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Hiking The Longji Rice Terraces In China


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Cordie Candelaria



Welcome to the enchanting world of the Longji Rice Terraces in China. Nestled in the scenic mountains of Guangxi province, this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site is a testament to the harmonious blend of nature and human ingenuity. Also known as the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, these terraced fields have been carefully sculpted into the mountain slopes, creating a breathtaking landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see.


For centuries, the local Zhuang and Yao ethnic minority groups have cultivated rice on these terraces, making it not only a fascinating cultural experience but also an agricultural marvel. The Longji Rice Terraces span an impressive area of over 16,000 acres, with different sections showcasing varying patterns and stages of the rice planting cycle. Whether you’re a nature-lover, hiking enthusiast, or cultural explorer, the Longji Rice Terraces offer a truly immersive experience that will leave you awe-struck.


As you embark on your journey through the Longji Rice Terraces, prepare to be greeted by breathtaking panoramic views, cascading rice paddies, and mist-shrouded mountains. Each season brings a unique charm to this picturesque landscape, from the vibrant green of the rice fields in summer to the golden hues of the harvest season in autumn. Whether you choose to explore the terraces in the warmth of the sun or witness the mystical beauty of the foggy mountains, the Longji Rice Terraces promise a memorable experience.


In this article, we will take you on a virtual tour of the Longji Rice Terraces, providing you with all the essential information you need to plan your visit. We will guide you through the best time to visit, how to reach the terraces, where to stay, and the various hiking routes and trails that will take you on a captivating journey through this natural wonder. Additionally, we will delve into the fascinating local culture and the vibrant ethnic minority groups that call the Longji Rice Terraces their home.


So strap on your hiking boots, pack your camera, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime as we explore the captivating beauty of the Longji Rice Terraces in China.


Overview of the Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces, also known as the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, are a series of cascading terraced fields carved into the mountainside in Guangxi province, China. The terraces have been meticulously built and maintained over centuries by the local Zhuang and Yao ethnic minority groups. The name “Dragon’s Backbone” comes from the resemblance of the winding rice terraces to the scales on a dragon’s back.


Spanning an impressive area of over 16,000 acres, the Longji Rice Terraces are divided into several sections, each with its unique features and characteristics. The most famous among them are Ping’an Zhuang Village and Jinkeng Terraces. These terraces offer mesmerizing panoramic views of the lush green rice fields, which vary in color and appearance depending on the season.


During the summer months, when the rice plants are in their growing phase, the terraces transform into a vibrant sea of green. The reflection of sunlight on the water-filled terraces creates a stunning visual spectacle. As autumn approaches, the rice plants turn golden yellow, creating a picturesque landscape that is a photographer’s dream.


One of the key highlights of the Longji Rice Terraces is the intricate system of irrigation, which allows water to flow down from the mountaintop to each terrace level. The terraces are carefully constructed at different elevations to facilitate the optimal distribution of water. This ingenious water management system is a testament to the ancient wisdom and agricultural expertise of the Zhuang and Yao people.


Aside from the remarkable agricultural practices, the Longji Rice Terraces also provide a habitat for diverse flora and fauna. The terraces and the surrounding forests host a variety of plant species, including bamboo, camellias, and azaleas. Wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and even the occasional sighting of black bears can be found in this ecological haven.


Visiting the Longji Rice Terraces is not only an opportunity to witness the natural beauty of the area but also a chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the ethnic minority groups. The Zhuang and Yao people have preserved their traditions and way of life, welcoming visitors with warm hospitality. Traditional attire, music, dance, and authentic local cuisine are all part of the cultural experience awaiting you.


Whether you choose to explore the Longji Rice Terraces on foot or simply admire the breathtaking views from one of the viewpoints, this extraordinary site promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of China’s rural beauty and cultural heritage.


Best Time to Visit

The Longji Rice Terraces are stunningly beautiful throughout the year, each season offering a unique charm and experience. The best time to visit, however, depends on your preference and what you want to witness during your visit.


