Go Travel Yunnan | Where to take your bus in Kunming

Where to take your bus in Kunming, Yunnan

Geolocating myself in front of the Baoshan Express in Kunming

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 timesbus 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

If you are new to taking the bus in China, check my articles about how to how to buy a bus ticket and what to expect once on the bus.


 

West Bus Station 西部客运站

Travel destinations from Kunming West Bus Station

Travel destinations from Kunming West Bus Station

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

Travel Destinations from Kunming South Bus Station

Travel Destinations from Kunming 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

Destinations from East Bus station

Destinations from 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

The Way to the Watrn Room

The Way to the Watrn Room

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).

There are 9 comments

  1. cannellegueguen

    Hi!!
    First of all.I just wanted to say thank you for your blog it’s so cool of you to help.others who do not know china so well understand it better And see it through eyes unmediated by cash-making infrastructures and plans. To be specific I really like the educational contents in your blog posts and when you include bits of your conversations with locals it’s really nice to read! I also have a question, I’m going to visit yunnan for 3 weeks in August-september after a trip in Fujian, I will arrive in kunming by train from there and was wondering if you had any advice/tips about dongchuan ? I can see it’s very beautiful but can’t make up my mind about how touristy it is from searching around on the Internet. Do you have any advice? I’m really not a fan of crowded touristy places and prefer off the beaten track ones (especially landscapes!) and I have a good (Intermediate) level of Mandarin from hku. Also Im interested in downloading your travel guide on creative trips but don’t have apple products with I tunes store, any chance there is a version out there for other smartphones? 🙂 finaallyyy I saw you don’t really recommend yuanyang and I reaaaallllyyy want to see nice yunnan rice terraces do you know of another place to go to instead? Thank you so much ! !
    Best,
    Cannelle

    1. Gaetan

      Hi there. I’m glad to hear you enjoy my blog 🙂
      Concerning Dongchuan : last time I was in the region was in 2007. So, unfortunately, I do not have updated info for you. Try and check GoKunming for more info.
      The Create Trip app is only available via iOS at the moment. Sorry 😦
      I have decided to travel to ancient villages because they are disappearing / changing very fast, while landscape features like the rice terraces of Yuanyang will always be there. However, I know that Yuanyang has a 100 RMB entrance fee, is a very touristy place (much like the Longji rice terraces north of Guilin). There are frequent buses from Jianshui.
      Happy travels

  2. Irene

    Hi,
    Thanks so much for your detail info about Kunming. I plan to visit Kunming on 13 June, then take a bus to Dali, LiJiang, then back to Kunming. From Kunming, I plan to travel south to Yuangyang and finally back to Kunming to end my journey here by flying back home on 21 Jun.
    On 13 June, I will arrive Kunming around 730am. I plan to take a bus from Kunming to Dali. Can I get my bus ticket to Dali when I arrive at West Bus station? Do I have to book in advance? Also, do you have any recommendation of accommodation in Dali, LiJiang and Yuangyang. I am family of 4 adults and we are budget traveller. Thanks in advance for you help.

    Regards,
    Irene

    1. Gaetan

      Glad to see the info I put out there are useful to travelers.
      You don’t need (and can’t) book bus tickets in advance. From Kunming to Dali : you should know that all buses stop in Xiaguan, an ugly city south of Dali old town. The cheapest way to transfer from Xiaguan to Dali is to take a local bus in front of Xingsheng bus station (兴盛客运站) for 4 RMB. Taxis usually charge 50 RMB.
      In Dali, the Jade Emu is a nice place to stay.
      Concerning Lijiang : I have consistently tried to avoid going there since 2007. I would recommend you find a hotel in the new town so as to avoid the 80 RMB ‘preservation tax’ if you stay in the old town of Lijiang. I would also avoid staying in Suhe. Like Lijiang, Suhe has become a noisy shopping-mall / theme-park with overpriced hotels.
      Concerning Yuanyang : nothing to recommend there either. Last time I checked the entrance fee to the site was 100 RMB.

      Happy travels in Yunnan

  3. Beautiful world in my eyes

    Hey, that’s definitely true that most of the expats work and live in bigger smoggy cities. For teaching it doesn’t really matter that much, or to be more precise, you can sort of decide what you like best: Provinces or Cities. I got offers from Chengdu, Shanghai and Peking, but couldn’t bother to live in Peking. When Chengdu came up I already had other work commitments. Nevertheless, you are right that the less touristic places – off the beaten track – what I am after. Every time when I got off tourist track in any country, it felt like a relief – peaceful, quiet, untouched nature and purity 🙂 Actually, your big plus is the language. I just picked up some Japanese, which is easier to pronounce, but is not related to Mandarin at all.

    Keep it up!
    Cu next time.

  4. Beautiful world in my eyes

    Thanks for this awesome website! I’ve been to a few places around Asia, but never made it to China and the only thing that made me go there were teaching job offers that I always rejected, because I couldn’t see myself living in China, but your website definitely provides a detailed insight that encourage me to give it a try and acknowledge another perspective . I also like the unique style with a lot of background information and educational intentions!! I really enjoy it. I will keep an eye on your website and next time when China comes up, I’ll think about it. 🙂 Cheers.

    1. Gaetan

      Hi there!
      Thank you very much for your kind words.
      China is really an amazing country that is changing fast.
      Working and travelling in China are two radically different things. People who work in China usually live in large cities (which are overcrowded, toxic environment). When you travel in China, you are able to go to the countryside and enjoy a side of the country that expats usually do not have the time to see.
      In both case it’s a once in a life-time experience.
      Looking forward to see you back here and thanks for reading.

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