Longsheng County north of Guilin in China is home to the Longji Rice Terraces, which take their name from the supposed resemblance to a dragon’s scales (Longji means “Dragon’s Backbone”). The most popular terraces are the Ping’an Rice Terrace and the Jinkeng Rice Terrace located near Ping’an town and Dazhai town respectively. Most people visit on a day trip from Guilin, but they are missing out. During the daytime, the area is crawling with tourists and hawkers, but once the tourists leave and the hawkers return to their homes, you are left almost alone in an incredibly atmospheric village. Staying overnight also gives you a chance to see an amazing sunrise and sunset reflected in the flooded fields.
Best Time to Go
The Longsheng Rice Terraces afford completely different views at different times of the year, but most people prefer to visit at the end of May and the beginning of June, when the fields are newly flooded. The sunsets look especially amazing when reflected in the water, but unfortunately, summer is also the rainy season, increasing the chances of heavy cloud cover.
Getting to the Longji Rice Terraces
The easiest way to get to the terraces is a direct express bus leaving from the square in front of the Railway Station in Guilin. These buses cost 50 Yuan and take 3 hours. Alternatively, you could take a regular bus from the Qintan Bus Terminal in Guilin to Longsheng, where you would then switch to a local bus to either Ping’an village or Dazhai village.
Of course, you can also arrange for private transport through your guesthouse, hostel or hotel in Guilin or through any travel agent. This will cost around 400 Yuan.
Once at the car park, you’ll find a large ticket office. Entrance to the Longji Rice Terraces and the villages costs 80 Yuan per person. From the ticket office, you’ll have to climb a bunch of stairs to get to the actual village, passing several view points along the way. You can hire someone to carry your bag from 20 Yuan (depending on weight) or you could hire a sedan chair and be carried to the top in style.
You’ll find a number of hotels and a few hostels in Ping’an and will not have any problems finding a room. Very few people seem to spend the night, as most simply visit the area on a day trip. As a result, you can have your pick of rooms and rates are quite low. I got a nice single room for 30 RMB per night. It didn’t have a view though. Dazhai and Longsheng also have options, if you wish to spend a night in either of those towns.
If you prefer to book ahead (completely unnecessary outside of peak travel times, and probably even then, in my opinion), you’ll pay more, but you can’t go wrong with the Silver Terraces Hotel in Ping’an or the Dragon’s Den Hostel if you’d rather stay in Dazhai.
Eating & Drinking
Restaurants in the villages serve mostly Chinese food at higher than average, but still quite reasonable, prices. You won’t find any real nightlife, but there’s a good chance you’ll encounter a group of Chinese tourists drinking and singing until late.
Things to Do
Basically, you can hike around and take photographs and given the scenery, you won’t want to do much else anyway. The two viewpoints above Ping’an village, called “Nine Dragons and Five Tigers” and “Seven Stars with Moon” are both worth the climb and reward you with incredible views. The paths are well-signed and your ticket to the area includes a basic map that has the viewpoints on it, but you’ll pass plenty of people who can point you in the right direction if you’re unsure which way to go.
If you have more time, you can walk from Ping’an to the more rural Dazhai, which takes about four hours and passes through the village of Zhungliu at the halfway point. The hike passes through some incredible scenery and once in Dazhai, you have three more peaks you can climb for great views.
From there, you can walk back to Ping’an, catch a bus or taxi, or simply stay in Dazhai and head back to Guilin directly from there. If you go back to Ping’an by road, make sure you have your entrance ticket on you, as you will have to buy another one otherwise.