The gateway to China's captivating and wild Yunnan Province, Kunming (Kūnmíng, 昆明) is best explored at a leisurely pace. Wander the markets for local handicrafts and herbs, sip fragrant Yunnan tea in relaxed teahouses, fill up on delicious snacks, and bike through the city and surrounding countryside. Visit temples, lakes (the deep blue Dian Lake (Dian Chi) is worth at least one day alone) and nearby mountains and forests (including the Shilin "Stone Forest" rock formation).
Kunming and the surrounding countryside can keep you busy, but the city itself is also a great place to simply hang out, relax and experience something of China's cultural diversity: significant populations of ethnic minority Yi, Hui, Bai and Miao peoples live in and around the city. When you're ready to move on, Kunming makes a great jumping-off point for further explorations of Yunnan and beyond—Tibet, Sichuan, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam are all within striking distance.
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..
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..
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..
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..