Shilin Stone Forest - 石林

by - June 09, 2014

The Stone Forest
Tourists, tourists everywhere
Our last major outing from our time in Yunnan Province was to the town of Shilin, a two hour bus journey south west of Kunming.  One of the most accessible and interesting day trips from the provincial capital, Shilin is home to the so-called ‘Stone Forest’ an impressive area of limestone karst landscape that has been entirely overrun by domestic tourists and is now something of a Geological Amusement Park.  The buses depart Kunming’s Eastern Bus Station whenever they are full (costing around 60 Yuan one way) and allowed us to arrive at about 11 in the morning - we had heard that the afternoon period is truly unbearable in terms of tourists so went for an early slot.  The park covers a vast area, with stones ranging in size from small boulders to towering obelisks.  Formed by the weathering of limestone over time, the landscape is named 'Karst’ after a region in Slovenia where the phenomenon was first documented - with similar regions found across the world from Yorkshire to China.

One of the more secluded areas 
Luckily it was pretty easy to get away from the tour groups (which stick to a very set and uninspired path) and we were able to find some more peaceful and secluded sections.  Unfortunately the rain cut short our time in the Stone Forest and we weren’t able to explore TOO far, but it was definitely worth a trip and the more adventurous (and perhaps the less tired) would be able to spend a full day rather than a half day like we did.  While not on the grand scale of some of the other natural wonders in China, it was certainly a memorable experience, despite the hoards of tourists.

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