Stone Forest, Kunming

Stone Forest

Kunming Stone Forest, Shilin in Chinese, is a spectacular set of limestone groups and the representative of south China’s karst landscape. Known since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) as the 'First Wonder of the World', it is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan. An old local goes that if you have visited Kunming without seeing the Stone Forest, you have wasted your time.

China Stone Forest Facts

 Location: Shilin Yi Nationality Autonomous County, 120 kilometers (75 miles) and 3 hours’ drive from Kunming.

 Area: 400 sq km (150 sq mi)

 Major Attractions: Greater & Lesser Stone Forests, Naigu Stone Forest, Zhiyun Cave, Long Lake, Moon Lake, Dadie Waterfall, Qifeng Cave, Guishan Mountain

Sightseeing Route & Top Sights

Map of Kunming Stone Forest
Map of Kunming Stone Forest

Walking through the site, visitors marvel at the natural stone masterpieces and are bewitched by the intricate formations. The magnificent, strange and steep landscape creates countless labyrinthine vistas, including:

Greater Stone Forest, Lesser Stone Forest and Naigu Stone Forest, all of which feature stones in various formations. Animals, plants, and even human figures can be found here. Some are elegant, some are rugged, and each is lifelike with its own distinguishing characteristics.

Subterranean Stone Forest in Zhiyun Cave, distributed underground among several caves and occupying a total area of about three square kilometers (720 acres).

Qifeng Cave, composed 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 that is three kilometers (two miles) long but only 300 meters (zero point two miles) wide. The lake features underwater stalagmites and stalactites and a small island in the center of the water.
The stones are marvelous under the sunshine.
A Shi Ma Stone with moving legend
The Stone Forest is a wonder of the world.
The forest of grotesque karst rocks
The source of the Dadie Waterfall, Ba River, is 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.

How was the Stone Forest in China Formed?

Geologists say the Stone Forest is a typical example of karsts topography. Approximately 270 million years ago - during the carboniferous period of the Paleozoic era - the region was a vast expanse of sea. Over time, the movements of the lithosphere gradually caused a retreat of the waters and the rise of the limestone landscape. Due to constant erosion by the elements, the area finally developed into the present-day appearance.

forest made of rocks
Masterpiece of the Nature
local resident
Happy ethnic group - Hani
Many beautiful legends originate in this magical place, passed along by the native people known as Sani, a branch of the Yi ethnic group. One particular story about the faithful love of Ashima, a beautiful, clever and warm-hearted Sani girl, is the most popular and has been told for thousands of years. The Sani people celebrate their national festival - the Torch Festival - every lunar year on June 24. They take part in 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. However, the Stone Forest - with its sculptures engraved by nature, herself - is always a true miracle for visitors to behold.

How to get to Stone Forest

1. From Kunming Airport: The Special Bus Line to Stone Forest leaves at 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:00, 15:30, 17:00 and 18:00.
The return buses to airport leave at 8:20, 9:50, 11:10, 12:20, 13:40, 15:10, 16:10 and 17:50.
It costs CNY45 for a single trip.

2. From Kunming South Railway Station: Take a bullet train to Shilin West first, which takes about 20 minutes, CNY29 for a first class seat, CNY18 for a second one. After arrival, you can take Bus 99 to the scenic area directly. It takes about 50 minutes and costs CNY8-10. The bus is available from 7:50 to 22:30 with an interval of 30 minutes.

3. From Kunming East Coach Station (at the East 3rd Ring Road area): The regular bus is available from 8:00 to 18:00 and costs CNY34.
Kunming Bus Search
Admission Fee CNY130 for an adult;
CNY65 for seniors from 60 to 70 years old;
CNY65 children from 6 to 18 years old;
Free for children under 6 years old or 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) and seniors over 70 years old.

Note: The fee includes the entrance fee for the Karst Museum inside.
Dance Show Free; available during 14:00-14:30 and 15:00-15:30.
Battery Car CNY25
Time for a Visit:
3 to 4 hours
Opening Hours: 07:00 to 18:00

Nearby Attractions:
Naigu Stone Forest CNY60;
Beside the entrance of Stone Forest, there are regular buses to Naigu Stone Forest Scenic Area every 40 minutes.
Dadie (Feilong) Waterfall Scenic Area CNY18, not available currently and the opening time is unknown.
Long Lake Scenic Area CNY10

Further Reading:
South China Karst
Wansheng Stone Forest
Nuohei Village

 Top 10 Things to Do in Yunnan

- Last modified on Jul. 30, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Stone Forest
Asked by Virginia from USA | Jul. 28, 2019 01:20Reply
Is the battery car for rental or is it a ticket to ride the car in Kunming Stone Forest?
Answers (1)
Answered by Brooklyn from UNITED KINGDOM | Jul. 30, 2019 01:08

No, you need to purchase the tickets to ride the car inside the scenic area.
Asked by Alexey from ISRAEL | Jul. 17, 2019 11:05Reply
Bus from Kunming East Coach Station to Stone Forest
What's the number of this bus, the departure time and how long does it take to arrive?

Thanks for help.
Answers (1)
Answered by Landy from USA | Jul. 17, 2019 18:31

Well, there is no exact the bus number. There are several Chinese characters on the bus. You just need to the right boarding site and wait the coach. The bus schedules are 09:00, 10:30, 12:00 and 17:30. Generally speaking, it takes around 1.5 hours on the way.
Asked by Alana | Jul. 01, 2019 03:00Reply
Is there a left luggage storage at the Shilin west railway station where we can leave our bags?
Answers (1)
Answered by Dustin from USA | Jul. 01, 2019 19:28

Sorry, there isn't. You can storage the luggage at the Shilin Scenic Area.
Asked by Giacomo from ITALY | Jun. 14, 2019 09:39Reply
At the Kunming airport, where is the bus line to Shilin? Is still working?
Answers (1)
Answered by Eva from GERMANY | Jun. 16, 2019 20:29

There are direct buses in the airport to Shilin. The departure time starts from 9:30 to 18:00at the interval of 1 hour. Ticket fare is CNY45. You can follow the sign or ask staff.
Asked by Beer from THAILAND | Jun. 05, 2019 02:12Reply
Bus for Kunming Stone forest?
Is it possible if I bring the big baggage (29") onto bus 99 or Airport bus?
and How long if I take bus from Stone forest to the airport ?
I may go to Stone forest and leave my baggage over there then take bus to Airport. My flight is 2am, Possible ?

thank you
Answers (1)
Answered by Jesse from USA | Jun. 05, 2019 20:54

1. Generally, there is no problem to take your baggage.

2. The bus takes about 1.5 hour on the way.

3. The last bus from the Stone Forest to the airport is 18:00. It is possible for you to do that.
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