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Dian Lake (Diānchí, 滇池) is the sixth largest lake in China at 300 sq km (116 sq mi) and dominates the landscape southwest of Kunming. The lake is surrounded by mountains, flatlands and some industrial sites, and its shore is dotted with small villages, parks and fishing endeavors. The best views of the lake are from above, either from the mountains or Daguan Tower (Dàguān Tǎ, 大观塔). Western Hills Park provides access to the water and facilities for renting paddle boats and the like. Out on the lake..

Like an elegant jade ornament gracing a handsome personage who, under pressure from all the harrying demands of modern life, is a little worse for wear, Green Lake Park (Cuìhú Gōngyuán, 翠湖公园) instantly reminds one of the essential beauty that persists beneath the occasional grime of modernity as Kunming barrels, along with the rest of urban China, deeper into the 21st century.  With a history than stretches back to the 17th century, the present lake is a remnant of the Kunming region's much larger and more..

The Dragon Gate (Lóngmén, 龙门) actually refers to a collection of grottoes and sculptures in the stone corridor of Western Hills Park. A series of narrow caves, just wide enough for two thin people in some places, exposes a plethora of ancient inscriptions, drawings and figures. The nooks and crannies inside these caves have incense burners, vases and other historic relics paying homage to the artists of the cave and the rest of the Northern Wei Dynasty of the 5th century.

Juixiang Scenic Area (Kūnmíng Jiǔxiàng Fēngjǐngqū, 昆明九乡风景区) is perhaps most famous for its extensive series of caves, loaded with ancient Yi minority myths (hire a local tour guide to hear some of the stories) and featuring an underground waterfall. Local villages and an impressive view of a scenic gorge round out the highlights of this area which lies 80 km (50 mi) from Kunming. There is a lot to see, so don't hesitate to spend an entire day taking in the countryside. Yunnan guide | Kunming guide | Kunming..

Built during the Tang Dynasty, the Bamboo Temple (Qióngzhú Sì, 筇竹寺) is best known for housing a large collection of arhat (luóhàn, 罗汉, in Chinese), which are like Buddhist saint sculptures. These life-size clay figures were sculpted over seven years by Li Guangxiu and his craftsmen and each represents some aspect of the human experience. It is a delighfully realistic (or surrealistic) collection of statues with perfectly fixed expressions seemingly frozen in time. The architecture of the temple is worth..

Nestled in a small valley on the southern side of Kunming's Yuantong Hill, Yuantong Temple (Yuántōng Sì, 圆通寺) is not only the largest Buddhist temple in Yunnan, but easily the most historically significant. The temple was originally established some 1,200 years ago during China's Tang Dynasty , also the time of Yunnan's Nanzhao Kingdom (737-902), a confederation of largely Tibeto-Burmese tribes whose descendents make up many of Yunnan's present-day minority peoples. During subsequent dynasties—most significantly the..

Completed in 1690 during the Qing Dynasty, Grand View Park (Dàguān Gōngyuán, 大观公园) lives up to its name by providing visitors with grand views of Dian Lake. It's located at the northern tip of the lake, with the whole body of water stretching out before it. Climb the Grand View Tower (Dàguān Tǎ, 大观塔) for even better views or enjoy any of the usual Chinese park activities—playgrounds, pavilions, boat rentals and the like. Yunnan travel guide | Kunming travel guide | Kunming flights Kunming hotels |..

The Yunnan Ethnic Nationality Village (Yúnnán Mínzú Cūn, 云南民族村) is, in essence, a theme-park presentation of Yunnan's officially recognized 26 ethnic minorities, a long list headed up in terms of overall tourist appeal, if not by overall population, by the Bai, Dai, Naxi, Yi, Tibetans and Mosuo.  Located on the northeastern shore of Dian Lake and a short walk from the Yunnan Museum of Minority Nationalities, the "Village" provides a neatly packaged and, it must be said, slightly..

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