Friday, January 3, 2020

A Trip to Stone Forest and Jiuxiang, Yunnan China

Stone Forest or Shilin (石林) and Jiuxiang (九乡) are considered two must visit places in Kunming, Yunnan (昆明, 云南). We visited both places on the first day of our trip to Yunnan. We spent another day visiting several attractions in Kunming city as well. The arrangement was done by Saksoon Travel Agency.

Both places are really beautiful, and really require a lot of walking. Comfortable clothes and non-slippery footwear are really important to ensure an enjoyable trip, especially in Jiuxiang, where we had to walk through wet and slippery ground and climb more than one thousand steps of stairs. Anyway, these stairs should not be an obstacle for those with good physical fitness.

Stone Forest (Shilin)
Stone Forest is around 90 minutes drive from Kunming city. We reached the ticket counter at around 11 am. The sky was cloudy in October. The cooling weather was just nice for an enjoyable stroll in the park.

The park is filled with uncountable natural limestone rising above the ground, spreading over an area of 400 km square, resembling a huge forest of stones. Actually, the whole area was once under the sea. It started to emerge and rise as a highland area due to the movement of earth's crust and upper mantle. The extensive erosion and weathering carved the limestone into a trunk-like pillars.

There are two major areas within Stone Forest- Major Stone Forest Scenic Area and Minor Stone Forest Scenic Area. We went through some part of the major scenic area by foot, and then toured around the minor scenic area by electric car (battery car). We stayed in the area for 2 hours 30 minutes. We left the site at around 1:30 pm for lunch before we continued our trip to Jiuxiang Scenic Area.

We would recommend to spend more time at the major scenic area, as we could see more interesting stones there. The scenic areas in Stone Forest is far away from ticketing counter. Thus paying RMB 25 for the electric car transit service is really necessary. Detail of entrance fees for Stone Forest are available at Travelchinaguide.com


The ticketing area is nicely decorated.

From the ticketing area (upper left), we have to walk around 200 meters to the electric car shuttle station (upper right). The ride took around 5 minutes to the entrance of the Stone Forest (lower right). There were many visitors using the shuttle service.

Stone Forest is an UNESCO heritage site. 

Karst at the major scenic area.

The major scenic area is beautiful with the combination of natural and man-made landscapes.

The words "林后" (pronoun as lin-hou), was calligraphed by Yun Long- a general who once ruled Yunnan from 1927 to 1945.   

There are several beautiful lakes in this area as well. This lake is called Lotus Lake, with a stone resembles lotus flower erects at the middle of the lake. 


Although most of the foliage are still green, some have turned yellowish in October.

There are many other interesting stones around the scenic area. One of them is called eagle stone. Anyway, it looks more like a dinosaur than an eagle to us.

Some of the area were full with visitors.

We took our lunch at a restaurant nearby Stone Forest Scenic Area. Then, we continued our trip to Jiuxiang Scenic Area.

Jiuxiang Scenic Area
Jiuxiang Scenic Area is located 50 kms north of Stone Forest Scenic Area. From Stone Forest, we took about 1 hour drive to reach the scenic area. Unlike Stone Forest, where the limestone erected from ground, the limestone at Jiuxiang formed caves and tunnels deep into the ground. 

We have to descend 53 meters straight down into the Grand Underground Valley with elevator. Then we need to walk for around 1 km along the valley before entering the cave, which leads us to Grand Lion Hall. Food, beverages, and resting area are available there. The path turns challenging from Grand Lion Hall. First, we have to go a long way down the stairs to Twin Waterfall. Then, we have to climb up and down through Fairy Field. Finally, we have to climb around 300 steps to go back to the surface.  

Although the cave is filled with cooling air, high humidity and a lot of walking will cause the whole underground trip sweaty and sticky. Thus, we would recommend to go light with sportswear. We could get some refreshment and restore our energy at Grand Lion Cave. We stayed at the site for 2 hours. Detail of entrance fees for Jiuxiang are available at Travelchinaguide.com

The entrance to Jiuxiang cave system. We can see the water gushing into the Grand Underground Valley (left to right).

We walked through Grand Underground Valley. The valley is around 1 km long, leading us right to the entrance of the cave.

Grand Lion Cave is named after this stone.

Grand Lion Cave is huge, with a small exhibition on the discovery of early human settlement in the cave.

Twin Waterfall in the cave. This was the filming site for the movie "Myth" by Jackie Chan.

The underground terrace from above at Fairy Fields.

The terrace from another angle.

The terrace from below.

We started to climb back to the surface via Bat Cave.

It would be a disaster if we have to walk back to the car park from another end of the cave. Luckily, cable car service was provided to bring us back to the entrance point.

Nice view from the cable car.

We returned to Kunming for dinner and stayed overnight at Xin Sheng Da Hong Sheng Hotel (鑫盛达宏晟酒店). We started our long journey to Dali early the next morning.

More about our trip in Kunming are available at:

[Attractions in Dali][Tiger Leaping Gorge- A Must Visit Site in Yunnan]
[Short Trip to Shangri-La][Attractions in Lijiang] 

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