The Longji Rice Terraces (‘Dragon Backbone’ Rice Terraces) are an incredible farm engineering phenomenon in a remote mountain area of Guilin Prefecture. Longji’s famed rice terraces’ main terraced areas are the Ping’an Rice Terraces, Jinkeng Rice Terraces, and Longji Old Zhuang Rice Terraces.
They offer some of the most fantastic scenery in China or indeed the world. Shutterbugs and hikers are always attracted by the reflecting water-filled terraces (mainly in May), glowing yellow-eared rice fields (from late September to early October), as well as the sunrises and sunsets.
Dotted with Zhuang and Yao minority villages, travelers have chances to taste local specialty foods, join in their ethnic festival activities, and learn about their unique cultures.
- Which Rice Terraces Are Best for You?
- Hiking around the Longji Terraced Fields
- Photography Tips
- Unique Minority Festivals
Which Rice Terraces Are Best for You?
|Ping’an Rice Terraces
(2 hours’ driving from Guilin)
Suitable for families:
1. The most established terraces
2. Moderate walking difficulty
3. Impressive views
4. Inhabited by Zhuang people
|Crowded during busy times|
|Jinkeng Rice Terraces
(2½ hours’ driving from Guilin)
|Perfect for shutterbugs and hikers:
1. The largest terraced area in Longji
2. The most magnificent scenery
3. Fewer tourists
4. Cable cars available
5. Home to Red Yao People
|1. Farthest from Guilin
2. Fewer hotel choices
3. Rugged trails
|Longji Old Zhuang Rice Terraces
(1½ hours’ driving from Guilin)
|Friendly to people with limited time:
1. The smallest and the most rustic fields
2. Atmospheric old villages
3. Cars access to the view points
4. Cultivated by Zhuang people
|Only hostels or home stays|
For a one-day trip, you could choose any one of the three terrace areas. For a relaxing tour pace, Ping’an Rice Terraces and Longji Old Zhuang Rice Terraces are highly suggested.
If time permits, stay one night at a village among the terraces. You will be rewarded with breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. You will have enough time to trek the off-the-beaten-path trails for deeper insights into the scenery and local life, particularly the popular route: Ping’an to Jinkeng.
Ping'an Rice Terraces: The Best Value
2 hours’ driving from Guilin, the Ping'an Zhuang Village Terraced Fields (平安壮寨梯田) were the first rice terrace area in Longsheng to be developed for tourism. A compact masterpiece, it shows ethnic enthusiasm and harmonized beauty to all visitors.
The fields area is not so big, so half a day is enough to fully explore the highlights. Thanks to the relatively concentrated viewpoints, you can enjoy the highlights with less walking and ascending. The paths are well paved with stone/concrete slabs, which is friendly to kids and seniors.
- Seven Stars Accompany the Moon (七星伴月) is comprised of seven small piles of rocks, left there when the area was developed, in the middle of a moon-like field. It is a perfect place for photography.
- Nine Dragons and Five Tigers (九龙五虎), or just Nine Dragons, refers to nine ridges branching off from the main ridge that look like nine dragons bending over to drink from the Jin River, from a distance. Alongside, there are five "tiger-like" rocks.
Tip to Reduce Walking:
It takes about one hour to walk from the parking lot to Nine Dragons and Five Tigers. If you want to skip the walk, contact us for a car to Nine Dragons and Five Tigers, then just walk half an hour to Seven Stars Accompany the Moon.
Baike Hotel (family-run boutique hotel): from US$56
5 minutes’ walk from the parking lot, it’s helpful as you can quickly travel light after checking in. The rooms of the hotel are spacious and nicely decorated. The views are simply magnificent, you can enjoy sunrises in the valley right from your balcony.
Li An Lodge (boutique hotel, local 4-star): from US$206
Li-An Lodge is a wood structure implementing the Chinese building technique of tongue and groove joints without nails. Neighboring Seven Stars Accompany the Moon, it offers magnificent panoramic views of Longsheng’s rice terraces. It’s one hour’s walking from the parking lot to Li An Lodge.
Jinkeng Rice Terraces (Dazhai): Longji’s Largest
Home to Red Yao people, the Jinkeng Terraced Fields are a half-hour drive farther from the Longji entrance than Ping’an Terraced Fields. Similar to a strong man, these rice terraces are the largest of the three main areas. Thus, it is challenging to hike all the highlights within a day. Cable cars are helpful from the parking lot to Golden Buddha Peak (one of the best viewpoints).
Shutterbugs are fond of its grand scenery and tranquility. Its sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights should not be missed. Book a hotel with a balcony, escape from the concrete jungle, and immerse yourself in this rural masterpiece… Drink a cold beer at sunset, chat with locals under a starry sky, and wake up with the first rays of sunshine...
- 'West Hill Music' (Xishan Shaoyue 西山韶乐), which is the highest point on the terraces (altitude 1,180 m; 3,870 ft), has the broadest panorama. Popular for sunrises and sunsets, it takes two hours to walk there from Dazhai. More than 90% of published Longsheng rice terrace photos are taken there!
