Home Asia Things to Do and Places to Visit in Kunming, China

Things to Do and Places to Visit in Kunming, China

Things to Do and Places to Visit in Kunming, China
The Stone Forest, Kunming, China

In the Worldwide Travel Itinerary section of To the Nations Worldwide, we explore our itineraries from previous trips. Here we will explain what we did in each day very briefly. This section of our blog does not intend to be detailed with our events, but to provide a basic outline of what you can do given a certain time period in a location we have visited and how much it costs. For more detailed events, you can visit the links we provide within the days of the things we did.

A few notes for this section…
Cost is shown in United States Dollar (USD) and are approximate costs as currency is always fluctuating and prices can change. Prices are shown per person. However, things like accommodation and rental cars are not considered per person as they can include more than one person in the cost. Use these prices to estimate your costs while traveling. These are just things that we did during our time at this location, our itinerary. If you have suggestions for alternative things, please leave them in the comments below!


Place: Kunming, China
Duration: 2 Days
Type: Nature / Sightseeing / Culture

Though it was short-lived and unplanned, our two day trip to Kunming showed us the beauty of the Yunnan province and opened our eyes to a part of China that is not one of the more popular tourist spot. Kunming offers culture and natural beauty for travelers.
During our two days in Kunming, this is what we did:

Day One

Arrival in Kunming Airport: 12 AM – 2 AM
We arrived in Kunming Airport late at night and tried to negotiate a ride with one of the taxi drivers. Their prices were fairly too expensive for our liking, so we took a bus into the city.

Street food and check-in to hostel: 2 AM – 4 AM
When the bus dropped us off in Kunming, we needed to find a taxi to take us to our hostel. With our luggage in tow, we came across a street lined with street food vendors. At 3 AM in the morning we enjoyed some street food.

Street Food in Kunming, China

Green Lake Park and Lunch: 12 PM – 3 PM
We got to sleep late, and we woke up late. Beginning our day with a peaceful walk around Green Lake Park, we found a nice place to enjoy noodles for lunch in the same area.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

Exploring the city: 3 PM – 5 PM
After our meal, we explored the city some more. The best parts of walking around is you can do it at your own pace and it is free!

Yunnan Ethnic Village: 5 PM – 7 PM
With a couple hours of daylight left, we took a taxi to the Yunnan Ethnic Village. There is a substantial area for tourists to shop, eat, and have tea. After this area, there is an entrance fee required to see more of the various ethnic groups and their culture. We did not have the time to venture further into this part of the village and were content with seeing the first part.

Entrance Gate to Yunnan Ethnic Village, Kunming, China

Dinner: 8 PM – 10 PM
We enjoyed a quiet evening and ate dinner at our hostel.

Day One Costs:

  • Bus – $8
  • Taxi – $7
  • Hotel one night – $30
  • Food – $15
  • Green Lake Park – $0
  • Walking around Kunming – $0
  • Yunnan Ethnic Village – $0

Day Two

Breakfast and Bus to East Bus Terminal: 9 AM – 11 AM
We woke up, ate breakfast in our hostel, and left for the Stone Forest.

Bus to the Stone Forest: 12 PM – 1 PM
After the city bus took us to the East Bus Terminal, we purchased tickets for a bus directly to the Stone Forest.

Painting in Kunming, Yunnan, China

Seeing the Stone Forest: 1 PM – 5:30 PM
The Stone Forest is an incredible site that requires at least 3 hours of touring to see the whole thing. The landscape is gorgeous and it is a true representation of the beautiful Yunnan province. Be careful, the last bus leaves around 5:30 PM from the Stone Forest.

The Stone Forest, Kunming, China
The Stone Forest, Kunming, China

Bus back to East Bus Terminal and dinner: 5:30 PM – 9 PM
We took the last bus to the East Bus Terminal, took another bus back into the city, got dinner around the Green Lake Park area again, and fell back asleep in our hostel at the end of the day.

