Exploring Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces in China


After spending one night in Guilin, we found a bus going to Daizhai in the middle of the Longji rice terraces. Our three hour bus ride through the hilly terrain began by us finding our bus based on the license plate we were given. Amongst many buses in front of the train station we surprisingly quickly found our needle in a haystack. It felt like an Amazing Race challenge.

Whenever we travel via bus or shuttle we always try to get there early to ensure that Mindy gets a seat up front to avoid her getting motion sick. Due to misinformation from the night before we arrived to the bus much later than we would have liked. There was only one space up front so Mindy sat there and Ligeia found a place in back with both bags on her lap. Seeing this, an older woman on the bus wasn’t having any of it, talked to the driver to put our bigger bag in the luggage compartment and told the person sitting in the front to move so we could sit together. We felt so taken care of. What a great way to start our rice terraces experience! Upon arriving in Daizhai Ligeia turned to her and said a heartfelt thank you in Mandarin, and we were delighted that we could understand her respond “no problem” in Chinese.

As soon as our shuttle arrived in Daizhai we found ourselves surrounded by Yao women with clothing of various shades of pink selling everything from silver bracelets to all kinds of woven goods. They also carried baskets on their backs and offered to carry luggage to a hotel. Still others offerred a picture of themselves with their hair down (Yao women are known for their VERY long hair). One woman followed us for about 30 minutes, trying to get us to go to a certain hotel. When we were finally left alone we started the steep hike up to Tiantouzhai where we were hoping to stay for the night and get great views of the rice terraces. At the top of the hill we saw a sign that said V8 Vegetarian Restaurant & Hostel. Perfect!

After settling in we hiked up to scenic point #1 called “Music from Paradise”. The climb just seemed endless and we began to wonder if we’d ever get there, but the views were amazing and that’s what kept us forging onward and upward.

Our reward when we finally reached the viewpoint was spectacular! Layers upon layers of rice terraces, carved out of the mountainside to look like steps for giants, in varying stages of preparation. Some terraces had recently been aerated using hand tools (we didn’t see horses or buffalo doing any of that work way up there!) and others had already been flooded. The haze covered our views of the more distant mountain terraces but it also added a mysteriousness to the scenery.


We hiked back down the stone path, relaxed with a wonderful meal at our hotel (we tried bamboo and bitter melon dishes which were fantastic!) and retired to our private room to watch the movie “Shine” on our tablet.

The next day after hiking back down the mountain and receiving more opportunities to buy stuff, we took a shuttle back through Guilin and further south to Yangshuo. Having learned our lesson in Kathmandu, we did not opt for an overnight in the more convenient tourist area and instead found a quieter place on the Li River, of which we hope to explore more.

We hit the jackpot of vegan food!

We had a wonderful meal on a balcony over the river at the Pure Lotus Vegetarian Restaurant where we tried orange and pear soup. It came hot and with bits of carrots too. We ended up being so glad we ordered it because it was absolutely delicious! We would go back just for the soup. We even went back the very next day just for more soup!

This particular dish was called “Spicy Tofu with Fern Noodles” and was easily Ligeia’s favorite meal we tried:

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3 thoughts on “Exploring Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces in China

  1. Anonymous

    Hi Mindy and Ligeia! First thing every morning I check for your report. You take all the hurdles in a stride and find so many things to enjoy. Opa and I follow your journey on the map. Thank you so much for the pleasure this gives us. Be happy and safe!
    Love Oma 🙂 greetings from Opa 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    Interesting your experience on the bus. I can tell a long story about the grateful reciprocity of Chinese people. That's how I got to China in the first place in 1987 Too bad we Westerners are such slow learners! Enjoy and accept that our press presents a very skewed picture of this fascinating country and its people. Opa

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