We Chinese have been cultivating rice for at least 8,000 years. It has transformed the landscape over the years.
In the far south of China and northwest of Guilin, there is a place called Longsheng, in Longsheng there's a town called Longji (Dragon's Back), the hill slopes of Longji plunge nearly 2,000 meters to the floor of the valley. Each contains literally thousands stacked terraces carved out by hand using basic digging tools. Longji rice terraces are among the oldest human structures in China, which is an agricultural wonder, floating high above the clouds, stretching along 20 Km of peaks, these terraces have become known as the Dragon's Back. Local farmers carved these paddies from the steep slopes of a vast mountain range, shifting hundreds of thousands of tons of earth. But all of this labor was for good reason, for all of its vast area less than 10% of China can actually be farmed. This man-made landscape is one of the most amazing engineering feats of pre-industrial China. It seems as if every square inch of land has been pressed into cultivation.
Two villages in Longji, one is Ping An, the other one is Da Zhai, more than 3 ethnic groups living there, and the Zhuang and Yao minorities account for largest population of the total. Their wooden houses were built half way up to the mountains surrounded by the rice terraces, and the minorities have their own languages and cultures. Most of them have worked these terraces all of their lives, and their clans have lived here for over 20 generations.
Tips: About 4 hours drive from Yangshuo, and local buses are a mess, transfers are a pain in the ass, so hiring a car is highly recommended. This would save you a lot of time and energy. Make it a one-day trip if you have a tight schedule to follow, or make it a 2-day trip if your time allows.
Sam's rating: ★★★★★