Hiking the Dragon’s Backbone at Longji Rice Terraces

Everything you need to know about hiking and visiting Longji Rice Terraces.

Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone Guangxi China

Carved into the side of mountains like the stairs of mythical giants, the Lonji Rice Terraces in the Guangxi province of China is a scene of such splendid and breathtaking beauty it has to be seen to be believed. After witnessing the striking imagery of the rice terraces in Northern Vietnam, we were giddy with excitement to make our way to one of the most famous rice paddies on the face of the planet.

Shrouded in legend, the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces are etched into over 66 square kilometres of steep, mountainous landscapes. Construction of the terraces began during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1358) and were not completed until the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

While the best time to visit the Longji Rice Terraces is at the end of Spring (late May) when the fields are filled with water, this wonder of ancient agricultural engineering is truly spectacular at any time of year. We explored and hiked the terraces for two days at the beginning of May and were captivated by the gorgeous vistas to be had from every viewing point.

No trip to Southern China would be complete without a journey through the karst landscapes at Yangshuo and the Longji Rice Terraces. Two days was not enough time for us to truly appreciate the divine beauty, meaning we will have to add the destination onto our list of places to return to.

Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone

How To Get To Longji Rice Terraces From Guilin

The Longji Rice Terraces are about 100km North of Guilin City, and it takes about 2.5 hours to drive there. You have a couple of options to get out to the rice terraces, such as taking part in a day tour from Guilin, organising a private car or taxi (which we did), or taking a couple of public buses.

The Bus To Longji

Head to the Qin Lan Bus Station (琴潭 – not the one in the centre of town near the train station) and board a bus headed to Longsheng Town (龙胜). Buses leave every 15 minutes, the journey will take two hours, and cost 22-28 RMB. There will be plenty of minivan drivers offering to take you there to. Depending on your negotiating skills, you may be able to go with one of them.

Once you get to Longsheng Town you need to swap to another local bus to the Longji Rice Terraces, which will take another hour and cost 9RMB. The buses will take you to different villages, so know which one you want to go to before jumping on a bus.

  • Longji Ancient Zhuang Village (龙脊古壮寨)
  • Huangluo Red Yao Village (黄洛红瑶寨)

Note – It is actually better to get off one stop before Longsheng at the town of Heping (和平) as there is an actual bus station there with better connections to the rice terraces.

Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone

Private Shuttle Bus

It is easy to organise a private shuttle bus from Guilin City to Lonji Rice Terraces. The cost should be about 350RMB, and your accommodation (either in Guilin or in Longji) can organise this for you.

We organised our bus through Jimmy, the owner of the Tian Ranju Inn. He was extremely helpful and even sent us photos of the driver and minivan so we knew we were definitely getting the right one from the Guilin train station (桂林火车站). The cost was 50RMB a person and it dropped us off in Dazhai Village, which was a 30 minute walk from the heart of the Longji Rice Terraces.

Cost Of Entrance To Longji Rice Terraces

  • Standard Adult – 100RMB
  • Student or Over 60 – 50RMB
Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone

Where We Stayed At Longji Rice Terraces

We stayed at the Tian Ranju Inn in the Tiantou Village, located right in the centre of the Longji Rice Terraces. We called the owner Jimmy to enquire first (he speaks excellent English), and then emailed him. He sent through a very detailed email, including perfect directions on how to find his guest house when you arrive at Dazhai Village (it is about a 30 minute walk). If you have heavy luggage, sweet minority ladies will carry it for you for 50RMB (sometimes more).

Even easier now you can book your stay at Longsheng Dazhai Tian Ranju Inn through Booking.com, saving the worry about missing out on a spot there.

The Tian Ranju Inn was absolutely beautiful, and we really loved it there. The staff were friendly and the views were superb. The food admittedly was a bit expensive, but you cannot expect it to be cheap when you are this high up. We went for the basic room and this was more than fine for us. Due to the wooden floors and walls, it is quite loud when people walk around, so just keep this in mind. Overall we had a great time there and would stay again.

Tian Ranju Inn Best Place To Stay Accommodation Hostel Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone
The view from the common area of the Tian Ranju Inn.

Tian Ranju Inn

  • Basic Room – 90RMB
  • Double Room – 150RMB
  • Twin Room – 150RMB
  • Triple Room – 180RMB

Prices do become more expensive during Chinese holidays.

Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone
Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone
Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone
Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone
Longsheng Longji Rice Terraces Dragon's Backbone
Alesha and Jarryd

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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13 thoughts on “Hiking the Dragon’s Backbone at Longji Rice Terraces”

  1. How can I roam around the terraces and villages aside from hiking, are there buses? Or bikes for rent? Staying for 3 days.

    • Walking is the best option Sharlene. You maybe be able to hire a bike but the roads in town are mostly gravel and very unstable on the rice terrace areas. You could get a shared van to the nearest village or talk to your accommodation, maybe they could help with transport. Definitely bring a translator book.

  2. Hey guys! Such a great post. We are gonna go there late June. However, we will stay only for a day and night. Confused between ping’an and Dazhai village. Which one could be good option for one day tour? Or is it possible to make both in a day and nigt?

    • Dazhai village is less touristy than the well known village of Ping’an, so it all depends on yourself. There are some great forums on trip advisor or people discussing this. Maybe take a look at them and see how you feel after reading. Sorry we can’t help more. All the best and happy travels.

  3. Great post, I will be traveling there in a few months on my way back from Tibet. Check out my website maybe we can work together!

    • Have fun. It is an amazing place. All the best with your travels Stephen.

  4. We seem to have very similar interests lol. We also stayed in Tiantouzhai in 2011, although we spend 2 nights/2 days there, hiking and soaking up the scenery. I had heard rumors they were talking about putting in cable cars.. I’m glad to see they didn’t! It’s nice the hike to get to the top meant many didn’t bother going up there and it felt like the whole place was to yourself as soon as you left the village. Even in the village it was remote enough. 🙂

    Again, fantastic photos!!

    • Thank you so much. It was hard not to take a bad photo there. We are so glad there is no cable car. That will totally destroy the place. Glad you had a great time when you were there. Happy travels

  5. Hi,

    What do you think is the best 1 day trip option for a solo traveler?


    • Personally we would stay a night. It is a beautiful area. Totally fine for solo travellers. 🙂

  6. Great post 🙂

    Just been there and I totally agree, those rice terraces are amazing even when is not the right season.
    I wander how beautiful they’d look in early October, when the fields are golden!

  7. The scenery looks absolutely breathtaking guys. I have been following you along on Facebook and the images seriously make we wanna go to China right now. It reminds me of the documentary “Wild China”. Have you ever seen it? If not, and you have some time on your hands, check it out. You’ll love it.

    • Thanks so much Ben! We haven’t had a chance to watch Wild China. Will definitely add it to the list when we get decent internet to stream movies again. Cheers for the tip 🙂

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