Rice terraces are hilly or mountainous slopes claimed from nature for cultivation, usually by minority peoples. Some are hundreds (or even thousands) of years old. They make spectacular places for hiking and photography. We have listed, according to popularity, China’s best five rice terraces, so you can choose the most suitable area based on your itinerary.
The Longji Rice Terraces (a.k.a. the Longsheng Rice Terraces) have become one of the most important tourist destinations in Guilin.
The Longji Terraces are worthy of visiting four times in different seasons. For mirror-like irrigated terraces, go mid-April to late June; for green terraces, go July to mid-September; for golden terraces, go late September to mid-November; and for silvery-white terraces go late December to early February after snow fall.
There are numerous Zhuang and Yao villages among the terraces. The wooden houses there are all built in unique Zhuang or Yao style, and the women there all wear typical ethnic clothing. Experience their ethnic cultures and customs. Hiking around the rice terraces is really popular. The massive tiers upon tiers of rice terraces attract numerous photographers every year.
Sunrise over the Longji Rice Terraces should not be missed. Hotels are available among the terraces. Stay at least one night there, get up early in the morning (as early as 4 o’clock in the morning), hike to a high place, and wait for the moment when the sunshine pierces the horizon.
The Yuanyang Rice Terraces are situated in the southern Ailao Mountains, dug out by the Hani people. Different from the Longji Rice Terraces, the Yuanyang Rice Terraces do not have so many layers, but they are outstanding for their grandiose area with shallower slopes.
After the harvest, when the terraces have been irrigated, is a good time for appreciating Yuanyang's Rice Terraces, and the best time is from January to March, when seas of clouds on the terraces are more likely. In early spring (from late February to March), the terraces are decorated with lots of flowers, including pink peach blossom and white pear blossom. Besides an umbrella, warm clothes are necessary, because the temperature differences there are big.
Besides the majority of Hani people, there are some other ethnic groups living in the terraced area, including Yi, Dai, Yao, Zhuang, and Miao. It is said these different minorities reside in different layers according to altitude. Hani-style houses look like mushrooms. They are characteristic minority dwellings, though not as uniform as those in Longji.
The sunrise and sunset views attracts many photographers. See Photography Tips at Yuanyang Hani Terraces for popular photography places in the Yuanyang Rice Terraces.
Guizhou Province is a good place to experience ethnic cultures and customs; there are many ethnic villages in Kaili and Southeast Guizhou. There are five notable rice terrace areas in Guizhou, and the most famous one is the Jiabang Rice Terraces in Southeast Guizhou.
You can appreciate mirror-like terraces from April to June, and gold terraces from September to October. The wet weather gifts Jiabang Rice Terraces mysterious scenery with cloud and mist almost every early morning.
In Jiabang, the picturesque natural scenery of rice terraces is combined with the quaint wooden Miao houses. The Jiabang Rice Terraces were cut from the hilly terrain in hundreds of layers.
The Jiabang Rice Terraces are about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Congjiang Town (从江县城), and Congjiang Town is about 257 kilometers (160 miles) from Kaili. You can now take a bullet train to Congjiang. If you plan to have an in-depth tour of Kaili to visit the ethnic villages, you could extend your tour to Jiabang. Due to the complicated transportation, independent travel is not recommended.
The Ziquejie Rice Terraces are an almost undiscovered heritage of ancient rice farming. They are honored with the appellation "the Terrace Kingdoms", because of their variety and large areas (the largest single terrace covers about 2 square kilometers or 250 acres).
Ziquejie is situated in Shuiche District, Xinhua County, Loudi Prefecture, about 285 kilometers west of Changsha City (about a 6-hour drive, so prepare for possible carsickness). You should spend at least one night. Prepare for more basic accommodation conditions in Shuiche or in Xinhua (the best hotel is two-star).
Comparison: The Ziquejie Rice Terraces have the complexity of the Longji Rice Terraces, the magnificence of the Yuanyang Rice Terraces, and the steepness of the Banaue Rice Terraces in the Philippines. Similar to the Longji Rice Terraces, the Ziquejie Rice Terraces show different landscapes in different seasons.
The Yunhe Rice Terraces are recognized as the most beautiful rice terraces in China. The entire area of the Yunhe Terraces is 51 square kilometers (20 square miles), covering mountains, hills, and valleys.
From May to late June, you can see For mirror-like irrigated terraces; in October, you an see golden terraces. You can see with seas of clouds in the early morning, especially during spring and summer. Being further north, you are more likely to see terrace scenery with snow or rime in the winter. In the Yunhe Rice Terraces, the best times for photography are early morning and at dusk.
The altitude of the terraces ranges from 200 to 1,400 meters (650 to 4,600 feet), which gives Yunhe Rice Terraces amazing scenery. It's a good place for you to hike and experience minority culture, if you don't want to go southwest China. But the scenery is not as spectacular as Longji and Yuanyang terrace fields.
Rare minority culture: You can learn about and experience the culture and customs of the She ethnic group (畲族), a minority with a very small population in China.
The terraces are in Chongtou District of Yunhe County, Lishui Prefecture, Zhejiang Province, East China, only 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Lishui City. It is takes about 2 hours from Wenzhou to the Yunhe Rice Terraces, and 3 hours from Hangzhou to the terraces.
If you are interested in visiting the beautiful rice terrace fields in China, please see the most popular tours below for inspiration:
Not interested in the above tours? You can tailor-make your own unique tour by telling us your interests and requirements. We will help you design a perfect trip.