The Shilin Stone Forest is one of China’s most beloved natural sites, and home to one of its most enduring folktales. Located in the homeland of the Yi people, the stone forest is a large collection of limestone pillars that jut up from the landscape in an amazing labyrinthine formation. A protected area, the Shilin Stone Forest is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
According to legend, a young girl named Ashima lived here in ancient times. When denied her ability to marry the boy that she loved, she was turned into one of the pillars. Ever since, the stone forest has been a sacred cultural spot for the Yi people, and is now the site of an ancient annual tribal festival.
The Shilin Stone Forest sprawls over an area of nearly two hundred square miles. It can be traced back 270 million years to an ancient limestone seabed that has since eroded into the amazing pillars that can be seen today.
The Shilin Stone Forest has become a major tourist destination over the last few decades, both for its natural beauty and for the experience of one of China’s most unique sub-cultures. There is significant tourism infrastructure, and visitors can tour the site both on foot through parts of the forest and from magnificent scenic overlooks. Web: http://en.ynta.gov.cn (official tourism website of Yunnan Province).