I visited the World Horti-Expo Garden in August 2003 and was very impressed. The Garden was created for an international expo in 1999.
The garden is quite amazing in its contents and selection, and is kept in immaculate condition. It shows the dedication of the Communist leadership to deliver world-class events and sites.
The only bad part is the price. I paid 50 yuan for a student discounted ticket, so the regular price will be between 80 and 100. It is expensive, but in my opinion it is truly worth the price.
The garden has many exhibits, but two worth noting are the international gardens and chinese gardens. There is a park of gardens for about 40 countries - each garden including a building and typical elements of that country's garden. For instance there are Japanese, Thai, Palestinian, and American gardens to name a few. When you walk through this park, it is like a tour of the world as there are buildings typical of the national architecture.
Also there is a park with Chinese gardens, one for each province, including Hongkong and Macau gardens which are interesting because those two gardens have the British and Portugese influence. In the photo here, I am in the Inner Mongolia Province garden, complete with Mongolian script and buildings.
If you don't mind spending the 100 yuan, this is a great thing to visit in Kunming.
I thought this was a cool place. It shows the different minority groups in Yunnan. There is a little 'village' for each group with some buildings and pavilions. There are also people in costume. There is a sign also giving information on the group. I thought the Mongol group was especially interesting. I also thought it was interesting learning how much variety was in such a small area. When you first enter, nothing is in English. We thought we were in the wrong place. You walk a ways to the ticket counter before you see any English, but it's pretty good once you enter. Entrance is 70RMB.
This temple looked really pretty in the posts here with the lake around it. When I went though, there was no water! I don't know if that's permanent or seasonal or what. Now it just looks like all the other temples. The Thai one in the back is unique though. Worth a visit if you have the time. I went on Chinese New Year day, so it was especially crowded.
We had to make a stop at the Stone Forest. This isn't really what I expected. There is a road in a circle with paved paths in the middle. We arrived around noon, so there weren't a lot of other tourists then, we really enjoyed it. It was much less enjoyable when it got crowded. The paths are narrow, the tour groups got in the way while stopping for photos, and we were no longer able to enjoy the beauty. The price is up to 140RMB just for the entrance. I thought it was too expensive for being too over-developed.
To get there - There is a long-distance bus from the East Bus Station to Shilin for 25RMB each way. The east bus station is pretty far out of town. I took bus 60 from near the train station to get there.
To get back you can go to the tourist office near the entrance for a ticket. If that's closed you can catch the city bus. Go up the hill, turn left and cross the street. Take bus 5 to the Shilin bus station and catch the long-distance bus back to Kunming from there.
You can have a day visit to Xi Shan from Kunming. The local bus leaves you at the foot of the mountain and you may walk towards the lime rocks area and pass three Buddhist temples on the way there. The temple's gardens are nice and probably the most interesting thing to see (beside lime rocks, hmm) on the way up -or down Xi Shan.
There is also nice view at Dianchi lake.
Ever think of holidaying in China where the climate is always spring? Then, Kunming should be the answer. It’s a place where spring is all year round thus popularly dubbed as "The City of Eternal Spring".
It’s the pleasant climate and the colorful blooms that are in abundance in all parks and corners of the city that makes Kunming a lovely place to spend a holiday. But if you are still persistent about the details of the local weather, I would say January is the coldest and July is the hottest. But the foliage is said to remain green all year round.
`So it’s always spring time here in Kunming!”
A Taoist Temple north of the city is on a pleasant pine tree covered hill (Phoenix Song Mountain). As you should expect, there are lots of stairs, but even in January the flowers, the gardens and the vistas are worth the time and physical exertion.
The Sutra pillar is inscribed with Buddhist scriptures from the Dizang Temple. It dates from the kingdom of Dali (937-1253) during the Song dynasty. The pillar is octagonal with seven tiers all made of pink sandstone and stands 6.6 meters in height. The body of the pillar is carved with 300 images of Buddha of Tantrayana such as female Buddha, Bodhisattva and other deities called Tianlongbabu and an extremely precious Buddhist scripture Dharani Mantra. The pillar was constructed by the Prime Minister of the kingdom of Dali, Yuan Douguang to release the soul from the land of suffering for Gao Ming Sheng, the supreme head of the military and administration of ancient Kunming City.
The highlight of the Kunming City Museum, east off Beijing Lu along Tuodong Lu, is the Dali Sutra Pillar, a 6.6 m-high, pagoda-like Song dynasty sculpture in pink sandstone in its own room. An octagonal base supports seven tiers covered in Buddha images, statues of guardian gods standing on subjugated demons, and a mix of Tibetan and Chinese script, part of which is the Dharani Mantra. As its name suggest, the museum exhibits all things to do with the city such as items found in and around the city like bronze drums and even dinosaur skeletons. A large scale model of how the city once looked from centuries ago is of interest.
Kunming Zoo was founded in 1950 and is located as part of Yuantong Park to the north of Yuantong Temple in the north of the city. It features some 5,700 animals under 333 species categories which include giant and red lesser pandas, Asian elephants, peacocks and other birds, gibbons, monkeys, zebras, giraffes, Bengal tigers and 2 lions. Conditions here look a bit rough and there didn't really seem to be all that many animals on display.