Day Two Costs:

  • Hotel one night – $30
  • Food – $15
  • Bus – $12
  • The Stone Forest – $25

Total Costs
Day One: $55
Day Two: $82
Total for two days = $137

Our trip to Kunming, China was an unplanned, 3-day reroute from Seoul, South Korea to Kathmandu, Nepal. Though we were initially disappointed that our trip to Nepal would be shortened by three days, we quickly found a few interesting attractions to see in Kunming and the surrounding area, including the beautiful natural attractions that the province of Yunnan was well-known for. The number one thing on our itinerary was to see the Stone Forest. It did not disappoint.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest

Attraction Name: The Stone Forest
Where: Kunming, Yunnan, China
Attraction Type: Natural Attractions
How to Get There: The Stone Forest is accessible by bus or car. From Kunming, find a bus to the Eastern Bus Terminal and purchase tickets (25 CNY or a little less than $5 USD) to the Stone Forest. The bus will take you directly there.
Cost: The price of admission is 175 CNY (approximately $25 USD).
Hours: It is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.
Duration: Walking around the entire area will take 3 hours or more.
Summary: The Stone Forest is an awe-inspiring area of what nature can do in time. The erosion of the rock in the area has created a beautiful park that is rich with photo shooting opportunities.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

The limestone structures throughout the Stone Forest are the result of countless years of erosion from the elements. Millions of years ago, the area was covered in sea. Some time later, the seas receded and the erosion of the limestone began. The Stone Forest shows us how powerful nature is, and the beauty it can make for us. It is an incredible landscape to witness. Today, the Stone Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

When you get there, grab a map and get away from the groups of tourists. Upon entering the park, you will be amazed by the massive structures, but it only gets better. There are several viewpoints and points of interest marked on your map. Make it your mission to find them all. We arrived there early in the afternoon and almost ran out of time before we had to catch the last bus.

When we first entered the park, we were fascinated with what we saw. Little did we know how much more beauty there was to see later in the park. Our advice: Don’t get caught up with the beginning of the park. There is always better things to see in this vast area. Start walking, get away from the groups of people, and don’t stop moving because there is so much to see.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China
The Stone Forest, Kunming, China

The above photo is where we stopped to catch our breath and enjoy the incredible view of this beautiful natural attraction. Minus the hazy day, we found the scenery to be unbeatable with anything we had seen so far in the Yunnan province. I could not fully describe the majestic wonder of nature, so we have these photos to supplement my loss of words.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

The area provides photographers with many incredible photo shooting opportunities. It is a wonderful opportunity to marvel at the structures and have a relaxing walk around the area. At the end of your trekking, take a cart tour around the track that travels throughout the park. Unfortunately my camera died at this point in our journey, but we did walk on most of the track when we first entered the park.

From Kunming, we took a bus to the Eastern Bus Terminal. From there, we bought bus tickets for 25 CNY, or a little less than $5 (USD), each to the Stone Forest. The direct bus ride from the bus terminal to the Stone Forest lasted about 1.5 hours. The cost of admission is 175 CNY (a little more than $26 USD). The Stone Forest is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm each day.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

The Stone Forest is one of the must-see natural attractions of China. The Yunnan province of China is famous for its natural beauty. The photographs and videos do not do any justice to being their in person and witnessing it for yourself. If you ever find yourself in Yunnan, China, you need to add this place to your itinerary.

Natural Attractions: The Stone Forest Near Kunming, China

Destination Name: Kunming
Country: China
Destination Type: A city in a province full of natural beauty.
How to Get There: Kunming has it’s own airport.
Cost: Transportation within the city via taxis and buses is inexpensive. Meals cost us anywhere from approximately $5 USD to $15 USD per person. Meals for any price range are easily found. The biggest cost for us was the price of admission to sites like the Stone Forest.
Duration: We spent nearly three days in Kunming, though we wish we had a day or two more to really take our time and take another day excursion to the caves. There is a lot you can do in the city and outside of it to keep you busy.
Summary: Kunming is a great city to explore and enjoy while taking day excursions to various surrounding areas to see the natural beauty that the Yunnan province of China has to offer.

Our trip to the Yunnan province of China came as a change in flight schedule. The original plan was for a short layover in Kunming before continuing on to Nepal for our 10 day vacation. However, the flight change just a couple of weeks prior to our departure changed our plans to spending three days in Kunming before moving on to Nepal. We were left with the decision of continuing on with this change, or find a new destination to travel to during our break. We opted to visit two countries in the span of ten days, so we got the paperwork ready fast and applied for our Chinese visas.

