As mentioned in my last post Kunming (at least the city centre) is not that deep with sights. The city is obviously a great transportation hub for exploring Yunnan further – and for many Yunnan visitors it is just that. But also the Dian Chi Lake, the Western Hills and some cultural sights like Jindian Park or Qiongzhu Temple North of the city may be worth a detour. Sadly I was not able to visit any of these potential highlights.
My two Kunming highlights were both located just a North of the city centre:
Ciuhu Park / Green Lake Park (翠湖公园)
Ciuhu Park is the green lung of Kunming. A smallish lake with islands that are connected by bridges and dams. If lucky you can see resting migrating birds or swans.
As there are not many green parks in Kunming, Ciuhu Park is obviously very popular among locals. I visited the park early in the morning and there were already many people doing their Tai Chi, playing board games, listening to musicians playing folk songs or singing to Chinese opera music. There are also small restaurants and food stalls where you can get unexpensive food or drinks. For a more expensive choice (and some WiFi + heating or aircondition) leave the park towards the Southeast and find the Caffe Bene outlet.
As of 2015 there was no entrance fee for the park.
Yuantong Temple (圆通寺)
Since my first trip to Sinosphere back in 2012 I started enjoying visiting temples. No matter which religion or sect (often more than one) a temple represents, temples in Eastern Asia don’t stop to fascinate me. Even if it’s hard to find information in English and often you don’t really understand the stories shown in the temples, I can easily spend hours in a temple complex. Did you know that many temples offer tasty vegetarian food for little money and some – often in more remote areas – cheap, basic accommodation?
Yuantong Temple and is located a 15 minutes walk East of Ciuhu Park. Unlike other Buddhist temples you walk downhill to reach the temple. The original temple was founded during the Tang dynasty, meaning the oldest parts are more than 1200 years old. The modern complex is Kunming’s main monastery of the Chan Buddhist sect. Todays monastery was expanded with funding from Thailand. Even during my visit the main temple was partly under renovation. There was also a very lively ceremony which had at least 50 monks and maybe 100 worshippers participating.
You can walk some 45 minutes from the temple back to the city centre or catch the metro by just following Yuantong Street eastwards.