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Stone Forest

Stone Forest

Kunming is one of the most popular tourist destinations of China for its pleasant climate and marvelous vistas and landscapes. One of the landmarks of this charming city, the Stone Forest (Shilin) is an undoubtedly best-known attraction, which was famed as the 'First Wonder of the World’ in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.).

Approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the provincial capital Kunming, the Stone Forest is a notable set of limestone formations located in Shilin Yi Autonomous County. In an area of 400 square kilometers (96,000 acres), there are hundreds of differently-styled giant stones scattered in random fashion and giving the appearance of a deep and serene forest. When viewed from afar, the stone columns seem to form an impenetrable black forest-hence the name-”Stone Forest”.

According to the geologists at home and aboard, the Stone Forest is a typical example of karsts topography, which began to take shape in the Carboniferous Period over 270 million years ago. This region used to be a vast expanse of sea. Over years, the movements of the lithosphere gradually caused a retreat of the waters and the rise of the limestone landscape. Due to the erosion of limestone as well as millennia of weather exposure and natural upheavals such as earthquakes, the area finally developed into this kind of unique natural phenomenon.

The Stone Forest is divided into seven scenic areas, all of which impress visitors with the natural stone masterpieces and the intricate formations. The highlights among them are as follows:

Greater & Lesser Stone Forests, also known as the Lizijing Stone Forest, cover a total area of 12 km². The stones here come in various formations and sizes and are lifelike with their own distinguishing characteristics. Some are like animals- such as horses, peacocks, phoenix, elephants and , while some are like figures from everyday life or novels, allowing visitors to give free reign to their imaginations.

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

In Zhiyun Cave, visitors will marvel at the magnificent subterranean Stone Forest, which is distributed underground among several caves and covers a total area of about three square kilometers (720 acres).

Strange Wind Cave (Qifeng Cave) consists of Penfeng Cave, Hongxi Spring and an underground river. From August to November, gales lasting two to three minutes sweep out of the cave every 30 minutes.

Long Lake is a karsts lake, featuring underwater stalagmites and stalactites. This lake, with a width of 300 meters (zero point two miles) and a length of three kilometers (two miles), has a small island standing in the center of the water.

Dadie Waterfall sources from Ba River, a branch of Nanpan River. In the rainy season, up to 150 cubic meters (196 cubic yards) of water per square inch plummet down the 88 meter (288 feet) drop.

According to legend, the forest is the birthplace of Ashima, beautiful, clever and warm-hearted girl of the Sani (the Sani people are a branch of the Yi nationality living in Yunnan province). She is a symbol of the hope for freedom to choose who to marry, and a happy life for the Sani people. After falling in love she was forbidden to marry her chosen suitor and instead turned into a stone in the forest that still bears her name. Each year on the 24th day of the sixth lunar month, Yi people celebrate the Torch Festival, which features traditional performances such as wrestling, bull fighting, pole-climbing, dragon-playing, lion-dancing and the A-xi Moon Dance. During this time, the place is alive with a particularly joyful, festive atmosphere, making the area even more attractive than usual.

Admission Fee:

CNY 175 (including Major/ Minor/ Naigu Stone Forest, Wannianlingzhi Scenic Area, Bushao Mountain and Liziyuanqing Scenic Area)

Time for a Visit:

Two hours

Opening Hours:

08:30 to 18:00


Kunming East Coach Station (at the East 3rd Ring Road area) has regular buses to the site. The frequency is 20-30 minutes in peak season and about 40 minutes in low season.
Beside the entrance of Stone Forest, there are regular buses to Naigu Stone Forest Scenic Area every 40 minutes.

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