Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces

September 17, 2012 China 24 Comments 29,723 Views

The Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces In Longsheng County, China.

Since our visit to Yangshuo was very disappointing, the trip through China could only get better. It really didn’t take long for us to realize, that we needed to leave this tourist trap spot asap. The Longji Rice Terraces in Longsheng county were our next destination.

Getting to Dazhai village was easier than we expected because everything went pretty smoothly; we walked to the bus station in Yangshuo and the bus to Guilin was ready to leave. The drive took about two hours and was totally uncomplicated. We knew that we needed to switch bus stations in Guilin to get to Heping. As soon as the bus pulled into the station and we stepped out, a tuk tuk driver picked us up and immediately brought us to the right station. Five minutes later, we were on our way. After about 20 minutes on the road, the landscape started getting much nicer and cable lines (finally) thinned out. Just after I fell asleep, the Chinese ticket man started screaming that we were in Heping and we needed to get out. It was a rude wake-up call but it was all good after we were in the truck to Dazhai.

Arriving on Dazhai village was like being back in time. It was so peaceful and calm, with fresh air and a stunning view. Dazhai is framed by world famous rice terraces that rise up to 1.200 meters: The Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces of Longsheng County. I felt right at home since it was not that different from our little villages in the Alps. Anyway, these rice terraces are the most well-known in China and were mostly built during the Ming Dynasty, about 500 years ago but construction actually began in the Yuan Dynasty (over 700 years ago)!

After soaking up all the great energy, we booked ourselves into a nice little guest house in the centre of Dazhai, where we had an amazing room with a great view and friendly staff. It couldn’t get any better than this.

Dazhai village in Longshend County, China.
Dazhai village in Longsheng County, China.

After settling in and seeing the rice terraces around us, I started realizing that it would be a very long and steep way to get a clear view from above. And I was right about that. But before we get to the stories and photos of that, I’d like to share the map of the terraces around Dazhai, since there are a lot on the internet that are just confusing and … well, wrong:

Map of the rice terraces around Dazhai, China.
Map of the rice terraces around Dazhai, China.

The three viewpoints around Dazhai are the best ones in the area. There is no need to visit Ping An or any other places (unless you really want to) because these three are the most stunning views you’ll find. Oh and by the way: Whoever said, that you could get lost when walking around the rice terraces alone must be a complete idiot! There is absolutely no way you can get lost (unless – as said – you’re an idiot); all ways somehow lead to Dazhai or Tiantou village. What can happen is that you take the wrong turn and just have to walk a couple of hours longer to get to your goal but that’s it. Always bring a bottle of water and you’ll be more than fine …

Viewpoint Nr. 3 “Buddha’s Peak”.

As Austrians, we know our way around mountains. Therefore, the three hour walk (you can do it in one hour as well but we wanted to explore the area a little bit) was like a piece of cake for us :) After what felt like about 5.000 steep steps, we got to the top and were more than impressed from the view.

The famouse view of the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces from viewpoint Nr. 3.
The famous view of the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces from viewpoint Nr. 3.
Dazhai village from viewpoint Nr. 1 on the Dragon's Backbone rice terrace.
Dazhai village from viewpoint Nr. 3.
Longji Rice terraces ciewpoint Nr. 1.
Longji Rice terraces viewpoint Nr. 3.
The view of Tiantou village from viewpoint Nr. 3.
The view of Tiantou village from viewpoint Nr. 3.
Tiantou vilage in Longsheng County, China.
Tiantou village in Longsheng County, China.
On the way up to viewpoint Nr. 3 of the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces.
On the way up to viewpoint Nr. 3 of the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces.

Unfortunately, the Chinese government is currently building a gigantic cable car from the parking lot to viewpoint Nr. 3 (which is the most famous one) and therefore, tourist crowds will soon overrun this place. This is definitely made for the fat and lazy … The station is supposed to be finished this October … from then on, it can only go downhill because mass tourism in China is … well, pretty massive.

Viewpoint Nr. 2 ” Thousand Layers to Heaven”.

On the second day, we decided to check out viewpoint Nr. 2 and Nr. 1. Getting to Nr. 2 is pretty easy because it’s the lowest ones out of the three. The walk takes 30 minutes and is not that steep. Still, you have a great view of the scenery and landscape around Dazhai.

Close up of the rice terraces in Longsheng county, China.
Close up of the rice terraces in Longsheng county, China.
View of Dazhai from Viewpoint Nr. 2 "Thousand Layers to Heaven".
View of Dazhai from Viewpoint Nr. 2 “Thousand Layers to Heaven”.
Rice terraces from Viewpoint Nr. 2 in Longsheng County, China.
Rice terraces from Viewpoint Nr. 2 in Longsheng County, China.
Viewpoint Nr. 1 ” Music for Paradise”.

Viewpoint Nr. 1 is the highest one around Dazhai. It’s peak is at 1.200 meters and it takes about three hours to get up there. Again, you can probably to it on 1 1/2 hours but where’s the fun in that?

Walking back down from viewpoint Nr. 1 in Longshend County, China.
Walking back down from viewpoint Nr. 1 “Music for Paradise”.
Rice Terraces from Viewpoint Nr. 1 " Music for Paradise"
Rice Terraces from Viewpoint Nr. 1 ” Music for Paradise”

All in all, the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces were absolutely stunning. They truly are the most impressive we’ve every seen and I’m pretty sure nothing can top that any time soon. One more good thing: I though that I was pretty fit before we visited Dazhai but after we left, my bum and thighs where more trained ;) All these steep steps have a positive effect on your figure. For those who don’t need (or better want) to get in shape, you can rent a palanquin with four strong Chinese men to carry you up to the top. You will surely get a lot of looks from the locals if you decide to go with this. Honestly, I thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever (unless your old or sick), especially because the ones sitting in those chairs are mostly overweight and uninterested in the scenery anyway. To each his own. We still prefer the old fashioned way of actually moving your ass :D

In the middle of the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces.
In the middle of the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces.
Up at viewpoint Nr. 3 in Longshend County, China.
Up at viewpoint Nr. 3 in Longshend County, China.

