Fenghuang (凤凰; Fènghuáng) is a well-preserved town located in western Hunan Province.
Since 2012 a new expressway has opened and Fenghuang can now be easily accessed from a number of locations.
Fenghuang does not have an airport, so travelers must fly into either Huaihua or Zhangjiajie and transfer to Fenghuang. However, neither airport offers direct buses. Flights are also frequently canceled during off season.
Fenghuang is served by Tongren Fenghuang Airport with two daily flights from Guiyang.
Bus travel is probably the most convenient way to get to Fenghuang. There are direct buses from numerous cities in China, but the four most common direct routes are from Changsha, Jishou, Huaihua, and Zhangjiajie. As of April 2014 there is nowa central bus station to all destinations listed and travel times appear to have been reduced with road and tunnel improvements:
- From Changsha (长沙): Eight buses leave a day from Changsha. Price: 120 RMB. Duration: 8 hours.
- From Jishou (吉首): Buses leave approximately every 30 minutes, though during peak times they often leave more frequently. Buses arrive in Fenghuang's Bus Station. Price: 27 RMB. Duration: 60 minutes. From Jishou West Bus Station (Xi Zhan) Price is ¥22 (June 2014). If coming from Dehang ask the bus driver to drop you here as it is on the way back into Jishou.
- From Huaihua (怀化): Buses leave hourly for Fenghuang's Bus Station. Price: 40 RMB. Duration: 90 minutes.
- From Zhangjiajie (张家界): There are about 4 buses per day from Zhangjiajie City and one that leaves directly from Wulingyuan (8.30am). Both terminate at the North Bus Station. Price: 65 RMB/75 RMB. Duration: 4.5/5.5 hours. (as of Feb. 2016: 3,5 hours from Zhangjiajie via the newly built highway - be aware that traffic inside the city borders is insane and the last few kilometers can add an hour to your traveltime- this is to be considered particularly when trying to get out of Fenghuang to catch an arplane, where the first hour might be spent solely trying to get to the highway)
- From Guilin (桂林): There is a bus from Qin Tan station (11:00) and terminates at the North Bus Station. Price: 160 RMB. Duration: 6/6.5 hours.
Fenghuang does not have train station, however it is frequently faster to travel to either Jishou or Huaihua first and then travel by bus to the city center. Or from Tongren South train station.
Fenghuang Old Town is best explored by foot.
If arriving at the main bus station the 1A bus can be used to get to the old town or its about a 2km walk.
Most of Fenghuang's sites can be visited with a "through ticket" (通票) ¥148 or ¥20 for students with ID. The ticket is valid for 2 days, covers 10 sites/activities, and unlimited access to the section of old town encompassed by the old city wall. Numbers to this area are supposedly limited to 18000 a day. There is also plenty of old town outside this central area but this is the main hub. As a tip when looking at the large wooden maps posted about the town, the green suns on the map are the sites included in the through ticket.
- East Gate Tower (东门城楼). Included in through ticket.
- Yang Family Ancestral Hall (杨家祠堂). Included in through ticket.
- Hong (Rainbow) Bridge (红桥). Free; upper gallery included in through ticket.
- Former Home of Shen Congwen (沈从文故居). Included in through ticket.
- Wanshou Temple (万寿宫). 50 RMB individually, or included in through ticket.
- Gucheng Museum (古城博物馆). 48 RMB individually, or included in through ticket.
- Queen of Heaven Temple (天后宫). Free.
- Chongde Hall, (10m past the Yang Ancestoral Hall in the direction away from the East Gate, there is a small alley on the left. Head down the alley and look out for it on the left). A quiet little hall/courtyard building compared to some of the other sites, and less interfered with as well. Displays a number of old carved windows, panels, and signs, as well as a sedan chair and horse cart. Included in Through Ticket.
- Xiong Xiliong Residence. An old house with relics on the east side of the old town (inside the walls). Popular with tour groups. Included In Through Ticket.
- Stilt Houses, (Either side of the southern end of Hong/Rainbow Bridge). The traditional stilt buildings overhanging the river can be viewed from the water or the north bank. Some have cafes in in them so you can also experience them from the inside. free.
- Boat ride down the river, (North Gate Wharf, or haggle with boat handlers on the river side if you didn't buy a through ticket). A gentle boat ride down the river allowing you to check out the town from the water. If you bought a through ticket the ride takes you from the wharf by North Gate, and drops you by Wenshu temple. Included in through ticket if taken from the wharf at North Gate.
- The Southern Great Wall (南方长城), (located near the city). While it is nearly completely restored it still makes for a strenuous hike with beautiful viewpoints of rice terraces and the surrounding countryside.Minivan drivers are everywhere and will be willing to take you here, but barter with them first (price will depend on number of people, distance traveled, and time spent). Entrance possibly included in through ticket.
Fenghuang is famous for Ginger Candy. Throughout the Old Town vendors make and sell bags of candy for around 2 - 4 Yuan.
At night the streets in Fenghuang's old town are full of street food vendors, serving grilled meats, dumplings, fried potatoes, flat breads and grilled vegetables.
There are many restaurants that specialize in Hot Pot.
At least one restaurant was boasting Pangolin, an endagered species, so as often in China, be aware.
The streets facing the river come alive at night with Karaoke Bars,adorned with neon lights and blasting out music until midnight. Beer typically costs 25 Yuan for a 330ml bottle, or about a tenth of the prices at local shops.
Inns can be found in the Old Town along Bei Bian Jie, running between the Northern Wall and the river. Larger hotels catering to tour groups can be found in the city center and the roads leading to both bus stations.
- Fenghuang Zhongtian International Youth Hostel (凤凰中天国际青年旅舍), No. 11 Shawan, Tuojiang Town, Fenghuang (凤凰县古城内沙湾11号) (Located just to the east of the Hongqiao covered bridge, this hostel provides decent accommodations in the center of the old city.), ☎ 0743326067 ([email protected]), . 40 RMB for a shared dorm.
- Fenghuang Huxiangyi International Youth Hostel (凤凰湖湘驿国际青年旅舍), No. 20 Wujia Lane, Dongzheng St, Fenghuang (凤凰古城东门城楼 东正街吴家弄20号 ), ☎ 07433227070 ([email protected]), .
- A good year (一年好時光), 鳳凰古城回龍閣89 號， no.89, hui lung ge,fenghuang guchen, ☎ 0743 3222026. 50—90 RMB.
Most buses leave for Jishou, Huaihua, Changsha, and Zhangjiajie. There are also one to two buses that go directly to Wulingyuan. See "Get In" section for prices and durations.
In addition, the following buses leave directly from Fenghuang: Wuhan (200 RMB), Guangzhou with continuation to Zhuhai and Shenzhen (260 RMB), Chongqing (150 RMB), Guilin (once a day, 11am, 160 RMB, 6/6.5h), Nanning, and Kunming. Please note that both prices departures are variable.