During our first year in China, we visited Kunming for a short trip, but sadly never made it to the stone forest when we were there. Instead, we saw The West Hills, which was spectacular in its own way.
I’d always regretted not seeing the stone forest, so we planned it into this trip. The Stone Forest is a geological formation that was created about 270 million years ago. It started at the bottom of a lake, and gradually, wind and water carved this limestone into what it is today.
The Stone Forest is an easy day trip from Kunmimg city. We booked tickets at the wrong train station, which added an hour to our journey, but if you take the high speed train from Kunmimg Station, which is centrally located, it only takes 60 minutes to get to Xilin, the closest station to the park. From there, take bus 99 for about an hour, until you reach the Stone Forest.
The Greater Stone Forest is a labyrinth. We walked around for several hours, climbing up and down, checking out all the different viewpoints. Some sections of the park made me feel quite claustrophobic. The formations are so high and the paths are quite narrow in those parts.
We saw some really cool stuff in the stone forest, including some beautiful birds, cacti, and greenery.
We walked through the park, of course, and took our time appreciating all the lovely things there is to see. It was pretty warm by the time we made it to the other side, and we were pretty tired from all the walking, so we decided to take the shuttle back to the front of the park. We realized on the shuttle that we were surrounded by people who had never actually gone into the park. They ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ at some of the more basic formations. It’s good to know that people with disabilities can still see the park this way, but if you have the choice, definitely go in!
The only complaints I had were the crowds, and the incessant notices that kept blasting all over the park. It felt like it could be such a peaceful place, if the space were just respected more. Instead, there was a lot of the usual Chinese tourism stuff: screaming children, adults shouting at each other from across the park and incessant announcements reminding everyone to be “safe”.
I did like the Stone Forest a lot, but I don’t think I’d dare go there during peak season. I’m sure it’s pure mayhem.
Next up, I have some posts about lovely Lijiang, which is also in Yunnan! Check back soon!