Longsheng (also known as Longji or Dragon’s Back) Rice Terraces are located around three hours drive away from Guilin. Because of that, you will need to allocate a day for this trip.
The rice terraces are built into the hillside, and are 600+ years old and are still in use!
For now, the rice fields are not considered as a “mandatory” trip while in Guilin, and thanks to that there are still not that many people there. It is slowly changing, but for a moment you can still hike around surrounded by incredible scenery relatively alone. There is a cable car going to one of the highest viewpoints, and this is where you will find most of the crowds.
I took the cable car to the top as it was raining, but I thought it is a waste of magnificent scenery just to stay on the viewpoint and did a small hike. It was worth it. The terraces looked amazing. Plus I have never seen how the rice grows so I could quench my knowledge thirst 🙂
The terraces are also home to two different Chinese ethnic minorities, the Zhuang and the Yao people. The women there have the longest hair in the world! They cut it only once in their life when they are 18. The villages now organize a show where the girls explain how they take care of their hair and show different hairdo (single, married and widowed woman have different styles). Truth to be told, I was not the biggest fan of the show, but it was included in my trip and was a kind of experience. However, if I were to choose I would skip the show. Because all tourists with their humongous tablets wanted to take selfies with the ladies, it was crowded, and I could not see much from above all blinking cameras.
Ping’an and Jinkeng Rice Terraces
Ping‘an Zhuang Village Terraced Fields are home of Zhuang minority. The area is more developed for tourists. It is smaller than Jinkeng as it is confined to one side of the valley. Because of it, there are not many hiking trails there. That does not mean though that it does not look fabulous. There are more guest houses and restaurants there.
Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields (also called Dazhai Rice Terraces) is home to Yao people. The area is full of small villages spread around the valley and is less commercialized. Because the villages are scattered all around, the Jinkeng area is bigger and more scenic. You can also find the cable car here. All the villages are connected with small hiking paths so you can spend a lot of time hiking there!!
When to visit?
I was there in October, right before the harvest and they looked fantastic. So much gold all around you! I have seen images of other times of the year, and they looked marvelous too.
End May – Beginning June :
Farmers prepare the fields which look like mirrors. They are full of water making for beautiful reflections, especially at sunrise and sunset.
The terraces are green and full of vitality as the rice starts growing.
Mid-Autumn Day (around October 1st to 15th)
Terraces are golden; the farmers prepare for the harvest.
The snow-covered landscape makes the tarraces eye-catching. However, I have read it is hard to encounter snow there.
How long to stay:
I was there only for a couple of hours as I took a private tour from my hotel and did not have enough time to stay longer. Plus it was raining so the weather sucked either way. I could still see a lot, and it looked great, but more extended hiking was out of the question.
If I were to redo it, and the weather would be beautiful, I would definitely stay there for a night. I would do a couple of hikes around and observe how local people live there.
Netherless, whatever you decide; one or two day trip; it is well worth it.
How to get there:
I took a private company suggested by my hotel; it was 360 ¥ for the bus, entrance, and show in the village. There was an extra fee for the cable car. They picked me up straight from the train station as I just got to Guilin straight from Avatar mountains 🙂
A private driver is an easiest and more convenient way to get there. It is possible to get there by public transport, but there are no direct buses.
You can take the express bus from Guilin to Longsheng County Town and then another bus from the town to the Longji terraces area. It takes about 3 hours.