Most travelers to Yunnan have to transit in Kunming 昆明. The city is a major transportation hub. The lucky ones will be able to take a plane to either Dali, Lijiang, Zhongdian, Tengchong, Mangshi, or Jinghong, but budget travelers will have to take the bus. Bus stations have been moved to the outskirts of the city. In this post, I want to help you find where to go to catch your bus.
Four main bus stations
I list below the four bus stations with some their most popular travel destinations. Travel times, bus frequency and prices are for indications only. Yunnan has an extensive and expanding network of highways which is generally in good conditions.
This Chinese-only webpage will (maybe) help you find additional information about bus timetables and pricing.
How to get there
With the expansion of Kunming subway system, getting to these bus stations will get easier. At the moment, travellers have to either take the taxi or combine local bus and subway. The company in charge of building Kunming subway system has a map that shows the projected subway network. Note that this map does not reflect the current extent of the subway network.
The art of taking the bus in China
West Bus Station 西部客运站
For all destinations west of Kunming including and going to the prefectures of Chuxiong, Dali, Lijiang, Diqing, Nujiang, Lincang, Baoshan, and Dehong. It’s the rendez-vous of the Westerners who are off on the classic backpackers’ trail. From the West bus station (xibu keyun zhan), you will find buses heading to :
- Dali 大理 (4 hours – one bus every 15 min – roughly 110+ RMB). Beware : the buses stop in Xiaguan 下关, the town 15 km south of Dali old town. From Xiaguan to Dali, taxi will charge you 50 RMB. Budget travelers will take the local bus #4 or #8.
- Lijiang 丽江 (8 hours – one bus every 1 hour until early afternoon then sleeper buses leave from 7 to 10 PM – around 200 RMB depending on the type of bus).
- Zhongdian 中甸 aka Shangrila 香格里拉 (12 hours – 2 buses in the morning at 8:30 and 9:30 AM then sleeper buses leave late afternoon, early evening – should cost 260 RMB).
- Baoshan 保山 (7 hours), and Tengchong 腾冲 (10 hours – around 250 RMB) if you are going to Heshun 和顺 in west Yunnan.
- Ruili 瑞丽 (12 hours – 300 RMB) , Mangshi 芒市 (10 hours) in the far-western prefecture of Dehong. Note : there is no border crossing into Burma for Westerners in Ruili (or anywhere else).
- Liuku 六库 and Fugong 福贡 in the Nujiang 怒江, both good bases to explore the Salween valley.
- Lincang 临沧 in the less traveled area of the Wa ethnic minority.
- Chuxiong 楚雄 between Kunming and Dali.
How to get there : at the moment you either have to take local buses or a taxi (roughly 60 RMB from the Green Lake area). It the future, the subway line 3 will connect the downtown core to the the West Bus Station.
Address : Yining Road #18 益宁路18号 in Xishan District 西山区 – Click here for exact location via Baidu map (Chinese only).
Nanbu Keyun Zhan 南部客运站 South Bus Station
For all destinations south of Kunming and heading to the prefectures of Honghe, Pu’er, and Xishuangbanna.
The most popular travel destination departing from the South Bus station are :
- Hani rice terraces of Yuanyang 元阳 (at least 7 hours, one bus in the morning around 10 AM then sleeper two sleeper bus departing around 7 and 9 PM). Know that there is a 100 RMB entrance fee now to access the site.
- Jianshui 建水 (3.5 to 4 hours, one bus every 30 min between 7:30 AM and 4 PM – around 90 RMB), a beautiful ancient town on the way to the Yuanyang terraces.
- Shiping 石屏 (4.5 to 5 hours, one bus every hour between 8 AM and 8 PM – should cost 100+ RMB), a historical town on the banks of the Yilong lake.
- Jinghong 景洪, the capital of Xishuangbanna 西双版纳 (8 to 10 hours – frequent buses all day long. Leave early morning if you don’t want a sleeper bus – roughly 250 RMB) a good base to explore this region that already feels like Southeast Asia.
- Pu’er 普耳 and other towns in Xishuangbanna including
- Daluo 打洛, Menghai 孟海 and Mengla 勐腊 and Mohan 磨汉 on the Laos border.
How to get there : take the subway line 3 from Kunming Railway station. A taxi from the downtown core should cost around 50 to 60 RMB.
Address: Yi’an Road 怡安路 in Guandu District 官渡区 – Click here for exact location via Baidu map (Chinese only).
Dongbu Keyun Zhan 东部客运站 East Bus Station
For all destinations south of Kunming and heading to the prefectures of Qujing and some parts of Honghe.
- Stone Forest of Shilin 石林 (2 hours, one bus every 15 – 30 min), the famous (and expensive) tourist attraction just south of Kunming.
- Luoping 罗平 (4.5 hours, one bus every 45 min between 7 AM and 5 PM)
- Mengzi 蒙自 (3 to 5 hours, frequent buses between 7 AM and 8 PM)
- Hekou 河口 (8 hours, sleeper buses only) for crossing into Vietnam
- Wenshan 文山 (7 hours, one bus every 30 min between 7 AM and 8 PM)
How to get there : at the moment you either have to take local buses or a taxi (roughly 50 RMB from the Green Lake area). It the future, the subway line 3 will connect the downtown core to the East Bus Station. At the moment, the subway runs every 25 minutes between the airport and the East Bus Station.
Address: At the entrance of the Airport Highway – Click here for exact location via Baidu map (Chinese only).
Beibu Keyun Zhan 北部客运站 North Bus Station
For all destinations south of Kunming and heading to the prefecture of Zhaotong and destinations north of Kunming city as well as lon distance destinations outside Yunnan.
- Dongchuan 东川 (3 hours – one bus every 15 min) if you want to see the red soil of Yunnan 红土地.
- Zhaotong 昭通 (6 hours – one bus every hour) if you decide to go to the impoverished north of the province.
- Chengdu 成都 the capital of Sichuan province.
- Chongqing 重庆 where the cruises on the Yangze River and through what remains of the Three Gorges starts.
- Guiyang 贵阳 the capital of Guizhou province.
How to get there : take subway line 2 from Dongfang Square (东方广场).
Address: Near Longtou village 龙头村附近 – Click here for exact location via Baidu map (Chinese only).