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Stone Forest (Shilin)

The Stone Forest is known as “One of Earth’s Natural Wonders”. All visitors to Kunming from home and abroad never hesitate to come here to admire the unique scenes formed by the stones. The Stone Forest is located in Shilin County, 85 kilometres southeast of Kunming. Covering a few hundred square kilometres, stone peaks rise abruptly from the ground in numerous layers like bamboo shoots, forests and pagodas.

If you climb to the top of one of the peaks, you can behold thousands of peaks and valleys just like a marvelous vast black forest. The roads wind around between the peaks, taking visitors to ever more unexpected and beautiful scenes. Researches by Chinese and overseas geologists have proved that the Stone Forest is over 270 million years old.

Stone Forest (Shilin)

The area used to be an ocean. During the Long Geological Period from the late Permian Period 230million years ago to 2 million years ago , the ocean subsided and giant rocks appeared. During this time the rocks were gradually worn away by water, forming the strange rock forms seem today. Wandering in the Stone Forest is a unique experience .The stone mountains form strange shapes, the peaks are like poems and pictures, like the vertical “Lotus Peak,” the majestic “Rhinoceros Admiring the Moon” and the graceful “Pavilion Observing the Peaks”.

The layers of mountains seem to be pressing forward; the curious shaped rocks excite people’s imagination. In the depth of the Stone Forest, numerous lakes are like bright mirrors reflecting the rocks and peaks.

Among all the scenic spots in the Stone Forest, the rock of Ashima in the Small Stone Forest is the most famous. The rock of Ashima resembles a girl of the Sani people, a branch of the Yi ethnic group, with a kerchief on her head, and a bamboo basket on her back.

The shape and expression are both surprisingly lifelike. Ashima was a beautiful girl in a Sani folk tale. She is a symbol of the hope for freedom to choose who to marry, and a happy life for the Sani people. This is a story of a young couple who fall in love, but cannot marry each other. It was first written down in the 1940s and performed in Kunming. It has been published several times, and was filmed in the 1960s. The national dance drama “Ashima” is on the list of the top Chinese dances in the 20th century.

Since then “Ashima” has been translated into eight languages including English, German, French, and Russian and has shed its beauty throughout the international community.

Walking through the Stone Forest, we can still find traces of the Neolithic Age. On the cliffs and peaks we find ancient frescos painted using a mixture of animal blood and minerals. This is a beautiful place combining the spirit of the ethnic minorities and natural scenery. Close to the Stone Forest are other scenic spots such as the Black Stone Forest, the Dadieshui Waterfall, the Changhu Lake (Long Lake), and the Ziyundong (Purple Clouds) Cave. Lakes, mountains, caves and rocks add more charm to the Stone Forest area. Every year, on the 24th day of the 6th lunar month, the Yi people celebrate their Torch Festival . Traditional activities including wrestling and bull fighting, and joyous singing and dancing always last throughout the whole night.

Front Scenery of Stone Forest: As soon as one enters the Stone Forest scenic area, a crystal-clear lake comes into focus. By the east lakeside, rise from the water a good array of fantastic stone pinnacles, pillars, shoots, and stalactites, resembling a natural potted scenery. A few hundred steps beyond the lake, there is a pool with a huge boulder in the shape of a squatting lion. Hence it’s given the name of “Lion Pool”. Further on, a couple of tall limestones block the way like a green screen.

Greater Stone Forest: Inside the sea of Stone Forest, one feels as if were in a bizarre fairyland. The stone formations standing still resemble a variety of things such as ancient fortresses, birds, beasts, flowers, trees, human beings, and whatever else one can imagine.

Lesser Stone Forest: It adjoins the Greater Stone Forest, and has large lawns, lush growth of bamboos and trees as well as mountain flowers in Spring and Autumn. Most fantastic are “The Cluster of Pinnacles Propping up the Sky” and “The Stone Singing Praises of Plums”.

Outer Stone Forest: It’s gifted with myriad of stone peaks of various shapes. The Lion Hill resembles a squatting male lion on a height.



1. The Special Bus Line to Stone Forest departs from Kunming Airport at 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30, 17:00, and 18:00.
At 8:20, 9:50, 11:10, 12:20, 13:40, 15:10, 16:10, and 17:50, buses depart for the airport.
The price for a single journey is CNY45.

2. From Kunming South Railway Station, board the 20-minute, CNY29 for a first class ticket, or CNY18 for a second class seat, bullet train to Shilin West. When you get there, you can take Bus 99 right to the picturesque area. It costs CNY 8–10 and takes approximately 50 minutes. The bus runs with a 30-minute intermission from 7:50 until 22:30.

3. Regular buses are available from 8:00am to 18:00pm from Kunming East Coach Station (near the East 3rd Ring Road region) and cost CNY34.

Adults pay CNY130; children aged 7 to 18 and seniors aged 60 to 70 pay CNY65; and children under 6 years old and seniors aged 70 years or shorter pay nothing.

Nota: The cost includes admission to the on-site Karst Museum.

Free; accessible from 14:00 to 14:30 and 15:00 until 15:30.

7:30-18:30 from March to October; 8:00-18:00 from November to February