Many of us would picture Shanghai and its sprawling urban landscape, or Beijing and the expansive Great Wall, as cities in China worthy of a visit. However, in recent times, Kunming has seen increasing popularity as a travel destination, especially among Muslim travellers, as it offers a myriad of sights and sounds, while being an overall Muslim-friendly place to visit ☺️
If you haven’t been to Kunming yet, perhaps now is the time for you to do so! If you need further convincing, here are 8 reasons why you should visit this wonderful hidden gem in China.
1. Culturally diverse with large Muslim population
Kunming is a melting pot of cultures that’s largely due to its thriving population of ethnic minorities, including Muslims! You’d probably be surprised seeing plenty of males walking around donning their prayer caps, and signs written in Arabic along with Chinese and English.
Credit: Magalie L'Abbé
If you are keen to learn more about the various ethnic groups besides the Muslim community in Kunming and Yunnan, you may want to check out Yunnan Ethnic Village! Located within close proximity to the city center, this attraction features the distinct architectural styles, religious beliefs, and traditions of the various ethnic groups throughout Yunnan!
Credit: @mshammary on Instagram
2. Tasty Halal food
With the large Muslim community in Kunming, it’s no surprise that Kunming has many halal eateries!
Places like Wanhaoyuan Restaurant and Yihuiyuan Muslim Restaurant offer an assortment of Chinese cuisine, from roast duck, to hand-made noodles in broth. Best part – they are all halal!
3. Beautiful mosques
You don’t have to worry about missing your prayers in Kunming as there are plenty of mosques around! Mosques such as Yongning Mosque, Nancheng Mosque and Chongde Mosque are all within close proximity to the city center – you probably won’t miss your Fajr prayers if you stay at a hotel near them ?
Credit: Lim Ah Wah on Facebook
The architecture on some of these mosques are also note-worthy. One example is the Great Mosque of Shadian, which has attracted photographers for its stunning architecture that’s inspired by those found at Nabawi Mosque in Medina ?
Credit: Kah-Wai Linon Facebook
4. Stone Forest
Kunming is a paradise for photographers, due to its amazing natural scenery. One such attraction is the famed Stone Forest, or locally known as Shilin, which is a must-see when in Kunming!
Credit:Stephen Zopfon Flickr
These rock formations were caused by the erosion of limestone and are believed to be 270 million years old ?
Credit: @mttrbrts on Instagram
Make sure to explore all seven scenic areas of the Stone Forest via the laid-out pathways! If you’re a geography and geology enthusiast like me, you’ll surely have fun taking in the ethereal views of this UNESCO World Heritage Site ?
Credit:Marcel Holyoakon Flickr
5. Luoxiaguo (Dongchuan Red Lands)
Luoxiaguo, located a couple of hours’ drive away from the Kunming city center, is quite a sight to behold. These mineral-rich terraced farmlands has been the site of many award-winning photos! It’s no wonder so many will dare to venture to these rocky highlands just to get a view of Luoxiaguo ?
Credit:JiKang Leeon Flickr
Akin to a vast patchwork of red, gold, green, and white, Luoxiaguo is best viewed on a sunny day during sunrise and late afternoon. Also, it is best to join a tour or engage a dedicated transport service to Luoxiaguo, as public transport and infrastructure to Luoxiaguo is still under development.
Credit:JiKang Leeon Flickr#HHWT Tip:
The best month to visit Luoxiaguo is reputably November, though December is fine as well. In general, avoid going Luoxiaguo during the monsoon months of April and May as rains will affect the view (foggy) as well as road conditions (muddy). In September, white flowers will be in bloom throughout the highlands – if you’d prefer to see more red, you may want to avoid going here during September as well.
6. Muslim-friendly airport
Kunming’s main airport, Kunming Changshui International Airport, not only offers top-notch amenities, but also a spacious prayer room for you to perform your prayers ?
Credit: Touhid Rahmanon Facebook
During its construction, it was claimed to have been named Zheng He International Airport after the historic Muslim admiral. Kunming Changshui International Airport sure seems like the perfect place to start your Kunming adventures!
7. Muslim schools
There are also plenty of Muslim schools in Kunming, where students learn beyond the standard academic curriculum by attending religious classes as well!
Credit: Project Xing Fuon Facebook
Students learn basic knowledge of Islam and Iqra at such schools and learning centers, such as Al Fatah Learning Center, and Al Falak Preschool. Observing their daily lives may be of interest to you if you prefer going beyond merely sightseeing and would like to further immerse yourself in the Muslim locals’ way of life ☺️
Credit: Project Xing Fuon Facebook
If you'd like to grab some memorabilia before heading back home, head down to Nanping Pedestrian Street, right in the heart of Kunming. You can find an assortment of local handiwork from the street vendors (the bags there are really nice!), or head to the malls for branded stores and emporiums.
Credit: Matthew Hartzell
Throughout and around the street are various public art, locally known as “The Home of Old Kunming”, which seek to preserve memories of Kunming. Also, check out the Memorial Archways of Golden Horse and Jade Rooster, or Jinma Biji. Located at the start of Nanping Pedestrian Street, these pair of majestic archways have long been regarded as the symbol of Kunming!
Credit: @z.p.chua on Instagram
Kunming truly is a city that doesn’t exhaust its list of wonders – there’s so much to explore in this city, while being extremely Muslim-friendly at the same time! If you haven’t been to Kunming, what’s stopping you now??