The Longji Rice Terraces (Also know as the Dragon’s Backbone) are an exceptional combination man made and natural wonder, and are often considered an essential place to visit if you are in the area. The Longji Rice Terraces are about 200km north west of yangshuo in Longshen county. With recent developments to the roads the Longji Rice Terraces are more accessible than ever before.
Construction of the terraces started during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and continued through to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) This gives you a good idea of the scale of the project with entire generation spending their lives working and developing the area into what we see today. It is a true testament to the character of the minorities that call it there home.
A view for every Season
Longji Rice Terraces are truly a sight to behold, thousand of small terraces cut into the mountain side flow around the natural lines of the mountains, creating a sea of depth and colour. One great beauty’s of the area is the different atmospheres created throughout the year, From crystal reflections of the sky, Green waves of maturing rice in summer, and the golden throws of autumn. And for the fortunate snow fall in winter can bring a unique feel. Even with rainy weather mists roll off the fields creating stunning vistas.
Culture and Minorities
If the terraces themselves where not enough, there is the exceptional architecture and beauty of the homes in the area. Built on stilts they sit in small clusters sporadically among the terrace mazes. Hosting several different minorities including, Zhuang, Yao, Miao and Dong groups. These exceptional groups add a beautiful splash of colour and rich culture to the area. Many can be seen wearing their traditional clothing as they wander the terraces. Regular celebrations and festivals offer an insight into their unique cultures, with plenty of singing, dancing, local foods and rice wine! These events can be an memory you will never forget.
There two main areas of the Longji Rice Terraces that are most commonly visited. Each has its own charm and character and offering different view points and atmospheres.
Pingan Rice Terraces – 平安壮寨梯田
The most well know due to its earlier development for tourism is the Ping’an Zhuang Village Terraced Fields (平安壮寨梯田). Being the first area to embrace tourism it has developed a great deal towards this, and is usually considered the busiest of the terrace areas.
Offering a good selection of well equipped and comfortable (if Basic) accommodation as well as various dining options, It also has the most developed transport network making it easier to access that the other areas. The most popular view points in the area are:
七星伴月 – Seven start accompany the moon
九龙五虎 – Nine Dragons & Five tigers
Jinkeng (Dazhai) Terraces
Set further out from the entrance to the area, Dazhai receives less traffic and has developed accordingly; retaining more of an authentic and rustic feel. The terraces in the area are generally larger than those found in Pingan and much higher up, offering even larger scale vistas.
The area now places host to a cable car, which offers ease of access to the golden Buhdha peak viewpoint, From here it is easy to access and travel among the other villages and viewpoints. This also opens the terraces to those whose fitness or age may impair there travel. The most popular viewpoints to be enjoyed include:
西山韶乐 – West Hill Music
大界天层天梯 – Large-Scale thousand layer terraces
金佛顶 – Golden Buddha Peak
A perfect picture
One of the most popular attractions to tourist are the amazing photo opportunity’s available from the beauty of the terraces. Depending on the season and time of day these images can be drastically different.
Mid-May – Early June : During this period the terraces are flooded with water after, and during, the planting of the rice. The water in the terraces can act like a mirror reflecting the sky above and can look like strips of silver rolling around the mountain sides
Late September – Early October : Harvest season is as you would expect a sea of golden tones, with winds casting waves of shimmering light of the matured rice.
A day or two
The rice terraces can be done as a single day trip, which does involve an early start to get the most out of your time in the area. For those on flexible travel plans. Stay a night at the terraces to watch the sunrise. Its a beautiful experience. And gives the opportunity to hike between the 2 village areas.
For photographers the extra time offers many more opportunities for a dynamic range of views.