Fenghuang Ancient Town (凤凰古城) – A Town That Comes Alive At Night

We got back on the road after checking out Changde’s sights in the early afternoon to head towards Fenghuang County (凤凰县), about 4 hours’ drive away.  This wasn’t our longest road trip for the whole tour yet, more to come later! :O

Fenghuang Ancient Town (凤凰古城), an ancient town with history spanning 1300 years, is located in the southwestern part of Hunan province and under the administration of Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture (湘西土家族苗族自治州). According to our tour guide, Guizhou (贵州) to the west of the town is within walking distance from here!  The county got its name from the Fenghuang Mountain 50 miles away, as it resembles a phoenix (called “Fenghuang” in Chinese) spreading its wings.  The town is dominated by the Miao and Tujia ethnic minorities.  It is a well preserved ancient town with many historical attractions and beautiful scenery, being surrounded by mountains with the Tuojiang (沱江) flowing into the town.  Since 2001, it has been labelled as a national 4A rated scenic attraction, a cultural heritage site.  However, the town only comes alive after dark because hardly anyone visits in the day when it is too warm as it is surrounded by the mountains all around.

We first arrived at the Fenghuang traditional restaurant for dinner where we received a warm welcome by the Miao ethnic minority at the entrance. After dinner, our tour guide led us to the entrance of the Fenghuang Ancient Town, and each had to pay RMB 148 (about S$30) to enter the town.  Gosh this is the first time I have to pay to enter some old town attraction, after visiting so many old towns in different parts of the world… Guess the Chinese government want tourists to “pay them back” for the huge bucks they have invested in restoring and preserving this town?

Without further ado, I shall post the photos of the beautiful historical town from our 2 hours’ stroll for your viewing pleasure below:

Spotting some Miao ethnic minority in their traditional costumes on the right before the sun set:)

Spotting some Miao ethnic minority in their traditional costumes on the right before the sun set:)

Beautiful lights up from 7pm, see the wooden-plank bridge? Many people use it to cross the river, including us. Those more daring use the narrower stone bridge on the right ;)

Beautiful lights up from 7pm, see the wooden-plank bridge? Many people use it to cross the river, including us. Those more daring use the narrower stone bridge on the right 😉

Stunning night view of the unique houses on stilts by the river (土家吊脚楼)

Stunning night view of the unique houses on stilts by the river (土家吊脚楼)

The iconic landmark in the town - Hong Bridge (虹桥)

The iconic landmark in the town – Hong Bridge (虹桥) with the beautiful houses by the river

Front view of Hong Bridge (虹桥)

Front view of Hong Bridge (虹桥)

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Childhood home of modern author & researcher of Chinese material arts Shen Congwen (沈从文)

Childhood home of modern author & researcher of Chinese material arts Shen Congwen (沈从文)

Besides strolling along the river and admiring the stunning night scene and unique buildings in this historical town, visitors can also chill out at the numerous cafes by the Tuo Jiang – be it modern cafes serving coffee and pastries, or music cafes (民歌餐厅) where local budding singers serenade while you enjoy a meal or drink. Furthermore, we also spotted several shops selling local delicacies such as homemade ginger sweets (姜糖), peanut sweets (木棰酥), dried kiwi (猕猴桃) and cured meat (腊肉).

Many shops here selling traditional homemade ginger sweets

Many shops here selling traditional homemade ginger sweets

Bacon/ cured meat (腊肉) is a delicacy in Fenghuang, & this is a common sight here

Bacon/ cured meat (腊肉) is a delicacy in Fenghuang, & hanging them to dry is a common sight here

Time to buy some local foodstuff back as souvenirs :)

Time to buy some local foodstuff back as souvenirs at the end of the tour 🙂

It was a nice 2-hour visit in this ancient town, too bad the air was pretty still with hardly any wind blowing.  If only we had been there on our own, it would have been great to chill at 1 of the cool cafes along the river! 🙂

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