After visiting Zhangjiajie in Hunan during our China trip back in June, we embarked on an overnight train ride to Guilin in the Guangxi province. The Longji Rice Terraces is a well known destination just outside of Guilin, and its name means Dragon's Backbone. It is named as such because the rice terraces resemble the dragon's scales, and the nearby mountain ranges look like the backbone of the dragon. There are many day tour trips operating out of Guilin to visit these rice terraces, but we knew a day trip is simply not enough time to explore this amazing place. We forgoed the tours and decided to visit this place on our own and also to spend a night in one of the villages. Pro tip! Store your luggage in Guilin and only bring a small backpack while visiting the rice terraces. All of the hotels are located on hills and require lots of hiking to get to. You can hire locals to carry your luggage, but it's just easier to travel light and only carry what you need for 2 days and 1 night.
There are two major villages: Dazhai and Ping'an. With the help of the friendly staff at our hotel in Guilin, we bought a direct bus ticket to Dazhai village where we spent the entire day hiking and visiting the various scenic spots. At the end of the day, we took a local bus to Ping'an village where we checked into our hotel with the most amazing views. We also had the best meals at our hotel. I couldn't believe it! Everything was so fresh and locally grown and picked straight from the village! After sunset, the village became very dark since there weren't any street lights, and the only lights were just the lights from the houses. The entire village was so quiet and peaceful with the only sounds being from the rain and the cicadas. It was by far one of my favorite nights we spent in China! The next morning we were able to visit all the scenic spots in Ping'an before the big tour buses arrived for the day trips, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. This was an amazing way to visit major attractions without the crowds!