Best time to travel to China

Shilin Stone Forest in China

Wandering in the labyrinth of huge stone pillars, you'll reveal plenty of amusing natural sculptures, as well as caves, ponds, lakes, and waterfalls

Best time: November–April (all year round)

Shilin Stone Forest
Shilin Stone Forest
Shilin Stone Forest

Shilin (meaning 'Stone Forest') is an area of 300 square kilometres in China's Yunnan province near Kunming, entirely covered with nature-shaped karst-formations. Scientists claim these stalagmite-like pillars were formed more than 270 million years ago. These otherworldly surroundings resemble some kind of a stone forest; that's where the name comes from. In fact, Shilin is compound of a few individual stone forests. Two most famous ones are Naigu Stone Forest and Suogeyi Village. Both of them belong to the South China Karst listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of the most famous attractions in Shilin is Ashima Stone. A local legend says it was a beautiful girl who fell in love but wasn't allowed to get married to her soulmate. Eventually, she fled away to the forest and was turned into a stone. Amidst the limestone passages, the visitors will also discover caves and waterfalls, a pond with an island, and an underground river.

Although the area may be visited all year round, November to April are better due to drier weather. The season of abundant rains between May and October is not the best time to go to Shilin. Besides, Shilin tends to be super crowded during a week-long Torch Festival that takes place around July or August, as well as the Labor Day (May 1st to 7th) and National Day (October 1st to 7th).

Practical info

When is the ideal time of the year to go to Shilin Stone Forest?

For the best experience, visiting Shilin Stone Forest between November and April is recommended. This is due to the drier weather, which makes it easier to explore the area without hindrances. Conversely, from May to October, the area often experiences heavy rains that hinder one's ability to explore. Peak seasons, like the week-long Torch Festival in July-August and Labor Day and National Day holidays, usually come with high prices and relatively large crowds. Show more

In what part of China is Shilin Stone Forest located?

The natural attraction known as Shilin Stone Forest is situated in Yunnan province, China, adjacent to Kunming city. Spread over 300 square kilometers, it is predominantly covered with pinnacles that were formed naturally as a result of geological activity over a 270 million year period. Show more

What characteristics of the karst-formations at Shilin Stone Forest make it an unusual sight?

The karst-formations at Shilin Stone Forest, made of limestone, are completely natural and formed over a multi-million-year period as a result of geological changes. With their uncanny resemblance to stalagmites, these enormous natural pillars are shaped in such a way that they look like a forest of stone. It's considered one of the most exceptional natural wonders globally, so it's no surprise that the Shilin Stone Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Show more

What is the duration of the Torch Festival held in Shilin Stone Forest?

The ancient Torch Festival is held annually in Shilin Stone Forest for about a week, usually in July or August. The Torch Festival is celebrated in many parts of China, and the celebration comprises torches, dance performances, and other activities. During this period, visitors are remarkably abundant, which can make exploration more challenging and accommodations relatively expensive. Show more

What is the local legend associated with Ashima Stone in Shilin Stone Forest?

Ashima Stone, one of Shilin Stone Forest's famous attractions, has its local legend. It bears the name of the girl who is said to have been one-half of a so-in-love couple whose families didn't approve of their relationship. The couple reportedly eloped to the lush forest, where they were then transformed into stones. Ashima Stone, which means 'stone likeness of Ashima', is said to be a sculptural resemblance of the lovestruck girl. Visitors to the Shilin Stone Forest can survey various other natural sculptural carvings, caves, lakes, ponds, waterfalls, and even an underground river. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin