Yunnan Trnasportation is served by numerous transport modes, and forms an integral part of the structure Yunnan Province and Southwest China.
Yunnan is served by several civilian airports, a major highway and rail network as well as a network of frequently operated bus routes.Yunnan is home to more than 10 active civil airports (2014). A number of further airports are either being planned or already under construction, among others the Lugu Lake Airport. From Yunnan mainly domestic routes are flown but also international connections from Kunming and Xishuangbanna are available. For more information please check our Flying in China article. Yunnan's transport infrastructure radiates from its hub and capital city, Kunming, which at the same time acts as an important gateway, linking China to Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Asia-Pacific region. Most visitors to Yunnan travel by plane or bus. However, railway and river travel is also possible. Train travel requires much more time than air or road travel but is more comfortable, especially on overnight lines.
Yunnan was first connected by railway not to the rest of China, but to the Vietnamese port of Haiphong by a French engineered narrow gauge railway, the Sino-Vietnamese Railway completed in 1910. This railway is not in use anymore though and was substituted by a bus line to Heikou at the Vietnamese border. Plans are underway on modernizing the old line to Vietnam, the line from Kunming to Mengzi via Jianshui already exists. It took another fifty years for the province to be connected by rail to the rest of China with the completion of the Chengdu–Kunming line. Later a line connecting Kunming to Guiyang followed. Two further lines have been added recently: a southern line connecting Nanning in Guangxi and a north-eastern line connecting Yunnan to Sichuan via Yibin.
An extension also links Kunming to Dali and further to Lijiang to the northwest.
There are a lot of railway construction and further extension plans for both, national and international train traffic. For example the connection to Yunnan's north (Shangri-La), to China's highspeed railway system (from Kunming to Shanghai) for which specifially a new railway station is already being built in southern Kunming or the line from Kunming all the way to Singapore, with connections to the other South East Asian countries.
Road construction in Yunnan continues unabated: over the last decade the province has added more new roads than any other province in China. Which sounds pretty devastating at first, turns out to be quite handy when travelling overland. Many smaller villages throughout the province have only been reachable by foot or horse not too long ago. Also in terms of highways, Kunming is the hub. Today expressways link Kunming to all directions:
>through Dali to Baoshan (western Yunnan)
The official plan is to connect all major towns and neighbouring capitals with expressways and to complete a high-speed road network by 2020.
Tea Horse Road, was a network of mule caravan paths winding through mountains of Yunnan,Sichuan,Guizhou.
The Yunnan-Tibet Tea Horse Road was formed roughly in the late part of the 6th century. It began from Simao (思茅/a main tea producing area) to Lhasa, crossing Pu'er in Xishuangbannan, Dali , Lijiang, and Shangri-La, continuing to Nepal, Burma and India. Therefore, it was a critical trade route connecting to Southern Asia.
The network first emerged in significant terms during the Tang dynasty (618–907), reaching its zenith during the late-Qing period (1790s to 1911) and the first half of the twentieth century. The route was a trade link from Yunnan's southeast (Pu'er and Xishuangbanna) as well as from Sichuan (around the area known as Ya'an) with the tea-consuming regions across China, but in particular with Tibet and furtheron to India (see map below). It is believed that it was through this trading network that tea (typically tea bricks) first spread across China and Asia from its origins in Yunnan. The Tea Horse Road earned its name because of the common trade of Tibetan ponies for Chinese tea, a practice dating back at least to the Song dynasty, when the sturdy horses were important for China to fight warring nomads in the north.