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 Dec. 14, 2018 -
Questions & Answers on Stone Forest
Asked by Xue Ying from SINGAPORE | Oct. 05, 2018 21:52Reply
Stone Forest & Jiuxiang
Hi, how long is the journey for the shuttle bus from the airport to Stone Forest? If I catch the 09:30 bus at the airport, will I have enough time around Stone Forest if I want to catch the 14:00 bus to Jiuxiang? Also, from Jiuxiang, how do I go back to Dongfeng metro station? Thank you!
Answers (1)
Answered by Shea from USA | Oct. 11, 2018 02:11

The bus ride from the airport to the stone forest needs about 2 hours. So you may arrive at stone forest at about 11:30 if your catch the 09:30 bus at the airport. The visiting time of stone forest is about 4 - 5 hours. So if you want to catch the 14:00 bus to Jiuxiang, you can only visit stone forest for about 2 -2.5 hours. I think it is too hurry.
Asked by Veron from SINGAPORE | Oct. 04, 2018 18:25Reply
Any bus from Long Way Grand Hotel to Kunming Shilin Stone Forest?
Answers (1)
Answered by Susan from USA | Oct. 11, 2018 00:16

First, you can get to KM Eastern Bus Station from your hotel: walk about 3 minutes to Shuangqiao station and then take the bus No.31 and get off at Kunming station (Yongsheng Road). Then transfer to take Bus C71 and get off at Eastern Bus Station.

Next, take the direct bus at Eastern Bus Station to the scenic area.
Asked by Pedro from ESPANA | Aug. 13, 2018 06:55Reply
How long is the bus ride from East Kunming Coach Station to the Stone Forest?
Does it arrive at the gate of the scenic area or we need to have additional transport?
What about coming back to KM? Is it easy to buy bus tickets or it is necessary to buy them in advance?
Thanks in advance
Answers (1)
Answered by Steve from USA | Aug. 13, 2018 20:46

It takes about 1.5 hours to get there and it’s easy to buy tickets. You don’t need to have additional transport.
Asked by Jorine Bong from MALAYSIA | Jun. 24, 2018 03:25Reply
Best journey to Stone Forest from Wu hua street
I'll be in Kun Ming in July and wanted to know what is the best way to go to Shilin from Wu Hua Street?
Battery car is like a tour bus going around the scenic area in Shilin? Will there be any extra charges after CNY175?
Possible to travel to Western hill after Shilin?
Answers (1)
Answered by Oscar from USA | Jun. 25, 2018 22:18

You can take a bus from East Bus Station and the fare is CNY 27. Yes, it is. The battery car needs extra charge.
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