Kunming Tourist Attractions


Kunming is famed as the ''City of Eternal Spring'' because of its mild climate and lush vegetation although within the space of a single day it is possible for the city to experience considerable variations in temperature. The city is also the cultural capital of the province, possessing universities, colleges and an institute for minorities.

Kunming lies at 102°43'E and 25°05'N, in the center of the province of Yunnan on the northern shore of Lake Dianchi.

Temple of Perfection and Success

The Temple of Perfection and Success (Yuantong Si), situated in the north of the city and just to the south of the zoo of the same name, was built during the Tang period (618-907), rebuilt between 1301 and 1320, and subsequently restored on several occasions during the next few centuries. An octagonal pavilion situated in a square lake is of particular interest. In the main temple, the Hall of Perfection and Success (Yuantong Baodian), the visitor should look out for some 14th C Buddhist statues and two Ming period (1368-1644) dragons made from colored clay which are coiled around two pillars.

Jade Lake

Jade Lake (Cuihu), into which nine springs feed, lies in the northwest of the city in the park of the same name. The late 17th C Pavilion of the Green Waves (Biyi Ting) stands on an island in the middle of the lake. Two dams dominate the lake: the one running in a north-south direction and crossed by three bridges is known as the Dike of Governor Ruan (Ruan Di) and was erected towards the end of the 18th C. The other one, called Tang Dike (Tang Di), was built in 1919 and runs east-west.

Pagoda of the West Temple and Pagoda of the East Temple

In the south of the city two pagodas rise up in close proximity to one another, the Pagoda of the West Temple (Xisi Ta) and the Pagoda of the East Temple (Dongsi Ta), both dating from the Tang period (618-907) and both having been faithfully rebuilt after the Muslim uprising of 1868.

Provincial Museum

The Provincial Museum, which was opened in Dongfeng Xilu in 1964, contains over 50,000 exhibits, including valuable bronze implements belonging to the national minorities.


Lunan Stone ForestLunan Stone Forest

Lunan Stone Forest

The Stone Forest lies 120km/75mi southeast of Kunming in the district of Lunan. After the sea receded millions of years ago, tectonic movements caused deep fissures to occur in the rock, which was then further shaped by erosion processes.
The forest consists of thousands of narrow, weirdly-shaped rocks towering up to a height of between 5 and 30m (15 and 100ft), scattered over an area of over 26,000ha/100sq.mi. 80ha/200acres of this area are open to visitors.
The rocks have memorable names such as Ten Thousand Year Mushroom (10m/33ft high), Mother and Son, Camel Riding on Elephant, Avalokitesvara Rock, Buddha Stone, Rhinoceros Looking at the Moon and Beautiful Maiden Ascending from the Water.
The Stone Forest is accessible by means of carefully laid-out paths and can be divided into three sections: the Lesser Stone Forest (Xiao Shilin), which is to be found just beyond the north entrance, a little to the south of Shilin Lake (Shilin Hu); the Greater Stone Forest (Da Shilin), to the south of the Lesser Stone Forest, with Jianfeng Pool and numerous grottoes; and the Outer Stone Forest (Wai Shilin) which takes in the surrounding area. The most spectacular spots in the Stone Forest can be found at Lotus Peak (Liang Huang Feng) and Sword Tip Pond. From the Summit View Pavilion (Wang Feng Ting) you get a fantastic view of this natural miracle. A visit to Stone Forest is particularly memorable at sunset, when the rock formations cast bizarre shadows.
In the middle of the Lesser Stone Forest there is a 2ha/5acre meadow which on the 24th day of the 6th moon month is the scene of the Torch Festival, mounted by the Sani minority group. It lasts 24 hours and during the day sports contests are held in national costume (a kind of wrestling match, martial arts, target shooting and horse racing). Finally throughout the night there is an imposing torch lit procession with interludes of song and dance.

