Longsheng county in northeastern Guangxi province was the earliest county to be established in southern China.
Longsheng town is situated in a densely forrested area of over 2400 square kilometres and has a population of only 160 000 people. It is surrounded by mountains in four sides and lies 100 kilometres north of Guilin, as well as in the joint area of Heping River and Sang River. Built on the mountain slopes, the town boasts rows of tall buildings separated by banyan trees.
Close to Longsheng town there are the Hot Spring National Park and the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces: 60square kilometers of terraced rice fields southeast of Longsheng. They were first built in the Yuan dynasty and completed in the Qing dynasty by Zhuang people. The terraced fields are built along the slope winding from the riverside up to the mountaintop, with the highest place of an elevation of 885m and the lowest 380m. The coiling line spirals up from the mountain foot to the top, making the mountain looks like huge snail seen from afar
the Longji terraced fields is a fascinating scenic spot for tourist. Being one of the 12 top class scenic spots in Guangxi Province, the fields has a history of 600 years, which were first constracted in yuan dynasty and completed in early qing dynasty. These fields are result of hundreds of years wise management and hard work. The shinning terraces lace the mountain slopes like silver ribbons in spring. And summer breezes ripple the surface of the paddies in great waves. In fall layers of yellow crops make golden pagodas, and in winter hosts white snow dragons are said to make the terraces their home. The fields have combined magnificence and elegance, and form some of the finest scenery in China.
Longsheng itself is a rather common and noisy Chinese town lacking character, but it's a must stopover and transit hub for a trip to the famous Longji Rice Terraces in Ping'an and Jinkeng.
The amazing rice-terrace scenery is two hours from Longsheng City, with minority villages scattered throughout the area including the Zhuang villages of Ping’an and the Zhuang and Yao villages of Zhonglu, Dazhai and Xiaozhai.
The 60 sqkm rice terraces southeast of Longsheng were first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) and completed in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) by Zhuang people, on land sloping down to the riverside from the highest elevation of 885m down to 380m.
It is no exaggeration to say that where there is soil, there is a terrace. The terraces are found in the valley beside swiftly flowing rivers to the mountain tops with swirling clouds, or bordering verdant forest and cliff walls.
Even though the Longji Rice Terraces are large, they are made up of numerous patches no more than one mu (about 0.16 hectares). The outline is very smooth with gradients between 26 degrees and 35 degrees.
The rice terraces form beautiful natural scenery that varies from season to season. In spring, the fields are irrigated and the terraces look like great chains or ribbons hung on the hillsides. With the onset of summer, waves of green seem to flow down the mountainside. The theme for autumn is the harvest, when the mountainside takes on the golden color of ripened millet. Coming into winter, the mountains are covered with snow, just like dragons playing with water.
Apart from its amazing scenery, Longji is also in an area where some of China’s ethnic minority culture can be experienced. The Zhuang and Yao nationalities inhabit the area although it is mainly inhabited by the Zhuang people. The women dress in unique, colorful costumes and enjoy singing and dancing. Guests can join them to experience the original Zhuang way of life and culture. They are also able to stay with local families and enjoy Longji tea and Longji wine.
Best times to go
Of the four seasons, spring is the best time, when the green rice terraces are filled with water while autumn offers an array of striking colors.
How long to stay
A minimum of two days is recommended, and you can spend a few more days at the mountaintop just relaxing and counting the terraces.
Sunrise at Jinkeng Rice Terrace/trekking around the scenic spots
Shenzhen-Yangshuo/Guilin-Longsheng (or Heping)
Yangshuo has one bus leaving early in the morning for Longsheng. Or you can take a bus to Guilin first. Guilin Long-distance Bus Station has express and normal buses leaving for Longshen every 15 minutes, costing 14-25 yuan and taking two hours.
Admission: 50 yuan
There are many family-run hostels in Jinkeng, priced from 15 to 20 yuan per bed, shared bathroom with 24-hour hot water for bathing.
The guesthouse Quanjinglou is situated at the highest viewing point in Jinkeng, overlooking rice terraces and beautiful traditional Yao villages, offering the best view.
Most traditional wooden houses in Pingan have been transformed into simple lodges, offering clean rooms for 15 yuan per bed, shared bathroom with hot water.
There are three viewing points in Jinkeng Terrace, where you can enjoy different views of the scenery. Trekking to view points No. 1 and No. 2 from Dazhai takes about 15 minutes, while round trekking to No. 3 takes about three hours.
View point No. 1 is the best location to view the sunrise, while No. 2 is best for watching the sunset and No. 3 has the best panorama.
The ideal trekking route is from No. 3 to No. 1, and then to No. 2. Recommended by photographers.
While Ping'an is frequented by tourists from Guilin, Jinkeng is still relatively isolated and is more beautiful. Try to avoid Ping'an during weekends.
It is hard to imagine anywhere in the People's Republic untouched by civil engineers, the levelers of history. But truly nowhere else in China has life remained perfectly intact - culturally and naturally - as on the Dragon's Backbone in the rural villages of Longsheng county is southwest China.
