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Streets, Beats and Eats – Kunming Posted by on Jun 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Jam out in Kunming!

Jam out in Kunming!

Explore the “Streets, Beats & Eats” of China’s Spring City. Take in the local culture at Green Lake Park, munch on “over the bridge” rice noodles, stroll around a night market, and take in some of the city’s best nightlife and live music.

“Welcome to Kunming, China’s Spring City. Our trip begins at the Green Lake park, a scenic area in the center of the city. This public park is free to visit and is a great place to take in the local culture. People come here to peddle their wares, practice water calligraphy, engage in a heated game of cards or Chinese chess, or just take a nap. The culture of the Green Lake is all about the music, as people gather here for jam sessions, or just to sing and dance. Yunnan province is home to 25 of China’s 55 ethnic minority groups, and you’ll see them at the lake decked out in their colorful garb, playing traditional instruments and leading group dances.

If you’re feeling adventurous, hit the snack street, where you can sample a wide variety of things on sticks or give pig’s feet a try. Oh yeah, they also have grilled pig’s brain. If that’s all too weird, you can find a bowl of spicy chicken. The local specialty here is definitely over the bridge rice noodles, which you can find just about everywhere, including the Brothers Jiang. Order up some cold dishes and a bowl of the famous noodles, which come with a wide variety of sides, including ham, tofu, and fried pork skin. Toss it all into the broth and mix it up for a yummy lunch.

To walk off that huge bowl of noodles, head downtown for a stroll, where you’ll see a bit of old meets new in the architecture. Here you’ll find the bird and flower market, which obviously has both birds and flowers for sale, but that’s not all… dogs, fish, rabbits, lizards, squirrels, porcupines, snakes, slugs, worms, and tarantulas are also available.

Keep walking south, through one of the city’s squares, stopping if you want a head massage, until you get to Jinbi Square, home to the Golden Horse and Jade Rooster archways. Even if you’re not staying there, head up to the Hump Hostel on the 3rd floor. It’s a great place to chill, play pool, ping pong, or just sit on the roof with a smoothie or Beer Laos to enjoy the views of downtown.

Another great place for a walk is Wenhua Xiang, a cool ‘hood near the university with bookstores, fast food, and tattoo shops. If you need some comfort food or a dose of caffeine, head to Salvador’s, a Kunming institution popular with expats and locals alike. In the evening, the little street turns into a night market, where people set up makeshift shops on the side of the road. A great Chinese restaurants is Heavenly Manna. Try Yunnan specialties like old grandma potatoes, goat cheese with broccoli and tomato, and crispy red beans. There’s also great Indian on this street – samosas, a variety of curries, and naan make for an awesome meal.

Get the party started at O’Reilly’s, Kunming’s very own Irish bar – where you can grab a Guiness, watch some rugby, and take in some tunes.

Follow the green laser to DT Bar, where you can turn it up to 11 and rock the F out. Some of Kunming’s best musicians play here, including the legendary John Nevada Lundemo and his amazing supporting cast.

When it comes to Spring City bars, perhaps none is as famous as Moon Dog. This is a great place to gather with friends, sample fine whiskey, down flaming shots, play a game of foosball, or just sit back and listen to the music.

For late night fun, you just can’t beat the Mask, where you might catch local singer Vigansta…. the beat boxing machine Xiao Fei…. or local rapper Xiao Chang. Yeah, that’s right – Chinese rap! Get ready for a late night, because the party goes until sunrise here!”

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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.


  1. Ashley:

    Hi Sasha,

    Thank you for the great Kunming articles! I was wondering if you knew how late the kundu night market ran? I have a 19hr layover in Kunming and would like to explore but I won’t be able to leave the airport until approximately 9pm. I would like to enjoy the shops and street food mainly but I am worried those things may close before the clubs do? Also, do you have any other suggestions where one could go at night that aren’t clubs/bars with lots to see?

    Thank you 🙂

    • sasha:

      @Ashley Hi Ashley, Unless something has changed, Kundu goes pretty well into the morning. There are a ton of bars, clubs, restaurants, street food, etc.

      Other than Kundu, there really isn’t THAT much going on in Kunming at night. A lot of restaurants close around 9PM, which is weird in a big city… I suppose you could walk around “downtown” but it isn’t that special – just shopping malls and stuff. Go to Kundu and you’ll find something to do. If you need anymore Kunming advice, drop us a line at Grateful Gypsies on Facebook. Enjoy your trip! -Sasha

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