Longji Rice Terraces Hiking
The Longji Rice Terraces, also known as Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces or Longsheng Rice Terraces, is a must-see attraction if you are a hiking lover.
Most tourists head to Ping' an (the most famous village in the area) only to take some photos from the viewpoints, taste bamboo rice and then go back to Guilin city.
But if you want to soak up the stunning views of the rice terraces and catch a glimpse of local minority people’s life, you should not miss an opportunity to hike among the rice fields.
Read everything you need to know about hiking the rice terraces of Longji in this post!
The Most Popular Hiking Routes
The terraced fields of Longji offer some of the most spectacular scenery in China and offer a wealth of opportunities to hike throughout the rice terraces and interact with minority people.
Dazhai - Ping’ an (or vice versa): 4-5 hours
The total hike is about 20km (12 miles) and takes 4-5 hours. This hike can be walked either direction starting from Ping' an or Dazhai.
The route involves both uphill and downhill trails. You will be walking in the mountains, forest, along the terraces on different levels, in villages. It is very divers!
The hiking route has been well explored and most roads are paved with stones. It is possible to get lost on the meandering paths without a guide.
Although it is doable in one day, you can take it more slowly and finish it in two days. On the first day, you can stay overnight at Dazhai or Tiantouzhai and go to the viewpoints (Golden Buddha Peak and Music from Paradise) for sunset or sunrise. On the second day, head to Ping' an.
Ping' an to Longji Ancient Zhuang Village: about 2 hours
If you are not fit, you can take a shorter hike from Ping' an to Longji Ancient Zhuang Village, 12km (7 miles), about 2 hours. It is easy to hike as most of the route is downhill.
Walking through the villages and local life (homes, huts, farms) on the way gives you a different perspective of life in the rice fields (rather than just from the top).
Rice Terraces Hike Difficulty
The hike around the terraces is not that long, but hiking up and down the stone steep steps is not that easy, and you should consider your level of fitness.
We think every average hiker should be able to finish the hike, but if you have a bad knee, take either trekking poles or find a wooden stick along the way which will help you to keep the balance.
Hiking Independently VS Trekking with a Guide
It is better to hike with a guide than independently, because the route among villages is not well-marked, and it is quite easy to get lost in the fields, or you most likely won't be able to find the best way on own.
Along your hike, you will encounter local villagers offering to be your guide for the hike. However, they cannot help you a lot because they don’t speak English and will not be able to read your map.
We recommend you book an English-speaking guide in advance. He/she will not only lead the way but also share the stories about the rice terraces and the local people.
When to Hike the Longji Rice Terraces
The best time to hike the terraced fields is from late April to May when the fields are filled by water and look like thousands of mirrors reflecting the sky.
Also from late September to early October when the rice is ripe and all fields turn into a golden spectacle.
The rainy season in Longji is between late June and early August when you can expect wet weather conditions and slippery roads. You might walk in the fog.
How to Get to the Longji Rice Terraces
The Longji Rice Terraces is about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Guilin, about 145 kilometers (90 miles). It takes 3 hours by driving from downtown Guilin, 5 hours from Yangshuo.
There is no direct bus to Longji from Guilin and Yangshuo either. If travelling independently, you can consider take the troublesome buses or hire a taxi which is expensive.
We recommend booking a trip with a car and a driver. It will save you one hour on the road.
Where to Stay
Where to stay, Ping’ an, Dazhai or Tiantouzhai?
Ping'an: Busy and commercial. Many hostels, some pubs and bars. Easy walk for rice terraces viewpoints. The size of the rice terraces is smaller but more exquisite.
Dazhai: Less touristy than Ping’ an, and quieter. Not so many hostels and shops. The size of the rice terraces is bigger and more spectacular.
Tiantouzhai is about 45 mins from Dazhai. It is higher up the mountain and offers much better views. It is closer to the viewpoints for sunrise and sunset. Due to mostly uphill climb, you can hire porters for your luggage.
You can choose your accommodation among the three villages. Do not expect anything fancy, hostels are usually basic.
If you have time, you can stay two nights in this area, one in Dazhai/Tiantouzhai, and the other one in Ping’ an. You will have a different experience.