China’s amazing Dazai-Jinkeng “Dragon’s Backbone” Rice Terraces weave amid the Yao and Zhuang ethnic minority villages, as seen from my hiking around Taintouzhou in Longsheng county, Guangxi province.
Around 66-sq-km of rice terraces string around the slopes of 800 meter-high mountains, all constructed by ethnic Yao and Zhuang tribes.

Yao woman & girl

Yao woman overlooking Jinkeng rice terraces

The Yao people fled here to escape persecution by the Mongols (who ruled China as the Yuan Dynasty from 1271-1368 AD).

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Room with a view – Tiantouzhou

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elderly Yao male

Took quite a few pics of this guy to get it right – as he kept blinking

Travel Advice – Tiantouzhai & rice terraces

GETTING THERE: Take bus from Guilin Central Bus Station to the Longsheng (bus station) then transfer to a mini bus – they’ll find you – to Dazhai (where you will pay an entrance free). From the foot of this mountain village, walk the steep but ok path uphill for an hour to Tiantouzhai. Tiantou village has less tourists (mostly domestic, than Dazhai) and offers more tranquility, and better views.

Don’t sweat it: Strong local women will probably insist on carrying your (overburdened) backpack for a small fee. Why not, spread your cash around.

ACCOMMODATION: Cheap rooms (some with ensuite) in large wooden guesthouses. Simple meals of fried noodles or rice with egg, meat, vege available. As are basic snacks, bottled water, soda, beer.

TIPS: Stay at least overnight. But 2/3 days is better for the surrounding terraces and the quiet hike over to the Longji Terraces at Ping An (a more touristic area 4+ hours walk). There are 4 main terrace viewpoints within the immediate surrounds; the top-most one is great at late afternoon, with some beers (buy at a souvenir stall there), overlooking the valley … but when stumbling down at dusk – have a flashlight ready!

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