Fenghuang Ancient Town, also known as Phoenix Ancient Town, is a well-preserved old town located around 230 kilometers southwest of Zhangjiajie. The town was added to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list in 2008.
Over the course of hundreds of years, Fenghuang's diverse population, enriched by its advantageous economic and strategic position, built a beautiful town of winding streets and wooden stilt houses. The wooden houses that jut out over the Tuo River are one of the most iconic images of Fenghuang, and walking along the riverfront or taking a cruise down the river is a perfect way to appreciate the stunning architecture. The sight of the town's ancient buildings beautifully illuminated at night is a highlight of any visit.
At night, the narrow alleys winding through the town are bustling with people, making them a good place to stroll, try some street food, browse shops, or just people watch. Remember to wear comfortable shoes since there are no motor-vehicles or bicycles allowed inside the town, and you will need to walk.
Visitors who are particularly interested in Chinese architecture can buy a combo ticket that allows access to some famous historic buildings scattered across the town, including the East City Gate, the Rainbow Bridge, the Yang Family Ancestral Hall, the former residence of Shen Congwen (one of the greatest modern Chinese authors), the former residence of Xiong Xiling ( Premier of the Republic of China, July 1913-February 1914), Wanshou Palace, etc. The combo ticket also includes a boat ride on the Tuo river.
If your itinerary allows, we recommend spending a night in town. This will allow you to slow down and walk around in the early morning when the town is very tranquil, as well as at night when the alleys are busy and full of things to do. There are a large number of guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts scattered throughout the town.
It is worth mentioning that Fenghuang is incredibly popular with both foreign and domestic Chinese tourists, and has thus undergone a fair degree of commercialization. There are numerous stores, restaurants, and pubs that stay open after midnight, and the streets may be quite crowded in the evening. Street vendors may come to you and try to sell you things as well.
Outside the town, the Southern China Great Wall and the nearby traditional Miao village also deserve a visit if you have more than one day in the area. The Southern China Great Wall is a Ming dynasty fortification 15 kilometers west of the town built to protect the Han population from Miao attacks.
Opening hours: all day
Entrance fee: free
Combo ticket for historic sights: 148 RMB
Average time for this activity: 1/2 to 1 day
Many visitors come to Fenghuang by bus or car after visiting Zhangjiajie's stunning pillar-like mountains and return to Zhangjiajie airport the second day. There are regular buses between Zhangjiajie and Fenghuang and the bus fee is around 80 RMB. The drive from Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang takes about 3.5 hours one way.
If you come from other cities, the closest airport is the Tongren Fenghuang airport which is about 40 km away from Fenghuang Ancient Town.