Backpacking in Hunan Province: Magical Fenghuang

If you are backpacking China on the cheap and looking for a mystical and authentic place nearby Hunan province to explore, you can’t miss Fenghuang. Many locals claim that the time has been frozen here and the Mother Nature has favoured this spot so make sure you add it to your “must-see” China list.


The view of Fenghuang seen from the hostel’s window

 As you may not know, the other name for Fenghuang is the Phoenix Town and it is located in Hunan province, around 2 hour bus ride from stunning Zhangjiajie and the Hallelujah Floating Mountains where the Avatar movie was filmed.


The scenery of Fenghuang in black and white

 Fenghuang is considered to be one of the oldest unchanged Chinese towns what makes it a perfect place to explore for all fans of 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.

Fenghuang by night

SONY DSCAs you can see, every single local house is decorated by flashy lanterns and colorful lights which makes the whole place looks like a fairy tale!

SONY DSCThere are many wooden boats around the town and the glowing buildings on the left and right side are hostels and restaurants from where you can witness this spectacular view.

SONY DSCThe view from the top of pagoda.

SONY DSCDaytime scenery of Fenghuang

During the day, the rowboats are used as one of the main means of transportation in Fenghuang. This is actually a very affordable, yet different way to explore the town.

SONY DSCAs you will quickly notice, the life here is calm, peaceful and harmonious.  Locals don’t get distracted much by visitors.

SONY DSCThe huge advantage of this place is the fact it is never too crowdy or busy and everyone can afford to travel there.


Getting to Fenghuang on the cheap

Fenghuang can be easily reached from Zhangjiajie which is located in the same province (Hunan province). You should 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.

SONY DSCThe good news is that Fenghuang can be easily explored for less than $25 a day. 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.

SONY DSCAccommodation 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.

SONY DSCRestaurants are very cozy and affordable. It is cheap 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).

SONY DSCOne hour boat ride costs RMB100 ($16). There were 4 of us so we shared the cost, easily a way to enjoy the place and save money while backpacking in China.

Would you add Fenghuang to your China backpacking list?


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