Longji Rice Terraces
The Longji Rice Terraces are the oldest and most famous rice terraces in China, created between 1279 and 1368 during the Yuan Dynasty by the Zhuang ethnic minority. Longji is also called Dragon’s Backbone because the mountain backdrop appears as a dragon’s spine while the terraces conjure the image of a dragon’s scales. The rice paddies are located close to Longsheng city, some 50 miles away (2 hours) from Guilin (it’s also referred to as Longsheng Rice Terraces for its close proximity to that city).
The vast network of paddies measures more than 16,000 acres with the highest peak at more than 3500 meters. Winding like ribbon from the mountain base to the peak, the design of Dragon’s Backbone is considered quite ingenious; it utilizes the area’s limited water supply and fertile land perfectly.
In general, the best times to visit the Longji Rice Terraces are spring and autumn. The fields are irrigated by spring rains, creating a stunning view of the terraces where each one looks like a mirror that reflects the brilliant sky. Come autumn, the mountain backdrop transforms into a colourful image ripe with golden hues. In both summer and winter, the terraces are either bright green or snow white, accentuating Dragon’s Backbone and the surrounding villages which are home to the Zhuang and Yao minorities.
Longji Rice Terraces include two distinct areas; Jinkeng Terraces and Ping’an Terraces. Jinkeng is within the Dazhai Village and named for the gold it once produced in Chinese history. It’s roughly 12 miles from Longsheng and is the main home to the Yao ethnic minorities. There are a half-dozen magnificent natural attraction in this area including One Thousand Layers of Ladders and Golden Buddhist Top. Ping’an is home to the Zhuang minority, whose ancient culture is fascinating (their food and customary dress are both particularly unique). Zhuang women are identified by their black and blue dresses and embroidered headwear. There are two major attractions within Ping’an, Seven Stars Around the Moon and Nine Dragons and Five Tigers. There are two major attractions within the Ping’an at the Longji Rice Terraces; Seven Stars Around the Moon and Nine Dragons and Five Tigers. These two ethnic minorities help contribute to the rich tapestry that is the Chinese people.
To get to Longji Rice Terraces, visitors can hop a bus from the Guilin Station to Longsheng City and then transfer to one of the buses heading to Dazhai Village, Ping-an Village, or Longji Village. Several Longji hostels offer their own buses directly from the Guilin Rail Station that do cost extra. There are also innumerable tours to choose from in Guilin and the surrounding area.