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, Dadieshui 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 Dadieshui 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.
See detailed Kunming - Shilin Train

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 children from 7 to 18 years old and seniors from 60 to 70 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: March to October: 7:30-18:30; November to February: 8:00-18:00

Nearby Attractions:
Naigu Stone Forest CNY25;
Beside the entrance of Stone Forest, there are regular buses to Naigu Stone Forest Scenic Area every 40 minutes.
Dadieshui (Feilong) Waterfall CNY18, not available currently and the opening time is unknown.
Long Lake Scenic Area CNY10

See also:
South China Karst
Wansheng Stone Forest
Nuohei Village

 Further Reading:
Top 10 Things to Do in Kunming

Top 10 Things to Do in Yunnan

In-depth Guide to Top 10 Yunnan Destinations

15 Spectacular Natural Wonders of China

- Last updated on Sep. 14, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on Stone Forest
Asked by Livia Ludhova from SLOVAKIA | Jan. 16, 2024 00:47Reply
Taxi from Kunming
Hello, I would like to take taxi from Kunming SOuth to the area, to be there at the opening time before the train arrives. Can you please advice how much it can cost? SHould I book it in advance? Thanks
Answers (1)
Answered by Jessica | Jan. 16, 2024 22:35

Generally, it takes about CNY 300 by taxi.
Asked by Terence from SOUTH AFRICA | Jul. 05, 2021 18:38Reply
Do Foreigners still need to buy tickets in advance?
I’m planning to go to the stone forest and was wondering if foreigners still needed to buy tickets in advance?
Answers (1)
Answered by Irene | Jul. 11, 2021 23:54

Yes, you need to buy tickets in advance. You can call 0871-67711439 to double check this.
Asked by Ingrid from FRANCE | Nov. 03, 2020 18:55Reply
Buying tickets for foreigners
Dear all,
I would like to buy tickets in advance for the stone forest and Jiuxiang cave, as because of the epidemic I know there is some crowd control measures. However I found out that on chinese websites you need to type in your Chinese ID to buy tickets. Is there a website that allows foreigners to buy tickets in advance..? Or maybe foreigners can not buy tickets in advance at all?
Thank you very much.
Answers (1)
Answered by Chloe | Nov. 05, 2020 21:41

Well, I found the same information with you. Maybe after arriving, you can ask help for the hotel staff and see whether if they can purchase the tickets for you in advance.
Asked by Sitti from THAILAND | Dec. 16, 2019 03:44Reply
How to visit both the Stone Forest and Jiuxiang Cave WITHIN A DAY*?
which one do you recommend going first and how can we transport between these two tourist attractions?
Answers (2)
Answered by Bryony from NETHERLANDS | Dec. 18, 2019 23:15

I would like to Stone Forest first and then visit Jiuxiang Cave.
And generally speaking, one day is enough for you to tour around these two places.
Answered by Sitti from THAILAND | Dec. 19, 2019 17:32

Thank you
Asked by ayienz from MALAYSIA | Nov. 18, 2019 19:16Reply
hi, I plan go to kunming early january 2020
Is it ok if I go to stone forest? should I standby tank oxygen to prevent AMS?

tq in advance
Answers (1)
Answered by Kaia from DENMARK | Nov. 20, 2019 21:47

Yes, you can go to Stone Forest at that time. Generally speaking, you don't need to standby tank oxygen.
Ask a Question
Question Summary (100 characters)
Details (optional) (2,000 characters)