Spring (March to May) is an excellent time to visit if you want to see the terraces come to life with fresh green shoots. The fields are filled with water, reflecting the sunlight and creating a surreal landscape. It’s also the time when the weather is mild and comfortable, perfect for hiking and exploring the area.


Summer (June to August) brings lush greenery to the terraces as the rice plants grow taller. The fields are vibrant and lively, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. However, this is also the rainy season, so be prepared for occasional showers. The misty clouds and fog that often envelop the terraces during this time add an ethereal and mystical ambiance to the scenery.


Autumn (September to November) is perhaps the most popular time to visit the Longji Rice Terraces. The rice plants turn golden yellow, resembling waves of flowing silk. The terraces become a picturesque landscape that is a photographer’s delight. The weather is pleasant, with cooler temperatures and less rainfall.


Winter (December to February) lends a completely different charm to the terraces. If you’re a fan of snow and serene landscapes, visiting during this time can be a magical experience. The terraces are often blanketed in a pristine layer of snow, creating a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere. However, do note that winter temperatures can be quite cold, so be sure to dress warmly.


It’s important to keep in mind that the Longji Rice Terraces can get crowded during peak tourist seasons, especially during national holidays and weekends. If you prefer a quieter and more tranquil experience, consider visiting during weekdays or shoulder seasons.


Ultimately, the choice of the best time to visit the Longji Rice Terraces depends on your personal preferences and the experience you desire. Whether you want to witness the vibrant green of the summer fields or the golden hues of autumn, be prepared for an awe-inspiring journey through one of China’s most captivating natural wonders.


Getting to the Longji Rice Terraces

Located in Guangxi province, the Longji Rice Terraces can be reached from several major cities in China. The most convenient way to get to the terraces is to fly into Guilin Liangjiang International Airport, which serves both domestic and international flights.


From Guilin, you have a few options to reach the Longji Rice Terraces:

  1. By Bus: There are direct buses from Guilin to the Longji Rice Terraces. The journey takes approximately 2-3 hours, depending on the traffic and road conditions. Buses depart from Guilin Qintan Bus Station and drop you off at either Ping’an Village or Dazhai Village, the two main entry points to the terraces.
  2. Private Transfer: If you prefer a more comfortable and convenient option, you can hire a private car or arrange for a taxi from Guilin to take you directly to the Longji Rice Terraces. This gives you the flexibility to stop at various viewpoints along the way and explore at your own pace.
  3. Tour Packages: Many tour operators in Guilin offer day trips or multi-day tours to the Longji Rice Terraces. These packages typically include transportation, English-speaking guide, and sometimes accommodation. Joining a tour can be a hassle-free option, especially if you prefer not to worry about transportation logistics.

Once you arrive at either Ping’an Village or Dazhai Village, you can explore the terraces on foot. Both villages have well-marked paths and trails that lead you through the terraced fields and offer stunning viewpoints along the way.


It’s important to note that the roads leading to the Longji Rice Terraces are winding and can be steep. If you are prone to motion sickness, consider taking necessary precautions or medication before embarking on the journey.


If you are coming from other cities in China, such as Guangzhou or Shenzhen, you can take a high-speed train to Guilin and then proceed to the Longji Rice Terraces following the same transportation options mentioned above. Alternatively, you can arrange for a private car or join a tour from those cities directly.


Regardless of which transportation option you choose, the journey to the Longji Rice Terraces is an adventure in itself, as you traverse through picturesque countryside and witness the gradual transition from urbanity to nature’s tranquility.


Accommodation Options

When visiting the Longji Rice Terraces, there are several accommodation options available to suit different preferences and budgets. The two main villages near the terraces where visitors usually stay are Ping’an Village and Dazhai Village.


