Jun 3, 2012

Fenghuang of Hunan Province – an Escape from Modernity

Possibly one of the most beautiful cities in China, Fenghuang of Hunan Province features all the ancient charm of traditional Chinese architecture, a rich history and culture, all staged along either side of a beautiful river with lush green mountains as a backdrop. Hunan fenghuang is otherworldly compared to China’s booming mega-cities.

Fenghuang, often referred to as Phoenix town, dates back to 1203AD and later in 1715 the city was revamped via a makeover in stone with stone paths, buildings and a 2km stone wall that surrounded the city. Inside the 1.8km sq area with the Tao River at its center there is 300 traditional homes, 20 streets, 10 lanes, temples, wells, stone bridges all completely preserved.

It is now a popular tourist destination but remarkably,known as the fenghuang ancient city,it has managed to keep all its charm. In amongst all the visitors crawling over everything and snapping shots along the river, there’s still people living there everyday lives in the same way as their ancestors, the Miao minority. The traditional cultures of the Miao are alive and well, perhaps thanks to tourism and that it’s a small community somewhat separated from China’s modern progression.

The first amazing fact about the old town is the welcome absence of commercialism. While there are plenty of shops inside the traditional buildings selling locally made products, you won’t find McDonalds, Starbucks or KFC or even the Chinese equivalents.

You can freely wander around the city and enjoy the magnificent views in your fenghuang travelbut some of the scenic attractions will ask for an entry fee, or you can buy a single ticket that gets you access to everything.  Just wandering around and taking in the peaceful existence of the locals going about their daily lives, the beautiful stone architecture and the houses on wooden stilts that line the river is a great way to easily fill a day or two.

For eating there’s plenty of stalls selling the local speciality, ginger candy plus there is plenty of restaurants selling local fare, usually spicy, there’s also a couple of eat streets lines with food stalls offering up barbecued meats and vegetables, noodles and more.