Explore the ancient city of Fenghuang, a place that shares the name with the holy bird in ancient times. With its peculiar architecture, winding alleys, and own fascinating blend of culture and tradition, Fenghuang is a hidden delight among China’s attractions.
Located in western Hunan Province, the famous tourist city of Zhangjiajie is home of China’s first forest park – the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park – and a World Natural Heritage site in Wulingyuan.
There are many famous scenic spots in Zhangjiajie, such as Tianzi Mountain, Yellow Dragon Cave (Asia’s largest cave), and many beautiful waterfalls and brooks. But the most attractive scene that Zhangjiajie features is the mysterious mountain covered with dense, and primeval forests.
Upon arrival in Zhangjiajie (you can either fly in or take the train), you will be met by your English-speaking guide, who will then take you to your hotel. Zhangjiajie is famous worldwide for its pristine national scenery and the government’s potent policy on tourist infrastructure construction in recent years has boosted the region’s tourist industry and made it one of the new-rising popular tourist destinations in China.
Zhangjiajie’s main tourist draw (what we will see tomorrow) is the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list for its lush vegetation, unique sandstone pillars, pristine waters and a wide variety of species of flora and fauna. It contains three major sights including the Zhangjiajie Forest Park, Suoxi Vale, and Tianzi Mountain, with a total coverage of 396 square kilometers.
Once you arrive at your hotel the rest of the evening can be spent at your own leisure.
Today we will be making an excursion to the ancient town of Fenghuang (Phoenix City), and we will do so by way of the Mengdong River. Major scenic spots include Eight-Scene Cave, Small Dragon Cave,natural cliff side murals, Golden-Star Gorge, Fairy Gorge ,Line of Sky, Jumping Monkey, Yuanyang Gorge and Laojun Gorge. You can enjoy rafting on the Si River, a tributary of the Mengdong. The river flows along a narrow valley and the water is swift. It is a great adventure to drift on it. Along the way we will also stop at the town of Furong.
The town used to be named Wang Cun (village) until a famous movie entitled Furong Town was filmed here. Most of the people there are of the Tujia Minority group. Furong’s main attractions are the older, architectural structures and the wooden buildings that provided most of the film’s sets. There is also a large stone archway, over 100 years old, built to commemorate the virtue of a young woman.
In the afternoon we will arrive at Fenghuang. Fenghuang, praised as "the Most Beautiful Town of China" by famous New Zealand writer Rewi Alley, is a small county renowned for its natural beauty, rich history and culture as well as its colorful ethnic customs. Fenghuang is embraced by green mountains, with the Tuo Jiang River running through its heart. Unique wooden houses constructed on stilts are built along the riverbank. These kinds of houses are called Diaojiaolou (Chinese for building with hanging legs). The design keeps the buildings safe from the spring floods. The villagers of Fenghuang still live a very simple life despite the other places of China that are under the onset of modernization.
Fenghuang is divided into two districts: New Town and Ancient Town. Fenghuang Ancient Town’s history can be dated back to Spring and Autumn Periods (770 BC to 476 BC). The presenting Fenghuang Ancient Town was built in the 43 year of the Reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1704), where the ancient buildings in distinct Qing Dynasty style are well preserved. Fairly long history endows it with over 300 culture heritages, such as Huang Si Qiao Castle, the best preserved stone castle built in Tang Dynasty (year 687); the meandering Xiangxi Border Walls, which was built during Ming Dynasty, is praised highly as China’s Southern Great Wall; and the flagstone paths paved during Ming and Qing Dynasties. Besides, there are famous ancient buildings including Longevity Palace, Chao Yang Palace and Heavenly King Temple.
For the night, we will stay at an inn in Fenghuang.
