City buses in Kunming are cheapest way to get around, cost 1 yuan per ride. However, you will have to know where each number goes. Going to Shilin by mini bus/van- be careful with these greedy touts and pay only one way as they might leave you behind after your sightseeing in Shilin... you will come back to parking lot in front of the park and you will see your driver was gone. Negotiate the price in advance, because they will of course try to set the price much higher.
Only 1 yuan for this public bus. It's a good and efficient way to get around. All stops are listed inside the bus and each stop is announced to ensure that the passenger does not get lost.
Prepare for a squeeze when boarding the bus though.
Like everywhere else, taxi-drivers in China are both lovable and detestable. In Kunming, we saw a convoy of `loving heart’ taxis ferrying passengers supposedly on welfare for an outing. Such a sight gives us a good impression of the taxi-drivers who are doing a charitable act for society. But elsewhere in Xian, we met a taxi-driver who was out to squeeze money from an ignorant tourist. He was supposed to turn on the meter when we got up his taxi intending to go to the Airport. `It’s a long way,” we don’t go by the meter. “RMB 120” which we bargained to RMB 100. “Okay,” he said, “Believe me, I’ll not accept anymore than that” But on the way, he mentioned that I had to pay for the road toll to the Airport – RMB10, which we agreed and RMB10 for `waiting’, which we rejected. The Airport, however, wasn’t that far away. The road toll was in fact RMB 5 for entering the road leading to the airport, but the driver quickly explained that another RMB 5 was for leaving the road from the airport. Metered taxis are, at their worst are better than pirate cars posing as taxis although they could be cheaper. I was told that they are not insured and tend to take you places, which you have not asked for. At the time of our visit, March/April 2005, the turn-on charges for the taxis at various cities are:
Suzhou –RMB5 (Avoid taking private cars or taxis or accepting offers from `brokers’ waiting outside the train station. Walk further out to a queue where `regulated’ taxis are picking up passengers from.)
Shanghai –RMB10/18 (Airport mini-bus taxis are available for tourists with large number of luggage. The turn-on charge is RMB18. I believe the choice is ours to take the normal taxis)
Generally in Chinese cities the bus system is great. It is cheap, efficient, and logical. Kunming only has cheap.
The buses run sparatically. You'll watch 2 or 3 of the same bus come by and wait for yours for ten minutes sometimes. Also the bus lines often just go in straight lines. If you want to go north AND east, well that's a trick. For further confusion, the paper bus maps, maps at stations, and the reality of where buses go are all different. Some times I'll be on a bus thinking that if I pray hard enough the bus won't make the left turn I don't want it to make. This never works.
The solution is to be flexible. Plan a back up bus to use if you first choice doesn't show for 15 minutes or if it does exist any more.
Unfortunately taxi's are kind of pricey in this town, starting at 8Y.
I guess this is poor, poor mans mode of trasportation. Horses are band from the city center, but you can find these horse taxis at just about any bus station on the city limets.
I have no idea how much the cost....But it looks fun! I dd see these same carts on the trail going up west mountain, if you wimped out you could ride one of these up the trail.
If you want to get out of the city, e.g. to Dali or Lijiang, then go to the Camellia Hotel, they will arrange for the bus transport. Some of the people there speak a little English and are friendly and helpful. If you don't stay at the Camellia, you have to go there at the fixed time, they will take you to the bus station and will show you the right bus. It is easy and not expensive.
There are plenty of taxis in Kunming (about 6000 or 6700 to be exact, the extra 700 licences were issued after the 1999 expo). They are usually 10 year-old cars with real worn out seats. Sometimes the seat cover is a towel. Other times you think your butts are touching the road. But they are available anywhere. You can flag one down easily. Fare starts from RMB8, or RMB7 for smaller cars which will be phased out by the end of 2004 I think.
There is a 20% surcharge after 10pm. Fare starts from RMB9.60 , and the unit rate after that has already included the surcharge. Hence you pay according to the fare displayed on the meter.
Kunming international airport is in the south east of Kunming city. Takes about 30-45 minutes to get to the city centre, depending on the traffic condition (yes, there are enough cars to cause a traffic jam).
