While my boyfriends Mum and Dad were in China, we decided we would take a small 5 day trip to Kunming. Kunming is just over an hours flight south from Chengdu, in Yunnan Province. We have heard good things about the city: it’s weather is much better than in Chengdu, there are quite a lot of expats living there, it’s cheaper, plus it’s a gateway to explore south east Asia.
Kunming is remarkably smaller than Chengdu, with about half the amount of people in Chengdu which has around 14 million. Not the most smallest of cities!
From the cities I’ve been to in China, I was surprised at how different Chengdu is to many others. The ones I’ve been to are in the east, and it certainly shows how the east of China has dramatically become more ‘Westernised’, to me anyway, it seems to have lost some of it’s traditional culture.
Thankfully, much of the traditional ways of life are still seen in the West, so Chengdu and Kunming are definitely cities to visit if you want to experience a more ‘Chinese’ way of life.
Kunming very much feels like Chengdu… they both have sort of a ‘rustic’ feel. When we arrived the weather was glorious! Blue sky and it was quite hot! On our first day we decided to visit the Green Lake. We strolled around the lake and it’s surrounding area; watching people singing and dancing.
The next day, the weather wasn’t very good. We knew from the weather forecast that rain was due, so we were definitely prepared! Although it was freezing!
We got a bus to a beautiful old temple called Yuantong Temple. Apparently it’s one of the most famous Temples in Kunming. Although the weather wasn’t the best, we still took some really nice pictures.
After this, we walked to an area near a University which has loads of stalls selling different food; I tried these spicy/sweet fried potatoes. They were really nice! Instead of putting lots of spice on them, they only put a little spice but they also add some sesame oil to them.
After that, we headed downtown and had a look in the shops and just had a nosey. The weather was becoming worse so we decided to head back to our hostel.
On Wednesday, we took a train around 6/7 hours to a place called Dali Ancient City. 大理. Dali is an old ancient city and it is a very popular place to visit for Chinese people. It was really nice, although one thing that annoyed us was that in the streets there were constant e-bikes beeping their horns and trying to swerve between the crowds of people. It was really frustrating. They should really ban e-bikes in the main area of the town. The constant beeping ruined the atmosphere a little for us.
If you plan on walking, I would recommend 2 days in the Dali Ancient City. However if you want to rent a bike, I would say one day would be fine to explore the area. We decided to walk, and quickly realised how big the area was! So I would suggest renting a bike or an e-bike.
Walking around the area, we stumbled across a beautiful small park. I have no idea what the name is, but it was really nice.
After our two days in Dali, we got another train back to Kunming. We could have taken a flight from Kunming to Dali, but it was too expensive, so it was the train for us!
We stayed one more night in Kunming and then caught our short flight back to smoggy Chengdu.
I really enjoyed Kunming, I’d I like to go back again and maybe even think about living there one day!
The two hostels in which we stayed at are:
Kunming: Kunming Cloudland International Hostel
Pros: Really friendly staff, atmosphere was nice, bedrooms were fine.
Cons: Location wasn’t at the heart of Kunming, so had to take buses to get to any place.
Dali: Dali Five Elements Hostel
Pros: Located just 5 minutes from Dali Ancient City.
Cons: Staff weren’t very friendly (didn’t smile once at us). No atmosphere in the hostel whatsoever. I didn’t like our room; the bedroom and bathroom were far too big and just had a weird feeling about it. Also, the shower pressure is literally non-existent. They gave us a bedroom with 3 beds but we only needed 2 so that’s why it felt big. I wouldn’t stay there again.