Around 95 miles (150km) north of Guilin city in Longsheng county, the slopes below Longji Titian (‘Dragon’s Backbone’) mountain have been molded across the centuries into narrow rice terraces that hug the folds and contours of the hillsides. In springtime, when filled with irrigation water, they appear as bands of silver and terracotta; in summer, they’re vibrant green; and during the autumn harvest season, golden brown.
The perfect base from which to admire this extraordinary landscape is a homestay in a traditional Zhuang village, such as Ping An or Dazhai, whose wooden farmhouses are separated by narrow cobbled lanes, and where you can savour the amazing views at breakfast time over a cup of steaming, sweet ‘oil tea’.
The local Zhuang farmers, who still work the terraces using horse-drawn ploughs, are charming hosts. This area is also the homeland of the Red Yao minority, whose womenfolk grow their hair to extraordinary lengths, and wear it coiled in fabulous ornamental headdresses. As well as rice, the local diet is heavily reliant on fish - farmed in the irrigation ditches.