Taking a taxi into the city is very easy. The taxis wait right outside the airport, and they run on meter. Flag fare RMB 7. It costs about RMB 25 to RMB 30 to a CBD location, say the Green Lake. No taxi ticket/pass whatever. You pay cash to the driver upon arrival on your destination. No surcharge on luggage etc except for a 20% midnight surcharge after 10pm, which is already built into the meter reading. So you still pay what the meter says.
The nearest flight to Kunming from Malaysia is via Bangkok. It is a mere 2-odd hours flight from Bangkok.
The airport is small - nothing much to offer, but what amused me most to see when the plane landed to see several rows of planes dressed in weather proofed covering....
Bus rides cost RMB 1 per trip to anywhere within the city. A real bargain.
Taxis start at RMB 7 upon boarding. A ride around the city cost between RMB 7 - RM 12.
Kunming boasts the cheapest airport taxi ride. Another bargain at RMB 20 - RMB 30 per trip. Remember to bargain.
Nothing really special about the airport in Kunming but I thought the miniature model town was interesting. And yes, that is the lighting at the airport...must be some sort of energy saving fixtures.
One positive, the airport is very close to downtown Kunming.
In my Lijiang transport tips, I mentioned there is a luxury bus service that operates out of Kunming.
YNTAC (I don't know what that stands for) operates Volvo buses equipped with airconditioning, and a television with DVD/VCD. Here are the cities served and prices as of July 2003:
Dali 103 yuan
Of course these prices are higher than regular buses, but it is up to you to decide if the extra price is worth it. I took the bus to Lijiang and was very satisfied with the experience and got a free lunch at a nice hotel along the ride in Dali. So if you don't mind spending the extra money, it is a good way to travel in comfort.
The "Tourism Service" desk at the arrival level of Kunming Airport is worth visiting to experience how poor customer service can get in this day and age.
One particular woman (always at the central desk, not the one by the elevators) is outstandingly rude, arrogant and unhelpful.
Whether you speak Chinese or not, she will bark "Mei You Yingwen" at you, because she simply doesn't listen and assumes you are speaking English.
Try taking some of the hotel brochures from her. She will reach over and snatch them back. She refuses to let you look at the map. She is an absolute disgrace. I have passed through Kunming Airport five times in the last month and she has been outstandingly unhelpful on three of those occasions. I try to see the best side of everyone, but this woman has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.
There are plenty of ticketing agents in Kunming, ready to sell you train tickets for a commission.
You may find that, upon enquiry, that the ticketing agent tells you a train schedule which the Kunming Train Station itself does not have. This is the typical "chartered train" ie some big travel groups charter the entire train, and let the agents sell the leftover seats.
This type of coach does not have "soft sleeper".
The "public seat" tickets sold by Kunming Train Station are released for sale now (Dec) until 3 days before departure time. You can buy these from both the ticketing agents as well as at the train station itself.
(price is quoted in RMB)
1) The cabin with 6 people cost $86 per person. The bed is hard. A better cabin
will be "Ruan Wo", which means soft-sleeper. This costs $150 per person. Ruan Wo accommodates 4 persons per cabin.
If you hold a $86 ticket and when you see the train itself you change your mind
and want a $150, then you will have to pay $86 X 20% ticket cancellation fee.
2) Cleanliness - I don't know (sorry no experience), but there is no toilet in
the cabin. There is only one toilet for the entire coach, which can accommodate
66 people. (just in case I didn't use the correct vocab, a few coaches linked
together become a train). I did read about this Ruan Wo. Its introduction was quite recent (year 2003).
3) The train journey will start at 10:30pm and end at 6:27am the next day.
Yunnan is the same as Malaysia : car travels faster than train. If you take a bus it takes about 4-5 hours. (now 7 hours because the highway is under construction)
4) The railway stops at Dali. From there to Lijiang, and from Lijiang to
Shangri-la you will have to take a bus.
5) I read the temperatures today.
Kunming : 11 -20C; Dali : 8 - 20C; Li Jiang: 9 - 19C; Shangri-la: 2 - 14C. It's going to be even colder in December especially in Dali, Li Jiang and Shangri-la.