Longji Rice Terraces (龙脊梯田) Posted by sasha 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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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).
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.
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.
For more ideas and tips on traveling in China, check out my page over at Grateful Gypsies.
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.