Longji Rice Terraces, Tiantouzhai

Longji Rice Terraces, Tiantouzhai

The Longji Rice Terraces are situated in China's southern Guangxi province in the Longsheng County.

View of the Lonji Rice Terraces from our window at Tian Ranju Inn - Tiantouzhai village
View of the Lonji Rice Terraces from our window at Tian Ranju Inn at Tiantouzhai village
Admiring the Lonji rice terraces at Longsheng
Stefan admiring the Lonji rice terraces at Longsheng

Spot the Dragon

Longji means “Dragon's Backbone” and is named as such because the rice terraces look like the scales on the back of a dragon when the paddy fields are full of water in the spring.

We were there in late August time when the terraces were a lush green:

Longji rice terraces: spot the dragon
Spot the dragon – the Nomadic Boys on the look out for this fire breathing monster

Random fact we learnt – the word “paddy” (ie the rice paddy fields) is derived from the Malay word, “padi”, meaning rice plant and has nothing to do with the Irish as we initially thought.

An agricultural man made wonder

The Longji rice terraces rise up to just over 1,100 metres into the clouds.

View of the Longji Rice Terraces from Tiantouzhai village
View of the Longji rice terraces of Longsheng County from Tiantouzhai village

The rice terraces of Longji are impressive and considered an agricultural wonder in China because they are entirely man made and built over 650 years ago.  Their structure has been maintained this way since.

Each terrace was carved out and maintained to this day by local farmers using basic digging tools.

Old lady from Tiantouzhai posing by the Longji rice terraces
Old lady from the nearby village of Tiantouzhai posing by the Longji rice terraces

Naturally, the Longji rice terraces made a beautiful backdrop for our “office”:

Working on the blog at Tiantouzhai village - Longji Rice Terraces
Stefan's “office” at Tiantouzhai village in the Longji Rice Terraces

Sunrise over the Longji rice terraces

One of the highlights whilst staying at the mountain villages of the Longji rice terraces is watching the sunrise at the aptly named, “Music from Paradise” spot near the top of the mountains.

Although a 4:30am early rise, it was totally worth it. The views of the sun rays over the terraces at first light were stunning:

Sunrise over the Longji rice terraces in Longsheng county
Waking up early to watch the beautiful sunrise over the Longji rice terraces
Admiring the sunrise over the Longji rice terraces near Tiantouzhai village
One Nomadic Boy admiring the beautiful sunrise over the Longji Rice Terraces near Tiantouzhai village
Stefan posing by the Longji Rice Terraces - Tiantouzhai village
Another Nomadic Boy posing by the sunrise over the Longji rice terraces

Local villages

There are numerous villages situated around the Longji rice terraces, which are home to the Zhuang and Yao ethnic minorities.

Most of the houses there are built in their unique wooden Zhuang or Yao style from bamboo:

The bamboo wooden houses of the ethnic Zhuang and Yao villages of the Longji rice terraces
The bamboo wooden houses of the ethnic Zhuang and Yao villages of the Longji rice terraces

The old ladies of the local villages:

The old ladies of the nearby Zhuang and Yao villages, were always out in their numbers attending to the large tourist trade visiting the Longji rice terraces.  They would frequently be dressed in their ethnic outfits:

The local old women dressed in their ethnic traditional styles in the Longji rice terraces - Tiantouzhai village
The local old women dressed in their ethnic traditional styles in the Longji rice terraces

The most memorable feature for us of the local old ladies was the large drooping holes on their ears for their earrings:

Long drooping hole of the earrings worn by the local old ladies at the Longji rice terraces - Longsheng County
Long drooping hole of the earrings worn by the local old ladies at the Longji rice terraces

Carrying bags for tourists

It is common for the old women of the local villages in the rice terraces to gather at the bottom of the mountain, to await the coach load of tourists and offer to carry their bags up for a nominal fee:

The old ladies of the Longji rice terraces carrying tourists' bags up the mountain
The old ladies of the Longji rice terraces carrying tourists' bags up the mountain

Some of these old ladies were in their 60s and maybe even 70s, yet they make a livelihood from carrying tourists' bags up the mountains for them:

Old lady of Tiantouzhai village carrying bags up the Longji Rice Terraces
Old lady of Tiantouzhai village carrying bags the rice terraces for tourists

We personally felt a bit ashamed to ask a 60/70 years old lady to carry our massive 10kg (Stefan) / 15kg (Sebastien!) backpacks up the rice terrace mountains.  So we insisted on carrying our bags ourselves (note however, this trade is encouraged because this is how these old ladies make their livelihood).

Sebastien making a point of carrying his own backpack up the Longji rice terraces to Tiantouzhai village
Sebastien making a point of carrying his large and heavy backpack up the rice terraces

To be honest, the old ladies didn't all rush at once to offer to carry our backpacks, which would have been unlikely to fit in the small baskets used by them!

Food in the Longji Rice Terraces

And finally, no entry in this blog would be complete without a word about the food!

In the rice terraces, bamboo is plentiful.

As well as using it to build their homes, locals use bamboo as a cooking technique.  One particularly memorable meal was barbecued bamboo style chicken with and rice, served in the bamboo it was cooked in:

Bamboo barbecued chicken and rice at the Longji Rice Terraces - Tian Ranju Inn
Bamboo barbecued chicken and rice at the Longji Rice Terraces

For more, watch our China travel video as we ate our way from Beijing in the North all the way to the south via Pingyao, Xi'An, Shanghai, Yangshuo through to Shangri-La:

 

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9 Comments

  1. How can we go around in Longji to go from one viewing spot to next, and to see the minority villages? Is there a bus to take inside?
    We plan to stay for 2 days 3 nights in Dazhai.

    Reply
    • Hi Shar. There is a small bus to take you there from the main city which you can arrange with the hotel you stay at. But within the terraces, it’s so small you can walk to each viewpoint.

      Reply
  2. You boys take some seriously great shots! Plus you make Kins and I belly laugh *rice padi* hehe keep rockin it!

    Reply
  3. Whoa!! amazing place!!

    ✿ debsbug.blogspot.com ✿

    Reply
    • Thanks Debbie! And how lovely to meet a fellow Greek traveller.

      Reply
  4. Stunning photos! Looks so incredible. When I went to rice terraces in Vietnam, it was unfortunately rainy season so they weren’t glorious, healthy and green like this, rather brown and slushy mud :/

    Reply
    • Thanks Charlie! When were you in Vietnam? We are planning to visit in March time.

      Reply
  5. beautiful photos!!
    it just called back some childhood memories of mine.
    when i was a kid ,i spent some days with one of my aunts, who lived in a village at the foot of a mount.
    it was so beautiful and quiet. the people there were quiet too. and so was the life there.
    i think that’s how nature influences us human.
    looking forward to more food and great works 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks Leox!

      Reply

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