Longji Rice Terraces
Longji Rice Terraces, sometimes referred to as the Longsheng Rice Terraces, are a collage of terraced paddies that snake their way around mountains in Longsheng County, about 80km outside of Guilin. Longji literally means ‘dragon’s backbone’, and these rice terraces earned the name because the terraced paddies that clung onto the mountainsides appear like dragons’ scales whilst the bulged mountain range resembles a dragon’s backbone. Being reputed as “the crown of terraces in the world”, this living landscape was originally developed to take advantage of land that was previously deemed to be hard to plough. By an extremely ingenious irrigation system, local farmers were able to cultivate rice in the pieces of flattened small surfaces of the mountain. The method of maintaining the terraces was passed verbally from generation to generation and has remained unchanged for over 650 years.
English Name: Longji Rice Terraces / Dragon Backbone Terraces / Longsheng Rice Terraces.
Chinese Name: 龙脊梯田 / 龙胜梯田.
Location: Longji, Longsheng County, Guilin City, Guangxi Province, China.
Recommended sightseeing time: 1-2 days.
Entrance ticket: CN¥ 95 per person (Available from 08:30 to 17:30).
Opening hours: 24/7 (It is recommended to visit during the day).
What to see at Longji Rice Terraces
Longji Rice Terraces are composed of two parts: Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields and Ping’an Zhuang Terraced Fields. Travelers can choose to explore the viewpoints located in different areas of the two fields. Just make sure to fuel up and energize since most of the activities almost always involve a bit of trekking and walking.
Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields
Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields is a cluster of Red Yao villages. Dazhai Village, one of three main entrances to the rice terraces, sits at the mountain foot, and Tiantou Village lies on the mountain top. There are three viewpoints to discover the most spectacular views. No. 1 Viewpoint - West Hill Music, the highest viewpoint, is close to Tiantou village and provides the best site to photograph sunrise and sunset. No. 2 Viewpoint - Large-scale Thousand-layers Terraces, not far from Dazhai village, provides an awe-inspiring view of stairway-like terraces with a suitable place to watch sunrise and sunset. No. 3 Viewpoint - Golden Buddha Peak where you travelers can reach by a cable car, provides a panoramic view of the rice terraces with the beautiful sunset. Compared with Ping’an Zhuang Terraced Fields, Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields is less tourist-oriented and favored by enthusiastic photographers and independent travelers.
Ping’an Zhuang Terraced Fields
Ping’an Zhuang Terraced Fields spans the two Zhuang villages of Ping’an (a Zhuang settlement) and Longji (an aged old Zhuang village). Ping’an village and Longji Ancient Zhuang village are the other two main entrances to the rice terraces. Compared with Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields, Ping’an Zhuang Terraced Fields is more mature with restaurants, hotels, bars, and even cafes equipped. The two popular viewpoints are Nine Dragons and Five Tigers as well as Seven Stars Around the Moon. Both viewpoints are ideal to observe a panoramic view of the terraced paddies, and they are close to each other with only half an hour walking.
Recommended hiking trails at Longji Rice Terraces
Not surprisingly, hiking into the terraces is a popular activity among travelers to the region, which offers an opportunity to soak up the stunning view of the rice terraces and gives a glimpse into the lives of local minority people. There are two frequented trails among all hiking trails to explore the rice terraces.
Ping’an village - Seven Stars Around the Moon - Nine Dragons and Five Tigers - Zhongliu village - No. 1 Viewpoint - No. 2 Viewpoint - No. 3 Viewpoint - Dazhai village (or vice versa): about 20km/12 miles, and takes 4-5 hours.
This hiking trail has been well explored with most stone-paved roads and clear signs. The hike is not that easy as it involves both uphill and downhill trails. Travelers will dive in the mountains, forests, villages, along the terraces on different levels.
Ping’an village - Nine Dragons and Five Tigers - Seven Stars Around the Moon - Ping'an village: about 12km/7 miles, and takes about 2 hours.
For travelers who are not fit, they can take a shorter hike from Ping'an village to the nearby viewpoints. The hike is easy because most part of the trail is downhill. The wooden houses, huts, and farms of the Zhuang villages on the way give a different perspective of local life in those rice fields.
How to reach Longji Rice Terraces
Traveling to Longji Rice Terraces is not a long journey from Guilin or Yangshuo, and it is indeed worth it once you see the postcard-perfect view. The only way to get there is via land transportation. Most travelers choose to travel by booking a private vehicle with a local China travel agency for a comfortable and flexible trip, and it takes about 2 hours to get to Longji. Another option is by bus. Travelers can get on the bus at Guilin Qintan Bus Station, or Guilin train station, or Yangshuo Biliandong Tourists Parking Lot, and it takes about 1-4 hours depending on where you are taking the bus.
Best time to visit Longji Rice Terraces
When asked what time is the best to visit the terraces, most natives will answer April to October. From late April to late June, the terraced paddies are irrigated to prepare for the planting of rice seedlings. The clear and transparent waters of the ponds glisten up the sides of the mountain and reflect the bright blue sky with floating clouds. From July to mid-September, the mountains turn verdant when the green rice stalks have grown. The emerald-green hues of the rice terraces are extended by the warm sunlight as they cascade down the mountains. From late September to early October, the terraced paddies seem plated with golden yellow with the rice stalks being ready to be harvested.
Useful travel tips
- Although the terraces can also be seen as a day trip from Guilin or Yangshuo, we would recommend spending at least one night in the area, so that you can see the amazing sunrise and sunset.
- Most hotels and hostels are concentrated in Ping’an village where you can only hike up to reach. We would recommend keeping your heavy luggage at the entrance of the scenic area, which costs CN¥30 for one piece of luggage. Or you can hire local people to carry your luggage up, which costs about CN¥50 for one piece of luggage.
- As there are many uneven and jagged steps, baby carts are not recommended when visiting Longji Rice Terraces. For travelers with babies or the aged, we would recommend taking a cable car to travel between Dazhai village and the No. 3 Viewpoint (Golden Buddha Peak).