Kunming Arts & Culture
Besides beautiful scenery and a peaceful environment, Kunming offers many other opportunities to experience the arts & culture first hand. Check out some of Kunming's finest museums and shows. The museums in Kunming offer visitors a wide range of things to see from the Ming Dynasty relics. There is also an array of historical and cultural attractions that promises to keep anyone busy for as long as he or she is here.
Yunnan Provincial Museum
The Yunan Provincial Museum is worth checking out, though the building is dim and dusty. Best are the Dian bronzes on the second floor, dating back more than two thousand years to the Warring States Period and excavated from the tombs on the shores of Dian Chi, south of Kunming.
The largest pieces include an ornamental plate of a tiger attacking an ox, and a coffin the shape of a bamboo house. A replica of the Chinese imperial gold seal given to the Dian King early on in the second century implies that his aristocratic slave society had the tacit approval of the Han Emperor. Upstairs again is a porcelain gallery and an exhibition of paintings by Qing Dynasty artist Dan Dang.
Kunming City Museum
The highlight of the Kunming City Museum is the Dali Sutra Pillar. In its own room on the ground floor, it's a 6.5-meter-high pagoda-like Song Dynasty sculpture made of pink sandstone. It has an octagonal base which supports seven tiers covered in Buddha images, Tibetan and Chinese script, part is the Dharani Mantra. The rest is a dedication, identifying the pillar as having been raised by the Dali regent, Yuan Douguang, in memory of his general, Gao Ming. The whole thing is topped by a ring of Buddha's carrying a ball - the universe - above them. Formerly part of the defunct Dizang temple, the pillar is a powerful work, full of the energy that later seeped out of the mainstream of Chinese sculpture.
The other exhibits are a well-presented repeat of the Provincial Museum's collection. Enthusiasts for bronze drums can examine a range, from the oldest known example to relatively recent castings, to see how the typical decorations became so stylized. There are cowries-drum lids, and a host of other bronze pieces worth examining for nit-picking details on birds, animals and people. Other rooms contain excellent dioramas, which feature dinosaur fossils among other things.
Kunming has several operatic troupes and indigenous entertainments which include Huadeng, a lantern dance. Indoor performances are sadly infrequent, but there are often informal shows at the weekend outside the Workers' Cultural Hall and in Cuihu Park.
To know when the performances are taking place, you have to keep an eye on local newspapers (or ask a hotel concierge) for similar activities at the Yunan Arts Theatre on Dongfeng Xi Lu Street.
Since Kunming is home to various ethnic minority groups, a Tourist Festival is held every April 10 to May 10 which promotes tourism throughout Yunnan Province as well as within Kunming. The festival features performances and activities in Kunming downtown and local scenic spots that attract tourists from all over the world. These groups sponsor many ethnic minority festivals throughout the year, especially from March to October, including the Knife-pole Festival of Lisu in March, the Water-splashing Festival of Dai in April, and a Torch Festival.
With a beautiful landscape and natural habitat, the majority of the people who live in Kunming and other parts of the Yunnan Province are the Yunnan minority group consisting of 26 Chinese ethnic minorities, including Yi, Hui, Bai, Dai, Han and Miao. The differences in their wa ys of living can be seen from the styles of clothes they wear and traditional folk songs and dances.
It is obvious that the people in Yunnan are full of life and down to earth in the way they preserve their natural and ecological environment. This is another reason why Kunming has one of the most popular birds and flowers market in China. Their birds and flowers market in Jingxing Street is said to best place to rear and culture birds, flowers and aquatic animals due to its mild and stable climate.
Kunming is also rich in the variety of dance forms, which include the Peacock Dance, Elephant-Foot Drum Dance, Dongba Dance and Dage Dance, all of which embrace and reflect local customs and lifestyles.
Yunnan Opera is a blend of life, customs, languages, dances, songs and music of the local ethnic groups, as well as a combination of Huadeng Opera (Floral Lantern Opera) as well as operas of the Bai, Zhuang, Dai and Yi ethnic groups. Yunnan Opera is the principal local opera in Yunnan, with a history of over 200 years. It has a repertoire of more than 800 titles.
The Kunming Symphony Orchestra stages monthly shows in the local concert hall. Every month, there is a meeting arranged between singers and the audience at the local television station, Yunnan Television. Peking Opera and Yunnan Opera are also staged periodically in the city's several theaters.
There are some movie theatres playing Chinese and foreign films. Most of the films have subtitles. Much like the cinemas in North America, the only real difference is you can choose whether you want sweet or salty popcorn.
Address: No. 211 Beijing Road, Kunming
New Construction Movie World
Address: Wenlin Street & Jianshe Road intersection
New Kunming Cinema
Address: Nanping Walking Street, Kunming
Address: 6th Floor, New Southwestern Square, Qingnian Road, Kunming
With its laid back environment, many natives of Kunming truly enjoy a night at the karaoke bars where they can sing Chinese and English songs, with friends. To find one, just ask a young Chinese student and they will simply point you in the right direction. Nicely decorated, the karaoke rooms have a good sound system in place, so all you have to do is pick up the microphone. Drinks and snacks are served. They are generally open from 7:00 pm to 2:00 am, though some may close later.NOTE: Although this information is correct at the time of our web publication, it is still advised that you call the phone number and confirm the address before going to the venue because some venues may have changed their telephone numbers or address locations.