- The 'Large-Scale Thousand-Layer Terraces’ (Dajie Qianceng Titian 大界千层天梯) are relatively low and easy to climb to, as the paths are good. The terraces are fantastic and you can see the Yao people's houses. It is an excellent place to see a sunrise.
- ‘Golden Buddha Peak’ (Jinfo Ding 金佛顶) is the best place to take sunset photos. The cableway from the car park, an hour's walk below Dazhai, to the peak is very welcoming for those who are not good at walking, or those who would prefer not to hike up/down (20 minutes instead of 2–3 hours of walking).
Longji Panorama House Hotel (family-run hotel, local 3-star): from US$36
Located at the highest point of the rice terraces, it offers great panoramic visions. You can watch sunrises and sunsets from your room. It is the best hotel on the Jinkeng Rice Terraces so far. But you have to hike 2 hours to the hotel from the carpark, unless you take the cable car for saving one-hour walking.
Longji Old Zhuang Rice Terraces: Less Crowded
Like an elder statesman, the Longji Old Zhuang Rice Terraces are the smallest and least disturbed, who embrace prosperity and isolation peacefully. You can enjoy the scenery there within 2 hours.
Different from other rice terraces, Longji Old Zhuang Village (or Longji Ancient Zhuang Village龙脊古壮寨), rather than the terrace views, is its top highlight. Just 5 km (3 mi) away from Ping'an Village, it is the most traditional and least modernized Zhuang minority village in Longsheng. The village boasts the oldest and the largest stilted building group in Guangxi Province. It is the top choice for those interested in Zhuang minority culture, their farming history, and minority buildings.
Feast your eyes on the Longji Rice Terraces: 4-Day Guilin Scenic and Ethnic Discovery
Hiking around the Longji Terraced Fields
For rural scenery lovers, there couldn't be a better choice than to hike around the Longji Terraced Fields. Follow the unpaved trails among rice paddies, go through the villages and be greeted by the playing kids or working locals... There are many good hiking trails between the villages. The most popular two options are:
1. Ping'an to Longji Old Zhuang Village
- Length of hike: about 2 hours, around 5 km (3 mi)
- Hiking difficulty: easy
- Suitable for people with a good level of fitness
Hiking from Ping’an to Longji Old Zhuang Village offers beautiful scenery, but also a date with most of the cultural relics of the Longji area.
2. Ping'an To Dazhai (or vice versa)
- Length of hike: 4–5 hours, 14 km (9 mi)
- Hiking difficulty: moderate
- Suitable for energetic people/hikers
Classic route: Golden Buddha Peak – Tiantou Zhai – West Hill Music – Thousand-Layer Terraces –Zhongliu Village – Nine Dragons and Five Tigers – Seven Stars Accompany the Moon – Ping’an Village
You can enjoy breathtaking terrace fields vistas, encounter the farming locals, and find inner peace in the wilds when hiking between the photogenic rice terraces.
Zhongliu Village is the Ping’an/Jinkeng boundary: before it, you will have a long climb up. After that, it’s mostly descending. The paths will be muddy on rainy days. The uncut stone paths have many twists and turns, and some sections are steep, so you’d better mind your step or avoid hiking on rainy days.
There are a considerable number of small paths, which may easily lead to getting lost, so a tour guide is helpful to keep you on the best route, to enhance an unforgettable experience and, most importantly, to stand by for emergencies.
See more on our Longji Terraced Fields Hiking Guide.
Enjoy the View of Terraced Fields on a Less-Travel Path: 5-Day Guilin Tour with Moderate Hiking
Photography Tips for the Longji Rice Terraces
The Longji Rice Terraces offer a perfect combo of outstanding scenery and inspired minority life for photography.
You can have the best shots of:
- Water-filled rice terraces: from December to mid-May at Nine Dragons and Five Tigers in Ping’an Rice Terraces; all terraces are well-watered from Mid May to early June
- Harvest views: from late September to early October
- Sunrises and sunsets: anytime the rainclouds disperse, with highest possibilities from September to October
- Mist surrounding a village: at Ping’an village in the rainy season (June to August)
- Long-haired Yao women: at Dazhai village or Huangluo Yao Village
- Festivals: bonfire parties are the characteristic tradition of ost of their festivals. You can see more activities at:
- Plowing Festival: Held around mid-May at Longji Old Zhuang Rice Terraces, there’s an ethnic irrigating ceremony as well as locals plowing watered terraces and dragon lanterns.
- Shuyang Festival: Held around early-June at Ping’an Rice Terraces, the ethnic transplanting ceremony includes rice planting and a torch show.
- Clothes Drying Festival: Held on July 4th in 2022 at Jinkeng Rice Terraces, there’s a wedding ceremony, long hair show, and Panhu worship activities.
See more on Photography Tips for the Longsheng Rice Terraces.
Recommended Tours for Photographers:
Unique Minority Festivals among the Terraces
Besides the stunning views, their unique and brilliant festivals are like the icing on the cake. You can see most well-dressed locals than usual and gain an insight into the well-reserved Zhuang and Yao minority culture.
