Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, is the economic, transportation, industrial and cultural center of southwest China. Located just north of the Tropic of Cancer, Kunming was home to an American air base in World War II. Kunming is linked by rail from all of China’s major cities as well as with Vietnam; the rail link with Hanoi was established in 1901. Caravans to Southeast Asia, Tibet and India have passed through Kunming since the third century BC.
Kunming’s mild climate makes it a good place to visit any time of the year. It has cool, dry winters though summers can be hot and humid. Growing conditions are great for flowers, with more than 400 varieties grown here. The camellia is the city’s official flower. The city also is known for its lush green parks, such as Cuihu (Green Lake) Park with its waterways and winding paths. Younger travelers may enjoy a visit to Daguan Park because of its funfair and food stalls.
Kunming makes a good base for day trips. One such trip might be to the Yunnan Stone Forest that has been known as the “first wonder of the world” since the Ming Dynasty. Located 120 km (75 miles) from Kunming, the stone forest features awesome rock formations in various formations.
Kunming also is a good place to tour China’s minority villages where visitors can see people still living their traditional lifestyle when it comes to farming, clothing and housing. These are not your big-city residents! Twenty-six minority people call Yunnan Province their home. The most well known nationalities are the Dai, Bai and Naxi.