My next stop was Kunming. I came to the city because I wanted to go to Dongchuan – God’s Palette. I will write about that part later on.
Because of the transportation, I decided to stay an extra day in Kunming and found out that there is a pretty nice area around 1h-1,5h away from the city.
The place is called Stone Forest and is a massive otherworldly landscape of karst formations over 270 million years old. It looks simply amazing. It is also a part of UNESCO Global Geopark.
How to get there
You can either get there with public transportation, but I haven’t tried it, or hire a driver. I opted for the second option as I had to get to the airport to catch a plane at 6 pm. I wanted to be picked up at the hotel and dropped off at the airport, so the cost was 650 ¥. Yey to specific demands… I knew it was expensive but “no time = goodbye money” ;(
When I asked my Chinese friend to help me book the trip, I saw it is possible to have it scheduled for around 200¥ with hotel pickup/drop off. She used some Chinese portal for that, so ask your hotel or a friend to help out.
What to do
The scenic area covers quite the stretch of land. It is divided into specific areas to which you can either walk to or take a shuttle bus.
I have arrived there 10 minutes before opening time, so I was one of the first people to enter the park. It was great!! I was walking in the middle of the busiest part, being all alone!! When all the groups were busy in the central part, I went all around other places.
The most visited area is Greater Stone Forest and Lesser Stone Forest. The other places usually have only a couple of tourist that decide to visit them. That’s why for most of my time I was all alone, enjoying the views and playing with my camera and drone.
The cool thing to try is to rent a costume from the Sani ethnic minority group and take pictures in it. It costs only 10 ¥, and it is a lot of fun. Because I am European and decided to take photos wearing the costume I became local celebrity:D Everyone wanted to take pictures with me, suddenly I was more popular than the rocks 🙂
How long does it take
It takes around 3-4 hours to visit the most exciting parts. Of course, you can spend there more time and hike into deeper parts but 4 hours were more than enough for me.
What other things to do
It is a good idea to combine the tour to the Stone Forest together with visiting Jiuxiang Caves. They are relatively close, and from what I heard from the people I met on the road, the caves are fantastic.
Most of the tours go first to the forest then to caves and are back in the hotel around 6 pm. To avoid crowds, I would recommend going to caves first and then visit the forest. But this highly depends on the tour operator. The cost was around 400¥, from what friends I met on the road told me, and that included the entrance ticket and Chinese guide.