Yunnan Travel Guide
The Stone Forest
Celebrated as a natural wonder, the limestone pillars of the Stone Forest (Shi Lin) are Yunnan's most visited sight. The bizarre, tightly-packed formations, some as tall as 100 feet (30 m), have been given imaginative names such as "Rhinoceros Gazing at the Moon" and "Everlasting Fungus." Resembling a petrified forest, the area is shot through with winding pathways, ponds, and look-out points. So popular is this place that the central paths can get clogged with tour groups. Head to the edges of the forest to find a quiet corner, but keep in mind that it is easy to get lost in this otherworldly landscape. For a more ethereal experience, spend the night and explore when it's deserted and eerily lit.
- 75 miles (120 km) SE of Kunming
- 0871 771 9006
- 24 hours daily
- Torch Festival (end of the sixth lunar month)
Plan of Shi Lin
- 1 Xiao Shi Lin
- 2 Ode to Plum Blossom
- 3 Wangfeng Ting
- 4 Jianfeng Chi
- 5 Xiao Shi Lin
- 6 Wife Waiting for Husband
Xiao Shi Lin (1)
The Minor Stone Forest, a smaller rock cluster to the north of the main forest, is a little quieter. Each evening Sami minority dances are performed at an amphitheater here.
Jianfeng Chi (4)
This ornamental pool is ringed by jagged ridges. A narrow walkway runs from here across the top of the forest.
Wife Waiting for Husband (5)
This formation, reminiscent of a woman waiting impatiently, sits in the quiet area right at the back of the forest, on the route of the overhead walkway.
Ode to Plum Blossom (2)
Many of the rocks are cut with calligraphy, including one of Mao Zedong’s most loved poems, executed in his elegant flowing script.
Wangfeng Ting (3)
Many of the paths lead to the central Peak Viewing Pavilion, a good meeting point, with views over the forest to help you gain your bearings.
posing at Shi Lin
Shi Lin's Formation
Fossils found in the area reveal that Shi Lin was underwater during the Permian period, 270 million years ago. The retreating sea left a limestone seabed that has been eroded since by wind and rain into today's weird, twisted shapes.