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 Apr. 21, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Stone Forest
Asked by JS from GERMANY | May. 20, 2019 15:02Reply
Is it allowed to take pictures in Kunming Stone Forest? Do we have to pay a fee for that?
Is it also allowed to post pictures online? Do we have to pay for being able to post it or sell it?
Answers (1)
Answered by Jane from USA | May. 23, 2019 01:49

Yes, you can. Generally, there is no fees and you can do what you want with your own photos.
Asked by Debbie leong from MALAYSIA | Apr. 16, 2019 04:02Reply
Yunnan travel
Need advice in below.
A. Is there a pass to cover for two days for Jade dragon snow mountain?
B any public transport from lijiang to Yangtze first bend
C transport from Yangtze first bend to tiger leaping gorge upper point
D transport from tiger leaping gorge to Shangrila.
E is it possible to cover Jade dragon snow mountain in one day if we want to see the Yak meadow, glacier park and spruce meadow?
Answers (1)
Answered by Abigail from FINLAND | Apr. 21, 2019 22:53

1. The entrance tickets is valid for 2 days. But you need to go to the service center and register it.
2. There is no pulic transportation. Thus for your convenience, you are suggested to hire a private car or share a car with other passengers.
3. It is the same situation. Hiring a private car is the best choice for you.
4. There are direct coaches from Qiaotou that can take you to Shangri-la from TLG.
5. Yes, you can tour around these scenic areas in one day.

Have a nice journey!
Asked by debbie leong from MALAYSIA | Apr. 09, 2019 07:45Reply
Details of taking bullet train and bus to Stone Forest
Is it convenient to take the bullet train from Kunming South Railway Station to Shilin West first, then take Bus 99 to the scenic area directly. Concern is if bus 99 is full, it will be 30 min before the next bus comes.
Where does the 99 bus stops? Can we get the same bus back to Shilin West station and take the bullet train back to KM. What time does the bus 99 stop running? What about other bus direct to KM from Shilin Forest, and is the walk reasonable to the bus station?

Kindly advise.
Answers (1)
Answered by Ida from FRANCE | Apr. 15, 2019 01:26

The bus no.99 will stop at the Parking Lot of the scenic area. After arriving, walk around 10 mins to get to the Main Gate of the scenic area. Besides, you can also take the bus back to Shilin West Station. As I know, the operating hours of bus no.99 are 06:30 to 22:00 every 30 mins.
In addition, the bus from the scenic area to Kunming also depart at this parking lot. Don't worry.
Asked by Abdul from INDIA | Mar. 25, 2019 22:08Reply
What's best way to go to stone forest from second affiliated hospital of Kunming medical university?
I'd like to know the best route to visit stone forest from second affiliated hospital of Medical University. I'd also like to know the approximate transportation fare.

Answers (1)
Answered by Linda from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 29, 2019 00:43

You can take a bus from Kunming East Bus Station to the Stone Forest. The bus departs from 9:00 to 17:30 and it takes around CNY 35 per person for a single trip.

From the hospital to the east bus station, you can walk east about 200m to take Bus Line 127 to Panjia Wan. Then walk south about 350m to take Metro Line 3 to the East Bus Station. Get out of Ext B and walk north about 100m to get there. It costs CNY5.
Asked by Dima from RUSSIA | Mar. 22, 2019 23:47Reply
Is there a luggage storage place at the Kunming Stone forest?
Answers (1)
Answered by Cora from USA | Mar. 27, 2019 00:16

Yes, this scenic area provides left luggage service. You can put your luggage at the Tourists Service Center.
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