The Longji terraces area is famous for the excessively large number of terraced rice paddy fields on its mountain, which have created an intricate pattern on the hillsides. Set amongst the villages of the minorities Zhuang and Yao, the area allows for easy to moderate walking/hiking possibilities along and up hillsides to view the panoramas of the terraced rice fields, as well as glimpse the rural life and style of architecture found in the forest-fringed villages.
Longji means 'Dragon Backed Mountain'. When the paddies are full of water in spring, it is said to resemble the scales on the back of a dragon. The fields are beautiful all year round, in the early stages when filled with water, and as the rice grows and matures, changing colours as it does so. Winter may also see snow. Rape flowers are also to be seen in some parts and in some seasons, and along the journey here, there is forest-clad steep-sloped mountain scenery to be taken in.
The Longji terraces are comprised of two separate but closely located areas: the Ping'An terrace fields, and the JinKeng terrace fields, each with their own villages and hamlets within easy walking distance. Ping'An terrace fields are comprised of Ping'An village, and two smaller hamlets, and is a Zhuang minority inhabited area. JinKeng terrace fields comprise DaZhai village, as well as 5 smaller hamlets, including TianTou village higher up the mountain. JinKeng is predominantly or completely Yao minority inhabited.
Arrive near the end of May, and witness the fields full of water as the first stage of growing rice begins. Dawns and dusks are heightened by the effect of the water-cloaked hillsides mirroring the sun's rays.
The ticket office and its local bus service is run by a group of tour operators in cooperation with the local government. Profits are currently not shared with the local community. Apparently, the villagers are so upset with this that they are staging a protest by delaying and in some cases refusing to flood the terraces with water.
It is about two hours drive to the north through twisty mountain roads from Guilin to Longsheng town. It is also possible to get to Longsheng on public transport from Guilin. The Buses to Longsheng leave from 2011 from the new Qin Tan Bus terminal near the LIQ-Brewerie, not the one in the centre near the train station. From Longsheng, the Longji terraces are a further hour or so by local bus. Buses can take you straight to either one of the villages from Longsheng, enquire which village beforehand, if you have one in mind for late-arrival accommodation purposes. Once there, travel between the two villages is straightforward. It's faster if you change buses at Heping instead of Longsheng - one village before Longsheng, but there is no Bus terminal and you have to wait on the road and also some taxi drivers will bother you. Notify the conductor of your final destination so they can tell you where to get off. The fastest connection (still takes 3 hours) is to take a direct express bus from the parking space in front of the railway station for 50 RMB. This service, run by the locals, is air conditioned and departs between 8.30 and 14.00 direct to Dazhai in High Season. These coaches can also take you back to Guilin, with the last one departing around 4pm. Wait in the car park for one to turn up and try to get on! Otherwise you can easily hire a minibus driver to take you back (see Get Out).
An alternative connection to the railway network is via the station at Sanjiang County. There are frequent buses between Longsheng and Sanjiang which take around 2 hours.
It is also possible to arrange for a private shuttle bus for about ¥350 direct from Guilin. Pickups are typically from the Guilin railway station. This method is probably the simplest but it may be difficult to find the shuttle buses on your own. If you book a room with one of the hotels in the area however, they can easily arrange a pick-up for you. Also, hotels offer a combination of a tour with visiting a village of Yao minority on the way to the terrace area for ¥180 per person including bus transfer, entrance fee and guide (tour is said to be in Chinese only, but main points are translated into English as well).
Entrance to the Longji terrace area and its villages is controlled by a large ticket office. Tickets are ¥80 per person which includes a small pamphlet with a rudimentary map of the area's interconnected villages.
Visitors by car must park at the bottom of the hill, and take a minibus to either the upper car park/entrance of Ping'an Zhuang village, or the upper car park/entrance of DaZhai Yao village. Public transport will take you straight to the villages. You can also step off at Huanglou Yao village (also a bus terminal) and it is possible to hike in about an hour or so from there to Ping'An village. From the car and bus parks of both villages, you must ascend on foot. There are sedan chairs available for hire if you are not up to the climb. The path ascends rapidly through the paddy fields and houses. There are several view points along the way where you can rest and take photographs, as well as stone paths that lead to viewing platforms higher up.
At the villages entrances, local women gather to offer to carry your backpack or daypack in bamboo baskets attached to their back for ¥20-25 (fee varies with the weight of your bag). There are, surprisingly enough, senior local women whose English is advanced enough to act as your tour guide. They may likely approach you once inside the village or whilst walking along the paths, or your can enquire at the entrance. It is feasible to ask for a map at the entrances to the villages (they are not automatically given), to orient yourself with the area, and to get some background details. The area is well signposted, with maps at regular intervals as well. It is usually clear which way you need to walk.