While Guangxi Autonomous Region's one-two punch of geological wonders are provincial sites that should not be missed - Guilin for the red hat-wearing Chinese tour groups and Yangshuo for Western backpackers - Longji Titian is an ideal place for those who cherish rural tranquility and solitude.
Indeed, to get to the Dragon's Backbone one must ascend dizzying heights (the highest in southern China), and enter a mystical fog that removes everything travelers know about modern China, placing you in a time when people were one with the good earth.
No white tile buildings in sight, the pastoral villages, namely Dazai and Ping'an, are constructed entirely of two and three story wood cabins hugging the vertical mountainside, with spring water coursing through the town's canals. It is here travelers will find accommodations at the simple family-run inns that make up the two settlements.
While one may consider Dazai and Ping'an, located respectively at the northern and southern ends of the peak, as lodging paradises, they are but mere entrances to the wonders ahead. Most visitors are content with the designated "viewpoints" around the towns' terraced fields, but for the nimble hiker, continue on into the lush hillside. Follow a narrow path of mud and stone through a misty forest of venerable trees, dewy ferns and, yes, bubbling brooks.
The rice terraces, with sloping grades reaching 50 degrees, have been sculpted by generations of farmers beginning in the Yuan dynasty to shape the hillsides into grand agricultural pyramids not unlike those found in Guatemala or Mexico. The slopes are infinite in scope and, at an altitude of 1,100 meters, seem to have no bottom or peak. It is simply breathtaking. The hillsides that have been left uncultivated are threaded with trickling water, channeled from nearby springs to saturate the plots below, and are dotted with tombs of generations upon generations of agrarians, like those you'll see still working on the terraces.
Among them are the dark-skinned Zhaung, Bai and Yao minorities who, not unlike the Mayan Indians of Guatemala, are identifiable by the resplendence of their hand-woven traditional attire. While their men trudge through the muddy terraces sowing rice, the small women roam the paths like little florescent pink armies selling crafts and textiles kept in wicker baskets strapped on their backs. Their pierced earlobes hang with hoops of silver, and their hair, grown long since birth, is kept swathed on their heads. For a small sum though, they will happily undo their knot to show their hair cascading to the soil.
About 10 kilometers between Ping'an and Dazai is Zhongliu, a rustic village of arched stone bridges, dilapidated stables and stilted cottages symmetrically enclosed by terraces, crags and waterfalls. Hikers are approached by cheerful natives who do not hesitate to stop their plowing and ask "Chifan ma?" Their persistence to dine in their homes notwithstanding, what could be more refreshing after an exhausting morning navigating the mountain terrain than a spread of scented sticky rice baked in bamboo over an open fire, greens, salted meat and Longji tea or watery rice wine?
The undulating path continues on, with each bend revealing agricultural grandeurs and vistas of incomparable beauty. Late in the day, when the golden light of dusk illuminates the ribbon-like terraces, travelers encounter Longji's rush hour traffic; farmers descending into the outlying villages with bushels of reeds and firewood slung over their shoulders, alongside the occasional oxen grazing in the path. That's life on the misty mountaintop, where time has stood still for the past 700 hundred years.
Besides of the famous known Pingan village of Zhuang Minority Ethnic, there is another unknown Jinkeng Rice Terrace, which is home to Yao minorities. Jinkeng Rice Terraces are located around 25 miles (40 km) away from Longsheng, where you will be rewarded feats of farm engineering going all the way up a string of 2400 feet (800 m) mountains. The 66-square-km network irrigation project was began by the ethnic Zhuang in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and finished by the Qing (1644-1911).
There are two villages here in Jinkeng. The first village at the foot of the mountain is Dazai Village. Further uphill Yao people two-story cabins are nestled against the breathtaking man-made wonder. The layout of the village mimics the terraces fields symmetry, giving an appearance that the houses are stacked on top of one another- an integrated part of the land.
Climbing up the hill for 60 minutes, you will arrive Tiantouzai Village, where you will have a panoramic view of the whole area of Jinkeng Rice Terrace. Jinkeng rice terrace and villages here has not yet been known to many tourist, the facilities here are difficult, about 30 minutes extra drive then to Pingan village, muddy and bumping road, that is part of the reason why most of the drivers and tour guides will not take visitors to this remote village.
Notes: With the full of power and grandeur and the winding path leading to a secluded spot, Longji terrace lies in range of high mountains. It has been called "an absolute one under the heaven and the first one in the world:.The total area of Longji terrace is over 70.16 square kilometers. It was built at an elevation from 300 to 1,180 meters on the hillside. The terraces were first built in the Yuan Dynasty and completed in the Qing Dynasty by the Zhuang, Yao people. It has a history of more than 800 years. The superb Longji terrace reflects the outstanding plowing culture of rice cultivation and the xancin culture of minority's nationality. It was made by Zhuang and Yao ancestors with their wisdom and industrious and it is their crystallization of wisdom and the industrious sweat, too.
This area is simply one of those amazing places on Earth. The local minority Zhuang and Yao girls dressed in their own colors may have a demonstration on hair combing or singing and dancing upon guests' request and gratuity. This is the best place to view the colorful minority tribes of China. The life style, the primitive way of production and culture of ethnic minorities might bring you to the history of thousand years ...