Lake Dianchi (Lake Kunming)

Lake Dianchi has a surface area of 297sq.km/115sq.mi and an average depth of 5.5m/18ft. Now known as Lake Kunming, it lies about 4km/2.5mi southwest of the city and is fed by 20 rivers and streams. There are thought to have been settlements here more than two thousand years ago.
On the shores of the lake there are many places to visit, for example Daguan Lou Gongyuan Park with its tower of the same name on the west shore. The tower, which was completed in 1691, originally had two stories but in 1828 a third story was added. For a number of years the tower served as a meeting-place for local men of letters. In 1857 it was destroyed during the war but rebuilt in 1869. The building has a double roof which is covered with yellow-glazed tiles. In 1888 the famous calligrapher Sun Ranweng engraved the longest ''parallel poem'' (duilian) in China (180 characters) on the two front pillars.
The Western Mountains (Xishan), which rise to over 2300m/7500ft, lie along the west shore of Lake Dianchi, about 15km/9mi from Kunming, from where they can be reached by bus. Between the highest summit, Taihuashan, and the lake there is a difference in altitude of 470m/1542ft. Hidden away in the mountain valleys there are several Buddhist and Taoist temples, while at the foot of Gaoraoshan the visitor will come across the tomb of the Kunming-born composer Nie Er (1912-35), who composed the Chinese national anthem. His tomb is approached by 24 steps, symbolizing the age of the deceased.

Bamboo Temple

On a foothill of Yu'anshan Mountain, 10km/6mi northwest of Kunming stands the Bamboo Temple. As yet the exact date of its construction has not been determined, but it can be said with certainty to have been before the end of the 13th C.
The temple contains several valuable works of art: the Yuan period (1271-1368) statue of the Buddhas of the Three Worlds made of variegated clay (in the Buddha Hall); a small stone tablet on which is engraved in Chinese and Mongolian an imperial edict of 1316 calling on the army and the civilian population to protect the temple; the 500 Luohan statues of clay (1883-90) by the sculptor Li Guangxiu (in the Buddha Hall and two neighboring buildings), which represent the various social strata in a very vivid and individual way.

Pool of the Black Dragon

The Pool of the Black Dragon, situated 14km/8.5mi north of the city in the park of the same name, is famous mainly for the Taoist Temple of the Dragon Spring (Longquan Guan), which is believed to have been founded under the Han dynasty, i.e. some 2000 years ago.
Further down, on the west bank of the pool, stands the second part of the temple complex, the Palace of the Black Dragon (Heilong Gong), dating from 1454. Growing on the temple site today are a plum tree from the Tang period (618-907), a cypress from the Song era (960-1279) and a camellia from the Ming period (1368-1644).

Pavilion of the Three Pure Ones

The construction of the Taoist Pavilion of the Three Pure Ones took place over six centuries, during the Yuan, Ming and Qing periods (1279-1911).
From here one can reach the cave of Ciyun Dong, and from there proceed to the Dragon's Gate (Longmen), situated 500m/1640ft high and also served by a cable car. The Stone Pavilion (Datian Ge) is reached by a tunnel with stone steps and offers a wonderful view across Lake Dianchi.
At the foot of Taihuashan lies the temple of the same name, dating from the Yuan period (1279-1368). Nearby stands the ''Lakeview Tower'' (Wanghai Lou).
To the north of the temple we come to Huating Si, dating from the Song period (960-1279), the main hall of which contains three gilded Buddha sculptures and 500 Luohan figures.

Gold Hall

The Golden Hall, built in 1671 and situated to the northeast of the city on Minfeng Shan Mountain, is modeled on an earlier building dating from 1602, which was moved to Binchuan near Dali in 1637.
The building has a square ground-plan with 6.2m/20ft sides and is 6.7m/22ft high. It is made completely of bronze, as are its fittings and statues. It gets its name from the way its roofs shine like gold in the sun.

Thermal Springs of Anning

The Thermal Springs of Anning (Anning Wenquan) lie 40km/25mi to the southwest of Kunming near the village of Anning. They were discovered as early as the Eastern Han period (25-220), but were not made use of until the early 15th C.
The 45°C (113°F) hot springs contain calcium, magnesium, natrium and other minerals; they are particularly recommended for skin diseases and rheumatism.

Caoxi Si Temple

To the west of the Thermal Springs of Anning (1km/.6mi) stands the Caoxi Si Temple, erected under the Tang dynasty (618-907) and later rebuilt on several occasions. In honored place in the main hall dating from the Song period (960-1279) is a Buddha statue which by some strange phenomenon is invested with almost mythical powers of attraction. Every 60 years on the evening of the 15th day of the 8th month (according to the Chinese calendar) a ray of moonlight passes through a small window and falls on the middle of the Buddha's brow, forming a point of light there; as the moon slowly rises up in the sky, the point of light moves further and further down, until finally it reaches the navel of the sculpture and disappears.
Mention should be made of the Pearl Spring (Zhenzhu Quan) to the south of the temple.

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