Fenghuang Ancient Town in Xiangxi Prefecture

Fenghuang Ancient Town

Hunan Fenghuang (Phoenix) Ancient Town, an old town built up in Qing Dynasty, is still being kept in its original appearance with 300 years passed. The ancient city is a gathering place for Miao and Tujia ethnic minority.

Why is Fenghuang Ancient Town So Special

Ranking as the top ancient town in China, Fenghuang Ancient Town is a guidebook for people to know the past life in the pre-modernization period. The wooden houses and stone roads are the typical scenes here. When sightseeing in this town in a misty day, you will really find why it is so famous and popular all the time. The scenery after rain or in the misty morning is more like a Chinese traditional painting rather than a real world.

Where is Fenghuang Ancient Town Lacation

The ancient town is located in the southwest of Hunan Province, bordering the prefecture-level cities of Huaihua to the southeast and Tongren (Guizhou) to the west. 

  • 37km(about 50 minutes’ driving) away from the nearest city-Jishou City
  • 430km (about 5 hours’ driving) away from Changsha
  • 250km (about 3 hours’ driving) away from Zhangjiajjie

Introduction of Fenghuang Ancient Town

History and Layout

It was built in 1704, and has 300 years of history. Fenghuang ancient town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on March 28, 2008 in the Cultural category. This ancient town was regarded as the most beautiful town in China by New Zealand writer Rewi Alley.

Fenghuang Ancient Town can be divided into two parts. One is the old town while the other one is new town. The old one leans against hills and faces the crystal-clear Tuojiang River flowing through the city, and it is the main tourist area in county. The new town is normal residential area for local people.

Main Attractions in Fenghuang Ancient Town

  1. Rainbow Bridge Art Building
    The Rainbow Bridge Art Building (虹桥艺术楼) at the center of Fenghuang Ancient Town was built in 1368 AD. Standing on the building, you can enjoy the picturesque scenery of the banks of Tuojiang River. Particularly at night.
  2. Yang’s Ancestral Hall
    The Yang’s Ancestral Hall (杨家祠堂) is the only one in Fenghuang Ancient Town among all the 24 halls in Fenghuang County. Visiting this ancestral hall, you can enjoy the fancy hollowed-out carving patterns on the doors, windows and eaves, etc. Besides, at the stage in the ancestral hall, there is a pair of wood carving patterns in front of and above the old stage, which tells about the free love of a pair of a young man and woman who finally live in happy after experiencing many difficulties. And since the free love between men and women were not allowed in the period of the construction of Yang’s Ancestral Hall, you can come here to feel their romantic love and their great efforts.
  3. Longevity Palace (Wanshougong)
    The Longevity Palace (万寿宫) enjoys pleasing sightseeing like a splendid natural painting of elegant mountains and waters with high pavilions. Going to the out area of the east gate, you can admire this fabulous view. Constructed for about over 300 years, the Longevity Palace was keeping expanding its scale into the present grand area. You can visit this place to see the specially designed decorations and the exquisite carvings on the groups of buildings.
  4. Boating on the Tuojiang River
    Tuojiang River is the mother river of Fenghuang Ancient Town, and Tuojiang River Boating (沱江泛舟) is surely the must-do highlight in this charming attraction. Taking a boat along the river, you can see the stilted buildings, the Longevity Palace, Wanming Tower, Duocuilou Building, etc.
  5. Former Residence of Shen Congwen
    The Former Residence of Shen Congwen (沈从文故居) was constructed in 1866 AD by the grandfather of Shen Chongwen. Since it shows the handwriting, manuscript, remains and portrait of Mr. Shen and exhibits the life story of this great writer in China, this former residence has become the most shining spot of Fenghuang Ancient Town. 
  6. Former Residence of Xiong Xiling
    The Former Residence of Xiong Xiling (熊希龄故居) is one of the must-see places in Fenghuang Ancient Town, because you can see the living environment and imagine the scene of daily life of this great Prime Minister in the Republic of China (1912 AD -1949 AD). On the east side of the courtyard is a woodshed, inside where there are a stone mill and a stone pestle, etc.

Notable people in Fenghuang Ancient Town

Shen Congwen – modern author and researcher of Chinese material arts. His childhood home is a popular tourist attraction in Fenghuang town
Huang Yongyu – an outstanding contemporary painter in the traditional Chinese style. His frescoes illustrating Buddhist stories in the Zhunti Nunnery are a major tourist attraction.
Xiong Xiling – famous philanthropist who was the first premier of the Republic of China (1921-1949) following the fall of the Manchu.

Travel Guide Accommodation in Fenghuang

Travel with China Dragon Tours(Top Recommended)

If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers sightseeing dining and transfer from us. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you to Fenghuang with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing.

Independent Travel

There are a lot of choices for accommodation in Fenghuang, from well-equipped hotels to economic hostels. If you only accept well-equipped hotels, you can find them around the ancient town scenic area, within walking distance to the ancient town. If you want to save money and stay inside the ancient town scenic area, you can book a hostel inside the ancient town. There are a lot of hostels inside which is operated by local residents.

Usually, it is recommended to stay one night for Fenghuang trip. And homestay or hostels along the Tuojiang River is the best choice. Tourists are recommended to stay in the houses on stilts along the riverside.

Best Times to Go

The best times to visit are considered to be spring and autumn. The period from April to June is the rainy season. The scenery after it has rained is like a traditional Chinese painting. The period from September to November is also a great time, when the heat and rains of the summer have subsided. Daytime temperatures are still warm while nights are cooler. In December and January, temperatures are cold and snow is possible, but there are fewer visitors. Domestic tourism during the national holidays in early May and October results in price rises and busier sites. It is advisable to book in advance.

How to Get to Fenghuang Ancient Town

  • By shuttle bus: The transportation for tourism in Hunan province of China is not convenient due to the hills and mountains, guest can only take shuttle bus from other cities to Fenghuang. The most convenient and secured way is taking the shuttle bus from Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang, the bus departs three times per day at 08:30, 14:30 and 15:30, the ticket price is RMB61 yuan.
  • Visitor can also get to Fenghuang city from Jishou (northeast from Fenghuang) or Wulingyuan Scenic Area (Zhangjiajie) by shuttle buses, usually the final bus leaving for Fenghuang is no later than 18:30 in the afternoon.

Useful Travel Tips

  • Well prepare your camera to catch those super charming view of Fenghuang Ancient Town;
  • If you want to buy some souvenir or other local specialties, try to select in a large and standard shop with full licenses and do not believe the strongly recommended items or shops too much;
  • Follow the local rules and respect the folk customs.
  • Don’t sucking up to the married women in the town or whistle as they believe it is only an asking for trouble and offend the ghost.
  • Coins can not be used in the ancient town so please bring paper money.

Main Attractions in Xiangxi Prefecture

Edited by  Lynette Fu/付云锐