Phoenix Ancient Town (Fenghuang)

Phoenix Ancient Town, aka Fenghuang Ancient Town, is situated on the western boundary of Hunan Province in an area of outstanding natural beauty where mountains, water and blue skies prevail. 'Fenghuang' is Chinese for 'Phoenix', the mythical bird of good omen and longevity that is consumed by fire to be re-born again from the flames. Phoenix Ancient Town is so called as legend has it that two of these fabulous birds flew over it and found the Fenghuang Town so beautiful that they hovered there, reluctant to leave.

Upon arrival visitor will be impressed by its air of mystery, elegance and primitive simplicity. The scenic spots inside remain attracting the whole year, but the best time to visit Fenghuang Ancient Town is July to September, when the weather is rather pleasant. This is a world that is dominated by the colour green. The mountain slopes are covered with green foliage, the fields are green and even the Tuo Jiang River reflects the greenery. The bridges over the water and unique houses built on stilts display a harmony that is so often portrayed in traditional Chinese paintings. This is particularly true when mist pervades the scene in the early morning or after rain. It soon becomes apparent that the claim to being one of the two most beautiful towns in the whole of China is more than justified; the other town is Chang Ting in Fujian Province.

Phoenix Town, Zhangjiajie, Hunan
Phoenix Ancient Town, Zhangjiajie, Hunan
Local people wash clothes at the bank of Tuojiang River
Locals wash clothes beside Tuojiang River
Phoenix Ancient Town is a wonderful example of what villages were like prior to the onset of modernization. Here dozens of alleys paved with flagstones run between the houses, each showing wear caused by the feet of generations of local people who have used them when going about their daily business. For the visitor, these alleys are the way to see the typical high gabled wooden houses built on stilts along the banks of the Tuo Jiang River at close quarters.

Tuo Jiang River

Stretching diagonally from the northwest to southeast of the Fenghuang Ancient Town, Tuo Jiang River is a life force of the local people. Here in its waters women wash their clothes and the men fish with their nets, while on the bank food is prepared in much the same way as it has for centuries. The river also provides a means for boatmen to support their families by ferrying visitors up and down stream for sightseeing.
Phoenix Ancient Town
Rippling Tuojiang River
Tian Family Ancestral Temple
Tian Family Ancestral Temple

Miao Village

The Miao ethnic minority is predominantly settled here and a visit to a Miao village is a must when going to Fenghuang. The Miao women have a natural beauty that renders the use of cosmetics quite unnecessary. They love to dress in traditional blue garments set off with a white scarf. They love also their silver jewellery especially during festivals. Visitors will find a large array of hand made items of silver ornaments for sale in the local shops. Home made tie-dyes, printed and batik cloths are other local specialities that make wonderful souvenirs. The Miao are friendly and hospitable and like nothing more than to interact with visitors with a variety of traditional entertainments and activities. Food here also is different from that found elsewhere in China. Pickled red peppers are a particular local delicacy and their appetizing smell wafts from the many small family run restaurants.

Buildings in Phoenix Ancient Town

Phoenix Ancient Town does not rely entirely upon natural beauty to attract the visitor for this ancient town with a history spanning 1,300 years has a number of remarkable old gardens as well as distinctive residential buildings, elegant bridges and mysterious towers and pagodas. These architectural delights date from the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). Those of special interest are the Wengchen Pavilion, Huang Si Qiao Castle, Tian Wang Temple, Da Cheng Hall, Chao Yang Palace, and the tomb of Shen Congwen and the residence of Xiong Xiling. Here too there are the North Gate and South Great Wall both excellent examples of municipal fortification.

Fenghuang Ancient TownIn many ways, life has not changed here for centuries and this is typified by the tough, hard working yet simple-hearted people. The town offers the visitor from both home and abroad a view of a quite different China from anything experienced in the modern cities and large conurbations that are more widely known. We are sure that the opportunity to travel in such a picturesque region will be remembered as an experience of a lifetime.

Famous People from the Town

Phoenix Ancient Town was home to the versatile writer Shen Congwen (1902-1988) who contributed greatly to the development of modern Chinese literature. Venerated by the local residents, the one time home and the tomb of this famous writer have become tourist attractions.

There are two other notable people from the town worthy of mention. The first is Xiong Xiling the famous philanthropist who was the first premier of the Republic of China (1921-1949) following the fall of the Manchu. The other famous citizen is 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.

How to get to Phoenix Ancient Town

From Changsha

Schedule Ticket Price Duration
South Bus Station 15:40 CNY 134 around 5.5 to 6.5h
West Bus Station 09:00, 10:50, 14:20, 16:50 CNY 145
Changzhutan Bus Station 07:30, 10:00, 13:30, 16:20 CNY 158
Lituo Express Bus Station 12:30, 16:00 CNY 149

From Zhangjiajie

Central Bus Station (near the Zhangjiajie Railway Station):
Bus schedule: 08:30, 09:00, 10:00, 12:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:20 and 17:20
Bus fare: around CNY 80
Duration: around 4 hours

Or alternatively, you can take regular buses from the bus station to Jishou first. It costs around CNY 55 per person. The whole journey is around 2.5 hours. Upon arrival, you can take regular bus to get there. It takes around 1 hour.

