In this article you’ll find all the info you need to organize a trip to the rice terraces of Longji in Guangxi Province.
The Longji rice terraces are among some of the most iconic locations in Guangxi province, along with the karst hills and Lijiang river in Yangshuo and Xingping (here’s my guide).
Sometimes referred to as Longsheng, they are located in the North-Eastern part of the province, about a 3 hours ride from Guilin. Getting around the whole area can be a bit challenging especially if you are not used to traveling around China. So I’ll try to keep things as simple as possible. But first things first, let’s see when it’s the best time to visit Longji.
When it’s the best time to visit the Longji rice terraces
As in the case of any other rice terraces in Asia, there are two seasons when it’s really worth going there: when the fields are filled with water and when the rice is ready to be harvested. I visited the Yunnan rice fields of Yuanyang when they were filled with water (you can find my guide here) and the Longji terraces right before the harvest season. The landscapes are totally different so you’d have to pick the one you like the most.
If you want to see the water in the terraces the best period is between the end of May and the beginning of June. The harvest season is usually around mid-October so you should visit right before that. To be 100% sure about the day when the harvesting begins I recommend you to actually contact the hotel where you are planning to stay and ask for the exact time.
What to see in Longji: Ping’an (平安壮寨梯田) vs Dazhai (大寨)
There are two main areas where most of the terraces are located: Ping’an (平安壮寨梯田) vs Dazhai (大寨). Dazhai is sometimes referred to as Jinkeng. The two areas are NOT directly connected and I’ll give you more details about that later on.
Ping’an (平安壮寨梯田) terraces fields: all you need to know
Ping’an si the most developed area but that doesn’t mean it’s more touristy than Dazhai. It simply has more souvenirs shops, restaurants, and hotels because it was the first area to be developed. When I visited Longji I actually found more people in Dazhai than in Ping’an.
- How to get to Ping’an from Guilin: figuring out how to get to the different locations from Guilin using public buses only and, most important, the timetable of the buses is a real pain. My suggestion is to book an hotel and then ask them to help you out. It depends from where you arrive, either one of the three train stations or the airport. There are direct buses from Guilin to Ping’an though and some of them leave from the Guilin bus station. The bus will take you first to the Longji ticket office where you’ll have to buy the 80RMB ticket (valid for 48 hours that must be used to enter the scenic area and it’s valid for both Ping’an and Dazhai) andthen it will drive you to the entrance of the Ping’an area where they’ll check you ticket. From there you’ll have to walk for about 20 minutes to the village
- What to see in Ping’an: there are two viewing platform easily reached after a short hike. They are both ideal to watch the sunset. The most famous one is called Nine Dragons and Five Tigers (九龙五虎). In English these rice fields are often called Dragon’s back.
The second platform is located on the other side of the village and is called Seven Stars Accompany the Moon (七星伴月).
Most of the people living in the area belong to the Zhuang minority, one of the 55 officially recognized in China. Despite being only 1 hour away from Dazhai they dress completely differently and speak a different dialect.
Where to stay in Ping’an and for how long
Visiting Ping’an doesn’t require a lot of time. I’d say that one night is enough unless you want to hike from Ping’an to Dazhai (the hike requires about 8 hours). I don’t recommend doing a day trip from Guilin unless you really are in a hurry.
I don’t have any particular recommendations about the hotels. I just want to say where you should NOT stay: I stayed at the Internation Youth Hostel YHA since many bloggers recommended it but had quite a negative experience. They never replied to any of my emails that were quite important since were related to how to get there and the hosts were totally unhelpful once I arrived. I personally don’t recommend this structure. Find something else if you can.
Dazhai (大寨梯田) terraces fields: all you need to know
The second area you might want to visit is Dazhai. And if your time is limited and only have time for one area I’d pick Dazhai over Ping’an: the scale of the area is bigger and in my opinion is just a more beautiful location. I visited both areas. Since the are several villages it might be difficult to pick the best location. I recommend staying in the Tiantouzhai village (田头寨).
- How to get to Dazhai from Ping’an: Keep in mind that there are NO direct buses connecting them, for some governmental reason I was told. You’d have to either hire a local driver or, as in my case, take a bus from Ping’an parking area to Erlong Qiao (二龙桥) then change and take another one from Erlong Qiao to Dazhai. Erlong Qiao is the area where a bridge connects the Ping’an road to the main road. You better ask your hotel for more info. Just keep in mind that it’s possible to use public transportation.
- How to get to Dazhai from Guilin: as in the case with Ping’an getting the right info is confusing and it’s best if you contact your hotel and explain where are you arriving in Guilin. I arrived at the Guilin Xi trains station and had to change a couple of buses, one of which had to be booked by the hotel. You simply can’t book it unless you have a chinese id. That’s how China works.
- How to get to Tiantouzhai: there is no public transportation to get to the village. The buses will take you to the Dazhai parking area (where you can take the cable car to platform 3) and from the parking you have to hire a local driver. The fixed price for the 10 minutes ride is 30RMB. Alternatively you can walk all the way up to the village. In my opinion is not worth it though.
- What to see in Dazhai: in Dazhai there are 3 viewing platform. Two of them are located in Tiantouzhai and that’s why I recommend staying there. Besides the platforms there are a lot of trails and path you can explore. It’s a really beautiful location.
Platform one is called West Hill Music (西山韶乐) and is ideal for sunrises (no sun when I visited, unfortunately).
Platform two is called Large-Scale Thousand-Layer Terraces (大界天层天梯) and is also ideal for sunrises.
Finally, platform three is called Golden Buddha Peak (金佛顶). It’s connected to the Dazhai parking area with a cable car and that means that it’s the most touristic.
A note if you are staying in Tiantouzhai and want to hike to the Golden Buddha Peak: despite being not far away, in fact, you can see it from Tiantouzhai and it looks quite close, the hike is quite long (at least 2 hours). You’ll have to hike down the mountain and then up to the top of the next mountain. If you go there for the sunset it means you’ll have to hike back in the dark for about 2 hours or more. I wasn’t told how long the hike was and had to actually hire a local motorbike driver to take me back to Tiantouzhai. They’ll rip you off, be warned.
Most of the people living in Dazhai belong to the Red Yao minority and are famous for their long hair.
Where to stay in Tianthouzhai and for how long
I stayed two nights and they were enough to take all the sunrise and sunset pictures in the locations I mentioned in this guide. There are a number of hikes you can do that will take you longer than that or you can stay just for one night. It really depends on how much time you have. I think two nights are quite a good balance.
Regarding the accommodation, I stayed in the Dragon’s Den Hostel a very simple but lovely hostel with an amazing host that was super helpful in helping me arrange and book the buses and also giving me some tips regarding what to see. The food is also very good and you’ll feel at home. The location is great as well: right in the middle of the rice fields. Definitely recommended!
Final thoughts about Longji
Longji is definitely worth a visit especially if you have never seen a terraced field. Getting there is a bit complicated but not nearly as difficult as getting to Yuanyang in Yunnan (the bus ride takes 7 hours from Kunming). But in my opinion, Yuanyang is also more spectacular.
This being said, you can’t go wrong with either of them. Longji is also an easy option if you are visiting Yangshuo as well (here’s my guide). Just take your time, explore the area at your own pace and immerse yourself in nature, something that it’s often quite difficult to do if you are visiting China.