Amazing hotel in the heart of the longshen rice terraces. Stunning views from the balconies and wonderful air conditioned, en-suite rooms at really good prices. It's family run and they could not be nicer or more helpful. A bonus is the amazing food they serve, I would go just for dinner! Ping'an is beautiful beyond words, walking through the terraces and seeing the long haired Hao women is an experience I will never forget.
Longsheng translates as Dragon's Backbone and is an apt title for a ridge that has been carved over generations so that rice terraces cascade down its side for thousands of feet.
One of the best spots to see the terraces is at Ping'an. Many of the villagers have converted their homes into comfortable guesthouses and so it is easy to stay over for a night or two.
Those who wish to stay longer will find many options for hikes. A guide can add to the experience but is not essential.
Some maintain the best time to visit is during the spring just as the rice is about to be planted. The terraces are filled with water to aid the planting and this creates a series of mirror surfaces; a stunning sight often captured by professional photographers. It is just a pity that the weather in spring is less predictable and often overcast when the scene should be most dramatic.
I prefer colours to abstract effects and reckon that the best time to visit is during the Autumn. The rice harvest can start anytime from late September. The first week of October is a Public Holiday throughout China and most of the villagers are too busy with tourists to think about crops so little cutting takes place that week even if the rice is ready.
Rice turns a gorgeous yellow when ready, though this happens at different times across the slopes depending upon the light received. The greens and yellows of the rice are enhanced by typically blue skies, perhaps with the odd puff of white cloud. Other colours are to be found with the locals, Zhuang in Ping'an itself and Yao nearby.
To get there:
Longsheng is also the name of a town (not to be confused with the ridge) which is connected to Guilin by bus. Ping'an is located on a side spur with no direct public bus from Guilin so it is necessary to change at Heping. It is necessary to change again at the ticket office in the valley (entrance fee, 50 RMB per person) and pay for the shuttle service up the hill (another 10-20 RMB); ostensibly for safety ... but someone must be getting rich.
There is also a direct daily shuttle service from Yangshuo. This can be booked with any local travel service. For a premium you can choose to stay overnight and return the following evening.
Travel services in Guilin and Yangshuo can also arrange private transport which is not prohibitive if sharing. Certainly the extra flexibility with timings, and possibility to be dropped off at or picked up from the airport makes this an option worth considering.
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