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Living in China? See These Houses On Stilts For Yourself

Posted by Emily Cummings on 3/2/17 9:29 AM

ILP China

Living in China for a semester abroad, means you get to see the hidden gems tourists don't see. Obviously, places like the Great Wall, Beijing and Shanghai should be on your list, but all of our ILP volunteers know it’s worth heading down to see Southern China, too.


During one of your vacations, we highly recommend visiting the Avatar Mountains in Zhangjiajie — I know, hard to say, but amazing to look at. Seriously, these mountains are incredible and we have loads of information on what to see while you are there and tips for planning your trip. Some of our favorite places in China are in the south. 

Pst! See yourself living in China? Get a better picture of what your life would be like with this free guide!

Okay, now that you are planning a trip to Zhangjiajie (great choice, by the way), it’ll be easy to take a little side trip to the city of Fenghuang in the Hunan province.  It can get pretty crowded (especially on Chinese holidays)…but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing! Here’s what you need to know before you visit.

  • Why We Love This Place
  • Costs + Hours 
  • Some Hostel Recommendations 
  • How To Get Here

Why We Love This Place

The city of Fenghuang is an ancient water town, that was originally built in the Qing Dynasty. 

What does that mean for you? 

Picture narrow stilts mysteriously supporting stacks and stacks of tiled rooftops and narrow alleyways, suspended over an emerald green lake. Imagine cobblestoned streets more than 300 years old. Take a boat ride through rounded bridges.

Oh, and don’t forget the lush jungle behind this whole scene. Sounds like a dream, right? China has such an incredible and varied history and culture; experience as much as you can during your semester and go see this ancient village for yourself! If you haven't been to China yet, this cute little town is probably exactly what you were picturing.

ILP China

Costs + Hours

You will need to purchase a “site seeing ticket” (up to $21 depending on the ticket you purchase) to see certain buildings or bridges inside the village, but you can opt out of that if you just want to wander the ancient alleyways. It's free to walk around the village. 

The city is best explored by foot, so no need to worry about paying for taxis to see the sites — but Fenghuang is famous for ginger candy, so maybe test some out for $0.50 or so.

The village is open all day (which makes sense) but the sites inside (certain museums, houses, etc) do have hours: 

7:30 AM to about 6:00 PM

A Few Hostel Recommendations

Head's up — we super love the Jiumu’s Youth Hostel.

Here's what one ILP China volunteer said about their stay — "Jiumu is the BEST hostess ever. She speaks English really well, she picked sent us her location, gave us a map and explained it, gave us a quick tour of the city on the way to our hostel, told us what was worth it and what wasn’t, could answer our history questions, and even had these cool traditional Miao costumes we could try on at her hostel." 

Another suggestion? "Stay at the Ten People One House hostel! The owner’s name is Roy and he is the happiest guy you will ever meet! He was super helpful with everything."

ILP China

Getting Here From Zhangjiajie

The city doesn’t have its own airport but you can easily get there using a train or a bus from nearby cities.

There are buses that leave the Central Bus Station in Zhangjiajie (where those gorgeous mountains are) a few times a day.   You can also find buses from the  Wulingyuan Bus Terminal respectively.

The tickets are about $11 and the ride is about 4 hours.

Just so you know, all buses from other places will arrive at the North Bus Station of Fenghuang New Town(凤凰新城北汽车站), which still takes about 5 minutes’ driving to get to the ancient town area. You may walk or take a local taxi to get there. 

ILP China Volunteer

Need to see this place in person? 

Oh good — while you are in the traveling mood, check out these blog posts about life in China and other travel tips...and click below to learn more about the chance to live in China, teaching English and explore places like Fenghuang with International Language Programs. 

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Topics: China, Travel Destinations, Hidden Gems

Exploring The World For Over 25 Years

Hi! We are ILP, a non-profit org that has service abroad opportunities for college-age volunteers. Check out our tips for making the most of your time traveling and living abroad.

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