Shilin Stone Forest
The Shilin Stone Forest, one of Yunnan Province's finest draws, is truly a wonder of nature. Picture rows upon rows of tightly-packed limestone pillars, some as high as 100 feet (30 meters), the jagged edges carved over centuries, with crystalline ponds, winding trails and viewing pavillions complementing the stunning landscape.
It's easy to see why this amazing spot has been designated a Unesco World Heritage Site which attracts hordes of tourists.
Shilin Stone Forest is one of the Chinese "must" sites and always crowded with tourist groups on any given day.
The peaks and formations are the result of millions of years of erosion on this limestone seabed that was left after being
underwater over 270 million years ago according to area fossils that have been analyzed.
The sharp edges and carvings into the stone were created by chemicals dissolved in the standing water. Wind and rain have continued to shape the many formations into the wavy and twisted forms of today, some with very peculiar shapes, from which they derive their apt names, i.e. "The Elephant", "Rhinoceros Gazing at the Moon" etc.
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Visiting the Shilin Stone ForestThe Park is quite large, with a number of paths and small ponds dotted here and there. You can easily spend a few hours here.
One of the highlights is Wangfeng Ting, the pavillion located in the center of the park that gives you great views of the maze of grey jagged edges that surround it. But beware of the crowds and the narrow path to get there. If you must, try to do it very early or later in the day after the groups have dispersed.
To avoid the crowds and tourist groups, try to stay in the quieter areas towards the outskirts and away from the center. There are some beautiful walks and the peaks are equally impressive.
The Shilin Stone Forest is 75 miles (120 km) Southeast of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province and the closest airport. It is easily done as a day trip from Kunming.
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