The venerable town of Fenghuang (aka "Phoenix City"), located in Hunan province, is one of the most exquisite sights of central China. It's become a bit of a tourist attraction with a few too many shops and cafes (one of which has a sign out front saying "Japanese Not Welcome"). Even so, the tourists are almost entirely Chinese and there are numerous old structures worth visiting here including temples, mansions, city walls, guard towers and the magnificent two-story Hong Bridge which stands astride the lovely Tuo River. Passenger boats are available for leisurely excursions up and down this waterway, passing under the bridge and along houses that have been built on wooden stilts above the river. Many of the town's inhabitants are members of the Tujia and Miou ethnic minority groups, the women being easy to spot in their decorative apparel and jewelry. It's well worth spending a few days here, at one of the hotels just outside the "old town," and do a short excursion to the ancient, smaller village of Huangsiqiao (its buildings constructed principally of stone) and the nearby remains of the Southern Great Wall (not on the order of its northern cousin, but worth the trip in any case). And, of course, for aficionados of Chinese cuisine, bear in mind that you're in Hunan...
By stu freeman
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