Check the bus schedule from Longsheng station, the last bus leaves before the sunset since it would be dangerous to drive in the dark. 1-1h30 to get to Dazhai, a bit shorter to Ping'An.
The Rice Terraces. A short hike through Ping'An to the summit takes about 2 hours to complete, depending on fitness. JinKeng is slightly larger so may take more time. It is possible to hike between Ping'An and DaZhai (JinKeng) in about 3 hours, enquire about guides once at either of the villages. Longer hikes spanning more than one day are possible and will allow you to access more beautiful and less touristy areas of the mountain. ¥80, students ¥40. edit
Some very long hair. Longsheng is home to four minority nationalities: Miao, Yao, Dong and Zhuang. The Yao and Zhuang nationalities live in Longji. The Yao have distinctive clothing and hair styles which set them apart from other ethnic groups. Yao women are famous for having the longest hair in the world. They never cut their hair. Instead they wrap the hair in a bun on top of their head in a style resembling an Indian turban.Free to look, ¥10 for a photo. edit
Unique traditional style of houses. built largely from timber, the houses are typically rectangular and three stories high, though in Ping'An many are four stories and relatively large. Each ascending floor is a little larger than the lower. The shingles, windows and beams are typical of other Chinese building styles. In DaZhai, there are small dwellings that use the thick bark of trees as roof shingles. edit
Longsheng Hot Spring. A naturally hot spring and spa. It is recommended that you visit in winter or spring. edit
Hiking. There is some fabulous hiking to be done around the rice terraces, though finding your way when outside the signposted areas can be tricky at times; a local guide can lead the way for a small fee.edit
Around. There is a well sign-posted walk around Ping'An that takes you through Ping'An town itself, and up to both viewpoints - Viewpoint 1 (called Nine Dragons and Five Tigers) and Viewpoint 2 (Seven Stars with Moon), both of which have spectacular views of the town and surrounding terraces. The route is well sign-posted (look for the stone-engraved maps about the place) with good paths; completing the full circuit takes about 1 - 1.5 hrs. The hike is easier if you head through the village up to Viewpoint 2 then across the hills to Viewpoint 1 and back down steeply to Ping'An hrs.edit
Around Dazhai. It's a quieter and more rural village then Ping'An. No cars in the village. There are 3 peaks to hike and also some small villages around. In the Village is also a Library building where they sometimes dancing ans music events and also a School building where you can watch the pupils through the windows. No ATM in Dazhai - but you can change in Wisdom Inn money, also with credit card.(25.48517,110.09202)edit
Ping'An to Zhongliu and Dazhai, . The walk from Ping'An to Zhongliu takes approx 2 hours, from where it is another 2 hours to Dhazi. To Zhongliu Start by heading out from Ping'An up the hill to Viewpoint 1, then continue over the back and along a dirt road passing a small lake. The road will take you through beautiful rice fields for about 1,5 hours before you enter the small village of Zhongliu. Take some time to refresh and stock up on food/drinks at the local (and only) small shop, a great way to experience true Chinese backcountry live too. Leave through the village roughly continuing the direction you came from and head for Dazhai. After you left the village you need to take a left on a smaller paved road, leaving a big wooden structure on your right hand side. If you would continue straight on the bigger road you'll end up in Longsheng. Ask directions as this part can be quite confusing and all signs are in Chinese only, we were touted by local older ladies who offered to "guide" us which we eventually ended up doing (paid Y25 for all the way to dazhai). The second leg of the trip is absolutely stunning as you walk through the rice fields that seem to continue endlessly all around you. In about two hours after Zhongliu you will reach a small village, from there it is another 30 minutes to the carpark of Dazhai. Catch a taxi back to the front gate of ping'an for Y80, dont' forget to bring your entrance ticket as you need to show it again entering ping'an. edit
Several of the houses in the village are new or recently rebuilt. There are many small restaurants in the village where you can rest, refresh and enjoy country style Chinese food. At the path side you will find some people cooking rice on an open fire. The rice is stuffed inside the hollow core of a bamboo along with some meats, vegetables and spices. The bamboo tube is sealed and placed on the fire to cook. This is a popular traditional meal for the local people.
Although most tourists come here on a day trip, it is a very beautiful place worth staying for a night or two at either one of the villages. Ping'An is the more popular village with direct road access. The smaller, more remote villages require an additional hike on foot (locals offer to carry your bag for ¥20-25 depending on weight) and offer a more intimate experience. There are hotels and lodging with panoramic views of the rice terraces. When the terraces contain water, sunrises and sunsets can be mesmerising, making an overnight stay essential.
