I found Kunming to be unusually quiet for a city, and that's because the vehicles including motorbikes are all electric! You'll really notice the difference from regular cities: Kunming is busy, but not noisy.
Tianfu Food is a chain of stalls selling what I call stick food, for lack of a better way to describe it. Point at the sticks of food you want (you'll have to be adventurous unless you know how to ask what each item is). The staff will pick up the sticks you selected, dip it into a a vat of mala spicy sauce, and put them in a tall cardboard container for you to munch on. The lady behind the counter was kind enough to give me a plastic glove to hold the sticks dripping in mala sauce. They seemed to have noodles too but I didn't try it.
If you enjoy mala spicy food and are keen to try mystery foods, give this place a try. There are a few outlets sprinkled around Kunming.
Red Bean Restaurant (HongDou Yuan) (红豆园餐厅) – map
They don't speak English, so you'll have to point to order, and use Google Translate to communicate. Excellent food at reasonable prices.
Salvador's Coffee House (萨尔瓦多) – map
Popular with Westerners for their Western breakfasts and great coffee. I ordered the Mexican breakfast bagel and it exceeded expectations. I passed a couple of hours here before I headed to the airport for my flight. They have power plugs with USB sockets, and the wifi is good enough.
Other places I shortlisted but didn't get time to try
- Prague Coffee Hall (布拉格咖啡馆) – map 📖
- LanBaiHong (兰白红) – map 📖
- Heavenly Manna (吗哪) – map 📖
- 1910 South Railway Station (1910火车南站) – map 📖
- Yidong Yanglou – map
- Laocangcu Rice Noodles – map
📖 = Recommended in Lonely Planet