Longji rice terraces (龙脊梯田 – Longji Titian) are located in Longsheng county (龙胜), 100 km from Guilin city in Guanxi province. The terraces, also known as Longsheng rice terraces (龙胜梯田 – Longsheng Titian) are easily reachable from Yangshuo (阳朔). For the outdoor enthusiasts, this could be a great 5 days itinerary (read more about Yangshuo here).
Thousands of paddy fields resembling huge stairs around the mountainsand traditional villages will offer you some of China’s most magnificent scenery.
A bit of history
The Longji rice terraces construction began during the Yuan Dynasty ( 1271-1358) by the Zhuang and Yao ethnic minorities, which still work in the terraces using traditional tools and water buffalo.
The largest minority group in China, the Zhuang (壮族) are the indigenous people of Guangxi. Nowadays they also live in Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan and Guangdong provinces. Zhuang clothes vary according to different areas, usually brown, blue or black with beautiful embroidered patterns. The Zhuang are famous for their colorful brocade.
The Yao minority (瑶族), originally from Hunan, spread across the Guangxi, Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangdong provinces. Famous for their singing and colorful clothes, the Yao are great singers. Something extraordinary about this minority is the women’s hair: incredibly long. Yao women, only cut their hair once in their lifetime, before their wedding. The hair, that in some case reaches up to 2 meters, is wrapped in a bun shape on the top of the head.
When to visit
The thousands of paddy fields, when filled with water, are said to resemble the dragon’s back scales, giving the terraces their name of ”Dragon’s backbone” (龙脊 – Longji ).
The best time to admire the dragon`s effect is from May to June, when the watery paddies, reflecting the colors of the sky, will offer amazing shot`s opportunities. However, the scenery is breathtaking all year round, from the summery lush green fields, when the rice starts to sprout (July – August), to the hundreds of yellow and oranges shadows of September and October when the rice is ready for harvest.
Another good occasion is to visit Longji during one of the many festivals of the local Zhuang and Yao minorities. This is the best way to experience their traditions and cultures.
If the lack is at your side, you can participate in local festivals and enjoy their large-scale singing and dancing performance. To watch the different minorities competing at pulling the rope in their colorful costumes and smiling faces is an amazing experience! Local costume includes also livestock sacrifice, where food is offered to gods and ancestors.
Hiking Longji rice terraces
Hiking among the ancient Longji rice terraces (龙脊梯田 – Longji Titian) is an experience worth to add to your bucket list. The whole area covers around 66km square, divided between Ping’An terrace field, mainly inhabited by Zhuang minority, and JinKeng terrace field (where DaZhai and TianTou villages are located) predominantly Yao minority populated.
Ping’ An was the first to establish, in fact, receive most of the tourists. Dazhai, instead, is quieter and more rural. However, you will most luckily be by yourself throughout the terraces, bumping once in a while in some sporadic farmers or few other hikers.
Besides the main villages Ping’ An, Dazhai and Tian Tou, there are also several smaller old villages across the hiking trails. All of them features the traditional wooden houses, stone-paved alley roads, farmers working in the paddy fields, local selling embraided clothes or handcrafted utensil.
The following hikes are all signed post and can be DIY, however, it is also possible to hire local guides for a small fee, just ask to your hostel or guesthouse.
Hike routes through Ping’ An terrace
Ping’ An village (平安寨 – Pingan Zhai)
Route time around 1 – 1.5 hours
There are two viewpoints in Ping’ An, all accessible by a sign-posted walk quite easy to follow. From the village follow the sign for Viewpoint no. 2 – “Seven Stars around the Moon” (七星伴月 – Qi Xing Ban Yue). From here follow the sign for the Viewpoint no. 1 – “Nine Dragons and Five Tigers” (九龙五虎 – Jiu Long Wu Hu). Here you can either follow the path to Dazhai village (next route) or head back to Ping’an. The whole hike should take around 1 and 2 hours, crossing the wooden houses in Pingan with a spectacular view of the entire village and its surrounding rice fields.
Ping’ An village (平安寨 – Pingan Zhai) to Dazhai village(大寨 – Dazhai)
Route time around 4 – 5 hours
From Pingan no. 1 viewpoint follow the sign for Zhongliu village (中六), it’s a tiny path that will bring you to a small lake and across rice fields for around 2 hours before reaching Zhongliu. Zhongliu is a traditional rustic village with roughly a dozen houses. It’s a good spot to have a rest and chat with the locals, that will probably invite to have lunch with them. From Zhongliu follow the path to Dazhai, you have to take the smaller paved road on the left side, leaving a big wooden structure on your right-hand side. It’s better to ask for direction here as it’s a tricky part of the route.
Hiking to Dazhai takes around two hours, crossing some of the most beautiful sceneries and walking between the endless rice fields.
There are daily buses running from Dazhai to Ping’an and vice-versa. You could hike one way and take the bus on the way back. Ask your guesthouses for the bus times.
