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City Along The River – Fenghuang, China

Fenghuang, China

June 7, 2015 – June 9, 2015

Full Fenghuang Photo Gallery Here.

After leaving the rugged landscape of Zhangjiajie we headed to the ancient city of Fenghuang, built along the Tuo Jiang river.  Fenghuang’s classic architecture has been crowding the river bank for centuries, and makes for a great place to see these well preserved buildings.

Well preserved buildings with classic traditional Chinese architecture crowd every inch of the town along the river.
Well preserved buildings with classic traditional Chinese architecture crowd every inch of the town along the river.

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The 'old town' section of Fenghuang, the city is fairly extensive, count on at least two days for thorough exploration.
The ‘old town’ section of Fenghuang. The city is fairly extensive, count on at least two days for thorough exploration.

The ‘old town’ of Fenghuang covers both shores of a large section of the winding river, and is the best preserved and most visited section of the sprawling town.  There is an entry fee to get into the ‘old town’, once inside you will find dozens of touristy shops, restaurants, cafes as well as hotels and guest houses catering to the large daily influx of visitors.

The maze of streets can be quite crowded with tourists, especially when it starts raining and the umbrellas pop out.
The maze of streets can be quite crowded with tourists, especially when it starts raining and the umbrellas pop out.

We stayed at the More Inn Wenxing, one of just a few places we identified which welcome foreign tourists.  Fenghuang was the only city in China where we encountered hotels who did not want to deal with foreigners, most likely because they were just small guesthouses and they probably did not speak any English.  But we found several options on Trip Advisor.  The More Inn worked great for us and was actually cheaper than we expected.  There is also a great wonton soup vender just down the street on the corner of Phoenix Square.

Traditional life continues along the river, amongst all the tourist sites.
Traditional life continues along the river, amongst all the tourist sites.

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An ancient temple near our guest house, now serves as a school.
An ancient temple near our guest house, now serves as a school.

The city is filled with loads of historic sites, all included in the city’s entry fee.  Guard towers along the river, well preserved residences of the city’s historic elite, and the two story covered bridge to name a few, it even includes a free boat trip along the river.

 

One of several ancient guard towers built along the old city wall.  The city has since expanded beyond the walls, so the towers mostly look out over rooftops.
One of several ancient guard towers built along the old city wall. The city has since expanded beyond the walls, so the towers mostly look out over rooftops.
One of many well preserved residences of the cities former elite.
One of many well preserved residences of the city’s former elite.

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The two story covered bridge over the river is a must see, be sure to go to the top floor for the best view.
The two story covered bridge over the river is a must see, be sure to go to the top floor for the best view.
The entrance to the covered bridge.
The entrance to the covered bridge.
Included with the price of entry to the town is a boat ride down the river.
Included with the price of entry to the town is a boat ride down the river.

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A traditional footbridge across the river, fun to try, until it gets crowded...
A traditional footbridge across the river, fun to try, until it gets crowded…
A newer bridge across the river.
A newer bridge across the river.

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Be sure to check out the large park built into the forested hill which rises above the town, just behind the two story covered bridge.  An extensive network of trails and viewpoints extends all the way to the top of the hill and can take easily an hour or more to explore.

 

Climbing the hill above the city, an easy hike to several great viewpoints.
Climbing the hill above the city, an easy hike to several great viewpoints.
We discovered more great English translations along the trail.
We discovered more great English translations along the trail.

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There are dozens of great restaurants throughout the city, we stopped in a few to try some local dishes.

Clockwise from top left, Eggplant and ground pork, something, and tomato and scrambled eggs.
Clockwise from top left, eggplant and ground pork, potato and steak, and tomato and scrambled eggs.
Throughout the cities maze of streets its common to see and hear confection vendors pounding a thick paste into something similar to peanut brittle.
Throughout the city’s maze of streets it is common to see and hear confection vendors pounding a thick paste into something similar to peanut brittle.
We found a great wonton and dumpling place just down the street from our guesthouse.
We found a great wonton and dumpling place just down the street from our guesthouse.

 

We spotted many interesting things for sale at various market vendors, like these giant oysters, snakes and an unidentified small fury rodent.
We spotted many interesting things for sale outside many restaurants, like these giant oysters, snakes and an unidentified small fury rodent.

Nightlife

We discovered that the town is well known for more than just its classic scenery and architecture, the city also has a notorious nightlife.  At night the whole city lights up with bright lights and dozens of bars and dance clubs come alive along with their sub woofers and bump the night away.   If you want to sleep at night, we recommend a hotel away from the river, which appears to be the center of the party scene (our hotel was well away from the river).

The city comes alive at night.
The city comes alive at night.

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The lights and color at night are quite beautiful and a must see, and if you like to party they make a great backdrop as you dance the night away.
The lights and color at night are quite beautiful and a must see, and if you like to party they make a great backdrop as you dance the night away.

Fenghuang was a great place to get a taste of what traditional Chinese life may have looked like.  I say ‘looked like’ as the town is clearly a bit of a tourist trap, but the architecture and feel of the streets and the wall city are at least traditional, and one of the best preserved examples around.  We enjoyed relaxing and just wandering around the city’s warren of streets, alleys and bridges.  From here we set off to some of China’s famous rice terraces.

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