Kunming is a great place to go out, with plenty of friendly, reasonably priced bars and clubs patronized by a mix of locals and foreigners. For information on the latest hotspots and up-and-coming entertainment and cultural events, check out GoKunming (w http://www.gokunming.com).
Jinbi Plaza on Jinbi Lu is a complex (or, after a few drinks, a maze) of interlinked clubs such as The Hump Bar (驼峰酒吧, tuófēng jiŭbā) – stumble out of one and you fall straight into another. The Camel Bar (骆驼酒吧, luòtuó jiŭbā) at 4 Tuodong Lu is slightly more upmarket and polished, with a lively, predominantly Chinese clientele. Downstairs there’s a dance floor, while the more laidback upstairs area is ideal for sitting over a coffee during the day. If you can’t live without cheesy techno and flashing lights, head to the Kundu Night Market off Xinwen Lu, a clutch of bars and discos with late-night restaurants and nail bars and tattoo parlours in between. Everywhere’s free to get in, but drinks cost at least ¥30.
For a more sedate atmosphere, head to the Wenlin Jie area and take your pick of the student-expat bars and pubs. Chapter One (w http://www.chapteronekunming.com), at 146 Wenlin Jie, is good for cheap Happy Hour drinks (5–8pm). At 156 Wenlin Jie, Ganesh Bar & Restaurant (印象阁, yìnxiàng gé) is a sports bar, more of a pub really, with good beer but terrible Indian food. The Box (老夫子, lăo fūzĭ; w http://www.saporeitalia.com.cn), at 69 Wenhua Xiang, is a perennial favourite and just about everyone ends up here at some point for Italian wine, a faceful of ice cream, or an argument.
Gigs, club nights and talks take place frequently at the Scandinavian-run Nordica (TCG诺地卡, nuòdìkă; t 0871/4114692, w http://www.tcgnordica.com), 101 Xiba Lu, inside an old factory converted into a complex of galleries, cafés and studio spaces. Kunming attracts a lot of artists, and Nordica is a good place to find them and their work.