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Kunming China : 20 Things We Love About This City

After living in Kunming for 20 months, we learned and discovered a lot of new things about this city that we wanted to share with you guys. At the same time, this serves as a time capsule of all the beautiful memories we made there. To share with you a little bit of our life in this city, here’s 20 things we love about Kunming.

Where is Kunming

Kunming is the capital city of Yunnan province, located in Southwest China. This province has a border that is linked to Vietnam and Myanmar, making it quite busy with international trade and business. Locals and tourists alike, visit the province because of its rich natural resources such as Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yuanyang Rice Terraces, and Jade Snow Mountain, and ancient towns such as Dali and Lijiang.

old town in china
locals dancing to Lijiang Traditional Music

Why We Chose Kunming

For our new readers, the reason why we lived in Kunming is because we wanted to study Mandarin in a city where we can afford not to work in. Beijing and Shanghai are the famous ones but with everyday expenses and tuition fees that are quadruple Kunming’s, we can’t afford to live in those two. 6 months into the city, Mar’s younger brother, Marco, joined us. Another 6 months later, Mar’s younger sister, Mharya, joined us too. And a week after Mharya comes Alex, our Portuguese friend. More on that here.

people celebrating a birthday
L-R : Marco, Mar, Ian, Mharya, and Alex

We did a bit of travel too — crossing the China-Vietnam border is one of them. Find out what happened on our border crossing here.

What We Love Most

There’s something about this city that we can’t quite forget. It has its own charm, and possibly one of the best cities we ever felt happy living in. There were days where we didn’t get up from bed until we were so hungry for having skipped breakfast and lunch. There were days when we had to get up early for Chinese classes but most of the time, we were working on our laptops — Ian edits videos, while I edit photos and work on the website.

people hugging in school dorm
waking up to another beautiful day in our small but sweet dorm room

What we love most about living in Kunming is how we had a lot of extra time. We were able to get away from the daily 9-5 routine, in both Manila and Singapore where we used to live. The extra hours of the day made us think about what inspires us to live, what we want to do in life, and where we want to go after our life in China.

The life we lived in Kunming is incomparable. Every day was a carefree day, with no worries, and not much to think of other than each other. As we have already left the city since February 2018, all these are now part of the past with nothing but sweet memories.

20 Things We Love about Kunming, China

Kunming was good while it lasted. — 2 years of no plans for our every day. What a dream!

How about you? What do you like about your city? Did you have a time in your life when you actually did not worry about anything?

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15 Replies to “Kunming China : 20 Things We Love About This City

  1. Really sweet post 🙂 out of curiosity, how did you manage to live for 2 years without working? And were you able to learn Chinese well in that time?

    1. Hi Suzie, living in Kunming was so damn cheap! We aren’t to picky with where we stay so that saved us so much money. Can you imagine our school dorm, utilities, with tuition fee included, only cost us USD 1,500 for a full 6 months each? This rate is standard in Kunming that’s why foreigners who discover this study Mandarin hack head straight to Kunming, skipping Beijing and Shanghai where fees are quadruple! The upside of studying in Beijing and Shanghai though is that you don’t get bored as there are so many places to see. But Kunming’s weather is the best! Zero pollution! The least polluted in all of China!

      Yes we did manage to learn Chinese but just basic ones though. If you head there alone, you’d learn much quicker. But as we are both Filipinos and we went there together, we speak Tagalog (our mother tongue) at home 100% of the time. We tried opting to use Mandarin but gosh, it takes us a long time to say what we want to say! And the amount of words that we know only limit us to such basic sentences. LOL But it was fun!

      We got to teach English from time to time when Chinese friends want us to teach their kids as tutors, etc. Rate is USD 20-30 per hour which is so much money if you’re able to find these mini jobs here and there. If you want to apply as a full time English teacher though, you’d have a work visa and a pay of around USD 2,000-2,500! More info here if you’re interested. 🙂

  2. Fun story: I once flew from Florida to Beijing without sleeping, went to the Olympics, slept one night, and then flew to Kunming. The change of elevation from sea level to 2000 meters and a serious lack of sleep over 4 days meant I was completely overtaken by altitude sickness when we arrived. Couldn’t peel myself off the dinner table! :/

    These days I’m better about sleeping and hydrating and do way better at 3,000 and 4,000 meters than I did with the elevation in Kunming.

    1. Hi Rowena! I totally understand what you mean! When we first arrived in Kunming, we felt weird the full first week. My husband was exercising as normal, I was just walking around our area in a chill pace but both of us was out of breath almost all the time.

      It was only later on when I searched online that as it turns out, we didn’t know we were living in such a high altitude! LOL Better research more next time. 😀

  3. I love your video!!! Your drone footage is awesome! Bubble tea is so yummy. I used to live in England near the coast and now I live in the centre of the USA and I miss the sound of seagulls SO MUCH!!

  4. You look so happy in Kunming, Ian and Mar! Kunming seems like a very charming city to explore and your post and pictures whetted my appetite. When’s the best time of the year to explore this wonderful place?

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