Our Visit To Longji Rice Terraces
Our bus bumped along the rough mountain road as we approached the Longji Rice Terraces.
We’d been travelling for just under four hours since leaving Yangshuo in Guangxi province.
During our stay in Yangshuo studying Tai Chi, we’d heard about the Longji Rice Terraces and what a spectacle they are especially if we timed our visit to coincide with what’s known as Golden Week.
Golden Week is the optimal time to visit and see all the rice plants turn golden just before they are harvested.
We’d booked and caught the bus in Yangshuo to take us directly to the rice terraces which are close to the town of Longsheng.
The bus wound it’s way around the steep mountain roads as it neared our destination.
We were only staying two nights in the rice terrace area and had booked a lodge overlooking the countryside which we hoped would be nice.
The bus arrived at the parking lot where we disembarked and grabbed our backpacks.
The rice terraces cover a big area so to get to our lodge we either had to trek or take the cable car that travels from the car park area to high up in the terraces.
We decided to walk ( with heavy bags this can be quite a trek) even though our lodge was right at the very top of the terraces.
The path winds it’s way around the terraced fields and through tiny hamlets of old wooden buildings.
It can be a bit of a maze to find the correct lodge and many of them have similar names but we picked our way up the hillsides getting higher and higher.
It was a hot day so we had to keep stopping to rest and drink water.
It turned out our lodge was pretty much at the highest point of the area which was great for views but not so great on our kegs.
Arriving At Longji Rice Terraces
The Longji Landscape Is Stunning
After a lot of asking around for directions, we spotted our lodge in the distance, perched on its own, overlooking the valley below.
All the lodges in the terraces are of similar wooden design so they all look basically the same.
The interiors are all timber so everything is very creaky.
We were welcomed by the owner and shown to our room which although very basic, was lovely and clean and the view from our window was so beautiful.
After a brief pit stop, we were off out to explore the area.
A bit further down the hillside, we found a lovely little cafe to sit and have a drink while admiring the view out over the golden terraces.
The view was stunning with the mountains all around and rice fields as far as we could see.
Timber houses and lodges dotted the landscape, perched on top of terraced hills and way below us on the valley floor.
It was time to go for a trek amongst the hills and explore some more.
We Stayed At The Terrace View Hotel
We spent a wonderful afternoon trekking amongst the rice terraces and exploring the many trails around the whole area.
Descending into the valley and up the mountainside again.
The rice had already started to be harvested by the local people and seemed a very fast process with great swaths being cut down and bundled up in a matter of minutes.
The Yao ethnic people populate the area with their colourful clothing.
The women wear pink embroidered shirts and black skirts and trousers but the most striking thing about them is their very long hair which is wound up around their heads and covered with black cloth.
The local timber houses look ancient and very precarious perched on the mountainsides overhanging the steep drops below.
As the sun went down we walked back up the hill to our lodge but as we approached, we could hear a lot of shouting and laughter.
Outside of the lodge, there were maybe 20 teenagers playing some sort of game on the terrace area.
We watched for a while and got the general idea of what the game was all about.
It was called Hunter, Fire, Earthquake and they soon asked us to join in.
We had so much fun. If you don’t know the game then here’s an explanation.
One Of The Yao Ethnic Women
One Of The Local Timber Houses
Ancient Looking Houses Perched On the Hillsides
One of the highlights of visiting Longji-Rice-Terraces is watching the sun rise over the mountain tops and to be honest, we didn’t even have to leave our bedroom to get a brilliant view.
At dawn, many people had made their way up to the viewing platform outside our lodge but we just needed to shuffle across our beds and open our window to get the best seat in the house.
It was bitterly cold but with our duvet wrapped around us, we could watch in comfort as the sun appeared over the horizon and lit the rice fields below.
We left the lodge in search of somewhere to eat breakfast and we soon found a great little cafe tucked away on its own.
I decided to try Tang Yuan which is a kind of sweet soup with rice balls and is usually a dessert item.
It was pretty tasty and just right for a light meal.
This Is The Amazing View From Our Room
Delicious Tang Yuan sweet soup
No visit is complete without a ride on the cable car that runs from the very top of the mountain to the valley below.
A short walk along the mountain ridge brought us to the cable car station.
We boarded our car and it swung out over the terraces below as we started the journey down.
The ride is pretty cool and you get a really great view of the area.
Now how about this for a coincidence.
A couple we met at the Tai Chi school in Yangshuo, were also coming to visit the rice terraces but we didn’t know when, but as we approached the bottom of the valley we looked down to see them walking up the trail right below our cable car.
We reached the station and Annabel ran up the trail to meet our friends.
They had just arrived and were trekking up to their lodge that was actually right next to ours so walked with them.
After they settled into their lodge we met up again for a drink and a catch up while looking out over the fantastic landscape.
The time flew past and it was evening before we knew it.
Our time at the Longji-Rice-Terraces was almost over but not before waking to another fantastic sunrise before we set off down the mountainside with our backpacks, ready for the bus ride to Guilin.
The Cable Cars Up The Mountainside
We loved our time at the Longji Rice Terraces.
We only stayed two nights but it was just the right amount of time to explore the area.
There are many more trekking opportunities in the area, with treks to outlying ethnic villages and into the countryside.
The terraces are part of what’s known as the Devils Backbone area.
The walks around the area are lovely and give an opportunity to get away from the many people visiting as the bulk of tourists don’t tend to do too much walking and prefer the cable car.
Visiting in the Golden Week means lots of people are around but it’s worth it to see the rice plants at their most colourful before being harvested.
The Nitty Gritty
How to get there
You can get a bus from Guilin which is the biggest town in the area and is about a three-hour drive away.
We caught the bus from Yangshuo which is a further hour drive away.
There aren’t any train to the rice terraces so if you don’t get the bus you’ll need to have a car.
Buses drop off at the lower parking area and you’ll have to walk to your lodge from there.
Keep in mind that you may have to walk quite a long way over very hilly terrain to get to your lodge especially if you have booked somewhere high up on the mountain.
Local ethnic women do approach you at the bus stop to offer their porter services if you want your bags carried to your lodge.
The many trails can be confusing and finding your particular lodge can be a challenge as many have similar names so be sure to have a rough idea of where it is situated.
We found the food situation to be a bit limited.
The lodges do offer their own menus and outside of this, there are cafes that prepare meals.
What to do
We love to walk so exploring the terraces by foot was our thing.
It was also really interesting to see all the local minority people earning a living by working in the fields harvesting the rice or selling local handicrafts to tourists.
You can ride the cable car up or down the mountain which is fun and gives you a fantastic view over the landscape below.
Visiting during the Golden Week was amazing but other times of the year would still be magical with the terraces covering all the hillsides.
The timing for a visit during the Golden Week is quite difficult because they start harvesting shortly after the rice turns golden.
We were lucky in that we knew someone in the hostel we stayed in Yangshuo that got reports on what the terraces were looking like so we could time it just right.
Where to stay
There are plenty of lodges in the area but they book up during Golden Week
We just booked a place that looked nice enough, through Booking.com
Remember that all the lodges are pretty simple and are constructed of timber so you can hear everything going on in the rooms near you through the very thin walls.
We would say research where the lodges are and try to get one with nice views.
The views from our window were amazing and being right at the top the mountain was a bonus despite the climb up.