After breakfast, we will pay a visit to the former residence of Shen Congwen, a famous Chinese writer and literary figure. It is a representative south Shiheyuan (quadrangle—a compound with houses around a square courtyard). It was a brick made bungalow built by Shen Hongfu, the grandfather of Shen Congwen (who was ever appointed as the prefect of Guizhou province) in 1866. Possessing distinctive Xiangxi architecture featured during the Qing Dynasty, the former residence of Shen Congwen consists of 11 chambers with delicately-carved windows and a courtyard paved with red bricks.
Then we will further examine the architectural marvels of the Tujia people’s Diaojiaolou (stilted house), which are prevalent throughout the town. This stilted house has its own ethnic distinctiveness; for, it is constructed in such a way as to overhang the water and be supported by many wooden pillars. According to tradition, the specific reason for building such a structure is to deliver the inhabitants from miasma, poisonous vegetation and venomous snakes. Aside from this, Tujia people are accustomed to constructing their houses over the water and in proximity to the mountains, with most residences established in the valleys, giving the appearance of crouching tigers. Clearly, the best way to construct a spacious and stable house, while economizing on material, is to lay the foundation on wooden pillars and build the structure upon it. Over several millennia, a simple shelter against wind and rain has evolved into a construction, which is practical, graceful and artistic, harmonizing with the surrounding natural environment.
We will then make the drive back to Zhangjiajie, and we should arrive back at the hotel in the early evening. The rest of the night can be spent at your leisure.
Today we will have a full day excursion to the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It was first established by the state council in 1982 as the 1st national forest park of China. Covering 13 sq km, the park is known for it's unique landscape with lush forests dominated by quartzite sandstone pillars. Bubbling brooks and charming lakes wind around the area and connect giant caves. One of China's most beautiful nature reserves, Zhangjiajie has wonderful hiking trails in a serene environment of staggering natural beauty.
Once in the park we will visit Jinbian Brook. It covers a distance of 7.5 km from north to south, winding across mountains and valleys. The brook is limpid through the year, with many scenic spots along the way. It is famous for Jinbian Cave-which has a height of 382km and looks like a huge flying eagle. Wear good walking shoes and protection from the weather.
Another major highlight of the park is Huangshi Fort. Huangshi Fort was named after a hermit called Mr. Huangshi. It is a mesa higher on the north side elevated by stiff cliffs. Huangshi Fort has the most of marvelous view of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park including Treasure Box of Heavenly Books, Magic Sea-suppressing Needle, South Pillar of Heaven, Golden Tortoise Watching the Sea etc. It is the best platform to view the beautiful scenes of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. As the saying goes, he who does not reach Huangshi Fort would be regarded as having never been to Zhangjiajie.
We will stay overnight at a guesthouse in the park.
Following breakfast we’ll get started with the day’s activities with a visit to Tianzi Mountain, by way of cable car. Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve is a mesa in the northwest of Wulingyuan. Up on the mesa, the field of vision is widely opened up and it is a perfect location to have a panoramic view of the nature reserve. Tianzi Mountain has four scenic wonders, namely Cloud Billows, Moon Brightness, Sun Glow and Winter Snow. The cloud billows are ever changing, morning and evening sun glows vast sky, moon shines in the still night, winter snow falls enchanting the scenery, like a lyric, like a landscape painting. Here in the Tianzi Mountain, scene majestic is in all its variety. There are five main scenic zones and over ten scenic spots in the Tianzi Mountain area.
After coming down from Tianzi Mountain we’ll pay a visit to the Yellow Dragon Caverns. Yellow Dragon Cavern is a typical Karst cave, an area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, underground streams, and caverns. So far, the discovered cave is about 15 kilometers long and 140 meters high, covering an area of 48 hectares. The Cavern can be divided into two parts. One is the dry cave, and the other is the water cave. Even in the Yellow Dragon Cavern, there are caves inside caves, and one cave may lead to many others. Sometimes there are caves under the ground too. Stalactites, stalagmites, stone blossoms, stone curtains, stone branches, stone canals, stone pearls, and stone macrospores can be seen here and there in the cavern, which constitutes a fantastic yet natural scene.
You will then be taken to either the airport or train station, and you will travel on to your next destination..
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