Transit passengers from 51 countries including the US, Canada and all members of the EU can spend up to 72 hours in Kunming without a visa. This visa-free policy allows foreigners from these 51 countries with visas and plane tickets to a third country to transit through Kunming for a visa-free stay of up to 72 hours. The following is a suggested itinerary for a 3-day trip.
Day one: sunset at Tiger Mouth
Kunming - Yuanyang
Yuanyang County is about 205 kilometers away from Kunming. Other than going by car, the most convenient and fastest way is to take a non-stop distance coach. The whole trip takes about 6.5 hours.
Located in the south of Yuanyang Old Town, the Tiger Mouth (Laohuzhui) Scenic Area is known for the most breathtaking vistas of their kind in the Yuanyang area. It is the best site for sunsets. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Day two: sunrise at Duoyishu
If you come to Yuanyang, you shouldn’t miss Duoyishu Rice Terraces, part of Honghe Rice Terraces, for the amazing sunrises which make you never want to leave. They were listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2013.
This scenic area is the best site to watch sunrises over vast rice paddies and a sea of clouds and the best place to enjoy harmonious Hani folk life. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
And then, visit the luxuriant forest and rice terraces Qingkou Hani Ethnic Village where the local Hani people for generations have lived in Mushroom-shaped Houses.
Setting foot on Qingkou, you’ll be impressed by the featured houses and have a greater understanding of Hani culture, especially if you visit the Hani Culture Museum. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Lastly, check out the spectacular 950-hectare Bada Hani Rice Terraces.
The terraces are like ladders to heaven with over 3700 levels, rising up from 800 meters to 2000 meters. They offer spectacular sunsets shining through seas of mysterious clouds. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
Then, take a bus to Jianshui and spend the night there.
Day three: Jianshui: southern Yunnan's cultural gem
Jianshui Ancient Town, one of China’s famous national historic and cultural towns, enjoys a great reputation as a “Museum of Ancient Buildings and Residential Houses”. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
A visit to Jianshui is not complete without a visit to the Garden of the Zhu family. Covering two acres, these buildings, yards, gardens and streets intertwine in a unique way. The gardens, extremely well equipped, are often the site of opera performances.
A portion of the residence, which includes some buildings and part of the gardens, was transformed into a hotel, so you can spend the night there. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
In Kunming, you will find a wide array of delicious dishes, not only in the more established restaurants, but also in street stalls scattered throughout the city, albeit, they are generally served in more abbreviated versions, i.e., as snacks. Some of the most famous Kunming dishes include Over the Bridge Rice Noodles, Steam Pot Chicken and Er Kuai (Rice Cakes).
There are many good restaurants in the downtown area of Kunming. Most of them are easy to find with convenient transportation. For example, try East West Tower Pedestrian Street of Xishan District, East Wind Road of Wuhua District, and Guandu Town of Guandu District. The most famous places in Kunming which gather delicious cuisine and snacks are Nanping Street, Xiangyun Food City, Peace Village and Daguan Commercial City. You can enjoy drunk shrimp, grilled meat on bamboo, rice noodles with pepper and duck blood, and baba (a kind of coarse cereal).
Bars to try:
O'Reilly's Irish Pub, decorated in an Irish style offers a taste of real Ireland, and is said to be the first Irish pub in southern China and the most authentic Irish pub in the whole of China. Hump Pub, one of the most famous pubs in Kunming, provides food, wine, beer, and Internet service. Cobra Disco, one of Kunming's most popular nightclubs, stays open very late and caters to mainly a local crowd.
Since October 2014, Kunming has been offering foreign tourists a 72-hour window to explore the city without a visa, following the introduction of a new policy for transit passengers from 51 countries.
Visitors eligible for visa-free stays must have air tickets to a third country with confirmed dates, and visas where required. A service center for transit passengers operates at the Kunming Changshui International Airport.