Zhangjiajie Airport is also a choice. Upon arrival, visitors can catch a taxi to the Central Bus Station. Then refer to the instruction above. 

From Tongren

Tongren Tourist Bus Station (near Tongren Railway Station):
Buses depart around every one hour from 08:40 to 16:30. Bus fare is around CNY 20. It takes about 1.5 hours.

Tongren Fenghuang Airport:
It is a feeder airport about 30km from Phoenix Ancient Town. It offers flights to and from Beijing, Changsha, Guiyang (Guizhou Province), Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Shanghai at present. Visitors can take tourist bus from the airport to reach the town directly, which takes around 1 hour.

From Jishou

Turn to Jishou North Bus Station near the railway station. There are regular buses to Phoenix Ancient Town, 80 minutes. Bus fare is around CNY 25.

From Huaihua

If visitors arrive at Huaihua Railway Station, they can take bus 7, 8, 48, 116, 204 or K204 to West Bus Station. There are regular buses to the town. It takes around 1.5 hours. Bus ticket is around CNY 39. Arriving at Huaihua South Railway Station, they can take bus 116 or K12 to the bus station.

Entrance Fee

Visitors don't need to pay for admission of the ancient town, but they need to buy a ticket if they want to visit the scenic spots inside.

Combo ticket: CNY 148 (including Former Residence of Shen Congwen, Formal Residence of Xiong XiLing, Yang Family Memorial Temple, East Gate Tower, Boat ride on Tuojiang River, Longevity Palace, Chongde Hall, Fenghuang Ancient City Museum, and Hongqiao Art Museum)
 Note: The combo ticket is valid for two days. A visitor can enter the above-mentioned spots once within the validity of the ticket.

Opening Hours The town opens all day.

 Phoenix Town Community       Phoenix Town Photo Album

  Top 9 Things to Do in Zhangjiajie
- Last modified on Apr. 09, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Phoenix Ancient Town (Fenghuang)
Asked by Happy from SINGAPORE | Apr. 08, 2019 00:45Reply
Hi, I will travelling to Shantou from Fenghuang.
May I know the recommended fastest route? Thanks
Answers (2)
Answered by Mia from USA | Apr. 08, 2019 23:46

You can take a bus from Fenghuang to Huaihua South Railway Station and the bus operates from 07:40-16:00. After that, take a high speed train to Guangzhou and transfer in Guangzhou to Shantou.
Answered by Happy from SINGAPORE | Apr. 09, 2019 18:05

Thanks :)
Asked by Goh K Y from MALAYSIA | Mar. 10, 2019 23:15Reply
Which train station near to Fenghuang to go to Changsha, how long will it takes?
Answers (1)
Answered by Estelle from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 13, 2019 00:05

The near one is Jishou. You can take a coach from Fenghuang to Jishou first. Then take the normal speed train from Jishou Railway Station to Changsha Railway Station.
Asked by stephen chapple from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 05, 2019 19:54Reply
Whats the most popular way to travel to Fenghuang from Chongqing?
Answers (1)
Answered by Shane from POLAND | Mar. 07, 2019 18:43

It is suggested to take a train from Chongqing to Tongren first. Then transfer to the coach from Tongren Tourist Coach Sation to Fenghuang.
Asked by Elizabeth from CHINA | Mar. 02, 2019 14:24Reply
Schedule for buses from Fenghuang to Huaihua?
I want to go to FH for a weekend trip, so I'm thinking of staying in FH for the night and leaving for Huaihua early in the morning. When are the earliest buses from FH to Huaihua? And are Didis easy to catch in that area, or it is rather remote?
Answers (1)
Answered by Adalyn from FRANCE | Mar. 03, 2019 22:24

The bus schedules are 16:00 and 17:00. The bus ticket fare is CNY40/person. The duration is around 1.5 hours on the way.
You can take a private car directly. The fare is around CNY200 for the single trip.
Asked by SG from USA | Feb. 15, 2019 10:27Reply
Tongren airport to Fenghuang taxi or private transfer at 22:00?
Hello. We are a family of 5 arriving at Tongren airport at 22:00 in August. Can we catch a taxi that late at night to Fenghuang Ancient Town? If not, how can we arrange a private transfer? Thank you.
Answers (1)
Answered by Taylor from UNITED KINGDOM | Feb. 19, 2019 22:55

As I know, you can easily find several private cars at that time. Generally speaking, it costs around CNY 300 to 400.
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