Listed as Word Heritage Site by UNECO in 2007, Stone Forest is located in the hinterland of Yunnan Plateau – Shilin Yi Autonomous County, and is 78km from Kunming. It’s the only karst landform scenic spot located in subtropical plateau area. The Stone Forest has the most unique karst landform in the world due to its long history, large scale, and rich categories. It’s reputed as First Wonder under the Heaven and enjoys a high reputation in world geography circles.
Stone Forest started the formation from about 270 million years ago, and after a long period of geological evolution and complex paleogeography and environment evolution, the precious geological relics had finally been formed. The whole scenic area is very large, about 1,100 square kilometers, including various scenes: stone forests, karst caves, waterfalls, underground rivers, etc. Besides the natural scenery, Stone Forest also attracts numerous tourists for its featured Yi ethnic culture, and the most famous one is the legend of Ashima, which represents the image of Stone Forest.
Stone Forest can be divided into eight districts, and at present, open tour districts are Stone Forest Scenic Area, Naigu Stone Forest Scenic Area, Feilong Waterfall Forest Scenic Area and Chang Lake Forest Scenic Area. Among them, Stone Forest Scenic Area is core area of the whole scenic spot, and most famous attractions are located here, including Major Stone Forest, Minor Stone Forest, Bushao Hill, Lizi Yuanqing, and Eternal Mushroom.
The whole area is made of dense stone peaks. The stone peaks here have smooth lines and stand upright and abrupt, and the color of them is a kind of steel-gray. The highest rock pillar can reach over 40 meters. Walking among the stone forest, you will encounter rock peaks every few steps and turn to another direction – welcome to the new scenery. So if without tour guide, you must have a tour map when you visit Major Stone Forest to avoid missing in it.
Comparing with the dense Major Stone Forest, Minor Forest is sparser and more delicate. Wide and thick stone walls divide Minor Stone Forest into several small parks. The most famous attraction here is Ashima Stone. According to the Legend of Ashima (an oral narrative long poem which tells the story of Ashima), Ashima is a beautiful and brave Yi girl who relentless fights against the power forces to pursue freedom and at last turns into a stone, and this stone is called the Ashima Stone.
Bushao Hill is located at the east of Major Stone Forest and the south of Minor Stone Forest, it’s the highest part of the whole scenic area, and the altitude of the hill top is 1796.7 meters. There are marine fossils among the attractions of Bushao Hill, like giant gastropods fossils and coral fossils, which records the prosperous sea world 270 million years ago.
Lizi Yuanqing is located outside of the Ring Road (the road built for sightseeing cable car in the scenic area). Odd pillars and rocks cover this area, sparse or dense, they all reserve their natural appearances. About 300m southeast of Ring Road, there is an ancient rock painting on the stone wall, which draws the images of human, beasts, moon and stars. According to the archaeologist, the wall painting here is related to the primitive religion. Perhaps this is the words left to us by the ancient Yi people.
Eternal Mushroom scenic area is next to Lizi Yuanqing. On the top of the rock hill, there is a 15 meters high rock peak, which is large on the top and small on the foot, just like a giant mushroom, thus, the place is named as Eternal Mushroom.
Naigu Stone Forest Scenic Area is located 8km north of Stone Forest Scenic Area (the above five attractions are all in the Stone Forest Scenic Area). Naigu in Yi language means ancient and black. The whole scenic area covers an area of 10 square kilometers, and is made of East District, West District, Baiyun Lake, Baiyun Cave, Ancient Battle Field, etc. Standing on the highest peak and you will see a black rock sea, very magnificent. Tourists can also wander among the stone forests to feel the wild world. Another highlight is the karst caves under the ground. At present, there are 9 karst caves ascertained in total. The ticket for Nagu Stone Forest is included in the ticket of the whole Stone Forest ticket.
Stone Forest is 78km from Kunming. Travelers can take public coach at bus stations in Kunming to Stone Forest. This will take about 1.5 hours. From Kunming Changshui International Airport, travelers can take the travel bus to there, and it will take about 2 hours. Shilin Yi Autonomous County also has a train station, and it has trains to Kunming, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanning, Zhanjiang, Guiyang, Hongguo, etc. Shilin Train Station is only about 4km from Stone Forest, so traveler can get the spot easily.
Another way to get to Stone Forest is taking a private car, and this is the fastest and most convenient way. It only takes about 1 hour. If you book tour with us, we will provide you the private car with a private driver and a tour guide to make your trip worry-free.
Travelers will purchase the ticket at Visitor Center which is 2km from the entrance of the scenic area. Travelers can take cable car to from the Visitor Center to the entrance and the price is ¥25/person. The cable car will also drive in the scenic area (since the scenic area is quite large) and it will pass by all five attractions of Stone Forest Scenic Area, including Major Stone Forest, Minor Stone Forest, Bushao Hill, Lizi Yuanqing and Eternal Mushroom. Once purchase the cable car ticket, travelers can take any cable car in the scenic spot by showing the ticket in the same day.
Naigu Stone Forest is 8km from Stone Forest Scenic Area, and traveler can take the travel bus commuting between the two areas to there. The running time for the travel bus is 9:00 ~ 19:00 and it will departure every half hour. Please check with the working staff for the detailed position of the bus.
June 24th in Chinese lunar calendar is the traditional Torch Festival of Yi people. At this time, Stone Forest will hold grand bullfight, wrestling and song and dance activities to celebrate. Yi people will dress in their traditional costumes to anticipate the celebration. At nightfall, the bonfire and torches will be lit up, and people will dance and sing around the bonfire. This is the best time to experience the ethnic culture of Yi people.
Best time to visit is from March to October. Most ethnic festivals are during this time, and travelers can also appreciate various flowers during this time. Stone Forest is located in the subtropical humid monsoon climate zone, and it features in continental monsoon climate. No hot summer nor severe cold winter, the climate here is rather moderate all year round.
The entrance ticket for the Stone Forest is ¥175/person. The ticket for cable car in the scenic area is ¥25/person. The dance show in the scenic area is free.
In the front of the scenic area, there are parking lot and China post office.
The Visitor Center can provide wheelchair, baby carriage, umbrella, walking stick, etc. for visitors.
The Visitor Center also provide tour guide service in Chinese, English, Japanese, Thai, etc. for tourists, and the guide service will charge a certain fees, please check with the staffs in the Visitor Center for detailed price.
Tourists can find the location of toilets in the scenic area according to the infrastructure map on the back of the entrance ticket.
Travelers can stay overnight in Shilin County after visit, and there are also some 3-star hotels in the county. However, most travelers will choose to go back to Kunming for accommodation. Kunming has more choice for travelers and it’s more convenient to transfer to your next destination from Kunming.
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