There is no train. You need to take a bus. Sorry I have no info on the bus.
There are 2 regular train daily and freq. buses from Kunming to Jianshui.
The regular trains are;
#K9652/K9653 which departure at 08:06 and will arrive at 11:26,
#K9656/K9657 which departure at 17:23 and will arrive at 20:40.
Currently, a temporary train #L9852/L9853 operates in Lunar New Year period that departure at 12:59 and will arrive at 16:49.
Freq. buses departure at the Southern Bus Station from 07:30 to 18:00 with @30min interval.
After that are 19:10 and 20:30 respectively.
Train started last year between Kunming and Mengzi, stops at Jianshui. As above, hard SEAT only. Expect a very local crowd. Buses are far more flexible since there are many more departures. However, the Kunming train station is relatively central while South Bus station is a 30+ minute drive from the center. On the other end, the Jianshui new train station is a bit out of the city, whereas the bus station is a 5 minute ride to the old town.
Interesting that the train schedule website that I normally use doesn't show it. Another proof that train websites in English are not reliable for China. Should have checked on 12306.cn.
I've made that trip both by train and bus within the past month. Information in Post #2 is right on.
Travel time is about the same (3.5 to 4 hours) Cost is of both methods is similar (50 to 75 Yuan, to the best of my recollection.)
Jianshui is definitely worth the trouble of an overnight stop. Splendid place.Edited: 01 February 2014, 02:59
Thanks for all the detailed replies. We are keeping a loose travel itinerary, so will see how it turn out.
Once again, thanks.
ZhongguoMK, you visited recently, will you advise whether we should stay 2 nights or just overnight in Jianshui? I read about Linan Inn which sounds an interesting place to stay.
I know that this is over a year later but hopefully it will be useful to someone... We arrived today and are staying two nights at the Linan Inn. It is a bit more money than we expected but also a lot more upscale (we are two honeymooning backpackers on a budget). The traditional courtyard is wonderful and front desk staff super helpful. Biggest downside is that they only had a twin room available!
Yes, the TA reviews absolutely do confuse the two, and maybe CTrip reviews as well as the prices were off (though those are official so I am not sure how...). We are paying 168RMB per night for a twin ensure room with A/C. It's an incredible deal for how nice this place is, just was mislead by CTrip saying 104RMB. However, it impossible that that room was taken and we see in nicer room. Hard to communicate questions with our lack of fluent Chinese (funny to me how it is phrases re:staff's English since we are in China! What language should hospitality staff speak in the US? French???).