Kunming is situated on the Yunnan–Guizhou Plateau. Rail and air are the main two methods to travel to or from Kunming from outside Yunnan.
Kunming has air connections with several Chinese and Southeast Asian cities. Kunming is served by Kunming Changshui International Airport (KMG), which opened at 08:00 on 28 June 2012, replacing the older international airport, which was located 4–5 km (2.5–3.1 mi) southeast of central Kunming. Changshui is projected to be China’s fourth largest airport and one of the world’s top 80 airports. The new airport is expected to greatly increase the city’s access to countries in SE Asia and S Asia. The airport is being constructed by Yunnan Airport Group.
The airport construction is part of the larger Kunming Air Hub City. The Air Hub City is planned to have about 200,000 residents. Most of its industries will be related to transport: logistics, aircraft maintenance, aviation education and technology, travel-related services, hospitality, and tourism.
The now defunct Yunnan Airlines was headquartered in Kunming until it was acquired by China Eastern Airlines. China Southwest Airlines used to operate routes to and from Kunming, until it was merged with Air China.
Lucky Air is a budget airline based in Kunming and operates scheduled services from Dali to Kunming and Xishuangbanna, and plans to expand to other areas of China.
China National Highways 108, 213 and 320 intersect in Kunming. Highways link Kunming to Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, and provide Yunnan province access to seaports of Southeast Asia.
Kunming is the main rail hub of Yunnan province. The Chengdu–Kunming Railway from Sichuan, Shanghai–Kunming Railway from Guizhou, and Nanning–Kunming Railway from Guangxi converge in Kunming from the north, northeast and east. The Yunnan–Vietnam Railway runs from Kunming southeast to Hekou and Lao Cai on the Sino-Vietnamese border and then on to Haiphong The Kunming–Yuxi Railway runs south to Yuxi, where a second rail line to Vietnam is being planned and built. To the west of Kunming, the Guangtong–Dali Railway extends off the Chengdu–Kunming Line to Dali (Xiaguan Town).
Kunming has two railway stations:
- Kunming Railway Station is at the southern end of Beijing Xi Lu. Compared with the other railway station (North Railway Station), Kunming Railway Station services most of the trains to places to other provinces of China. Trains run north to Chengdu, southeast via Xingyi to Baise and Nanning in Guangxi, and east through Guizhou, via Liupanshui, Anshun, Guiyang, into the rest of the country.
- Kunming North Railway Station (serviced by the No. 23 Bus) is on the heritage 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in) metre gauge Kunming–Hai Phong Railway, which runs to Hekou and Vietnam.
Due to the deterioration of the railway line, the long distance narrow-gauge service has been cancelled; however, as of 2012, some local narrow gauge service still operates at Kunming North Railway Station, in particular two daily trains to Shizui (石咀) Station on the western outskirts of Kunming, and to Wangjiaying (王家营) east of the city.
Urban rail plan
In May 2010, Kunming began construction on its first urban rail lines, line 1 and 2 of the Kunming Rail Transit. An elevated test section had been under construction since 2009. Parts of lines 1 and 2 opened in April 2014. Construction on line 3 began in August 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2016. The entire system consisting of 6 lines and covering a total of 162 kilometres (101 miles) is estimated to be complete by 2018.
High-speed rail plan
Completed but under trial high-speed railways:
- Kunming–Shanghai. The construction completed on 16 June 2016. It goes through 6 provincial capital cities: Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanchang, Changsha, Guiyang and Kunming. The overall length is 2,266 kilometres (1,408 miles). As estimated it would take 3 hours from Shanghai to Nanchang, 2.5 hours from Hangzhou to Nanchang, 4 hours from Kunming to Changsha, 8 hours from Kunming to Hangzhou and 9 hours from Shanghai to Kunming. It is expected to start operating on 30 December 2016.
Construction is underway for the following high-speed railways:
- Kunming–Shanghai. The speed will be 350 km/h (220 mph).
- Kunming–Nanning. The speed will be 200 km/h (120 mph). Later the speed may be improved to 250 km/h (160 mph) or 156 miles/h.
- Kunming–Vietnam via Honghe Prefecture.
- Kunming–Singapore via Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia.
Study or planning is being done for the following railways:
- Kunming–Chengdu. The speed will be 250 km/h (160 mph).
- Kunming–Chongqing. The speed will be 350 km/h (220 mph).
- Intercity rail will connect three neighboring cities: Qujing, Chuxiong, and Yuxi. The line to Chuxiong will then be extended to Dali. The speed will be 250 km/h (160 mph).
- Kunming to Kolkata, India via Myanmar
Road and transit
Yunnan has built a comprehensive highway system with roads reaching almost all the major cities or towns in the region. Bus travel across the region is extensive. Buses head from Kunming to destinations such as Dali andLijiang several times a day.
There are four major long-distance bus stations in Kunming with the South Bus Station and Railway Square Bus Station being the most primary.
- South Bus Station faces the Kunming Railway Station in Beijing Xi Lu, with standard, luxury, express and sleeper buses departing for all over Yunnan and neighboring provinces.
- Railway Square Bus Station is smaller than SBS and the majority of the buses depart from the station are private-run. Usually no fixed schedules are available and buses will leave when they are full. There are standard and sleeper services to Dali, Jinghong and elsewhere in Yunnan.
Leaving China by road into Vietnam and Laos is also possible through the respective crossings at Hekou in southeastern Yunnan or Bian Mao Zhan in Xishuangbanna.
The Kunming–Bangkok Expressway is the first expressway from China to Bangkok via Laos. The 1,800 km (1,100 mi) long Kunming–Bangkok Expressway begins at Kunming going down to Ban Houayxay in Laos; it then crosses the Mekong River to Chiangkhong in Thailand and eventually reaches Bangkok.
At the 14th Greater Mekong Subregion Ministerial Conference in July 2007, China, Laos and Thailand signed an agreement on the construction of a new bridge over the Mekong River to connect Chiangkhong in Thailand and Ban Houayxay in Laos, to the Kunming–Bangkok Highway. The completion of the new bridge over the Mekong River will help connect China’s southeast provinces with Bangkok. With capital investments from both China and Thailand, the bridge is expected to be completed in 2011 and will be the last link in the highway system that winds through the Mekong River region.
Public buses and taxis are the two main means of transport within the city. A metro system is currently under construction (see Kunming Metro).
Nearly two hundred public bus lines crisscross the city center, covering the whole prefecture.
Cycling is common, and many hotels around the Kunming Railway Station provide bicycle rental services.
Conscious of its growing traffic issues, the city is currently renovating a pedestrian-friendly city centre.
The city hangs off two main thoroughfares: Beijing Lu forms the north-south axis, passing just east of the center as it runs for 5 km (3.1 mi) between the city’s two trains stations; while Dongfeng Lu crosses it halfway along, divided into east (Dongfeng Dong Lu), middle (Dongfeng Zhong Lu) and west (Dongfeng Xi Lu) sections as it cuts right through the business center. The far end runs out of the city as Renmin Xi Lu, the first leg of the Burma Road. Most of the city’s famous hotels and foreign consulates lies along Dongfeng Dong Lu and the southern half of Beijing Lu, while the majority of specific landmarks and shopping district are north and west of the center around Dongfeng Xi Lu and Cuihu Park (Green Lake Park). Circling most of this is the city’s first highway ring road, Huancheng Lu, though others are planned.