Before this trip, neither of us had ever visited China. Kunming is not necessarily the first place in China that people imagine themselves going to, but we were ready for the natural wonders that the Yunnan province has on display. The number one on our list prior to leaving was the Stone Forest.

After landing late at night in Kunming, we went on the mission to find a way into the city. There are several taxi drivers who will try to get your business, but none of them were willing to drop their prices to where we were willing to pay. Instead we chose the cheaper route of busing into the city. It was a 45 minute bus ride that dropped us off at a hotel where we were then left to try and find our way to our hostel just past midnight. We carried our backpacks and luggage to what seemed like the main street of the area to find a taxi, only to find that it was lined with street vendors selling late night food. Noodles, chicken feet, turtle, it seemed like they were selling everything. Considering how hungry we were, we figured it was the right time to get some noodles cooked for us to enjoy before moving on.

Street Food in Kunming, China

We chose one of the many street vendors serving noodles, picked our ingredients and they fried it up on the spot. The very oily broth with vegetables and noodles was delicious and just what we needed to fill our stomachs at this hour. Considering we were carrying all of our luggage to a place where all the locals come to have a late night snack, we must have stood out very well. It was past 1 AM by the time we finished. We located a taxi, gave him directions, drove around, asked for directions, waited more, and finally came to our hostel where we checked in and fell asleep right away.

The next morning we woke up late around 11 AM. We prepared ourselves for a more relaxing day that wouldn’t strain us too much after a day of traveling and a long night. We left our hostel for Green Lake Park, just a five minute walk away. The day was chilly, but it was a nice time to absorb some of the nature of Yunnan. The lake was crowded with seagulls that had migrated from Siberia for the winter. We walked through and around the lake just enjoying the atmosphere. After wandering around, we found a place along the lake that served some noodles. Our plan afterwards was to do more of the same: wander the streets of Kunming.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

The streets were crowded with scooters and motorbikes, cars, and buses with people trying to cross in between the chaos of all of this. However, on the more quiet streets of Kunming it was peaceful. Another thing on our list to see while in Kunming was the Yunnan Ethnic Village. We got a taxi and negotiated a rate for 15 Yuan, clearly using our hands to only show 15. Unfortunately, the taxi driver misinterpreted this amount for 50 Yuan and once we arrived at our destination we got into a little argument over the rate. The meter had been running the whole time and the price was half what he was claiming we negotiated at. We settled for what was on his meter as this would have been a fair rate. Whether he was trying to scam us or this was just a misunderstanding, we did not know. Bringing a piece of paper and pen with you to negotiate rates would be recommendable to avoid any situations like this.

The Yunnan Ethnic Village was an interesting spot on the water with mountains in the background and traditional Chinese architecture throughout the village. Though we only did tour through the shops of the village, we were intrigued with the souvenirs they had for sale. We purchased some gifts for family and some things for ourselves. Some of these included old badges from years ago to commemorate Mao. Whether or not these are real, we do not know. They were interesting enough to make the purchase anyways. There is a fee to go further into the village and see more of what the area has to offer. We were a little bit short on funds at this point and felt we had seen enough. The entrance fee is 90 Yuan (less than $15 USD). If you went further into the Yunnan Ethnic Village, please leave us a comment below and let us know what it was like.

Entrance Gate to Yunnan Ethnic Village, Kunming, China

The following day, we were ready to finally see the Stone Forest. We grabbed a bus to the Eastern Bus Terminal in Kunming, purchased tickets that took us directly to the Stone Forest, and we were on our way. The bus from the terminal to the forest was about an hour long. The views at the Stone Forest was worth the admission. Plan for a full day when you go here. Walking around the whole park can easily consume four hours of your time. See more of our experiences through photos and videos at the Stone Forest here.

The Stone Forest, Kunming, China
The Stone Forest, Kunming, China

After coming back from the amazing day at the Stone Forest, we were prepared to grab dinner and catch some sleep before our flight the next morning. Kunming was a beautiful place to stay for three days. Looking back at our time in the city, we have nothing but good memories to reflect on. We were happy that our plans changed to allow us to see such beautiful places. Often times when thinking about traveling to China, people over look cities like Kunming for cities like Beijing and Shanghai. China is a massive country and it offers more than just what these major cities have to offer. See the less visited places and see the natural beauty of the Yunnan province.

