Longsheng On a Budget
SightsExisting as the most impressive terrace in China, the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces cover a vast region dating all the way back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1378). Its culmination was due to the hard labor and wisdom of the Zhuang people who still inhabit the region today, working with mountain landscape and water to maintain the remarkable rice terraces. The terraces cover an area of about 66 square kilometers (16308 acres) and change from season to seasonglimmering with water irrigation in the spring, winding like green ribbons in the summer, golden and ripe for harvest in the fall, and snow-covered in the winter. No matter the season, they are an extraordinary sight to see, a sweeping landscape of hand-carved mountains.
Another well-known attraction is the Longsheng Hot Springs National Forest Park. Best known for its sixteen hot springs, the waters contain various elements including zinc, manganese, lithium, strontium and iron that are beneficial to health. Many come to alleviate diseases such as cardiopathy and rheumatism as well as certain skin conditions. The park has extensive facilities for travelers including resort houses, bath centers, hotels, restaurants, malls, banks and entertainment venues.
NeighborhoodsLongsheng is home to a few unique ethnic minorities that are prominent in some of the county's villages. The Yao who celebrate the mountain and the Zhuang who venerate water inhabit the regions of the hot springs and rice terraces respectively, while Miao with forest and the Dong with field also occupy quaint villages amongst the vast mountain scenery.
Baimian Yao Village, located in the Longsheng Hot Springs National Forest Park, is popular for people to visit and observe some of the customs of local life. Visitors can even participate in traditional sporting activities like propping bamboo bars or playing tug of war with an elephant. These are where the Red Yao people live, where the girls are known for their long hair and cultural dances.
Yinshui Dong Village is another popular destination set in a picturesque valley with a beautiful waterfall. This village has a long history with distinctive architecture like that of the Wind and Rain Bridge and the Drum Tower with its square piled-eaves. The people of Yinshui Dong engage regularly in folk songs and dancing and welcome visitors to try local delicacies.
ActivitiesIn a place like Longsheng, with opportunities for so much natural beauty as well as culture, sight-seeing is the most popular activity. From the impressive rice terraces of the Dragon's Backbone to the healing properties of the springs in Longsheng Hot Springs National Forest Park, there is much to see and do in experiencing the blending of the natural and manmade.
The villages, too, offer another kind of sight-seeing in the way of understanding the unique culture and customs of the ethnic minorities in Longsheng. From traditional song and dance to local games and custom cuisine, the villages are as close to cultural immersion as one could get. It is a common activity for visitors to enjoy the mountain scenery and navigate the villages along mountain paths.
The best of shopping can be found in the markets of Longsheng Town with souvenirs including things like Longsheng rare stones, ethnic embroidery, arts and crafts including gold or silver decorations, Yao ethnic group's wax-printing goods, hand-knitted straw sandals, and Zhuang ethnic group's decorative fabrics and bags. Other products native to the Longsheng region include bamboo products, Longji Chili, Longji Yunwu Tea, Longji Water Wine, and Longji Xiangnuo (a fragrant sticky rice). Any of these and more can be found by exploring the markets of the main town area.
Food and DiningLongsheng is home to many native delicacies. Preserved meat, bamboo, and rice make up the basis for most of the ethnic dishes. The Dong ethnic group's cured sour meat is unique in that duck meat, fish and pork are placed in a pot and a large fish is placed in a cask. The contents of the cask usually can be stored for 20 to 30 years and is normally used for a ceremonious feast. Bamboo shoots and mountain vegetables are also tasty and nutritious, and pickled sour seasonings are served as snacks with meals. The flavorful Longji Sour Ginger, for example, is the favorite snack among the local people, as is the Longji Chili Sauce. A few restaurants that serve some of the best ethnic food with scenic views as well as cultural entertainment include Jin Fu Lou Village Restaurant located in Dazhai Village of Heping Township and Ao Bei Tun Village Restaurant Located in Ao Bei Tun area of Duping Village.
TransportationGuilin Liangjiang International Airport is the nearest airport and has about 44 airlines to most large cities in China. From the airport tourists can take the airport bus to the Aviation Building Stop in the urban area, where they can find the Guilin Chief Bus Station and then take a long-distance bus to reach Longsheng. Buses run every 40 minutes with a ride of about 2 hours.
Once in Longsheng Town, there is the regular bus which can take tourists to the main scenic areas in the surrounding places. To Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, the regular bus takes about one hour to arrive at the parking lot of the Ping'an Village, from which visitors can reach the scenic area in a 30-minute walk. For Longsheng Hot Springs National Forest Park, there is also a regular bus with one shift every 20 minutes.
Since the villages and many scenic areas are not accessible by bus, it is easiest to travel the countryside areas on foot via mountain pathways.