Stone Forests Of China (Guide)

The Stone Forests of China, also known as Shilin, are a stunning natural wonder in Yunnan Province.

These unique landscapes are filled with tall, jagged limestone formations that look like stone-made forest.

Over millions of years, wind and water have carved these rocks into incredible shapes, creating a breathtaking and otherworldly sight.

The Stone Forests are not only a popular tourist destination but also a place of cultural significance, featuring in many local legends and traditions.

Let’s explore them in detail!

LocationYunnan Province, China
Nearest CityKunming, approximately 90 km (56 miles) southeast
Area CoveredApproximately 400 square kilometers
Formation AgeOver 270 million years
Type of RockLimestone
Height of FormationsUp to 30 meters (98 feet)
Main Viewing PointsMajor Stone Forest, Minor Stone Forest, Naigu Stone Forest, Lizijing Stone Forest
Cultural SignificanceImportant to the Sani people, part of local legends and traditions
Best Time to VisitSpring (March to May) and Autumn (September to November)
ActivitiesWalking tours, photography, guided tours, hiking
AccessibilityAccessible by car or tour from Kunming
This table provides a concise overview of the key information about the Stone Forests of China.

How Were They Formed?

The Stone Forests are a series of tall, jagged limestone formations that cover an area of about 400 square kilometers.

These rocks have been shaped by natural forces over millions of years, creating the appearance of a dense forest made of stone.

The formations vary in size and shape, with some reaching heights of up to 30 meters (98 feet).

The Stone Forests were formed over 270 million years ago during the Permian period when a shallow sea covered the area.

Layers of limestone built up over time, and as the sea receded, the exposed rock was gradually shaped by wind and water erosion. This process created the towering, jagged formations we see today.

🔥 Stone Forest in China 🔥
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Cultural Significance

The Stone Forests are not only a natural wonder but also hold great cultural importance.

The Sani people, a subgroup of the Yi ethnic minority, have lived in the region for centuries.

They have many legends and stories about the Stone Forests. One popular legend tells of a beautiful girl named Ashima, who turned into a stone after fleeing from an unwanted marriage.

This story adds a mystical and cultural depth to the already impressive landscape.

Main Attractions

When visiting the Stone Forests, there are several must-see spots:

Major Stone Forest: This is the main area where you can see the largest and most impressive formations. The paths and trails here allow you to walk among the stones and see them up close.

Minor Stone Forest: Slightly smaller but equally beautiful, this area offers a quieter and less crowded experience.

Naigu Stone Forest: Located a bit further away from the main tourist areas, Naigu Stone Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a more serene and natural setting.

Lizijing Stone Forest: Known for its unique formations and the ancient carvings on the stones, this area is perfect for those interested in both natural beauty and historical artifacts.

How to Get There

Getting to the Stone Forests in Yunnan Province, China, is relatively straightforward, especially from the provincial capital, Kunming. Here are the steps to reach this natural wonder:

By Air

  1. Fly to Kunming: The closest major city to the Stone Forests is Kunming, which has an international airport (Kunming Changshui International Airport) with flights from various cities in China and abroad.

From Kunming to the Stone Forests

From Kunming to the Stone Forests
Distance From Kunming to the Stone Forests

By Car or Taxi:

  • Distance: The Stone Forests are about 90 kilometers (56 miles) southeast of Kunming.
  • Duration: The drive typically takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Route: You can hire a taxi or rent a car and take the Kunming–Shilin Expressway (G80). This is the most convenient and flexible option.

By Bus:

  • Departure Point: Buses to the Stone Forests leave from the Kunming East Bus Station.
  • Duration: The bus ride takes about 2 to 2.5 hours.
  • Frequency: Buses run frequently throughout the day.
  • Cost: This is a budget-friendly option for travelers.

By Train:

  • High-Speed Train: You can take a high-speed train from Kunming Railway Station to Shilin West Railway Station.
  • Duration: The train ride is about 30 minutes.
  • From Shilin Station: From Shilin West Railway Station, you can take a short taxi ride to the Stone Forests.

Guided Tours

  • Organized Tours: Many travel agencies in Kunming offer day tours to the Stone Forests. These tours usually include transportation, entrance fees, and a guide, providing a hassle-free experience.

Tips for Travelers

  • Early Start: Consider starting your trip early in the morning to avoid crowds and enjoy the cool morning weather.
  • Language: While some signs are in English, having a translation app or a guide who speaks Chinese can be helpful.
  • Pack Essentials: Bring water, snacks, comfortable walking shoes, and sunscreen for a comfortable visit.

By following these options, you can easily reach the Stone Forests and enjoy exploring this incredible natural wonder.


Where are the Stone Forests located?

The Stone Forests are located in Yunnan Province, approximately 90 kilometers (56 miles) southeast of Kunming, the provincial capital.

Yunnan, China
Yunnan, China via Google Earth

Why are they called the Stone Forests?

They are called the Stone Forests because the tall, jagged limestone formations resemble trees in a forest, giving the appearance of a stone forest.

What is the best time to visit the Stone Forests?

The best time to visit the Stone Forests is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) when the weather is pleasant and comfortable for exploring. Summer can be hot and crowded, while winter can be chilly.


  • The Stone Forests of China are a natural wonder that offers a unique and unforgettable experience.
  • From the awe-inspiring rock formations to the rich cultural legends, there is much to explore and enjoy.
  • Whether you are a nature lover, a photographer, or a history enthusiast, the Stone Forests provide an exceptional destination that will leave you in awe of the beauty and power of nature.
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