For the farmers who reside in Southern China’s Longji region, rice terraces are simply a way of life. Yet for the thousands of annual visitors who make the 2-hour journey from the city of Guilin, the Longji Rice Terraces—nicknamed the Dragon’s Backbone—are an iconic symbol of Chinese agriculture and one of the most photographed sites in the country.
Here in Longji, in Longsheng county, layer upon layer of cultivated terraces stretch skyward on steep slopes—at some points they slope at over 50° angles. Despite the dramatic grades of the mountainside, however, traditional Chinese rice farmers have managed to sculpt the hillside into orderly terraces that annually yield massive harvests of rice.
When visiting the Longji Rice Terraces, you can walk among rural and traditional villages that still house ethnic minority people such as the Yao and Zhuang people. Most travelers visit as part of a guided day trip from Guilin; these self-guided, small-group, or private tours often include a visit to a Zhuang or Yao village, where women still grow very long hair in a traditional style.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Longji Rice Terraces are a must-see for photographers and those looking for a rural escape.
- Day trips to the rice terraces from Guilin last upwards of eight hours, and often include hotel pickup and drop-off from your Guilin hotel.
- Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
How to Get There
Due to their considerable distance from Guilin (59 miles/95 kilometers), the easiest and most convenient way to visit the terraces in and around Longsheng is to book a guided tour.
When to Get There
Though there really isn’t a bad season to visit the Dragon’s Backbone. The early summer months of May and June are popular for photographers, as this is when the terraces are irrigated and cast a mirrored effect that crawls up the walls of the valleys.
Which Terraces to Visit
The Longji region is home to several picturesque rice paddies, the most famous of which are the terraced fields of Ping’an Village. Less touristed and perhaps more visually impressive are the fields at Jinkeng near Dazhai Village.