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Life Outside Morning Class

Free Afternoon Activities

Mandarin classes are generally held for about 4 hours every morning from Monday to Thursday. In the afternoon, we arrange for students to interact with the local community through volunteering activities like teaching English to underprivileged children at local non-profit organizations. Alternatively, you can also practise your newly acquired Mandarin skills with native Chinese students from local communities and schools. As you participate in our program, you will have plenty of opportunities to mingle with students from immediate local communities. You can attend concerts and watch movies with your new Chinese friends, gaining a first-hand understanding of one of the richest cultures of the world. Over the weekend, students can explore various sites of educational and cultural value in and around Kunming.

Kunming's Spring-Like Weather and Relaxed Pace of Life

Kunming is renowned for its year-round, spring-like weather, something that a traveler will first notice about the city. Summers are pleasantly sunny and cool. It is no wonder why Kunming has earned its fame as the “Spring City” of Yunnan. Kunming’s relaxed pace of life is definitely one of its many pluses. People are hardly rushed off their feet here and that is probably why the city is a cut above the other Chinese metropolitans that are always on the move. Kunming is a place that almost coaxes you to take life easy and let your hair down.

Popular Cuisines and Drinks in Kunming

i) Popular Food Cooked by Ethnic Minorities

If you are a food-lover, then, embark on a culinary adventure at our recommended, local restaurants in Kunming and sample authentic Dian Cuisine. You can also learn about the secret recipes from the chefs at these restaurants and even, watch the way hand-cut, quintessential Chinese noodles are made in local noodle factories. The presence of various ethnic minority groups is what continues to contribute to the city’s colorful, cultural heritage. The Hui, a Chinese Muslim community is particularly famous for their hand-cut noodles and kebabs, laced with chilly-flakes, garlic and cumin. The city is strewn with restaurants, serving traditional and fresh food, whipped up by the Dai minorities from Yunnan’s Xishuangbanna region. Try one of those restaurants and delight your palate. Kunming also has a sizeable population of the Tibetan minorities. Restaurants, specializing in delectable Tibetan cuisines, abound in this city. One of the many allures of Kunming lies in its exotic cuisines that have their origin in its fresh produce. From bowls of rice noodles, seasoned with cilantro to barbequed lotus roots stuffed sticky rice, Kunming has delicacies that can appeal to different palettes.

ii) Tea-Houses in Kunming

Kunming also has numerous traditional and quaint tea-houses, which have endured the blows of time. Here, retired men and women congregate and play mahjong, chatter, and swap stories and jokes over endless cups of tea. If you are a tea-lover, you can visit one of the tea-houses and enjoy a pot of tea in a quiet corner. And if you want to be greeted by an umpteen variety of tea brewed to perfection, then, participate in one of the city’s traditional Pu’er tea-ceremonies, where drinking tea is a sensory delight altogether.

iii) Restaurants in Downtown Kunming

If you putter around the Nanping Walking Street, teeming with high-end, department stores and restaurants, you will get a taste of modern Kunming. You can also visit the famous Starbucks café on this street for your morning caffeine hit. Swarms of cafes, western-style restaurants and bars line the Wen Lin Jie Steet, just north-west of Green Lake Park. If you are craving for an American meal, you can visit the KFC or Mac Donalds in downtown Kunming and tuck into a king-sized burger meal. If you do not want to splash money on expensive restaurants, then, simply treat yourself to incredibly delicious and authentic street-food the city’s sidewalk stalls that always rustle up something tasty and fragrant for hungry commuters and keen tourists.

Parks to Explore in Kunming

Kunming is famous for its parks, lavish with a collection of carefully tended flowers. Over the weekend, take a stroll in one such park and bask in the sunshine. Students can also explore Dongfeng Square, a park in central Kunming, to observe mass exercise. The park is frequented by Tai Chi masters, practicing their skills. You can take your first Tai Chi lesson from one of them and get introduced to a whole new world of Tai Chi work-out, based on fundamental principles reflecting Chinese wisdom. Although Tai Chi is a gentle and relaxing workout meant to soothe your jarred nerves, it is nonetheless a thrilling experience and if you want to enjoy the relaxed environment of Kunming, then, nothing can beat a session of Tai Chi. Students can also visit the Green Lake Park, a stone’s throw away from our office and watch the Siberian gulls flocking to the park in hordes in order to migrate away from the harsh winters in their traditional nesting grounds further North in Russia. You can also go for jogging or exercise in the midst of unspoiled greenery of the park or have sometime alone in one of its cafes during your spare time. The park often hosts visually stunning dance performances by the ethnic minorities.

The Arty Side of Kunming

i) Kunming's Art Galleries

Although Kunming is out and out a modern city, packed with lofty buildings and swanky shopping-malls, it has a vibrant art scene. Students, with a penchant for art, painting and calligraphy, can visit various traditional and modern art galleries in the city, in addition to the Yunnan Provincial Museum.

ii) Modern Art in Kunming

Kunming is a repository of different forms of art and has recently evolved into a retreat for artists and sculptors from across the world. The community surrounding Chuang Ku/LOFT is a testament to this interesting fact. Artists here draw their inspiration from the traditional art, introduced into the province by ethnic minority communities. Modern art is rapidly gaining recognition in Kunming and large complexes like Yun Art and TCG Nordica have been built to pay tribute to the province’s new breed of art movement.

iii)Tribal Handicrafts

Kunming is the kind of city where you can take time out to watch amateur theatres in the adjoining square of the Workers' Cultural Hall or just explore its open-air markets, a treasure-trove of color and abundance. Ethnic minority women from rural areas come to these markets, selling a veritable collection of handicraft items.  The Yunnanese have mastered the art of making colorful jewellery and weaving. So, if you have an eye for quirky ethnic art and craft, local produce, vintage clothes and antique jewellery, then, try out the Nan Yao Market, the largest, open-air shopping strip in downtown Kunming and rummage through a galore of tribal handicrafts. Haggle hard and you may salvage some lost treasures. The Dai minorities are particularly famous for their handiworks, carved out of wood and bamboo. If you want to try your hand at making some of these handicraft products, we can help you take some lessons directly from the minority groups.

Places to Explore Over the Weekends

The scope of Kunming is endless. Students can visit a vast array of places over their weekends. Some of these places include the Stone Forest, World Horti-Expo Garden, the Yunnan Ethnic Village, the Western Mountain Forest Park and Grand View Park. There is a plethora of beautiful places in Yunnan that you may consider exploring. We have exciting summer excursions to a dive array of exotic locations ranging from a Tibetan monastery in the Himalayan plateau of northern Yunnan to a traditional Dai village in the tropics in Yunnan. You will also have the opportunity to visit large cosmopolitan cities like Beijing and Shanghai. One of the other places in Yunnan that you can explore on your own are: Sichuan and its beautiful capital city Chengdu. Sichuan is famous for its thick bamboo forests, a perfect habitat for China’s legendary pandas, the mysterious, history-ridden Mt. Emei, dotted with Buddhist monasteries, the Leshan Giant Buddha at 233 feet tall, the Jiuzhai Valley, one of China’s most renowned nature preserves and numerous small villages, predominantly populated by the Tibetans.


Minds Abroad is a Chinese Language School based in Kunming offering
Chinese Language Programs, Summer Programs for High School Students
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