IF YOU are thinking of experiencing serenity, scenic landscapes and culture all in one place for your next holiday, look no further, for Kunming has it all.
Kunming is the capital and largest city in the Yunnan province in southwestern China.
Known as the City of Eternal Spring for its year-long temperate climate, a trip to this city would not be complete without a visit to its many iconic places and scenic spots.
The Dianchi Lake Scenic Area is located in the southwest part of Kunming city.
Measuring about 300 square kilometres, Dianchi Lake or Dian Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the Yunnan province, and the sixth largest in China.
The view of this lake is nothing short of stunning, giving out calm and serene vibes. Take the cable car to relish the picturesque panorama.
Xishan Scenic Spot
The Xishan (Western Mountain) islet is the largest islet on Taihu Lake, and is made up of 34 smaller islets.
Its breathtaking natural beauty is best appreciated by cable car ride.
A must-see attraction is the Kunming Dragon Gate at the top of Xishan, which is said to give visitors good luck.
And certainly luck will play a part in getting there.
The Dragon Gate was built on the face of a steep cliff, and its various paths, rooms, grottoes, and Buddhist figures are all carved from the large natural rock.
Moving throughout the Dragon Gate requires standing on the cliff-edge and holding the railing, looking down upon the spectacular Dianchi Lake.
Aside from that, reaching it is relatively easy, either by bus, taxi, or by cable car ride to and from Haigeng for as low as RMB50 (RM30.40) for a roundtrip, or RMB30 (RM18.20) for one way.
Jiuxiang Caves & Scenic Area
The Jiuxiang Scenic Area is located about 90km from central Kunming. It is famous for its unique karst caves (about 100 in total, of which over 60 are explored), mountains, rivers, deep valleys as well as minority customs and cultures.
For cave enthusiasts, there are five main scenic areas open to the public – Three Feet Cave, Dashaba Dam, Horseshoe Bay, Alulong Scenic area and Horseshoe River Scenic area – where visitors can feast their eyes on the beautiful natural formations created over a period of 600 million years.
Yunnan Nationalities Village
One of the highlights of any trip is experiencing and having a taste of the local culture. Watch members of Yunnan’s 26 ethnic groups share their unique culture, beliefs, dance, and traditions at this cultural village.
From shows to interactive games, the Yunnan Ethnic Village is the quintessence of Yunnan’s delightful customs and cultures.
Another must-see destination is the Stone Forest, or Shilin. Located 90km east of Kunming, this area is the world’s only karst stone forest in a subtropical plateau region.
The tall rocks seem to rise from the ground like stalagmites, with many looking like petrified trees, thus creating an illusion of a forest made of stone.
These natural stone formations are in the shapes of columns, cones, pagodas, and mushrooms, as well as animals, plants, and even human figures.
Since 2007, two parts of the site, the Naigu Stone Forest and Suogeyi Village, have been designated as Unesco World Heritage Sites as part of the South China Karst.
Yunnan Military Academy
Located at the western side of the Green Lake, Jiangwutang (as it is called in Chinese), which was built in 1909, is a relatively well-preserved military school in modern Chinese military history.
The mustard yellow square building looks simple but dignified. Both eastern and western sides were originally classrooms, offices and dormitories for teachers; northern and southern sides are dormitories for students, over 9,000 of whom have graduated from its halls.
Dounan Flower Market
The famous Dounan flower market is home to over 16,000 species, and over 30 million flowers either shipped locally or flown to cities around the world, with the daily turnover reaching as high as RMB2.5 million (RM1.51 million).
The most commonly-used fresh-cut flowers are gladiolus, Chinese rose, rose, chrysanthemum, carnation, African chrysanthemum, anthurium, and many more.
Wedding cars can sometimes be seen lining up early in the morning waiting to be decorated with fresh flowers.
For those looking for just a few blooms, prices are relatively affordable, with a bunch of carnations going for as low as RMB2 (RM1.20).
AirAsia operates 14 weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur to Kunming, with all-in fares as low as RM179. AirAsia also offers direct flights to Kunming from Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand.