The beautiful ancient town Fenghuang
Located in the southwest of Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in Hunan Province, the Ancient Town of Fenghuang was built in 1556 in the Ming dynasty and is an ethnic minority settlement area composed of 28 ethnic groups including Miao, Han, and Tujia.
The majestic ancient city wall, the neat and uniform stilted buildings, and the smooth gray stone road all make the ancient town of Fenghuang an ideal place for tourists, painters, and photography. It is not only one of the top ten cultural heritages in Hunan province, but also a famous national historical and cultural city in China. It can compare with the ancient city of Lijiang in Yunnan Province and the ancient city of Pingyao in Shanxi Province, enjoying the name of "North Pingyao and South Fenghuang". For travelers who plan to tour China by seeing the ancient towns or cities, it shouldn't be missed.
Top things to do and see in Fenghuang
Stroll the ancient city
Taking a leisurely walk and wandering in the ancient town is the best way to feel the charm of the ancient town of Fenghuang. Whether day or night, morning or dusk, the ancient town has its unique scenery and style in every period. Here, every brick by and tile is the witness of history. Many aborigines and local people still live inside the ancient town. In addition to more than 120 houses characteristic of the Qing Dynasty, more than 30 temples, halls, and pavilions in the ancient town of Fenghuang, together with many inns and shops. Visitors can find a cafe or a bar to sit down and take a break, feel the history and culture of Fenghuang, the rhythm of life, and admire the Tuojiang scenery.
Boating on Tuojiang River Rafting
The Tuojiang River is the mother river of the ancient town of Fenghuang. The clear water and grasses are swaying. Visitors can enjoy the Tuojiang River by boating on its two sections. One is the regular tourism company's boat for the upstream. The boat is boarded at the pier on the north side of the North Gate Tower and headed to the Wanshou Palace. The other is the rural private boat on the downstream sector in the sightseeing bridge wharf, travelers need to buy a separate ticket. The boat ride is available at night during summertime.
Cross the Leaping Rocks on the Tuojiang River
The leaping rocks facing the north gate tower are formed by two rows of independent block stone piers forming a unique channel connecting the two banks. When crossing the river through this, you have to jump step by step, with the clear Tuojiang River below your feet, which is a bit exciting. This is also one of the most popular shooting spots in Fenghuang Ancient Town. Standing on the Leaping Rock with the vast Tuojiang River behind it, the scenery is excellent.
Hong Bridge, also known as the "Wind and Rain Tower", lying on the Tuojiang River, is the central landmark building of the ancient town of Fenghuang, integrating scenic spots, tourism, and shopping. The bridge has two floors. The first floor is a pedestrian passage, from which visitors can go to and from the two banks of the Tuojiang River. The second floor overlooks the Fenghuang, which is also one of the best viewpoints in the ancient town. There are many shops selling various handicrafts and souvenirs, as well as many specialty restaurants and snacks.
Tuojiang Stilt Houses (Diaojiaolou)
Stilt Houses is one of the ancient buildings rich in Miao architectural characteristics in the ancient town of Fenghuang, and also the largest group of stilt houses in China. The 240-meter-long stilted building complex was built during the Qing Dynasty and the early Republic of China and is now there are still more than a dozen households inhabited. There are also some people who redecorate their stilted houses and take them as inns to accommodate tourists. The best place to see the Stilt Houses is around Shawan or sitting on a wooden boat on the Tuojiang River.
Enjoy the Night View
The night view of Fenghuang Ancient Town is definitely a rare sight in the world. At the beginning of the lights, the night is tantalizing, when the night falls, the lights of the ancient city of Phoenix are lit up, the ancient city of Phoenix has become a colorful fairy tale world. Both sides of the Tuojiang River streamed with colorful lights, as if in the daytime. The water of the Tuojiang River passing through the city is also illuminated by the lights as if it is covered with a blue curtain.
Surrounds outside Fenghuang Ancient Town
If you are tired of staying in the ancient town of Fenghuang or have plenty of travel time, you can choose to visit the surrounding Miao villages. In a day or so, walk into the village where the Miao people live, admire the landscape surrounding Fenghuang, sing and dance with the enthusiastic Miao men and women, and then taste authentic Miao food. If you want to experience the strong Miao customs, Miao Wangcheng is more recommended, and if you want to appreciate the pleasant natural scenery, Hmong Valley Scenic Area is most recommended.
Local activities and specialties in Fenghuang
The Tiaohua Festival is the "Oriental Valentine's Day" in Fenghuang County, and it is also the ancestor worship festival and heroic festival of the Miao people. Every year on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, young men and women of the Miao ethnic group from all over China go to Diaohuaping in Ma'anshan, Shanjiang Town. They will perform the traditional musical instruments, traditional dances, theme performances, and other exciting folk activities here. In addition, they will also have a rich feast in the ancient town of Fenghuang, the scene is very lively and spectacular.
Many batik shops can be found in the ancient city of Fenghuang, some of which you can watch and enjoy the craftsman or shopkeeper's drawing skill and operation process when you visit. Fenghuang batik is divided into two major schools, Tujia batik style is unique and colorful, and Miao batik is natural and pure. Many batik products are made into scarves, purses, or T-shirts, and some are used as handicraft decorations. The general price ranges from tens of RMB to hundreds of RMB.
In addition to being a local specialty, ginger candy is also the perfect choice as a gift. Ginger candy workshops can be seen everywhere in the ancient town of Fenghuang. Travelers can also enjoy the scene of pulling ginger candy and the production process, which is a special cultural landscape. The freshly baked ginger candy is still warm and slightly spicy in sweetness.
Best time to visit Fenghuang
Every year from March to November is the best season to visit the Fenghuang (Phoenix) Ancient Town. It has a humid climate of mid-subtropical monsoon, with an average annual temperature of 15.9℃. March-April is the early spring of Fenghuang County, and the Tuojiang River in the early morning is hazy and picturesque. May-October is the peak season here, with many tourists. From November to February, Fenghuang Country enters winter, which means fewer visitors and a chance to see an ancient city covered in snow.
How to get to Fenghuang
The nearest airport to Fenghuang Country is Tongren Fenghuang Airport, it takes about 1 hour by car from the airport to the ancient town of Fenghuang. Currently, only a few cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have flights arriving here. Many tourists will choose to drive from Zhangjiajie, which takes about 3.5 hours. Zhangjiajie Hehua International Airport has twice as many routes and navigable cities as Tongren Fenghuang Airport.
There are two nearby high-speed rail stations to the ancient town of Fenghuang: one is Tongren Railway Station which takes about 1 hour's ride by car, the other is Huaihua South Station and the journey takes about 1.5 hours. Many cities have high-speed trains to and from Huaihua and Tongren every day. For example, it's about 5.5 hours to Tongren from Chengdu by high-speed train and 5 hours from Guilin to Huaihua by high-speed rail.
Lodging and dining in Fenghuang
Lodging in Fenghuang
Most tourists will choose to stay inside in the ancient town of Fenghuang: like the Stilt Houses, where you can experience the real Hunan Xiangxi style; or a variety of inns or guesthouses with a better vision of space to enjoy the view of banks of Tuojiang River and stilted houses. According to the decoration, conditions, facilities and low and peak seasons of the inn, the average price of ordinary budget inns is CN￥180-360 per night, and the price of better-grade inns is CN￥350-600 per night, and the price range of the high-end boutique hotel is CN￥600-980 per night. The decoration styles of most inns and guesthouses are the architectural features and styles of ancient China or the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There are also many inns and guesthouses decorated with modern and minimalist or Nordic style.
Note: The roads in the ancient town are all stone roads, which is not easy to use suitcases. However, most inns/guesthouses provide free luggage transfers before check-in or after check-out.
Accommodation outside the ancient town is relatively cheaper, and there are many types of hotels to choose from. Most of them are modern-style hotels with complete facilities, it is good for business people or guests with higher requirements for accommodation.
Food in Fenghuang
The food in Fenghuang County is very rich and delicious. The Xueba Duck (CN￥48-70 per dish) is the most famous dish in Fenghuang, which can be tasted in Chinese restaurants in the ancient town. The local side dishes of Fenghuang are usually characterized by "sour", especially the Sour Soup Fish (CN￥50-70 per dish) with Miao family characteristics, which is usually eaten in the hot pot. Tuojiang Small Fish (CN￥20-35 per dish) is a kind of river fish that fishermen salvaged from the Tuojiang River every day. After being fried, it tastes very crispy. Tofu made with rice milk (CN￥5-10 per dish) can be used as snacks in Fenghuang Ancient Town and is also one of the special dishes of Chinese restaurants. Every restaurant here has smoked bacon (CN￥28-50 per dish), which is marinated and roasted, and very delicious. Rice noodles (CN￥12-25 per dish) are also one of the favorite staple foods of local people, many people choose to eat a bowl of steaming rice noodles in the morning.