The Stone Forest, Yunnan, China

Attraction: Yunnan Ethnic Village
Where: Kunming, China
Type: Village / Architecture / Culture
How: We took a taxi from Green Lake Park to the village, costing us 25 Yuan (less than $4 USD).
Cost: There is no admission into the first part of the village where you can find tea shops, restaurants, and souvenir shops. To go further into the village it will cost 90 Yuan (less than $15 USD).
Hours: 8:30 AM – 8:00 PM
Duration: We walked around the area, enjoyed a coconut, and did some shopping for 1-2 hours. If you plan on going further into the village, this area can easily consume 2-4 hours of your traveling time.
Summary: We took the opportunity to see more of the culture and architecture of the Yunnan province by visiting the Yunnan Ethnic Village in Kunming, China.

It was our first day in Kunming, China. We had landed around midnight, made our way into the city by a 45 minute bus ride, and had street food at three in the morning. We finally got to our hostel and laid down by five in the morning. Knowing we would only have half a day to explore Kunming after waking up, we already had the idea to walk around the Green Lake Park area.

After walking around the park, we found a taxi that would take us to the Yunnan Ethnic Village. We negotiated a rate of 15 Yuan to go to the village, using our fingers to show the rate we were willing to pay. It was agreed upon, so we hopped into the back of the taxi. The driver kept the meter running anyways, and when we arrived at our destination the meter read 25 Yuan. This is when the driver parked the car, turned around to us, and asked for 50 Yuan. It took about five minutes of explaining that the agreed upon rate was in fact 15 Yuan. We don’t know whether or not this was a misunderstanding or if the driver was trying to scam us. We ended up giving him 25 Yuan, what his meter showed for the fair rate to the village. Be careful when negotiating prices, and maybe bring a pen and paper to help show the rate you are willing to pay.

Yunnan Ethnic Village Cocunut, Kunming, China

The area of the village was beautiful. Mountains were in the background, with lakes surrounding the village, and palm trees in the parking lot. Before going through the gate, we bought a coconut to quench our thirst. Afterwards, we walked into the village to see more. There are 25 ethnic groups that make up this area. The village celebrates these groups and displays their different cultures. The opening through the gate takes visitors through traditional Chinese architecture and pathways. Gifts and souvenirs can be purchased at this point in the village, as well as tea shops and food. We purchased some interesting items, including old badges that commemorate Mao and other historical events of communist China. Not knowing if these were real or not, they were still incredibly interesting. If you have any information on these badges, please leave us a comment below.

Entrance Gate to Yunnan Ethnic Village, Kunming, China

Yunnan Ethnic Village, Kunming, China

Further into the village is the entrance to see the various ethnic villages that comprise this area. It shows the architecture and culture of the peoples that make up the Yunnan province in China. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived it was nearing the closing time. The amount we would have to spend for the amount of time we had left did not seem worth it to us. We decided not to spend the 90 Yuan to enter the village further. The village is open from 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM.

The Yunnan Ethnic Village is an interesting place to visit and to get a feel for the different cultures that live in this area of China. If you made it further than we did into the village, please leave us a comment below. We would have loved to have seen more of the village and got a first-hand look at these different cultures.

Experience: Late night eating in China
Where: Kunming, China
Type: Food
How: Find any street food vendors late at night in Kunming. We were lucky to have found a street of vendors shortly after being dropped off by the bus from the airport.
Cost: The cost of the noodles we purchased was less than $5 USD.
Duration: We looked around the different food vendors, ordered our noodles, and ate. This took us about an hour.
Summary: Shortly after getting off our 45 minute bus ride from Kunming airport, we found a street full of street food vendors at 3 A.M. and ordered a cup of noodles.

Our trip to Kunming began late at night, or very early in the morning, when we landed around midnight. After grabbing our checked-in luggage, our next challenge was finding a way to get from the airport to the hostel. There are no shortage of people offering taxis as soon as you exit through customs. We did try to negotiate rates with a couple of taxi drivers, but neither of them would move on their prices and they wanted us to go down to the underground parking garage to get to the taxis, whereas the other taxi drivers were parked outside the doors of the airport. That made up our decision for us to grab a bus into Kunming and get a taxi from there.

