Basking 2000m above sea level in the fertile heart of the Yunnan plateau, KUNMING does its best to live up to its traditional nickname, the City of Eternal Spring. Until recently it was considered a savage frontier settlement; the authorities only began to realize the city’s promise when people exiled here during the Cultural Revolution refused offers to return home to eastern China, preferring Kunming’s climate and more relaxed life. Today, its citizens remain mellow enough to mix typically Chinese garrulousness with introspective pleasures, such as quietly greeting the day with a stiff hit of Yunnanese tobacco from fat, brass-bound bamboo pipes.

The city’s potential as a hub for both domestic tourism and cross-border trade has seen Kunming develop rapidly in recent years. With its sprouting malls and streets bustling with shoppers from every corner of the country – not to mention some interesting markets and an excellent museum – Kunming is no longer the sleepy outpost of old, but the growing tourist infrastructure, together with a student and expat-fuelled nightlife, ensures the city is an enjoyable stop-off. Which is just as well, as virtually every traveller coming through Yunnan will end up here at some point.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

China features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

An expert's guide: the best area to stay in Hong Kong

Hong Kong floats between old China and the west; its futuristic harbour has become one of Asia's most famous views but you'll also find pockets of traditiona…

28 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

China travel tips: 8 things you need to know before you go

Even 20 years ago China was not a conventional tourist destination. Despite the allure of its beautiful landscapes and history-filled cities, politics, poverty,…

13 Jan 2017 • Simon Frank insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month