Ping’an Village: Ping’an Village is the more developed and tourist-friendly village. It offers a range of accommodation options, from budget guesthouses to mid-range hotels. Staying in Ping’an Village allows for easy access to the terraces and provides a variety of dining options as well. You can choose to stay in a traditional wooden stilt house, which offers a unique cultural experience, or opt for a more modern hotel with comfortable amenities.


Dazhai Village: Dazhai Village, also known as Tiantouzhai, offers a more rustic and secluded experience. The accommodation options here are mainly in traditional wooden buildings, providing a closer immersion into the local lifestyle. Although fewer in number compared to Ping’an Village, the guesthouses and lodgings in Dazhai Village offer a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. Staying in Dazhai Village allows for easy access to scenic hiking trails and stunning viewpoints.


It’s important to note that both Ping’an Village and Dazhai Village can get crowded during peak tourist seasons. If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during weekdays or the shoulder seasons. Additionally, it is advisable to book your accommodation in advance, especially during holidays and weekends, to secure your desired choice.


Alternatively, you can choose to stay in Guilin or Yangshuo and make a day trip to the Longji Rice Terraces. Both Guilin and Yangshuo offer a wide range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts. Staying in the city or town gives you the opportunity to explore other attractions and experiences in the region while still being able to visit the terraces as a day trip.


Whether you prefer to stay in the villages near the terraces or in Guilin/Yangshuo, make sure to check the facilities and amenities provided by the accommodations. Some places offer basic amenities, while others provide more comforts such as Wi-Fi, hot showers, and onsite restaurants.


Whichever accommodation option you choose, be prepared for a unique and immersive experience, surrounded by the natural beauty and rural charm of the Longji Rice Terraces.


Hiking Routes and Trails

The Longji Rice Terraces are a paradise for hiking enthusiasts, offering a network of trails and paths that wind their way through the stunning landscape. Exploring the terraces on foot allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the rice fields and discover hidden viewpoints along the way. Here are some of the popular hiking routes and trails:

  1. Jinkeng Terraces Loop: This trail starts from Dazhai Village and takes you on a loop through the Jinkeng Terraces. The trail is approximately 10 kilometers long and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the rice terraces and surrounding mountains. Along the way, you will pass through Yao minority villages, rustic wooden houses, and lush greenery.
  2. Ping’an Village to Nine Dragons and Five Tigers: This trail starts from Ping’an Village and takes you to the famous viewpoint called Nine Dragons and Five Tigers. The trail is around 6 kilometers long and involves some uphill sections, but the rewarding views make it all worthwhile. From the viewpoint, you can admire the breathtaking expanse of the terraced fields.
  3. Dazhai Village to Tiantouzhai: This trail connects Dazhai Village to Tiantouzhai and is known for its stunning sunrise views. The trail is approximately 5 kilometers long and involves steep uphill sections. However, witnessing the sunrise over the layered terraces is a truly magical experience that you won’t want to miss.
  4. Ping’an Village to Longji Ancient Zhuang Village: This trail takes you from Ping’an Village to Longji Ancient Zhuang Village, offering a glimpse into the local culture and traditions. The trail is around 4 kilometers long and passes through beautiful rice terraces, bamboo forests, and charming Zhuang villages. You can learn about the customs and way of life of the Zhuang people along the way.

It’s important to note that some of the trails involve steep sections and can be physically demanding. It’s recommended to wear comfortable hiking shoes, carry plenty of water, and take breaks when needed. Additionally, it’s wise to bring sunscreen, a hat, and insect repellent, as you will be exposed to the elements during the hike.


While it’s possible to navigate the hiking trails independently, hiring a local guide can enhance your experience and provide valuable insights into the terraces, local culture, and history. Guides can also help you find the best viewpoints and capture memorable photographs.


Exploring the Longji Rice Terraces on foot allows you to fully appreciate the beauty and serenity of this natural wonder. So put on your hiking boots, grab your camera, and embark on an unforgettable adventure through the terraced fields and mountains of Guangxi province.


