Imagine for a moment you are walking through a forest, surrounded by nature and feeling tiny compared to the magnificent objects that surround you. However, instead of the green and brown of trees, you are instead surrounded by gray stones so tall they could hide a 10-story building with room to spare.
Think that this is a place of fantasy? Hardly. In the southwestern corner of China, near the Laos border and about 75 kilometers south of Kunming sits one of the most impressive natural sites I’ve ever seen: the Stone Forest.
Made of limestone, the rocks of the Stone Forest tower above the landscape and surround you as you walk along paths between them. Most rocks have been given kitschy names such as “Elephant Standing on a Podium” or “Eternal tortoise”, some of which are more obvious than others.
The photo above was taken from the viewing platform in the middle of the forest. Standing on top of the platform, the towering stones below surround you, creating a tranquil setting amidst the scores of Chinese tourists.
Getting to the Stone Forest is fairly straight forward. First, you need to get a taxi to Kunming’s Eastern Bus Station. This should cost around 40 Yuan from downtown Kunming. From there, buy a ticket to Shilin for 27 Yuan. The bus journey takes about 1.5 hours, and the bus station in Shilin is a 5 minute walk from the visitors center.
The Stone Forest itself is insanely expensive, at 175 Yuan ($29 USD), but is worth seeing if you are in the area.