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Yunnan Transportation: How to Get to and Travel around

Knowing the transportation system and modes of Yunnan should be essential for your smooth and enjoyable adventure in this vast and diverse land. Nestled in southwestern China, this captivating province boasts a well-developed air and land network that connects its major cities with other domestic cities and neighboring countries. Once you are in Yunnan, there are also a variety of transportation options for you to experience its natural beauty and cultural charms. Continue reading to learn more about how to travel to and travel around Yunnan.

How to Get to Yunnan

Flights and high-speed trains are the most common ways to arrive or depart Yunnan. Below is detailed information about flights and trains to/off Yunnan.

Getting to Yunnan by Flights

There are 15 airports scattered in different cities in Yunnan, among which, Kunming Changshui International Airport is the largest and busiest one, offering flights to over 120 domestic and international destinations. After it, Lijiang Sanyi International Airport is the second largest airport in Yunnan, offering domestic flights to over 50 domestic cities and international airports to Singapore, Bangkok, and Seoul. Other airports in Yunnan are scattered in its major scenic and cultural cities, including Dali, Shangri-La, Xishuangbanna and more.

Kunming Changshui International Airport

Serving Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming Changshui International Airport provides flights to 122 domestic cities and 51 international cities and regions, such as Dubai, Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, Yangon, and more. Also, it offers a 144-hour visa-free transit policy for passport holders of 53 countries and regions who make an international transfer via the airport.

Table of flights from major domestic cities to Kunming: updated as of January, 2024

City

Flight Duration

Daily Flights

Beijing

3h 30m Over 30

Shanghai

3h 20m

Over 25

Guangzhou

2h 10m Over 20

Chengdu

1h 25m Over 25

Chongqing

1h 15m Over 6

Xi’an

2h 10m

Over 15

Hangzhou 3h 15m

Over 15

Shenzhen 2h 15m

Over 15

Nanjing 3h 10m

Over 12

Wuhan 2h 25m

Over 15

 From the airport to Kunming downtown:

Kunming Changshui International Airport is 24.5 km northeast of Kunming city center. You can take the subway line 6 from the airport to Kunming East Bus Station, then, take the subway line 3 to the downtown area. This is the fastest and cheapest option. To take a taxi, the driving time will be about 20-30 minutes, and the fare is about CNY 70. Also, you can take the shuttle bus line 1 from the airport to the downtown area, which will take about 50 minutes, and the fare is CNY 25.

Yunnan Kunming Airport
Kunming Airport

Lijiang Sanyi International Airport

Lijiang Sanyi International Airport offers flights to 47 domestic cities (including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Shenzhen, Nanjing, etc.) and 3 international destinations (Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore). The airport has two terminals, one for the domestic flights, and one for the international flights.

From the airport to Lijiang Ancient Town:

The airport is about 28 km south of Lijiang City center, and about 30 km from Lijiang Ancient Town. To take a taxi, you can transfer from the airport to Lijiang Ancient Town within about 22 minutes and the ride cost about CNY 80. Also, you can take a shuttle bus from the airport and get off at Dayan Ancient Town, the trip will take about 45 minutes and cost CNY 20 per person.

Dali Huangcaoba Airport (Aka Dali Fengyi Airport)

A gateway for you to explore the charm of Dali, Dali Huangcaoba Airport offers flights to 19 airports of 16 domestic destinations, including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Kunming, Xishuangbanna, Hangzhou, Xi’an, Wuhan, Chongqing, etc. Some airlines operating flights to/from Dali Huangcaoba Airport include China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Lucky Air, Air China, Tibet Airlines, Sichuan Airlines.

From the airport to Dali Ancient Town:

Dali Huangcaoba Airport is located on the southeast bank of Erhai Lake, about 28 km from Dali Ancient Town. A taxi ride from the airport to the ancient town will taking about 49 minutes, and costs about CNY 70. Or you can take a shuttle bus from the airport to the South Gate of Dali Ancient Town which will take about an hour and cost CNY 25 per person.

Diqing Shangri-La Airport

Diqing Shangri-La Airport is one of the highest airports in China, sitting at an altitude of 3,280 meters above sea level. Currently, the airport offers 8 flights to 6 domestic cities, including Guangzhou, Shanghai, Chengdu, Kunming, Lhasa, and Hangzhou. Airlines operating flights to/off this airport include China Eastern Airlines, Chongqing Airlines, and Luck Air.

From the airport to Shangri-La city center:

The airport is located about 3.5 km from the city center, and a taxi ride from the airport to the city center will cost about CNY 15 and take about 12 minutes.