Attractions and Highlights

The Longji Rice Terraces offer more than just breathtaking views of the cascading rice fields. Along with the natural beauty, there are several attractions and highlights that make a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site truly special:

  1. Seven Stars with Moon: Located in Ping’an Village, this viewpoint offers a stunning panoramic view of the terraces resembling the shape of seven stars with the moon in the center. It’s a perfect spot to capture mesmerizing photographs and admire the vast expanse of the rice fields.
  2. Folk Customs Experience: Immerse yourself in the rich culture and heritage of the local Zhuang and Yao minority groups. Visit their traditional houses, learn about their customs, and even try on their colorful traditional attire. You can also witness cultural performances of traditional dances and songs.
  3. Long Hair Village: This village, also known as Huangluo Yao Village, is famous for its women who have exceptionally long hair. The women of the village maintain their long hair as a symbol of beauty and tradition. You can learn about their haircare rituals and admire their luscious, floor-length tresses.
  4. Photography Spots: The Longji Rice Terraces offer an abundance of picturesque photography spots. From the viewpoints overlooking the terraces to the winding trails surrounded by lush greenery, every corner presents an opportunity for capturing stunning images. Whether you’re a professional photographer or an amateur enthusiast, you’ll be captivated by the beauty of the landscape.
  5. Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces Museum: Located in Ping’an Village, this museum provides insights into the history, culture, and agricultural techniques associated with the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces. You can learn about the engineering feats of the terraces, the ethnic minority groups who inhabit the area, and the cultivation methods used by the local farmers.

Aside from these specific attractions, simply exploring the terraced fields themselves is a highlight in its own right. Walking along the paths between the rice paddies, experiencing the ever-changing colors of the fields throughout the seasons, and encountering the friendly locals tending to their crops all contribute to a memorable and immersive experience.


Don’t forget to indulge in the local cuisine as well. Taste delicious dishes made from local produce, such as bamboo shoots, wild mushrooms, and rice-based specialties. The flavors and authenticity of the local food will add another layer to your journey through the Longji Rice Terraces.


Whether you’re a nature lover, culture enthusiast, or photography aficionado, the Longji Rice Terraces offer a wealth of attractions and highlights that will leave you in awe of their beauty and leave you with unforgettable memories.


Local Culture and Ethnic Minority Groups

The Longji Rice Terraces are not just a scenic wonderland; they are also home to vibrant local cultures and ethnic minority groups. The Zhuang and Yao ethnic groups are the main inhabitants of the area, each with their unique customs, traditions, and way of life.


The Zhuang people, the largest ethnic minority group in China, have a rich cultural heritage. They have inhabited the Longji region for centuries and have played a significant role in the development and maintenance of the rice terraces. The Zhuang people are known for their colorful traditional attire, with women wearing elaborate headdresses adorned with silver ornaments. They have a deep connection to the land and have passed down generations of agricultural knowledge, ensuring the successful cultivation of rice in the terraced fields.


The Yao people, another ethnic minority group in the area, are known for their long hair and distinct customs. The women of the Yao community maintain their hair length as a symbol of beauty, with some of them boasting hair lengths of over two meters. Visiting a village inhabited by the Yao people provides an opportunity to witness their unique haircare practices and traditional customs. You may even have the chance to attend a performance of their stunning traditional dance and music.


Both the Zhuang and Yao communities are renowned for their warm hospitality, and a visit to their villages offers an authentic cultural experience. You can explore their traditional houses, sample local delicacies, and learn about their traditional crafts such as hand-weaving and embroidery.


The Longji Rice Terraces region also hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year. The most significant one is the Longji Terraced Field Cultural Festival, celebrated in late June or early July. This festival showcases the rich local culture, with performances, traditional games, and a range of activities that provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the traditions and customs of the ethnic minority groups.


Interacting with the local communities and immersing yourself in their culture is an essential part of the Longji Rice Terraces experience. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about their lifestyle, customs, and the symbiotic relationship they have with the land. Engaging with the local culture not only enriches your visit but also supports the preservation and promotion of these diverse ethnic traditions.


