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Longji Rice Terraces

Guilin, China

Dragon’s Backbone or Longji rice terraces in Longsheng, is an amalgamation of human ingenuity and nature’s bounty. To effectively utilize sparse cultivable land, several centuries ago, the farmers came up with the technique to grow their rice by trimming the mountain sides and planting on ribbon like stretches of land across it. Today, it is not only a key feature to their livelihood, but the landscape gets rave reviews from travelers all across the globe.

On a distance of 100 kms from the land of spectacular karst scenery, Guilin, the rice terraces can be reached in almost 3 hours. Once you have arrived, there is a ticket to enter the area at RMB95, valid for 2 days (back-to-back; ideal duration for a trip) and across the whole rice terrace landscape. All four seasons bring their own spectacles for visitors, though spring and autumn are considered absolutely magnificent.

There are three areas that you can explore within Longsheng’s rice terraces; Longji Ancient Zhuang Terraced Fields, Jinkeng Red Yao Terraced Fields and Ping’an Terraced Fields (which are the more commercialized by far). Within these main areas, you can come face to face with the Yao and Zhuang ethnic minorities of China. So, it is not only a unique landscape but a chance to immerse yourself in a completely different culture, that tends to delight all visitors to this place.

The Ping’an terraced fields have seen the most tourist activity and thus gotten a major face-lift with new hotels and hostels and facilities springing up all over. This is where you initially rest your feet after the bus ride from Guilin. The attractions in this area are some of the funky named scenery like the 9 Dragon and 5 Tigers or the 7 Stars Accompany the Moon.

A short distance (2 hours by foot) to the west, you can find the Longji Old Terraces, which has its own beauty with the added charm of a very authentic Zhuang culture experience since it is not as urbanized, and the original architecture remains intact.

Towards the east, are the Jinkeng fields, where fewer travelers tread though it comes equipped with a cable car that will take you to the highest elevation at a cost of RMB55 one way and RMB100 round trip. The two major villages there are Dazhai and Tiantou. Majority of the hype on the media about this place is courtesy of the pictures captured from the West Hill Music, near Tiantou and the highest elevation fields. This area also has the highest concentration of Red Yao ethnicity and a taste of their culture is a memory that you will cherish for long.

But the scenery is not all there is to take in (though it maybe the main lure). The 4 gems of the region are the Longji chili, the cloud and mist tea, the watery wine made from Longji sticky rice, which themselves are one of the gems. These you must try as you mingle with the locals of the land.

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