Ping’an Village in Longji is one of the villages you can select for a homestay and a starting point to trek the Longsheng rice terraces.
Having previously completed a two-day trek of the rice terraces in Sapa, Vietnam, we were eager to compare the experience.
Of course, the highlight in Longji was to see first hand the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces (another name for the Longji Rice Terraces). It is said to be one of the best rice terraces in the world.
But first, we had to get there.
Having spent the last three days in Yangshuo we met the private bus at 2 pm for what we thought was a 3-hour bus ride to Longji. Unfortunately the heavy roadworks from Yangshuo to Guilin (every part of the road under construction) we didn’t arrive at Ping’an village until 6.30 pm.
Not all Toilet Breaks are the Same
Needing a rest break, the 1.5-hour break we all expected became 2.5 hours later at Guilin. And after using the most basic “gutter” toilet on the planet, the group were no doubt regretting this experience. The stench was so bad it had several of us retching.
Having stretched the legs and finding something to eat, we all climbed back aboard for the next stage of our journey.
Getting from Guilin to Longji by Private Bus
There are two roads we found to get from Guilin to Longji. Either the main road or the expressway with a toll, which takes about 30 minutes less time. A distance of about 95 km.
The main road for our group from Guilin to Longji winds along and up through the hills. With drivers overtaking on blind corners or stretches of road with oncoming traffic in view, it’s better to look at the view of the road.
Perhaps the expressway maybe better!
This type of driving seems to be the norm in Asia. And witnessing the result of a crash, we have been surprised we haven’t seen more throughout our trip.
What to Expect at the Entrance to Longji
Arriving at the Longji scenic area, the Longji terraced fields and villages are controlled by an entrance fee. Our fee was covered by our tour, but we still needed to pay for storing our larger backpacks. The charge for two nights was CNY80 (USD12). It meant we could take a small backpack up to Ping’an village for the two-night stay.
Taking the public bus up the windy road on the side of a mountain to where Ping’an Village is situated. With the recent rain, the slips along the road meant the drive was slow and harrowing as the road narrowed on some corners.
Forty minutes later we arrived at the entrance to Ping’an village. Thankfully with a small backpack, we then walked uphill for another 20 minutes to our homestay.
Here, at last, hot and sweaty, it’s now 6.30 pm, and in need of a shower.
Experiencing a Ping’an Village Home Stay
Ping’an village is one of the villages listed when visiting Longji rice terraces. The local homestays provide comfortable accommodation, delicious food and the experience of staying among local villagers.
The village houses are built in close proximity to each other and have a look of chalets. Although some of the villages appeared to have modern wooden structures, our homestay was definitely more rustic. Only a few gaps in the wall, and the odd insect.
Wandering through the village in the evening, we had a peek through one gate to see some local ladies practising a drum and dance routine. While we had an early night due to the trek planned in the morning, the ladies kept performing until 11.30 pm.
Traditional Chinese Dishes to Savour
One dish you need to try is the traditional bamboo rice.
Rice, some sugar and meat with spices and herbs is stuffed inside a piece of bamboo and cooked on a BBQ.
It is so tasty.
If your homestay doesn’t cook for you, there are various villagers cooking Bamboo Rice to purchase. Chicken is another food to try as they are grown locally and so fresh.
And for breakfast, a yummy bowl of noodles, eggs and tomatoes is a good start to the day, especially if you are trekking.
Longji Rice Terraces Trek
Our 15 km trek today was leaving from Ping’an village to Jinzhu Zhuang village.
After devouring a yummy breakfast we left the homestay at 8.30 am. Luckily the sun was hiding behind the clouds giving us all a milder day for the trek.
As we left the village we had a gentle climb up to the viewing platform of the “Nine Dragons and Five Tigers.”
The rice terraces were first cultivated in the Yuan Dynasty on cliffs and within the valleys, and they are an impressive sight.
If you aren’t up for a trek, then getting to this viewpoint showcases the beauty of the Longsheng rice terraces.
And arriving here in June, we knew the photos would be amazing.
Trekking through Longsheng villages
The trek took us through a number of villages where we stopped for water and snacks, as lunch was going to be later today at Jinzhu Zhuang village.
