This amazing instrument shop is located on Renmin Xilu near the Muslim quarter. Inside, it sells a host of different instruments such as acoustic guitars and other western instruments but the main items it seems to specialise in are traditional Chinese drums which were stacked up all over the shop.
The main shopping area lies right in the centre of Kunming and is pedestrianised. As well as fashion shops and the like, there are also several good looking restaurants plus the ubiquitous McDonald's and KFC. The area makes for quite a pleasant walk past fountain areas where people in white coats were giving passersby massages. Kunming was the first city I visited in China where I saw such a large western style shopping area but it was such a large scale than anything we have back home so I was constantly walking around looking up at the tall buildings in awe.
This was the first Carrefour hypermarket that I came across in China. I love walking round foreign supermarkets as they always offer an insight into the cuisine culture of the locals and this one was selling all kinds of products such as whole fresh chickens, pigs trotters, fresh fish (a lady was trying to catch one with a net when I was there), loads of giant bottles of cooking oil and soy sauce and 20kg bags of rice.
One of the shopping spot we were brought to is this Yunnan Luyu Tea Culture Exchange Centre. It is said to be a reserch program centre run by Yunnan Agricultural University.
In Yunnan, if you talk about tea, it will be about Pu Erh. Unlike other tea where the fresher the better, Pu Erh is the older, the better and the higher the price it will be. There are different classifications of the Pu Erh tea leaves, the Sheng Pu Erh or so call "raw" ones, Shou Pu Erh (matured ones) and Cheng Nian (Aged Pu Erh). People usually buy aged Pu Erh for keep, for investment and not for consumption.
As I'm not a tea drinker, I can't really tell if the tea they are selling is really value for money, you may have to assess it yourself.
What to buy: Pu Erh
On the Dong Feng Road, near the big departments stores, you can find a very tiny mrket place, where I saw a spendid collection of Chines porcelain ware. Beautifull shapes and colours.
What to buy: If you like Chinese porcelain ware, this a an interesting place with a very large choice. The only problem remains always, to find the place in your bags homewards.
The famous Flowers and Birds Market in Jingxing Street is the city's biggest, most attractive shopping market where spring reigns all year.
What to buy: The Flowers and Birds Market is also a popular trading place for antiques. Curios, coins, jade articles, jewelry, ink stones, porcelains, potteries, stone carvings, and marble products are among the arts and crafts to be found there. It is a treasure trove for souvenirs. Do not miss the shops that sell colorful ethnic costumes with headdresses. Most are handcrafted and very popular with tourists. Prices are reasonable, and you may even bargain with shopkeepers.
What to pay: Cheap to the Expensive - especially for the JADE!
Here you find evereything from crap to antiques. There is also a lot of stuff in the huge building in front of it and it's good for hunting Chinese paintings, wooden products, jade and tea supplies. Always bargain. Don't buy just any antique qhich was offered to you and sellers (young females mostly) can be very intrusive sometimes and it's better to avoid them unless you really want to buy something from them. There are sections to buy cheap DVDs and music.
What to buy: Traditional medicine, birds and bird flu (hehe- don't take it too seriously), plants, beautiful orchids and asparagus, camping equipment.
What to pay: depends on skills...
This department store is much nicer than Walmart. It is clean and bright and has lots of foreign products that foreigners would like. The prices are slightly higher than elsewhere, but I feel this is made up by the standardized pricing and higher quality.
What to buy: Food or other basic supplies. Really, lots of things.
Walmart is big and dirty, just like in the US. It has a lot of things to buy, but not many unique ones that you couldn't find else where in Kunming. Prices were average, not a steal, but not overpriced.
The market sells what is advertised. There are a variety of flowers which are grown around Kunming. Some are 4Y for a dozen, real cheap.
In addition to birds there are bunnies in small cages, fish in bowls, and swarms of things. There are run of the mill Yunnan flutes, minority tribe batiks, and some plastic toys.
What to buy: Well, unless you live in China, a plant or animal is probably no good to you, so souveniers.
What to pay: Bargin for stuff.
This is a small book shop in a trendy university area. It has a fair number of Chinese books and language books (learning englsih or chinese). Most importantly it has a decent selection English language books (also some in Spanish, French, and German). Not just the classics that every Xihua government book store has, but modern novels, non-fiction about Yunnan, Tibet, and Southeast Asia, imported magizines, and a good selection of up to date Travel Guides.
This is the best book shop I've seen in Mainland China. Surely there are better ones in Shanghai and Beijing, but I couldn't find them. If you are traveling around China and want a decent novel to read, this place can provide.
What to pay: Prices are only 10-30% more than the printed price for the western country it came from, which is fair for an import.
One often wonders where the rich shop. Well THIS is the place.
Internationally well-known brands: Swatch, Cerrutti, Cartier, Hermes, Lancome, Mont Blanc, Longines, Omega, Chanel are all to be found here.
Price - EXpensive.
What to buy: Typical departmental Store.
What to pay: hundreds of RMB to start with.
Along the road to the top of Westhill you will find a lot of stalls.
Alternatively on the north side of Green Lake.
China has 52 races living in the country. In Yunnan you can find 26 of them.
What to buy: The set of figurines is a good momento of Yunnan as this is a province with lots of minorities. The set comes with an introduction of each figurine in English.
What to pay: The minorities figures ( a set of 56 ) cost about RMB 40.
Kunming is famous for its mushrooms.
You can stirfry them with garlic and peppercorn, stirfry them with other veges, make an omelette, throw them in your favourite soups and improvise a recipe of your own.
In the months of June to Oct (rainy season), one can also find many wild mushrooms. Locals love them, and die from eating them.
Some are poisonous until thoroughly cooked. Restaurants and canteens are not allowed (by the authorities) to prepare them for fear of group poisoning.
What to buy: 1. Dried Black Niu(2) Gan(1) Jun(4)
2. Dried Yellow Niu(2) Gan(1) Jun(4)
3. Dried Ji(1) Zhong(1) Jun(4) - tastes like chicken
4. Dried Song(1) Rong(2) - this is the ultra expensive mushroom, especially in Japan (matsutake?). They grown close to the pine trees.
What to pay: At supermarket, the first 3 are quite reasonable, about RMB 150 per KG. The last one is more expensive about RMB 1000 per KG.
At the wet market, the fresh mushrooms start from RMB 6 per KG.
This is a shop invested by some businessmen from hong kong. Anyway that aside, there are also some others like "yi xing tang", which is the oldest herbal medicine shop in Kunming.
What to buy: There are two herbal medicine that is local to Kunming:
1) san(1) qi(1) or tian(2) qi(1). This is good for those with high blood pressure.
2) tian(1) ma(2). This is good for those with migraines.
You double-boil chicken/meat with them in it.
What to pay: Depends on the grade. San qi starts from RMB 60 per 100g, whereas tian ma starts from RMB 200 per 100g (the wild ones)
As the stuff are dry, they are quite light, so even 50g is plenty.