24 Comments

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“The Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces In Longsheng County, China.”

  1. Wow, this is absolutely amazing! Thanks for sharing these photos Nisa & Ulli. I think this place has to go on my bucket list of places to visit. Great photos guys keep it up.

  2. Thanks so much for your lovely words you two! The place really is more than stunning! We’ve now seen them during summer (just before the rice is harvested) but we’d love to visit again during spring and winter … I’m sure the landscape must be amazing then too :)

  3. Kudos to you for the beautiful photographs! If you have the chance, please look at my website. I take “ordinary” photos and then radically manipulate them in Photoshop to create entirely new images and then print them on silk. I would be honored if you gave me permission to try one of your photos. Kindly advise. Howard Weiner/Chiang Mai – friends of Jmayel and Sacha

  4. Only in China will you see a beautiful and unique landscape like that. It looks truly stunning, I would like to visit one day.

  5. Nisa

    Hey Howard!
    Thanks for your comment. Please give me more information on what exactly you’s do with the photo … maybe you have examples? And then of course it would depend on what photo you would want to use :)
    Cheers, Nisa

  6. The rice terraces are stunning! The shapes are so organic. They are a lot different than the rice fields I have encountered in Korea.

  7. Can I just tell you, thank you for those pictures! I visited the area in January last year, and all I got after such long hikes (and I’m terribly unfit) was a view of a white sheet! The fog never lifted and it was snowing at the top. Just another place I’ll need to go back to someday :)

  8. Nisa

    Hi Audrey! Hi Caitlyn!
    Thanks for your comments & lovely words :)
    @Audrey: Are the rice fields in Korea really that different? How so?
    @Caitlyn: That must have totally sucked! I think I would have been completely disappointed … but then again, it’s a good excuse to visit again ;) The weather God was gracious with us because it rained the day before we arrived and the day we left …

  9. Amazing photos Nisa and Ulli. Breathtaking views captured perfectly. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Taj

    Absolutely amazing. Will be heading out to Dazhai in a couple of weeks and this is by far the best explanation and accompanying pictures of the area that I’ve seen on the web. Thank you so much!

  11. Nisa

    Awesome Taj!
    Glad we could help you out. Enjoy the area!
    Best, Nisa

  12. I’m planning a trip to China in a month and after reading this I will definitely plan on traveling to Dazhai Village. Thank you for sharing all of this wonderful information, and pictures. The scenery looks amazing, I can’t wait to be there :) Cheers!

  13. Nisa

    Hey Paul!
    Thanks for your words & glad you got a good impression on what the area looks like.
    You will really love the place! Let’s see if the cable car is already built by then…
    Best, Nisa

  14. I love your photos. I only visited Ping’an rice terrace and the scenery wasn’t as green. However, my first visit to rice terraces so I was pretty impressed to think man could build such a monumental panorama. thanks for the information. enjoyed your blog post. Lyn

  15. Nisa

    Hello Lyn!
    The place was so green because we where there in the middle of summer which is just before the rice gets harvested. Was really great to see it, even though I’d love to visit again when everything is just starting to grow.
    Glad you found the info helpful!
    Best, Nisa

  16. Sylvain

    While we have made a return to the source with our adopted son in May, we were visiting the Longsheng County regions a few days. Five hours walk with a guide from village to village to reach the inn for dinner and bedtime. Eat well, slept well. Simply superb, especially in the morning when we wake up. Cross walking landscapes and living in the moment, we will never forget those landscapes that have enchanted us. To see if you spend in the area.

  17. Nisa

    Sylvain that sounds like a great trip. Yeah, you can do it all in one day, although I’d rather prefer spending more time in a place this beautiful :)

  18. Santanu Das

    Lovely pictures and nice post! I am going to Yangshuo and Longsheng this September. I will stay in Longsheng for 1 night. Is it better to stay in Tiantou village for the night, as the viewpoints are near to that village. I would love to go to those viewpoints for sunrise. And thanks for posting the map!

  19. Nisa

    Thanks Santanu Das! Yeah, Tiantou village is a good place to stay at, but it actually doesn’t matter that much. Sure, it takes a bit longer from Dazhai, but I guess it just depends on what you prefer… Have a great trip & enjoy the stunning view from up there!

  20. Cheryl

    Hi, I happen to come across this wonderful post while searching through the net on how I can get to DaZhai from Yangshuo. I was just wondering if you could provide me with additional information such as the buses to take and how you got to DaZhai after alighting at Heping.

  21. Nisa

    Hello Cheryl!
    Getting to Dazhai after stepping off the bus in Heping is easiest by just hitchhiking. We didn’t take a bus, because immediately after we got off, a car was waiting there (I think they know when buses arrive at the intersection). The ride doesn’t cost a lot and there’s not need to wait for further transportation… Hope this helps & have a great trip!

  22. Martina

    Great photos which bring back fond memories! We visited Yangshuo, Ping An and Dazhai in Sep 2012. We had a fantastic time in all 3 places and saw some wonderous sights. There were a number of tourists in some places we visited however we need to expect that there will be other tourists visiting these amazing places and it’s a bit unrealistic to expect to be to be the only people there. Afterall, they probably went for the same reason we did – to experience the beautiful sights.

    Around Yangshuo we did countryside cycling, bamboo rafting and river cruising and saw few people other than locals. It was amazing. It helped to leave early each morning.

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