At different places along the trek, we were greeted by the local women selling water and trinkets. Looking at the traditional dress they were wearing, reminded us of the Hmong women in Sapa, Vietnam. Thankfully these ladies were less aggressive.
And for a fee of CNY40 (USD6), this lady let down her hair, uncut for 18 years, to show us the length.
Natural Beauty of Longsheng Rice Terraces
While the trek can take anywhere from 3 to 4 hours between Ping’an village to Jinzhu Zhuang village, the scenery is impressive.
The beauty of the terraced rice fields and their reflections is a memory worth seeing when visiting China.
At about 1.45 pm we finally stopped for lunch, a tad hungry and in need of a sit-down. The food was plentiful and washed down with a beer did the trick.
Feeling refreshed, it was a short walk to meet the shuttle bus for a 45-minute ride to return us to Ping’an village entrance and then the 20 minutes uphill walk.
Seven Stars and the Moon in Ping’an village
Above Ping’an village us the viewing platform to see the “Seven Stars and the Moon” rice terraces.
We decided (suckers for punishment) to climb to the “Seven Stars and the Moon” above our village straight after returning to Ping’an village. The walk uphill took a good 20 minutes with a lot of steps, with sweat pouring off us before we located the viewing platform.
Once again, the view out over the rice terraces were amazing.
And some of the locals here at the viewing platform were happy to see us. They even wanted photos taken with us. One man printed the photo as a gift, claiming eternal friendship with Terry.
Getting Lost in Ping’an Village
Time to head back to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. We have been told the homestay owner makes great cocktails, so as it’s our last night in China, we may just have to celebrate this great journey exploring China.
But first, where is the homestay?
We were lost!
No worries, as we turn a corner we see a gentleman leading his horse through the village lanes. We know we saw him (or someone like him) this morning with his horse going passed our homestay, so we decide to back ourselves and follow him.
Luckily for us, the gentleman stopped and chatted, and redirected us back up one lane, to our homestay where we met an old lady trying to sell us dried mushrooms. Of course, we had to buy some, we couldn’t resist her sad look.
All in all, a good day, now where is that cocktail?
Tonight, the homestay meal was paid for by our G Adventure Tour in compensation for the damp hotel at Yangshuo. Unfortunately for Terry, he could only enjoy some of it as the effects of the damp hotel room had taken hold. Time to get him a whiskey or two to warm up his chest, to go with his Tylenol tablet!
When the Rain Pours in Longji
Around 9 pm the lightning started, along with the thunder before the heavens opened. Scary stuff and not a lot of sleep happening as the torrential rain continued throughout the night. We were concerned about more landslides, considering all the rain the last week.
Would we be walking off the mountain?
At 2 am more lightning and thunder overhead, we thought the hills might slide down through the village. A very active imagination.
Even at 6 am, we awoke to the heavy rain, and having to leave the homestay at 6.30 am to get the bus back to Longji scenic area, breakfast was the only thing on our mind.
It took an hour to get back down to the Longji scenic area to collect our other backpacks. At least nodding off in the bus helped us avoid seeing any landslips or negotiations of blind corners.
By 9.30 am we were back in Guilin to wait for the 11 am Fast train to Shenzhen, and hunting down breakfast while we waiting.
The fast train from Guilin to Shenzhen is 3 hours with speeds reaching between 240 to 300 km/hr.
Border Crossing from Shenzhen to Hong Kong
Arriving at Shenzhen, you will find the border crossing from China into Hong Kong is fairly simple as the border control was within the train station.
Just follow the signs for Hong Kong and then passport control. Next is Customs and then you are now out of China walking towards immigration for Hong Kong.
Now to the metro to Kowloon Island which is the Chinese area of Hong Kong to celebrate our group farewell dinner. It has been a great tour group with lots of fun and experiences.
Spending a month travelling in China is a bucket list experience.
China is a great country to visit with so many spectacular places, cities, historical sites, and rural areas.
We loved the cosmopolitan nature of Shanghai, the beauty of Hangzhou, the stunning Great Wall (especially ‘The Wild Wall’), the city walls of Nanjing and Xi’an, and the impressive landscapes of Yangshuo.
Have you been to China?