The Longji rice terraces at the city of Ping’an is one of the must-sees on a trip to China. Because of the many layers, steps, and hills, this area is also known as the ‘Dragon’s Backbone of China’. A name that immediately caught my attention, and that of many other tourists and visitors who come here en masse. The Longji rice terraces are spread across an area of 66 kilometers and are used by the local minority for the cultivation of rice for over 500 years. If you only visited the terraces around the city of Ping’an, you will see a small fraction of the beautiful rice terraces you can find in this area. We decided to go for the bigger picture and take a 5-hours hike along many more rice terraces. An excellent decision, because it turned out to be one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done.

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Ping’an Longji rice terraces and their mystical names

The tourist city of Ping’an was our base. It is located near two beautiful hills: ‘Seven stars around the moon’ and ‘Nine dragons and five tigers’. The Chinese have a gift for coming up with mysterious names. Both are popular areas where many tourists go to take pictures from the panoramic deck. Also, something we did, but then we moved on. We climbed deeper into the woods, passing graveyards and small villages. All the while trying to keep our balance on the slippery stones and narrow paths. It was a tough route with some steep hills, but also rewarding. Sadly, we saw quite a lot of garbage along the paths. A shame of this area, and a shame of the 80 CNY that we paid to get into this scenic area. What do they do with this money?

Ping'an Longji rice terraces

Man working at the ‘Seven stars around the moon’

Ping'an Longji rice terraces

The typical steps of Ping’an

Corn in Pingan China

Corn in the windows of Ping’an

Ping'an Longji rice terraces

View on the ‘Nine dragons and five tigers’

Selfie in Pingan

Selfie time with the locals!

Ping'an Longji rice terraces

Detail of the rice terraces

Ping'an Longji rice terraces China

A lonely house on the top of the rice hill

Ping'an Longji rice terraces

The abandoned rice terraces we found on our hike

Yao & their long black hair

Along the way, we crossed women of the Yao minority. Known for their long black hair. They are carriers. All day long they walk along the paths with baskets on their back to transport all sorts of things. As soon as they see a tourist, they cling to you and love to show you their long hair. But you have to pay the right price first. With so many tourists visiting this area, this is easy money-making. I don’t blame them, but I skipped this tourist trap.

Thousand Layers rice terrace

After 4 hours of hiking, we reached our photogenic highlight: the Thousand Layers rice terraces. And they didn’t lie about that, because I saw green layers all around me. It is beautiful, and at the same time so touristic. I even saw a cable car to make it easier for tourists to reach the top. But if you ignore that little detail it truly is a beautiful area. A perfect ending for our hike along the Dragon’s Backbone.

Ping'an Longji rice terraces

View on the Thousand Layers rice terrace


Top-down view

Pingan-rijstvelden-locals Ping'an Longji rice terraces

Don’t want to know what that neck feels like

Ping'an Longji rice terraces rijstvelden China

So green!

Local China Ping'an Longji rice terraces

Spotted: local Yao woman and her baby

Ping'an Longji rice terraces China

Final stop: Dazhai village. Less tourists than in Ping’an

Where to stay: tips for hotels

The villages Ping’an and Dazhai are located in Longsheng County. When you’re searching for accommodations, make sure to search in the Longsheng region. The guesthouse where we were staying had an awesome location (close to the seven stars around the moon), but reaching the hotel was exhausting and I read that the place is quite outdated (according to Tripadvisor). Therefore I much rather recommend other places to stay like Terrace Villa, also close to the aforementioned rice terraces and rated with a 9,0 on Another good place to stay is Longji Holiday Hotel (also rated with a 9,0).

Click here for an overview of accommodations in Longsheng.

Do you want to visit the Ping’an Longji rice terraces? What are the most beautiful rice terraces you have visited?

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