Xishuangbanna Gasa International Airport

Located in Gasa Town in Jinghong City, Xishuangbanna Gasa International Airport is the gateway to the tropical attractions in Xishuangbanna. It now offers flights to 49 domestic cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin, Chengdu, Xi’an, Guiyang, Guangzhou, Kunming, etc. Also, it is the hub connecting 5 Southeast Asian destinations, including Luang Prabang, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

From the airport to Jinghong city center:

Xishuangbanna Gasa International Airport is about 5.6 km from Jinghong city center, where you can reach by taxi which will cost about CNY 20 and take about 15 minutes. Or, you can take a shuttle bus from the airport to Jinghong Town, and the shuttle bus ride will cost CNY 4 per person and take about 20 minutes.

Getting to Yunnan by Trains

When getting to Yunnan by high-speed train, visitors can arrive at Kunming South Railway Station first as there are many options from major domestic cities. Generally, the high-speed train ride is not as convenient and fast as by taking flights. For example, the high-speed train ride will take about 11 hours from Beijing, 11-12 hours from Shanghai, 6-7 hours from Guangzhou, and 6-7 hours from Chengdu.

If you are arriving Kunming from a neighboring destinations, traveling by train should be a good option. For instance, from Guiyang to Kunming, the high-speed train ride will take just 2 hours, and there are also high-speed trains from Guiyang to Dali which will take about 4 hours. From Guilin, the high-speed train ride will take just 4-7 hours to Kunming.

The table below are durations and ticket prices of high-speed trains from major cities to Kunming:

Departure City

Train Type Duration

Ticket Price (CNY) for First & Second Class Seats

Beijing

G 10.5-12.5h 1,147-1,876

Shanghai

G 11-12h 879-1,475

Hong Kong

G 8.5h 717-1,167

Guilin

G/D 4-8h

355-587

Guangzhou G/D 6-9h

439.5-704

Chengdu D 6-9h

246-394

Guiyang D 2h

212.5-358

Local Transportation in Yunnan – Getting around Yunnan

Yunnan is rich in natural and cultural tourist destinations, including Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, Shangri-La, Xishuangbanna, Yuanyang, etc. Thanks to the complex and developed transportation network in Yunnan, there are many options to travel between these places with great convenience and efficiency.

By Air

Below are information for some of the most popular flight routes in Yunnan for your reference:

Kunming to Shangri-La: about 5-6 flights per day; the flight will take about 75-95 minutes, and cost about CNY 500-950.

Kunming to Xishuangbanna: about 12-15 flights per day; the flight will take about 70-120 minutes, and cost about CNY 450-1200.

Kunming to Lijiang: about 8 flights per day; the flight will take about 65 minutes, and cost about CNY 400-1300.

Note: Considering the long distance from city areas to the airports, it is not recommended to fly from Kunming to Dali, from Dali to Lijiang, and from Lijiang to Shangri-La since the trip will be expensive and time-waisting.

By Train

Taking trains is one of the best ways to travel between different cities in Yunnan, providing a fast, comfortable and scenic journey. We have listed some of the popular high-speed train routes in Yunnan for your reference:

Starting City

End City Duration Ticket Price

Kunming

Lijiang ~3 hours ~CNY 220

Kunming

Dali ~2 hours ~CNY 145

Dali

Lijiang ~1.5 hours ~CNY 75
Kunming Honghe ~1.5 hours

~CNY 70-100

Lijiang Shangri-La ~1.5 hours

~CNY 49-63

Kunming Shangri-La ~4.5 – 5.5 hours

~CNY 245

Kunming Xishuangbanna ~3 – 4 hours

~CNY200-250

By Bus

Thanks to the developed highway network in Yunnan, long-distance bus is another transportation mode in Yunnan, providing convenient and scenic way to travel around Yunnan. Below are some recommended bus routes if you want to try this kind of mode.

Kunming – Dali: takes about 4-5 hours and costs about CNY 140-180.

Dali – Lijiang: takes about 3-4 hours and costs about CNY 60-80.

Lijiang to Shangri-La: takes about 2.5 hours and costs about CNY 70-90.

Xishuangbanna – Kunming: takes about 8-10 hours and costs about CNY 180-220.

By Private Car

Yunnan boasts diverse natural and cultural attractions, some of which are nestled in the areas that are not easily accessible by public transportation. The great variety of altitude and difficult road conditions make it challenging and risky to self-drive. Hiring a private can with a driver seems to be a convenient way to handle these situations, also, will allow you a chance to explore at your own pace. If you need, please feel free to contact our travel consultants for private car service, or have them help you create your own private Yunnan tours according to your preferences.

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