Kunming Itinerary (2 days)

This itinerary will cover Kunming over 2 days (with no overnight stay), and is the first part of my Yunnan, China backpacking trip. To fast forward to my next itinerary, please check out my 3 day itinerary for Dali, Yunnan or 4 day itinerary for Lijiang, Yunnan

Trip Summary

  • Trip length and when did I go? 2 days in March 2017
  • Places visited: Kunming
  • How much did it cost me? MYR 690

At A Glance

  • Day 1 Kunming. Arrival in Kunming by flight from Kuala Lumpur. Transferred from the airport to Kunming Railway station for my overnight train to Dali.
  • Day 2 Kunming. Back in Kunming by overnight train from Lijiang. Half day sightseeing around Kunming, visiting Cuihu lake and Yuantong temple. Transferred back from Kunming to Changshui airport for my flight back to Kuala Lumpur

Itinerary Map (click to view POIs and routes)

Travel Montage

Arrival in Kunming
  • 4.40 pm - Arrive at Changshui international airport by flight (Air Asia) from Kuala Lumpur - RM476 (return)
  • Immigration clearance. Malaysians will need to apply for a tourist visa (L visa) prior to arrival. You can check here on how to apply for a China tourist visa in Malaysia. Made mine in Malaysia before coming here - RM88.30
  • Freshened up at the airport and walked around the airport for a bit to get my bearings straight. If you need a data plan to stay connected, they can be purchased at a convenience store in the airport for an exorbitant fee of 200 yuan (Unicom, valid for two weeks)
  • Getting to Kunming downtown from the airport is quite straightforward. After exiting the arrival hall, turn left and walk to the 919 bus stop at the end of the terminal. From here, you can take airport buses to various parts of the city
  • 6.05 pm - Rode airport bus (with letters '919C') to Kunming railway station - 13 yuan

Arrival hall in Changshui International Airport, Kunming
919 airport buses to Kunming

Kunming to Dali
  • 7.05 pm - Arrive in Kunming downtown (hopped off near Kunming railway station)
  • Walked from the drop-off point to Kunming railway station (under 5 minutes)
  • 7.10 pm - Arrive at Kunming railway station. Went to the ticket counter and purchased a ticket for the 10.37pm train (K9632) to Dali - 102.50 yuan (Hard sleeper)
  • For a bit more comfort, you can opt for the slightly more expensive soft sleeper. The difference between the two, is that a hard sleeper has 6 beds to a cabin, whereas a soft sleeper has 4 beds
  • Alternatively, to save yourself the hassle of queuing up or avoid getting into a situation where a train may be fully booked, you can book your train tickets in advance with Ctrip. Take note that they charge a booking fee for each ticket you buy. For added flexibility, train tickets can be cancelled and refunded up to two hours before departure, however keep in mind that the booking fee is non-refundable
  • Dinner at the railway station - Dico's (27 yuan)
  • 10.30 pm - Board train departing for Dali

The airport bus I took dropped me off near this busy junction in Kunming
From the junction earlier, Kunming railway station is only a stone's throw away
Long queues at the ticketing counters in Kunming railway station
Entering the departure hall. Take note of your train number as this will be important later on
30 minutes before departure and people are already queuing at the gates
The whole process from the departure hall to boarding the train is a seamless experience. Everything is clearly indicated and if that fails, there are personnel on the ground who will ensure that you do not get on the wrong train
The cabins inside the train have no doors! Oh well, privacy is overrated anyways
Train travel in China has been rather pleasant overall, at least in my experience

Back in Kunming & Cuihu Lake
  • 9.00 am - Arrive at Kunming railway station by train from Lijiang
  • Had a few hours before my return flight, so I decided to do some sightseeing around Kunming. With this in mind, Cuihu lake and Yuantong temple are perfect for quick visits
  • 9.15 am - Rode bus #2 from Kunming railway station to get to Cuihu lake - 1 yuan
  • 9.40 am - Hopped off at Wuyi road bus stop. Walked from the bus stop to Cuihu lake (under 10 minutes)
  • 10.00 am - 11.30 pm - Sightseeing around Cuihu lake. Allow up to two hours to see the place in its entirety, as it is quite a large area. One particular highlight of the lake is the thousands of migratory seagulls that make the lake their home, from November to March each year

Back in Kunming after almost two weeks exploring Yunnan
From the railway station, you can take bus #2 to Cuihu lake
Wuyi road bus stop is where you should get off if your destination is Cuihu lake
Walking to Cuihu lake from Wuyi road
Entrance into Cuihu lake
A beautiful pavilion located on one of the islets at Cuihu lake
Mid-Lake Islet at Cuihu lake
Admiring views of Cuihu lake with the city's skyline in the backdrop
Hundreds of migratory seagulls circling around to feed

Yuantong Temple
  • Walked from Cuihu lake to Yuantong temple (under 20 minutes)
  • 11.50 pm - Arrive at Yuantong temple. There's an entrance fee of 6 yuan to enter
  • 12.00 pm - 1.00 pm - Sightseeing around Yuantong temple, the largest and grandest Buddhist temple in Kunming. The area is quite tiny though and can be seen in less than an hour
  • Lunch nearby Yuantong temple - Dico's (23 yuan)

Walking from Cuihu lake to Yuantong temple
Entrance into Yuantong temple
Walking towards the Yuantong temple gate, flanked by cherry blossom trees
The Octagon Pavilion (the pagoda on the right) surrounded by the Pool of Setting Free
Taking a stroll around the Pool of Setting Free
Yuantong Hall
Beautiful sculptures inside Yuantong Hall

Cuihu Lake to Changshui International Airport
  • 1.25 pm - Rode bus #100 from Yuantong temple back to Cuihu lake - 1 yuan
  • 1.30 pm - Hopped off at the bus stop near southwest part of the lake
  • Walked from Cuihu lake to Xiaoximen bus terminal (under 15 minutes)
  • 2.20 pm - Rode airport bus (with letters '919B') from Xiaoximen bus terminal to Changshui international airport - 13 yuan
  • 3.10 pm - Arrive in Changshui international airport for my 5.40pm flight back home

Taking bus #100 back to Cuihu lake
Xiaoximen bus terminal near Cuihu lake
Taking a 919 airport bus back to Changshui international airport
Back in Changshui international airport for my flight home

How much?
What for?
CNY 34
Ground Cost
CNY 28
Transportation around Kunming
Admission – Yuantong temple

CNY 845
In & Out Cost
MYR 479
Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kunming (return)
CNY 102.50
Train from Kunming to Dali

CNY 187
CNY 50
Food & drinks
MYR 88.30
China tourist visa

CNY 1,066

How much did it cost me?

  • In local currency: CNY 1,063
  • Conversion rate (at the time): MYR 1 = CNY 1.55
  • After conversion: MYR 693 (for 2 days)

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