The Longji rice 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. Blossoming 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 busses to Longsheng leave from 2011 from the new 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 is to take at direct bus from the parking lot in front of the railway station for ¥40. Departure is 08:30 and 14:00 to Dazhai in high season.
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.
Longsheng is also on your route if going Hong Kong to Kunming overland.