After our adventures in and around Lhasa, we had to leave Tibet and the easiest option was to take the plane to Kunming in Yunnan (for a map of the journey see here). The flight across the eastern Tibetan Plateau and the sharp mountain ridges was dramatic. We had a scheduled stopover in Zhongdian (now called Shangri-La) which necessitated a quite exciting landing in a narrow valley. After the short break on the runway, the plane continued further south into the tropical megacity Kunming.
Kunming has more than 6 million inhabitants and is the capital of Yunnan. Albeit its size and the connected disadvantages (smog, traffic, etc.), the city contains enough sights to keep you well occupied for a couple of days. During our stay, we visited some ancient temples (e.g., the Bamboo and Yuantong Temple) and the quite spacious Daguan Park. Of course, the climate and the architecture formed a striking contrast to our previous stay in Lhasa.
Although Kunming surprised us with many beautiful sights, it only served as our jumping-off point for the bus ride to Jinghong, the main town of Xishuangbanna. However, you will have to check out the next post to read about what we experienced there!