So, as you explore the stunning landscapes of the Longji Rice Terraces, take the time to engage with the local communities, embrace their cultural heritage, and gain a deeper appreciation for the harmonious coexistence of nature and human creativity in this awe-inspiring region.


Tips for Hiking the Longji Rice Terraces

Heading out for a hike through the Longji Rice Terraces? Here are some essential tips to ensure you have a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  1. Choose the Right Season: Consider the time of year and choose the season that aligns with your preferences. Spring and autumn offer pleasant weather and beautiful colors, while summer provides lush greenery and misty vistas. Winter offers a tranquil ambiance, but be prepared for colder temperatures.
  2. Wear Comfortable Shoes: The hiking trails in the terraces can be steep and rugged. It’s crucial to wear comfortable hiking shoes with good traction to navigate the terrain confidently.
  3. Dress in Layers: The weather in the mountains can be changeable, so it’s advisable to dress in layers. This way, you can adjust your clothing according to the temperature and weather conditions during your hike.
  4. Stay Hydrated: Carry plenty of water with you during your hike, especially during the warmer months. Staying hydrated is essential to keep your energy levels up and prevent dehydration.
  5. Protect Yourself from the Sun: The sun can be strong, even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring sunglasses to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.
  6. Pack Snacks and Energy Boosters: Although there are small shops and food stalls along the trails, it’s a good idea to pack some snacks and energy-boosting foods to keep you fueled during the hike.
  7. Follow the Marked Paths: Stick to the designated paths and trails to avoid damaging the rice terraces or getting lost. The trails are well-marked, and there are signposts to guide you along the way.
  8. Take Breaks and Enjoy the Views: Pace yourself during the hike and take breaks to admire the stunning views. Capture photos, breathe in the fresh mountain air, and appreciate the beauty of the natural surroundings.
  9. Respect the Local Culture: The Longji Rice Terraces are home to ethnic minority communities. Respect their customs, traditions, and way of life. Ask for permission before taking photographs of the locals, and be mindful of their privacy.
  10. Dispose of Waste Responsibly: Help keep the terraces clean and pristine by disposing of your waste in designated bins. Be mindful of the environment and avoid leaving any litter behind.

Lastly, it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast before your hike and be prepared for unexpected changes. Stay safe, be respectful, and make the most of your hiking experience in the magnificent Longji Rice Terraces.



Visiting the Longji Rice Terraces is a journey into a world of natural beauty, cultural richness, and agricultural marvels. The terraced fields, meticulously crafted by the local communities over centuries, create a picturesque landscape that captivates visitors from around the world.


Throughout the year, each season brings its own charm to the terraces, showcasing vibrant greens in summer, golden hues in autumn, and a serene blanket of snow in winter. Whichever season you choose to visit, the awe-inspiring views and the cultural experiences will leave a lasting impression.


Exploring the terraces on foot allows you to immerse yourself in the landscape fully. Hiking along the well-marked trails and traversing the ridges provides a unique perspective on the beauty of the rice fields, while also allowing you to engage with the local culture and ethnic minority communities in the area.


From the colorful traditional attire and customs of the Zhuang and Yao minorities to the rich agricultural wisdom passed down through generations, the Longji Rice Terraces encompass a harmonious blend of nature and human creativity.


As you navigate the trails and viewpoints, make sure to follow important tips such as wearing appropriate footwear, staying hydrated, and respecting the environment and local communities. By doing so, you can ensure a safe, enjoyable, and responsible visit.


Whether you visit the Longji Rice Terraces for the stunning scenery, cultural immersion, photography opportunities, or simply to appreciate the wonders of nature, this UNESCO World Heritage Site will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


So, embark on this incredible journey, witness the panoramic views, interact with the local communities, and let the Longji Rice Terraces enchant you with their timeless beauty and cultural significance.