The bus ride lasted 45 minutes and it dropped us off in front of a hotel in the city. Our next challenge was to find a taxi to our hostel. We grabbed our luggage and began to walk towards the sounds we heard in the distance with the thinking that where there was sound, there were people, and where there are people, there are most likely taxis. It was a short five minute walk that took us to a street lined with street vendors.

Street Food in Kunming, China

We walked along the street, hungry and luggage still in our hands, looking for something to eat. At this time it was past 2 in the morning. The street had stalls selling everything from noodle dishes to chicken feet and turtle! It was the first time seeing a turtle offered as food, but I could not bring myself to try it especially since it was living at the moment of seeing it.

We were both not quite ready to be adventurous eaters having just landed, being tired, and just wanting to eat and find our hostel. So, we settled on noodles. Of the many noodle vendors, we chose one, placed our order, and watched as the lady prepared our food before our eyes.

Noodle Street Food in Kunming, China

She prepared the large pan with water, noodles, vegetables, oil, and began frying. During the cooking process she added more ingredients that I wished I had known what they were, salt, and more oil. The whole process lasted about five minutes and at the end of it we had a nice bowl of hot noodles.

We took our bowl to the sitting area in behind the vendors. The sitting area was filled with plastic tables and stools. The ground and tables were greasy and sticky, suggesting heavy traffic in this area recently. We grabbed a table, parked our luggage, and enjoyed our noodles. The noodles were very oily, but very filling.

Our experience eating street food at three in the morning in Kunming was a positive one. We found the right food to keep us going for the remainder of the night before we found our taxi to our hostel. We got very lucky getting dropped off by this street, especially late at night and being able to find food. Our taxi took us another twenty minutes to get to our hostel because we could not find it. It was a difficult place to find at night, but in the morning it was easier to understand where we were in the city. Our trip in Kunming was just beginning.

Attraction: Green Lake Park
Where: Kunming, China
Type: Park
How: When we were in Kunming, we were lucky enough to be staying just a five minute walk to the park. Easier ways of transport are finding a bus or take a taxi to the park.
Cost: There is no admission into the park.
Hours: Anytime
Duration: We walked into the park, watched the seagulls and people, took pictures, and got lunch all within a three hour time period. Choose to do what you want at the pace you want.
Summary: Green Lake Park in Kunming, China offers visitors an enjoyable and affordable place to have a glimpse at the nature and architecture of Chinese society.

It was the day after we landed late at night in Kunming. We had landed, arrived in Kunming by bus, found some street food at 1 AM, got a taxi to our hostel, and were finally asleep by 3 AM. After a long day, we slept in until 11 PM. With plans the next day to go to The Stone Forest, we decided to spend the day wandering around the streets of Kunming to see what we could see.

Before arriving in Kunming, I knew that the Green Lake Park was not far from our hostel. So, we chose this as our first stop of the day. It was a slightly chilly December day with no sun. It was not ideal for a walk in any park, but we needed food and it seemed like a good place to find that. We arrived at the West Gate to the park in just five minutes. At the gate, there were people selling food and others dressed up in mascot costumes to pose for pictures with tourists.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

Our first instinct was to get photos with these mascots, however, after further review of the situation we saw that they demanded money from the people that took their pictures afterwards. We second guessed getting a picture with them, and within minutes we saw a group of police chase them and the food vendors off the property. It was our excitement of the day, and if this was the first thing we saw after reaching the park we had high expectations for more fun.

Green Lake Park, Kunming, China

Unfortunately there was no more excitement in that respect, but much more enjoyment came from the nature of the park and looking at the Chinese architecture of the various gates that allow entrance into the park and surrounding structures. It was our first look in the daytime at the architecture. Also, during the winter the seagulls from Siberia migrate to Kunming where they gather at this park. The flocks of seagulls covered patches of the waters and skies and added to the environment of this lake. The trees, bridges, and inner network of the lake was beautiful to walk along and take pictures of. It was an enjoyable walk throughout the park.

Green Lake, Kunming, China

Afterwards, we explored the streets along the park and found a nice place to eat. Noodles and chicken made for a nice lunch meal. There are lots of places to eat and shop along the park. Green Lake Park is a peaceful and beautiful place to walk within Kunming. If you find yourself in the area, it is definitely worth wandering around for an hour or two.