Ping’ An village(平安寨 – Pingan Zhai) – Longji old Zhuang village (龙脊古壮寨 – Longji Gu Zhuang Zhai) – Golden Zhuang village (金村壮寨 – Jincun Zhuang Zhai)
Route time around 3 hours
Going down from Ping’ An, there is a path leading to the Old Zhuang village. It a preserved traditional Zhuang village, with some of the oldest houses in the area and beautiful old stones bridges. From here the second part of the trail has got many intersections, making it easy to get lost. I suggest hiring a guide for a small fee. In Golden Zhuang Village you can get the bus back to Ping’ An or to Longshen.
Ping’ An village(平安寨 – Pingan Zhai) to Huangluo Yao Village (黄洛瑶寨 – Huangluo Yao Zhai)
Huangluo village is home to the Yao minority. The village is perfect for a closer look at the Yao females showcasing their long beautiful hair. You will be able to admire the women while washing and combing their hair in the river nearby.
There is an entrance fee of 60¥ to get into the village.
Hiking routes through Jinkeng rice terrace (金坑梯田 – Jinkeng Titian):
Dazhai village (大寨 – Dazhai）
The main village in Jinkeng area is Dazhai, inhabited by Yao minority. Dazhai is less touristic than Ping`An and is surrounded by breath-taking scenery. There are three viewpoints and few smaller Yao villages around Dazhai.
The best route start from Dazhai village, to Viewpoint no. 2 ”Thousand Layers Ladder to the Heaven” (大界天层天梯 – Dajie Tianceng Tianti). It is easily accessible (45 min from Dazhai). From here walk up to the Viewpoint no. 1 “West Hill Music” (西山韶乐 – Xishan Shaole), which is popular for sunrise and sunset, being the highest viewpoint around. From here, you can reach Tiantou Village (田头寨 – Tiantou Zhai) in around 30 min. It’s a good location to have lunch and enjoy the view of layers of beauty around you.
In Tiantou Village there is a path that lead to the Viewpoint no. 3 “Golden Buddha Peak” (金佛顶 – Jin Fo Ding), another great spot for sunset. The path is unclear, you can easily get lost. But, getting lost in the rice fields, was between the best experience of the whole hiking. Eventually, you can walk back to Dazhai and follow the sign to Viewpoint 3 from here (1.5 hours). From 2013 there is also a cable car to Viewpoint no. 3 from Dazhai car park (20 min – 60¥ one way – 120¥ return).
Dazhai (大寨 – Dazhai) to Xiaozhai (小寨 – Xiaozhai）
From the”Golden Buddha Peak” is possible to follow the path to Xiaozhai. Only a few tourists reach this village. The local Yao minority will welcome you with a smile and maybe a meal.
How to get there
The are two main gateways to visit the area Ping` An village (平安寨 – Pingan Zhai) or Dazhai (大寨- Dazhai). Both can be reached from Guilin(桂林) or Yangshuo (阳朔).
By direct bus
The easiest option is to get a direct bus to from Guilin or Yangshuo to Ping` An or Dazhai. The bus will stop at the rice terraces entrance where you can purchase the ticket, they will bring you to the village entrance.
This is a service run by locals and is very convenient. It is not easy to buy the ticket by yourself, but your Hostel/Guesthouse can help to book it at no extra cost.
Guilin Station to Dazhai
Duration: Around 3h
Leave from near Guilin Train Station
Guilin North Station to Dazhai
Time: Around 3h
Leave from the parking of Guilin North(in front of the exit)
Guilin West Station to Dazhai
Time: Around 3h
Leave from the bus stop in front of Guilin West
Yangshuo town to Dazhai or Ping’an
Time: Around 4.5h
Leave from the parking of Yangshuo North Bus Station
By Public bus
The public bus requires a change at Longji town (also know as Heping). You will have to buy the entrance ticket before getting on the second bus.
Guilin Qintan bus station (桂林琴潭汽车站 – Guilin Qintan Qiche Zhan) to Longji town (龙脊镇 – Longji Zhen)
Price: around 25¥
Duration: around 2.5h
Longji town to Ping’an – Dazhai
Price: around 10¥
Duration: around 1h
A good tips to help you moving around is to check on this map:
95¥ – The ticket gives access to all the villages/viewpoints and is valid for the entire stay.
Remember to keep the ticket with you at the checkpoint at village entrances will ask for it.
I highly recommend spending 2 or 3 nights in Longji, for a better appreciation of its wonders!
I choose Dazhai as my gateway. It`s more remote and few tourists get there. The rice fields sceneries are breath-taking. From here It`s easy to get to Pingan, either hiking, hitchhiking or with the daily buses that run between the two villages (10¥ – 30 min).
I stayed at Lost In Beauty Guest House
It`s a little guest house run by a family. The price is very convenient and perfect location. The owner speaks good English and he gave me many advised on hike routes, best spots for sunset, sunrise and much more.
Lost In Beauty Guest House (龙脊梯田野望民宿 – Longji Titian Yewang Minsu)
Address: Dazhai Village, Heping Township, Longsheng County, Longsheng, 541701
龙胜和平乡大寨村 (龙胜, 541701) (Longsheng Heping Xiang Dazhai cun – Longsheng 541701)
Phone: +86 139 7734 9967
The most famous dish in the area is the Rice stuffed Bamboo (竹筒饭; – Zhutongfan). A bamboo tube stuffed with glutinous rice mixed with vegetable and meat and cooked on BBQ.