Magnificent Scenery of Fenghuang Plus Tips on How to Explore It (<$25)

There is a place in China where the time stops. A mystical  place where mountains, water and blue skies prevail. A place hidden from tourists and favored by the Mother Nature. A world that is dominated by the green colorThis place’s called Fenghuang.

Fenghuang scenery, China
Me admiring the beauty of Fenghuang

Fenghuang is also known as the Phoenix Ancient Town and it is located in Hunan province, nearby Zhangjiajie. As one of the oldest unchanged Chinese towns, it is worth exploring for the sake of its ancient architecture and authentic Chinese look.  Its scenery is breath-taking, no matter whether it’s night or daytime. Just have a look as some photos I took during my last visit there.

Night Scenery


Every single local house is decorated by flashy lanterns and colorful lights so the whole place looks like a fairy tale.

Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night

The glowing buildings on the left and right side are hostels and restaurants from where you can witness this spectacular view.

Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night

There are plenty of wooden boats by the river.

Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night

Local houses and hotel windows reflected in the water.

Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night

Massive water tunnels.

Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night

Chinese pagodas and temples.

Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night
Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night

The view from the top of pagoda.

Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night

Fenghuang means Phoenix in Chinese language and it represents good omen and longevity in Chinese mythology.

Fenghuang city, Hunan, China at night

What people love the most about this town is that it has not evolved during the past few centuries. Locals live here like they used to live hundred of years ago giving us a view of a quite and traditional China, totally different from modern cities and large conurbations.

Daytime Scenery

Rowboats are used as one of the main means of transportation here. Tourists are more than welcome to take one of them to explore the town. It is a fantastic experience.

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China
Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

The life at the river is calm, peaceful and harmonious.  Locals don’t get distracted much by visitors.

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China
Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

One of the most famous Chinese writers, called Shen Congwen, was born and raised in Fenghuang. His novels and poems are widely known by Chinese students.

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China
Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

Fenghuang itself is divided into two districts: New Town and Ancient Town, but the Ancient Town is more frequently visited.

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China
Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

Fenghuang is a home to the Miao ethnic minority. They live in their houses along the river bank, wear their traditional clothes and live normally doing everyday life activities such as washing clothes beside Tuojiang River.

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

Fenghuang in Black and White

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

Fenghuang is not very common among foreigner travelers and it’s a real pitty. The huge advantage of this place is the fact it’s never too crowdy and busy.

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

Those are my favourite photos from China, ever.

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

All of the photos have been taken from a balcony of my hostel. I woke up at 5 am to get the best view.

Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China
Fenghuang city, Hunan province, China

Fenghuang on a budget

How to cheaply get there:

  • You can get to Zhangjiajie (Hunan province) first and take a direct bus from Zhangjiajie central bus station to Fenghuang central station. There are 3 buses going in the morning at 8.30, 9.30 and 11.00. You will spend approximately 4 hours on the bus and pay no more than RMB70 ($11).
  • You can also fly but it’s pretty expensive, between RMB600-650 ($100)for one way ticket from Zhangjiajie. The nearest airport is Tongren Fenghuang Airport (35 km from the town) so you need to add around RMB100 ($16) for taxi.
A girl on a boat in Fenghuang
Who wants a ride?

Approximate spendings:

  • Entry was previously free, however nowadays tourists are being charged 148 yuan ($23.93) for a ticket to visit the old town since April 10. Read more here.
  • Accommodation prices start from RMB100 ($16) per single room with a beautiful view on the river. Don’t book anything in advance as you can negotiate prices there, especially when you travel with friends. Look around (there are plenty of rooms to choose from) and keep bargaining. Don’t accept the first offer and take your time.
  • Restaurants are very cozy and affordable. It is much cheaper to order a single dish (a plate of dumplings for RMB8/$1, Chinese noodle soup for RMB10/$1.5 or fried rice with veggies RMB12/ $2) rather than many small plates with different food (a four course meal costs around RMB100-RMB150/ $16-$25) unless there are more than 5-8 people dining out. You can grab some Chinese snack on the run as well (a piece of fruit for RMB1-3/ $0.5).
A girl is riding a boat in Fenghuang China
Me enjoying the ride
  • One hour boat ride costs RMB100 ($16). There were 4 of us so we shared the cost.
  • You can prepare some changes (RMB50/$8) for some souvenirs – locally made jewellery, some postcards or Chinese hats.
  • One whole day and one night is more than enough to explore Fenghuang. It’s a small town.
Fenghuang a girl is standing on the bridge

So if you are looking for some off the beaten track places in China where you can experience the real Chinese culture and tradition, make sure Fenghuang goes first on your list.


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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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58 thoughts on “Magnificent Scenery of Fenghuang Plus Tips on How to Explore It (<$25)”

  1. Jealous! I had planned to go to Fenghuang in 2011 (had booked a guesthouse and everything) but I got caught up in the rail chaos of Chinese New Year and had to miss out. Looks beautiful, next time :)

  2. Audrey | That Backpacker

    Ooo! China is still a couple of months away for me, but I’m starting to get excited about visiting. ;) p.s. I like the shots of you rowing the boat!

  3. Sonja @ The {Happy} Travel Bug

    Amazing! I prefer the daytime look. I want to visit China so badly!!! You are just making it worse! ;)

  4. If you ever settle down, I hope you get the chance to frame and display some of these photos. They are amazing! Also amazing is the fact that you do all this travel for <$25 a day. I'm in awe!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, I will definitely frame them and display in my bedroom if I ever settle down (just wondering when it’s gonna be, not soon) :)

  5. These pictures are simply stunning. This is the kind of place which I had only imagined existed! Thanks for sharing your amazing experience there :)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Thanks Tim. It’s my pleasure. I simply love the scenery and that’s my favourite place in China. We are going to Guilin soon and I’ve heard the Yangshuo is even prettier than Fenghuang. We will see about that :)

  6. This is very close to ZhangJiaJie so I went there the other day and this place blew me away. Something incredible. It’s such an old city and the old quarter is really big with a nice river and in the night everything lights up!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Yes, it’s extremely close to Zhangjiajie however most of people miss it and that’s a big mistake. Yes, the old quarter is much bigger than it looks when you look at photos. Love how the town is lighted up!

  7. Wow! Fenghuang looks incredible. I need to put it on my list of cities to see in China! Thanks for the tips about how to explore it.

  8. Christine |GRRRL TRAVELER

    I wanna go here! This place looks insanely cool! Thanks for sharing the discovery. Love the bridge.

  9. Fenghuang looks absolutely beautiful, definitely worth a visit. I have never been in China but maybe one day …
    Great photos.

  10. Wow, this place does look like a fairy tale and you’ve certainly taken some lovely photos. All the mist in your daytime photos reminds of looking down the Yangtse River whilst I was in China.

  11. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    Beautiful and stunning photos! I love how you did the night, day and black and white sets. It really gave us a sense of this whole area. Thanks for sharing this mystical place with us.

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