When we think of Asia, we think of rice paddies, bamboo hats, water buffalo’s and brown skinned people. This is also true for China. To facilitate your search for your dream China, here is an overview of some of the most beautiful and stunning rice terraces in China.
As you can see on the map, most of them are located in the south of China.
1. Yunnan - Yuanyang Rice Terraces 元阳梯田
The Yuanyang Rice Terraces, also called the Honghe Hani Rice Terraces are located in the south of Yunnan, not too far from the border with Vietnam. Those terraces were carved out by the Hani people for generations and have a history of more than 1300 years. In 2013 they were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The terraces cover a grandiose area, over more than 4 counties. They are claimed to be the largest and most spectacular terraces in the world.
The most common ethnic group are the Hani, and you can find a lot of Hani villages with traditional mushroom shaped houses. Besides the Hani, you can also see a lot of Yi, Yao, Miao and Zhuang. We highly recommend the morning markets, as you can see a lot beautiful people in their traditional colorful ethnical clothing.
Try out our amazing 4 Days Rice Terraces Photography Tour, view Yuanyang rice terraces combined with other beautifull destinations in Yunnan, or see the terraces from another viewpoint with our 11 Days Ethnic Minority Culture Tour.
2. Guangxi - Longji Rice Terraces 龙脊梯田
Eighty kilometer from Guilin you can find the Longji Rice Terraces, also called Longsheng Rice Terraces. They have a shorter history than the Yuanyang Terraces but are nonetheless 650 years old. They gets their name, Longji (Dragon's Backbone) because the rice terraces resemble a dragon's scales, while the summit of the mountain range looks like the backbone of the dragon.
The local people are either Zhuang or Yao, with a lot of well-preserved picturesque wooden minority villages.
3. Guizhou - Jiabang Rice Terraces 加榜梯田
There are a lot of rice terraces areas in Guizhou, with the most famous being the Jiabang Terraces. Among the hundreds of layers of paddy fields, traditional wooden two-story houses are scattered. They belong to the Miao ethnic group. This added to the waving clouds of mist, makes for a very picturesque landscape, like a fairy tale on land.
4. Hunan - Ziquejie Rice Terraces 紫鹊界梯田
One of the eight famous scenic spots in Hunan, Ziquejie is worth a visit if you are in the area. Those rice terraces were built by the combined efforts of the Miao, Yao, Tong and Han ethnic groups 2000 years ago. Because they are more to the north of China you might even encounter snow in the winter.
5. Zhejiang - Yunhe Rice Terraces 云和梯田
The Yunhe Rice Terraces (meaning Peaceful clouds in Chinese) are considered the most beautiful in south-East China. They have 700 layers with a height difference of 1200 meters. They were built and developed in the Tang dynasty, more than 1000 years ago. As they are the northernmost of the places mentioned in this article, you are also more likely to see snow-covered white layers during the winter.
6. Fujian - Youxi Rice Terraces 尤溪梯田
Located about 150km from Fuzhou, the provincial capital of Fujian, the countless terraces of Youxi link 8 villages together. The Youxi terraces also have a very long history, and are considered the most beautiful of Fujian province. Here too you can see layers of crops intermixed with local folk houses and free-running ducks and goats.
7. Guizhou - Gaoyao Rice Terraces 丹寨高要梯田
The Gaoyao Rice Terraces are located in the Danzhai county, 200km from the Jiabang Terraces. Al tough the scale is much smaller, they are well worth the detour, especially in August when the fields have turned golden and the locals celebrate the Rice Tasting Festival. The village of Gaoyao in itself is amazing. Danzhai county is also known for it’s traditional Miao wax printing skills.
You can go to all the above mentioned places all year through, as each season has different scenery. You can see green, golden, snow-covered white and mirror-like (water-filled) terraces as well as cloud seas and ribbons of interweaving mist.
In most places small plowing machines have replaced oxcarts, but if you are lucky, sometimes you can still see water buffalo's plowing the fields.
Rice terraces are a paradise for photographers and hikers. You won’t regret getting up at 5 a.m. to see the sunrise, just ask your hostel which place gives the best viewpoint. Sunset is also a good option, although you probably won’t see photogenic clouds of mist like in the morning. If you like hiking, you can just walk trough the fields, find remote villages or go you go upwards to find an even better viewpoint. Some of the walkways between the fields are very narrow and friable, so make sure the path has been walked on before by locals and try not to lose your balance, otherwise you might take an unexpected dip in a muddy bath.
Do you like what you see? You can tailor make your own itinerary to see all those amazing places, or book a trip with our 4 Days Rice Terraces Photography Tour. You can also combine this tour with other amazing destinations.