A conglomeration of utterly bizarre but stunning karst geology and a hell of a lot of tourists, Shílín (石林), about 120km southeast of Kūnmíng, is equal parts tourist trap and natural wonderland. A massive collection of grey limestone pillars split and eroded by wind and rainwater (the tallest reaches 30m high), the place was, according to legend, created by immortals who smashed a mountain into a labyrinth for lovers seeking privacy.
Yes, it’s packed to the gills, every single rock is affixed with a cheesy poetic moniker, Sani women can be persistent in sales, and it’s all pricey as hell. Yet, idyllic, secluded walks are within 2km of the centre and by sunset or moonlight Shílín becomes other-worldly. To avoid the crowds, arrive early and avoid weekends.