芋 – lǎo nǎi nai yáng yù). Don’t eat too much, though, because there’s no time for a food coma tonight.


A younger me enjoying Kundu.

To really take in the nightlife of the city, head right into the belly of the beast at Kundu (昆都). This square is packed full of bars and clubs, and it’s bumping every night of the week. The Mask (脸谱酒吧- liǎn pǔ jiǔ bā) is a great place for live music and people watching, especially on the weekends when the crowd spills outside and up the big staircase. After several drinks, you may work up the courage to go into a Chinese night club. There you’ll find pulsating loud music, lots of whiskey & green tea drinks, and everyone playing a raucous dice game. Pull yourself away before things get out of hand and have some water and then get some sleep. You’ll get to sweat those toxins out tomorrow morning on a hike to start your last day!


Go on a great day trip and rock out on your final day in Kunming.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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