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Longji Rice Terraces (龙脊梯田) Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Uncategorized

A few hours by bus from Guilin (桂林 – guì lín), you’ll find one of the most scenic areas in all of China – the Longji Rice Terraces (龙脊梯田 – lóng jí tī tián). With a name meaning “Dragon’s Backbone,” the layered rice paddies are said to resemble a dragon’s scales when they are full of water. Construction of these magnificent terraces began way back in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) by the ethnic Zhuang people (壮族 – zhuàng zú) who inhabit the region. It’s a stunning feat of human landscape engineering, and perhaps the most beautiful example of terraced rice fields in China. If you’d like to visit this awe-inspiring scenic area, here’s a brief guide to make your trip easier:

The Dragon's Backbone

The Dragon’s Backbone

To get here, simply catch a bus or join a tour from Guilin. On our visit, a landslide had caused part of the road to be closed off. Everyone had to get off the bus and take a short hike through a village and across the river, where another bus was waiting on the other side.

A slight, scenic detour.

A slight, scenic detour.

When you arrive at the ticket office, you have two options – take the cable car or hike. It’s disappointing (but not surprising) that they went ahead and built a cable car here. Chinese tourists aren’t exactly into the idea of hiking up a mountain, and the area would see far less domestic visitors without the lazy way up. The hike up is relatively easy, leading you through a few villages where you can buy snacks and drinks or even hire a local to carry your bags for you.

Cable car or hiking trail?

Cable car or hiking trail?

An hour or so of hiking lands you in Dazhai village (大寨村 – dà zhài cūn), where you’ll find quite a few guesthouses, restaurants, and knick-knack shops. Even up here in the mountains of rural Guangxi, the locals are quite the entrepreneurs.

Dazhai Village

Dazhai Village

We stayed at the Dragon’s Den Hostel, which has great views, tasty food, and a hilariously small pool table. They’ve got both dorm and private rooms available, all at a reasonable price.

Dragon's Den Hostel

Dragon’s Den Hostel

There are a lot of easy to moderate hiking trails in the area, and the folks at Dragon’s Den have mapped them out quite nicely for you.

Easy to follow maps.

Easy to follow maps.

Tired from the ride and the walk up, we decided to save the long hikes for the next day. After all, with a view like this right outside of your window, why go anywhere?

Not a bad view to wake up to.

Not a bad view to wake up to.

There’s not much to this mountainside village, but that’s the point. Slow down, relax, and enjoy the peace and quiet of rural China. As big city dwellers, we relished the chance to escape the congested roads and ever-present noise of urban China for a few days.

A few scenes of the village.

A few scenes of the village.

Be glad you don't have to do what he's doing.

Be glad you don’t have to do what he’s doing.

There are a few viewpoints scattered around the village, which you can reach in easy 15-20 minute walks. We hiked up to one such spot and enjoyed a pot of green tea along with a bowl of Guanxi’s famous rice noodles (米粉 – mǐ fěn).

Enjoying the views.

Enjoying the views.

Nice spot for lunch!

Nice spot for lunch!

Although the cable car has definitely brought in busloads of Chinese tourists to snap selfies in front of this majestic landscape, it’s incredibly easy to escape the crowds and lose yourself in the beauty of Longji. Just find one of the paths that the rice farmers use and follow it. We spent the entire day meandering through the terraces and saw nothing but ducks, horses, and butterflies until we arrived on the other side at the cable car station.

Taking the farmer's road.

Taking the farmer’s road.

We only spent two days out at Longji, but you could easily extend your stay and even hike all day to another village. This being the last stop on our 3-week Hong Kong-Kunming trip, we were running on empty and looking to relax. Whether you want an action-packed few days of hiking or just a little R&R, the Longji rice terraces are an excellent addition to any southwest China itinerary.

A great place to spend a few days!

A great place to spend a few days!

For more ideas and tips on traveling in China, check out my page over at Grateful Gypsies.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.


Comments:

  1. Lauren:

    If your beautiful photos didn’t convince me to visit this serene setting, your relaxed, easy to read writing would! Thanks for the preview- I will be visiting the terraces next week and I am so excited.

    • sasha:

      @Lauren Thanks for the nice comment, Lauren! You’re going to have an amazing time out in the terraces – it’s such a beautiful place to spend a few days!

  2. Camille Vargas:

    Amazing! I have always wanted to visit China. It looks peaceful and beautiful country. My husband is born and raised in China. Later he moved to France with his family. We are going to visit it next year. Thank you for sharing your article! Best regards!

  3. gladys:

    Hi there !

    Do you have the contact email for dragon den’s hostel? and have you tried to hike from dazhai to ping’an? if u did, how long did you take? Also, isit advisable to take bus from longsheng to Ping’an then hike to Dazhai or just directly take from longsheng to dazhai?

    i look forward to your post favorable advice.

    Cheers!
    Gladys

    • sasha:

      @gladys Hi Gladys, You can book the hostel on many different sites. I believe we used HostelWorld.com. We did not do any of the long hikes. This was the last stop in an overland trip from Hong Kong-Kuming that was pretty action-packed, so we just stayed at the Dragon’s Den for two nights, walked around there, and just relaxed to enjoy the beautiful views. Enjoy your trip – it’s one of my favorite places I’ve been in China! Cheers, Sasha


Leave a comment to Camille Vargas