Longji Silver Terraces Hotel, ☎ 0773-7583027 / 013788542388 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Walk to The hotel is only 10 minutes from the Ping'An bus Stop. Adequate rooms with good views and air-con. Nice restaurant with good variety. Internet access with free wifi in roomsedit
Li Qing Hotel, ☎ 0773-7583048 / 013878352092 (email@example.com.). Claims to be the first guesthouse in Ping'An. Adequate rooms with good views and air-con. Nice restaurant with good variety. Internet access with free wifi in rooms.¥120-¥150. edit
Longji One Hotel, ☎ 0773-7583597 / 015878362703 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Newly built hotel (early 2009) with big windows and great views, very nice rooms and restaurant. Internet access (free wifi), air-conditioning. The owner, Mrs Spring (Liaochunnuan), is very helpful and speaks good English.edit
Xin Tian Hotel (鑫田酒店), Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces (a one hour walk up from Da Zhai Yao Village) (Longji Terraces), ☎ 18077371663(Sarah)/ 13768729177 (email@example.com, fax: 07737585768), . Located at the top of the Dragon Backbone Rice Terraces, the vista from the rooms provides a stunning view of the rice terrace valley below. Run by Sarah Wu and her husband, Xintian Hotel has a warm, family atmosphere. Recently opened in November 2012, the rooms are clean and come equipped with air conditioning/heating, western toilets, 24 hours hot water, wifi, and towels. Restaurant menu has a wide selection of Western and Chinese dishes. Sarah, an English speaker, can arrange someone to pick you up at the Da Zhai bus stop at the base of the valley. A baggage carrier (¥40 per bag) is not included in the room price. Contact Sarah for a direct shuttle bus from the Guilin South Train Station to Da Zhai for ¥50 per person.¥80-150. edit
JinTian Guest House (龙脊金田酒店), Tian Tou Village(very beautiful 30 min walk from Da Zhai) (Longji Terraces), ☎ 15877000383 (Hannah)/ 07737585683 (firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com, fax: 07737585683), . Family-run guesthouse with good accommodation (aircon/heated rooms), restaurant, internet in lobby, very friendly. Call and someone will meet you at the Da Zhai gate. Good views from patio and rooms.¥80-120. (25.484527',110.084683)edit
JinKeng international youth hostel (金坑国际青年旅舍), Tian Tou Village(up from Da Zhai Yao village) (Longji terraces), ☎ 0773-7585689/13457315769 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . checkin: 12：am; checkout: 12:am. Western-style food,public free internet service,free wifi,hot shower,air-conditioner,bookstore,laundry room ,restaurant, table football,good spoken english,thai language and cantonese.¥30-¥180. edit
JinKeng Vegetarian Hostel (梯田水稻田头旅馆), Tian Tou Village(up from Da Zhai Yao village) (Longji terraces), ☎ 0773-7585655/13877353800 (email@example.com), . Vegetarian food/internet/hostel. Comfortable atmosphere with books, great food, coffee, and good views down the terraces. English spoken.edit
Tianranju Inn (天然居客栈), Tian Tou Village(very beautiful 30 min-40min walk from Da Zhai) (dazhi Terraces), ☎ 13667830482 (Jimmy Qin) 15877001801 (Hannah) / 07737585633 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . restaurant, WIFI,24 hour hot shower, English speaking, englis menue,very friendly. Call and someone will meet you at the Da Zhai gate.¥90-160. edit
Wisdom Inn (智者家园), Dazhai Village - 2nd House left side (Longji Terraces), ☎ +86-189-77391660 (Sandy) (email@example.com / wisdom-inn@MSN.com, fax: +86-773-7585690), . Family-run guesthouse with good accommodation (private bathroom), restaurant, wi-fi internet in whole house, terrace, Home-made bread and yoghurt, English speaking, very friendly. Call or email so staff can tell you with short response time when direct bus from Guilin is available und reserve seats. There is also webcams so can can check view and weather from remote.¥280-380. (25.48517',110.09202)edit
Guilin - This popular tourist city is only 2 hours away. Take the public bus and change at Heping; take the express bus direct from Dazhai (see Get In); or hire one of the private minibus drivers from the parking lots. Private minibus costs ¥50 per person from Dazhai, minimum ¥200 for the trip (eg 2 persons is ¥100 each), but it is easy to gather enough people waiting at the car park. Slower than the express bus, with poorer suspension, but leaves more or less when you want to and can take you to your hotel.
Sanjiang - focal point of the Dong minority, visit nearby Chengyang to see the elaborate wind-and-rain bridge.