This post is one of several posts about my post-pandemic travel to China. Other posts include Guilin & Yangshuo, Guilin & Yangshuo (Food + Lodging), Hangzhou, Yunnan (Poisonous Mushroom Hot Pot), Xishuangbanna Dai Culture & Cuisine, Xishuangbanna Gaozhuang Night Market, and Foreigners Navigating Post-Pandemic Travel in China.
Kunming is a launching point for those who want to travel throughout Yunnan. There's an international airport, and from Kunming you can conveniently take the high speed rail to many of the famous scenic spots, such as Shangri-La, Lijiang, Xishuangbanna, and Jian Shui. There is a direct flight from Hong Kong to Kunming which takes about 2 hours.
So we did what many do, used Kunming as a launching point to both Xishuangbanna and Jian Shui. In between "excursions", we had a couple days to also enjoy Kunming itself, our own "two days in Kunming."
People love coming to Yunnan province especially during the winter because the weather is temperate all year round. It's great to be outdoors. This could explain why Kunming has so many beautiful parks that you can visit.
We visited Green Lake Park (or Cui Hu Park 翠湖公園). It was beautifully decorated, there are many different bodies of water, bridges, and even mini-forests you can walk through.
We came during January. Isn't this just amazing weather for January?
Modern Yunnan cuisine at "Aou"
Right next to Green Park, we had a fantastic dinner of modern Yunnan food at Aozao Guan 凹糟館. This restaurant showcased the bounty of Yunnan's produce, but with their own modern twist to the dishes. I loved the food. I'll follow up tomorrow with a separate post dedicated to this restaurant, detailing each dish!
Crowded Night Market
We were brave and we visited a popular night market one evening (Taruwawa Market). Wow. It was crazy, crazy crowded. Again, this was the week of Lunar New Year soon after the whole nation had just recovered from Covid.
We tried. We walked through the market once. But it was really too crowded. We didn't even feel like stopping to buy anything. I'm sure it's fun when it's a normal crowd size. But this was a bit too much, haha.
The decorations were indeed festive though!
The Amazing Song Hotel
Huge shoutout to my friend who recommended this hotel to us. The Song Hotel in Kunming is stunning. We were blown away by how nice it is, and it's really not that expensive for what you get (~ US$200 a night).
The overall property is huge, and each room is actually a "villa", a two-level townhouse with super nice furnishings. We had fun taking walks outside around the "neighborhood" during the day.
The lobby area is stunning and grand.
This is the view behind the hotel. It looks over at the area mountains.
Here is the view from our balcony! And the rooms are typically under US$200 a night, which isn't bad for a 2-story villa with a King bed!
Right outside the hotel there are great places to walk. We walked along this river for quite some time and passed other hotels.
We even stumbled upon this cool outdoor food fair, which was really fun!
Cafe in an Art District
In one of the art districts in Kunming sits a very special cafe called Kardia Cafe, or 從心開始 (cóng xīn kāishǐ). This term literally means "starting from the heart" but also sounds identical to a phrase that means "start over" or "renewal" 從新開始。The word kardia is also the Greek word for heart, thus connecting the Chinese and English names of this special cafe.
The owners are a couple with roots from Hong Kong and Canada, long-time foodies who have a passion for making the highest quality baked goods completely from scratch. The husband is a huge fan of Chef Thomas Keller (French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon). He's been inspired by the level of precision he sees in Chef Keller's work. They bring this same intense focus on quality to this little corner of Kunming, which is such a unique find.
It's a pretty new cafe, opened for only about a year. The environment, located in an arts district of Kunming, is indeed warm, inviting, and pleasant. I'll soon follow up with a more detailed post about this unique cafe!
All in all, our trip to Kunming was fun but way too short. I'm sure I'll be back again, since there are still so many places in Yunnan Province that I need to visit. Kunming is still a great launching point for all these trips, but the city itself also has much to offer.