Located in Longsheng County, Guilin, the Longji Terraces (Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces) are not only an attractive destination for lots of tourists, but are also a great place for photography enthusiasts.
Longsheng's Terraces, also called the Longji Terraces, are smaller than the Yuanyang Terraces of Yunnan Province in scale, but the scenery there is relatively concentrated. There are two major scenic sites for photography-lovers: Jinkeng Hongyao Terraces (Golden Hole Red Yao's Terraces) and Ping'an Zhuang Terraces (Peace Zhuang Terraces).
Compared with the Ping'an Zhuang Terraces (平安), a commercial site favored by tour groups and foreign travelers, Jinkeng Hongyao (金坑红瑶) Terraces have developed relatively late because of their situation at the top of the mountain and the long distance to get there. Therefore, Jinkeng Hongyao Terraces attract more photography-lovers and backpackers.
Photography Locations around Jinkeng Hongyao Terraces
Xishan Shaoyue 西山韶乐
The site, Xishan Shaoyue, about 1,100 meters above sea level, is the best place for photography. More than 90% of the pictures in albums of Longsheng Terraces are taken there, as are the pictures on the tickets for Longsheng Terraces and relevant brochures; there are even award-winning pictures.
If time is limited, photography-lovers need only to choose this site because the objects to be photographed from all three sites are in the same hollow. Also, the three sites are triangularly oriented: site 1 is on the top, site 2 is at the bottom left and site 3 is at the bottom right.
Best times: morning and evening. (The sun rises from the front at the left and sets from behind at the right).
Qianceng Tianti (Thousands Layers Fields, 千层梯田)
The site is about 900 meters above sea level, near to Tiantou Zhai, where the local people live. Few albums' pictures of Longsheng Terraces are taken there because they may not be as good as those taken at site 1.
Jinfoding (Golden Buddhist Summit 金佛顶)
Jinfoding is opposite Qianceng Tianti. Actually, few photography-lovers visit the peak because they think the site there is inferior to the first two. However, it is convenient to visit Jinfoding by cable cars from the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain.
Moreover, there are two or three inns near the cable car station. Some photography-lovers will first visit Jinfoding by taking a cable car to the sightseeing stand in order to take photographs and then walk along a path to reach site 1. It is worthwhile to note that the path is always wet, silent, almost deserted, and it may take about one and a half hours to reach.
If travelers aren´t staying at the building that has panoramic views of the terraces, there is no need to take this route. Also, it may not be a good choice for photography-lovers or for travelers, especially for those with heavy baggage.
Best time: evening (the terraces there back on to the east).
Photography Venues at Ping'an Zhuang Terraces
Qixing Banyue 七星伴月
The site at Qixing Banyue rises more than 800 meters above sea level. It is close to Ping'an village and it is not far from the parking lot at the bottom of the mountain.
With its easy transportation, the site is a must for taking pictures. Photography-lovers can take excellent pictures if fortunate with the weather. There are some tourist shops which sell souvenirs and provide a paid service for taking photographs at special locations.
Best times: early morning and evening with good light.
Jiulong Wuhu ( Nine Dragons and Five Tigers 九龙五虎)
The site of Jiulong Wuhu is more than 900 meters above sea level. The terraces there are popular because they look like a dragon's backbone and are not far from the village. Additionally, it is not hard to visit them and pictures may be of excellent quality if the weather is good. Photography-lovers may have unexpected results at Jiulong Wuhu after taking pictures at Qixing Banyue in the morning.
Best times: evening and cloudy mornings.
Best Times for Taking Photos
The middle of May to the beginning of June: the rice on the terraces is well-watered and the reflection of water in the rice fields will create a better setting to be photographed. In addition, transplanting begins after June 5th and lasts about a week; people will work on the terraces and that's also a good time for taking photographs.
National Day Holiday (particularly the week after October 7th): During this period, the rice on the terraces is ripe for harvesting, making the terraces look like carpets of golden yellow.
Winter - on snowy days: Snow is not common at Jinkeng Terraces, and even when there is snow, it snows lightly, so staying informed is a good idea.
Early July and August: During this time, the terraces are decorated by patches of fresh green rice shoots. Layer upon layer of green makes for great photos.
During folk shows or activities: Pictures taken at those times may have a strong flavor of real rural life. Generally speaking, Ping'an Zhuang village holds a singing and dancing activity before or after May 31st. The activity is organized by the village people; therefore, the specific date cannot be searched on the Internet. Additionally, there is a Torch Festival at Jinkeng Terraces organized by the local tourism bureau, and the detailed information can be found on the Internet.
Worst time: the end of October to the middle of May. The scenery and photographic conditions are not good, because the rice has been cut, there is no water in the fields, and if there is no snow the terraces look quite plain.
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