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Longji Rice Terraces (龙脊梯田): the complete guide

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 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 Northeastern part of the province, about a 3 hours ride from Guilin. Getting around the whole area can be challenging, especially if you are not used to travelling around China. So, I’ll try to keep things as simple as possible. But first things first, let’s see when the best time to visit Longji is.

When is the best time to visit the Longji rice terraces?

As with other rice terraces in Asia, there are two seasons when it’s 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 different, so you’d have to pick the one you like the most.

If you want to see the water on 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 before that. To be 100% sure about the day the harvesting begins, I recommend you contact the hotel where you plan 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)

Courtesy of China Highlights

There are two main areas where most of the terraces are located: Ping’an (平安壮寨梯田) and Dazhai (大寨). Dazhai is sometimes referred to as Jinkeng. The two areas are NOT directly connected; I’ll give you more details later.

Ping’an (平安壮寨梯田) terraces fields: all you need to know

Ping’an is the most developed area, but that doesn’t mean it’s more touristy than Dazhai. It has more souvenir shops, restaurants, and hotels because it was the first area to be developed. When I visited Longji, I 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 importantly, the timetable of the buses is a real pain. I suggest booking a hotel and then asking them to help you. It depends on where you arrive, either one of the three train stations or the airport. There are direct buses from Guilin to Ping’an; some 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), and then it will drive you to the entrance of the Ping’an area where they’ll check your ticket. From there you’ll have to walk for about 20 minutes to the village
  • What to see in Ping’an: two viewing platforms are 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.
Nine Dragons and Five Tigers (九龙五虎), aka 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).

Seven Stars Accompany the Moon (七星伴月)

Most people 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. One night is enough unless you want to hike from Ping’an to Dazhai (the hike requires about 8 hours). I don’t recommend a day trip from Guilin unless you are in a hurry.

I don’t have any particular recommendations about the hotels. I 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 they were related to how to get there, and the hosts were unhelpful once I arrived. I don’t recommend this structure. Find something else if you can.

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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 you 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 there 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 hire a local driver or, in my case, take a bus from the Ping’an parking area to Erlong Qiao (二龙桥), then change and take another one from Erlong Qiao to Dazhai. Erlong Qiao is 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 with Ping’an, getting the right info is confusing, and it’s best if you contact your hotel and explain where you are arriving in Guilin. I arrived at the Guilin Xi train station and had to change a couple of buses, one of which had to be booked by the hotel. You 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 the village. The buses will take you to the Dazhai parking area (where you can take the cable car to platform 3); you have to hire a local driver from the parking. The fixed price for the 10-minute ride is 30RMB. Alternatively, you can walk up to the village. In my opinion, is not worth it, though.
  • What to see in Dazhai: in Dazhai, there are 3 viewing platforms. Two of them are located in Tiantouzhai, so I recommend staying there. Besides the platforms, there are a lot of trails and paths 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 (there was 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 by a cable car, meaning it’s the most popular tourist spot.

A note if you are staying in Tiantouzhai and want to hike to the Golden Buddha Peak: despite being not far away, 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. Going there for the sunset 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 hire a local motorbike driver to take me back to Tiantouzhai. They’ll rip you off, be warned.

Most 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. You can do several hikes that will take you longer than that, or you can stay just for one night. It 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 who was super helpful in helping me arrange and book the buses and gave me some tips regarding what to see. The food is also very good, and you’ll feel at home. The location is also great: right in the middle of the rice fields. Recommended!

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Final thoughts about Longji

Longji is 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 visit Yangshuo (here’s my guide). Just take your time, explore the area at your own pace, and immerse yourself in nature, which is often quite difficult to do if you visit China.

Here are the other pictures I took in Longji. Here’s my article with some of the most interesting places to visit in Tibet.

2 thoughts on “Longji Rice Terraces (龙脊梯田): the complete guide”

  1. Daria

    Ciao Fabio, sono una appassionata viaggiatrice piem9ntese, viaggio sempre da sola e i viaggi più belli che h9 fatto sono atari quelli on the road alle Azzorre, in Sudafrica e (appena tornata) in Inghilterra e Galles. Adoro guidare all’estero x visitare le zone che ho pianificato, anche se a sinistra lo trovo impegnativo, mi dà un senso di libertà che altri mezzi non mi danno. E me lo posso permettere, nonostante i noleggio siano cari. In Cina tipo Yunnan e foresta di pietra è possibile spostarsi con auto noleggiata? Grazie e un abbraccio. Daria

    1. Fabio Nodari

      Ciao Daria, bello trovare altri Piemontesi come me appassionati di viaggi 🙂

      In Cina purtroppo non è semplice noleggiare l’auto perchè la patente internazionale non è riconosciuta. Bisogna prendere la patente Cinese. Non è difficile ottenerla perchè se si ha già la patente italiana basta fare l’esame di teoria. Ma ci vuole qualche giorno per studiare le domande, e bisogna far tradurre la tua patente qui in Cina.

      In teoria potresti studiare tutto in Italia (usando l’app per fare pratica) e appena arrivi in Cina fare il test e se ti va bene sei subito pronta per guidare. In pratica è troppo rischioso. Se per qualche motivo non passi il test o non puoi farlo subito devi poi cambiare i piani. Detto questo comunque tieni presente che al momento la Cina è ancora chiusa al turismo purtroppo.

      Spero ti sia stata utile questa risposta.

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