Three festivals are:
- Plowing Festival in Longji Old Zhuang Village
- Shuyang Festival (the Rice-Transplanting Festival) in Ping’an Zhuang Village
- Clothes Drying Festival in Dazhai Red Yao Minority Village
Plowing Festival: The Start of Irrigating
- Location: Longji Old Zhuang Village
- Time: suspended (usually around Mid-May)
The Plowing Festival is celebrated as the best time to start ploughing their rice fields, sowing seeds, and praying for the harvest. It is also the best time for visitors to appreciate the amazing beauty of the water-filled Longji Terraced Fields.
During the Plowing Festival, a number of culturally-rich and colorful activities are held according to traditional practices, including the Irrigating Field Ceremony, large-scale plowing in the terraced fields, catching fish in the terraced fields, viewing dragon lanterns, and a large bonfire party.
Shuyang Festival (the Rice Transplanting Festival): Rice Planting
- Location: Ping’an Zhuang Village (Ping’an Rice Terraces)
- Time: suspended (around early-June)
Rooted in their age-old beliefs, the Zhuang uphold that good timing of farming brings good harvests. Shuyang Festival is celebrated to choose the best time (as per their own calendar) to concentrate their labors and transplant the rice.
During the festival, you have chances to experience: the Transplanting Ceremony, large-scale planting in the terraced fields, tug-of-war in the terraced fields, catching fish in the terraced fields, torch shows and the large-scale bonfire party.
Clothes Drying Festival: Wedding Ceremony and Long Hair Show
- Location: Dazhai Red Yao Minority Village (Jinkeng Rice Terraces)
- Time: the sixth day of the sixth lunar month (July 4th, 2022)
In Red Yao villages, the Clothes Drying Festival was initially celebrated as an opportunity for married daughters to reunite with their parents and for the long-haired Yao women to drying their bright red clothes. On that day, usually a sunny day, they hang up their hand-made red clothes and embroidery on balconies and open corridors of their family homes.
Nowadays, more festivities have been added: folklore long-hair performances, traditional wedding ceremonies, Panhu worship activities (Panhu is the deified dog, revered as the Yao people’s benefactor), and glutinous rice cake making. At night, you could enjoy a flaming torch show and a large bonfire party.
Best Times for a Visit: Late May, Late September
You can enjoy different scenery in different months. Late May and late September are the most popular times to take photos and go hiking.
- May to mid-June: The fields are well-watered and you can see water glittering in the sun in spring. (For off-season reflective scenes: the Ping’an Rice Terraces are partly water-filled from December.)
- Mid-June to mid-September: During the growing period for the rice, you will green rice plants filling the paddies.
- Late September to early October: You will see layers of golden yellow. Farmers can be seen harvesting the fields from around October 1st to 15th.
- Mid-October to April: You will see nothing more than the plain scenery of brown empty fields (and maybe snow).
You might want to know more about Guilin weather.
How to Get to Longji from Guilin
Longji’s Rice Terraces are situated in Longsheng County, about 2 hours’ driving from Guilin. People usually arrive in Guilin at the airport or bullet train stations. Bullet trains from Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Guiyang, and Chongqing are popular. Flights are the more time-saving option from Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu and Kunming.
Only one direct bus is available from Guilin Railway Station to Jinkeng Rice Terraces, taking 3 hours. It departs at 09:30 and returns at 14:00 daily. The limited service means that you have to stay overnight at the terraces if you are reliant on the bus.
2 changes (Longsheng bus station and Longji Rice Terraces tourist center) are necessary if you miss the direct bus or visit other two rice terraces.
Thus, to make a day trip possible or to optimize your rice terraces time, you’re recommended to take a private transfer to enjoy the highlights without the hassles and time pressures.
More information about How to Get To and Around Guilin
How to Get to Longji from Yangshuo
More inconvenient than Guilin, only one direct bus is available from Yangshuo to Jinkeng Rice Terraces, taking 4 hours. It departs at 08:00 and returns at 14:00 daily. A private transfer is more flexible and time-saving.
Tips for a Longji Rice Terraces Tour
Touring the Longji Rice Terraces requires at least a whole day due to 2 hours’ driving each way.
Due to the huge size of the scenic area, if you want to cover Yangshuo and Longji, you are recommended to plan at least 4 days in Guilin.
Here is a sample itinerary for your reference:
- Day 1: Guilin Arrival
- Day 2: Longji Rice Terraces Day Tour, Return to Guilin City
- Day 3: Li River Cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo
- Day 4: Yangshuo Countryside Tour and Guilin Departure
It is not recommended to arrange a Longji day tour on your departure day so as to avoid missing your flight.
The accommodation is quite basic. Most of the hotels are local stilted buildings, with a limited hot water supply. If the limitations of Longji’s accommodation fall short of your needs, you should choose the day-trip option.
If you have heavy luggage, you can have it stored at the scenic area entrance. The local people will enthusiastically offer to help you carry your luggage up the terraces in back baskets. It is about 50 yuan per suitcase.
Some authentic experiences could enrich your Longji tour. We can help arrange a home-visit to a local’s house and create a chance for you to learn to make oil tea, bamboo-tube rice, or embroidery.
Contact us for a tour that’s designed for you, or start from a suggested itinerary...