Fenghuang (Phoenix) Ancient City April 2015

Fenghuang (Phoenix) Ancient City is a very well preserved town with its unique ethnic customs and Ming and Qing architectural styles in the western boundary of Hunan Province.  For the Chinese, the phoenix symbolizes immortality and good omen.  Legend has it that two phoenixes flew over the town and found it so beautiful they were reluctant to leave.

The Ancient City stood frozen in time with narrow stone-paved alleys, old bridges, and houses built on stilts all still in use today.  It is a wonderful example of what villages in China looked like in the bygone eras.  Over half the population here belongs to the Miao or Tujia ethnic minorities and many women of the older generations still dress in their traditional garments.

DSCF0465Fenghuang Ancient City

We visited Fenghuang in conjunction with our trip to Zhangjiajie.  It was a good four and a half hours drive from Zhangjiajie.  The closest airport is Tongren Fenghuang Airport about 45 mins away but very few flights operate from there.  We spent two days wandering around the ancient city, although very commercial, still was beautiful especially when all lit up at night.  There is an entrance fee which grants you a boat ride and entrance into ten cultural spots inside the ancient city.  It would be hard to not pay the entrance fee as there are checkpoints in the main parts of the city.

DSCF0466Several different bridges, some more elaborate than others, link the two banks.


DSCF0706The Jumping Rocks was built in Qing Dynasty for people to cross the Tuojiang River and is now one of the iconic landmarks of the ancient city. The locals still use is to cross the river and tourists love to pose on these blocks.

DSCF0484Titanic pose?

DSCF0470Hunan cuisine is spicy and uses a lot of red chillies.

DSCF0490The lights come on at dusk.

DSCF0492Narrow alleys with the ones by the river the most commercial.




DSCF0495Local snacks.

DSCF0535This little girl in her traditional Tujia costume is selling little boats with candles you can float onto the Tuojiang River.


There are many hostels inside the walled Ancient City but we opted to stay about 15 mins walk away at a more modern hotel.  It was helpful to hire a local guide to show you around the main cultural spots because there are no clear street signs so it is quite easy to get lost.  The first thing the guide recommended that we do was the boat ride along the Tuojiang River.  After the boat ride, we went to the upstairs salon of the Rainbow covered bridge for some tea and this is a great photo spot of the Tuojiang River.

DSCF0572The boat ride along the Tuojiang River passes under the Rainbow covered bridge – Fenghuang’s own Ponte Vecchio.

DSCF0583Houses on stilts.



DSCF0549Tourists can rent local Tujia costumes for photos.

DSCF0603Rainbow Covered Bridge

DSCF0607In the upstairs salon of the Rainbow Covered Bridge.






Some of the other cultural spots we visited were the old city wall, a few museums and some old houses, but my favorite was just wandering around the city and watching the locals going about their business.


DSCF0605This tempura shrimp cake is very yummy.  Every time we pass by this stall (yes you do get lost and go around in circles), we would eat one.

DSCF0637The locals still use these baskets to carry their groceries or even babies.




DSCF0648Why is that one never sees women sitting around playing checkers any where in the world?


DSCF0668Traditional Miao ethnic minority manning her handicraft stall.

DSCF0652The Chinese national passtime – Mahjong.

DSCF0665Playing mahjong on the street!

DSCF0667Pigsy on his break.

DSCF0679Wonder if Pigsy worked at this shop selling cured and dried meats…?

DSCF0674The old city wall.

DSCF0691Traditional architecture with the winged roofs.

DSCF0680View from the city wall.

DSCF0687Window into the past.


DSCF0711Both sides of the river are lined with cafes and bars – perfect for watching the world go by.



Last evening in Fenghuang.

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