Hiking the Dragon’s Backbone from Guilin

Guilin 桂林 is home to China’s most archetypal scenery, so much so, you feel like you have stepped into a Chinese landscape painting. We planned our visit here around two different places: Longsheng and Yangshuo. We had managed to side step the heavy rains slamming Southern China, flooding rivers and towns, to date, but with Gullin registering over 407 mm (16 inches), and the largest three-hour rainfall of 203 mm, just before we arrived, our plans for Yangshuo needed a rethink as most of our planned activities had been cancelled.

Our trip to the Longji Rice Terraces 龙脊梯田 was an early start. The city scene quickly changed to a karst landscape, as we headed 100km North of Guilin City. After witnessing the striking imagery of the rice terraces in Northern Vietnam, and Iffuago in the Philippines we were hoping these would prove to be as spectacular. The roads if nothing else were proving to be a similar experience. Slow going and windy with quite a few near miss situations as we headed around the narrow bends with shoulders giving way, due to the recent heavy rains.

We stopped halfway up at PingAn Village for lunch. This was combined with a visit to the long haired women. These women only cut their long black hair three times in their lives. They bundle their own cut hair within a turban style updo and carry it with them.


With a name meaning “Dragon’s Backbone,” the layered rice paddies are said to resemble a dragon’s scales when they are full of water. Construction of these magnificent terraces began way back in the Yuan Dynasty – 12th century, by the ethnic Zhuang people who inhabit the region.

On our return, a landslide had caused a large part of the road to be closed off. Everyone I’m anything bigger than a minibus had to get off and take a hike to where where another bus was waiting downhill. Thank goodness we were in a small van that managed to scrape past! I hate to think how long we would have been stranded if we had departed later, as I’m pretty sure that road was going to slide away completely. 

This entry was posted in China, Guilin, School Holidays, South East Asia, Travelling with Children and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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