Shilin Stone Forest

The Stone Forest (Shilin) is one of the most famous attractions in the Kunming region. This forest of limestone pinnacles, some as tall as 30m, is spread over an area of some 400 square kilometers. Around 270 million years ago, this area was underwater. Over time the limestone seabed rose and the waters receded. The elements then carved out the bizarre karst structures standing today. Shilin being in China, the area is dotted with little pavilions and inscriptions and all sorts of names and descriptions have been thought up for various rocks. It is debatable whether the Stone Forest is worth the time and money it takes to visit, but if you’re not on a rushed holiday or a tight budget, then it’s probably worth checking out.

The Stone Forest can be visited as a day trip from Kunming, or there is accommodation there if you want to stay overnight: a youth hostel with private rooms from ¥160 and dorms from ¥40 and a more expensive hotel.

Admission: ¥140. Open: 9:30am-5:30pm.

Tel: +86 (0871) 771 1439. Website:

Directions: Shilin (石林) is about 120km south-east of Kunming. At the bus stations, touts will be trying to get you on their buses. If you go with them (or get tricked onto one of their buses) you will be stuck with interminable shopping stops on the way. To be safe, buy your ticket to Shilin inside the building on the east side of the train station square and take the bus from the parking lot on the building’s south side. The ticket costs ¥22 and the journey takes about 2.5 hours. Buses go roughly every half hour from 7am and the last bus back to Kunming leaves around 7pm.