GoKunming Forums

What is Kunming like?

spelunkus (81 posts) • 0

Hey everyone,

I have a rather generic question but would be interested to see what people living in Kunming have to say.

How do you like Kunming as a city to live in? Are you Chinese, a foreigner, working, a student?

What's is the city like? What is it not like? What resources does it have or not have? How is it different from a larger city, like Beijing? What is the local culture like there?

I lived in Beijing for two months this summer and it wasn't my kind of place (as a city to live in). It's too big and too polluted for me. There were plenty of expat options but I'm not big on them (I do like my beer and organic food though). I have read in many places that Kunming is a much more easygoing place, and it looks like it's much less polluted.

Please tell me your experiences.


tommann (423 posts) • 0

I am a foreigner. I usually tell people that the weather is great, the food is great, and the people are much nicer than Beijingers. Opinions will vary.

Natsymir (101 posts) • 0

Kunming is shabby and noisy and chaotic and wonderful. It's more mañana than Beijing, maybe something about the climate, and generally a soft place, but if you want it -really- relaxed, you should probably aim for nearby Dali, the hippie haven. Beer is plentiful, but you can forget about organic food, unless you're keen on eating overpriced western stuff at Salvador's every day of the week. Kunming traffic is horrible, the bus network confusing to say the least, and a subway system practically non-existent; this is somewhat offset by the fact that the area of town where things happen is rather small, so you're not so reliant on public transportation as you'd be in Guangzhou or Beijing. Kunming has great food, especially in the lower price range, with many interesting minority cuisines. Kunming is significantly cheaper to live in than Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou; you can easily survive on 30-40 kuai a day, excluding rent, if you only eat chinese food and use buses for transport.

tigertiger - moderator (5084 posts) • 0

Kunming is the only place in China where I have ever really felt at home, but I am a country boy. I live in the burbs by the lake and not downtown, and so I may have a different perspective.

Cost of foods, especially fruit, is cheaper in the markets here than in the big cities. Life is more relaxed.

The main downside that I can see is that landlords will gouge you for rent. Not just foreigners, even locals get gouged.

Air quality is not so good in the north as the city is surrounded by mountains W,E,N. Air in the south is best.

Local transport is chaos, but TIC. Taxis are reasonably priced, and as the city is smaller than BJ, SH, journeys are shorter.

You won't see a lot of ethnic culture in Kunming it has got very modern and westernized, but the city is a gateway to Yunnan, where there is cultural diversity.

Different people will have different perspectives depending on what they are looking for. Some will like what they find, others not. Hippies will be disapointed with Kunming City, but perhaps love Yunnan.

spelunkus (81 posts) • 0

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. That does help me understand what to expect.

If only I could find a bloody homestay now!


sendero english (21 posts) • 0


Just to play devil's advocate, I would say that almost no city in china is relaxed by international standards. Kunming is no exception. A few places in Yunnan would fit that bill, but I wouldn't call them cities. With Kunming, I think the positives are fairly obvious and already mentioned. So here are some less rosey "cons"-perhaps opinions, perhaps facts:

-many people aren't that honest or considerate, and get angry fairly easily (though less violent and confrontational than many in dongbei).
-people are shy, and not usually outgoing.

-it is not as clean as they say.

-food is edible, but not exactly top notch.
-there is very little culture, in the sense of evolving engagements with art, music, philosophy,writing, architecture, and debate. People are interested in very little besides comfort.

-relaxation, apathy, laziness, and indifference seem to be the same thing here. If you don't think those words need naturally go together, be forewarned.
- the dialect is harsh and noisey, though if you can live with that, it does have character and rich vocabulary.
-Kunming is boring, there is not much to do. Local people sing ktv, play ma jiang, play cards, shop, drink, eat, watch tv, rinse and repeat.

-it is easy to find nice people, but just try finding nice, interesting people.
-Kunming is mostly not that pretty, not anymore anyway. Most of it is a bit ugly, And the streets are often dirty.
-If you want relaxed, clean, sunny and pretty, somewhere else in Yunnan would be better. If you want vibrant, active, interesting communities, skip Yunnan altogether.

-Kunming is not a hot place to move for many in china, with the exception of seniors who come for the mild weather and low costs (except rent), or workers from particular industries. It is more of a jumping off point or stopover connecting people to Dali, Lijiang, southeast asia, etc.

Some quantum paleontologist will now jump on and attack my comments as clueless I am sure. Happy new year to them. I have been here awhile and could summon an army of people to agree with my above comments. So take them with a grain of salt, but they are not unusual observations, despite whatever the tourist sites say.

Liumingke1234 (3297 posts) • 0

I agree. Kunming is really not for the young people. Middle age and above will probably feel okay here. The natives here are lazy for the most part. Part of it has to do with the fact that there isn't much to do here. After you have been here a year you will resign yourself to that.

Login to post