Situated right next door to the beautiful Green Lake district and close to Yunnan University, it’s perhaps no surprise that Wenhua Xiang (or Cultural Lane) has blossomed into a creative focal point in the city of Kunming. A magnet for expats and students, the narrow lane is now home to numerous cafés, restaurants, art galleries and bookstores; it’s also the site for regular events and activities, making it the ideal spot to experience the creative side of the City of Eternal Spring.
Salvador’s Coffee House
Americans Kris Ariel and Colin Flahive first started Salvador’s Coffee House in Dali, Yunnan, before relocating to Kunming in June 2014. The café’s name is a play on Ariel’s love of Salvador Dalí and the venue’s original location. Today, the popular industrial-chic venue serves a range of international dishes, organic coffee and homemade ice creams. Its alfresco porch also makes an excellent spot for some people-watching.
76 Wenlin St, Wenhua Ln
Hidden in a courtyard just off Wenhua Lane, Elephant Books is a bookstore, café, exhibition venue and even an occasional radio station all rolled into one. Set up by owner Yang Xiong, who is a trained architect, it’s now become a bastion of Kunming’s creative scene. Aside from a wide array of books covering art, culture, design and travel, it also offers design products by local artists. Building 7,
201 Wenhua Ln
Aling’s Art Studio
Tucked along an old walking street just behind Wenhua Lane, Aling’s Art Studio has been a creative mainstay for nearly 10 years. The gallery-cum-studio always has an eclectic mix of items on display, from hammered copper jewellery and appliqué fabric art to oil paintings. Everything here is created by the studio’s owner, 32-year-old Taiyu “A Ling” Yang.
105 Tianjundian Ln; Aling’s website
This tiny, two-storey restaurant has a big reputation, thanks to its repertoire of spicy dishes from Yunnan and Sichuan. Head up the narrow stairs – festooned with bric-à-brac and large copies of the menu – to the attic and settle down at one of the low tables. Standouts include the piquant sliced beef with tofu pudding and the jinsha corn, made from salted egg yolk and local corn.
74 Wenhua Ln
Wo Xin Fei Yang
Jianshui purple pottery first rose to prominence during the Qin dynasty, and is so called because of the colour of the clay used. Wo Xin Fei Yang (or “Flying Heart”) celebrates this artistic earthenware, with shelves brimming with thousands of delicate pieces, from teapots to vases. The friendly 48-year-old owner, Qin Li, has been running the place for over 15 years, and is always happy to answer your questions over a cup of tea.
19 Wenhua Ln
This article was originally published in the December 2017 issue of Silkwinds magazine.