Furong Zhen Old Town is one of the most underrated ancient towns in China. Follow my quick guide to find out how to organize your trip.
While I was planning to visit the famous Fenghuang Old Town I was told by a friend to check out the nearby Furong Ancient Town (芙蓉镇), a place that despite having lived in China for a few years I had never heard of.
At first, I thought that it was going to be another fake old town, but I’m glad to admit I was completely wrong. So much so that it actually became one of my favorite ancient towns in China.
What makes this place so unique is the fact that it’s built around a river with a beautiful waterfall right in the middle. On top of that people are still living in the town, unlike other places like Lijiang.
Here are some quick facts about Furong:
- Located in Yongshun County, Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan Province, the town is known for its well-preserved ancient architecture, including traditional Tujia (one of the local ethnic groups) houses with wooden roofs, stone walls, and intricate carvings.
- The town is named after the hibiscus flowers (furong in Chinese) that bloom abundantly in the area during the summer. Furong was originally known as Wangcun but was renamed following the success of the 1986 movie Hibiscus Town.
- One of the most famous attractions in Furong Ancient Town is the Wangcun Waterfall, also known as Furong Waterfall, which cascades into the Tuojiang River at the entrance of the town.
- The Tujia ethnic group, known for its rich cultural heritage, is the predominant population in Furong Ancient Town.
Best Time to Visit
The best months are from April to October, with the rainy seasons usually starting around June. When the rain starts, the waterfall (about 40 meters wide) is really beautiful.
During the winter months it can get quite cold (it snows sometimes), and the main issue with places like this in China is not so much the frigid temperatures but the lack of any sort of heating system, including in most hotels.
Where to Stay and for how long
There are plenty of hotels both inside the Ancient Town area (such as this one) and outside of it. Keep in mind that you have to pay an entrance fee of about 100rmb to get into the old town.
The town it’s pretty small and half a day it’s more than enough to explore it all. I recommend spending a night there though, to take some cool night pictures.
How to get to Furong Zhen
Getting to Furong is fairly easy. There are a few direct buses from the Zhangjiajie bus station (people often combine the two destinations during the same trip) and there is also a new highspeed train station just 10 minutes from the old town, and that’s probably the best option to reach this town from outside the province.
How to explore Furong Zhen
Furong is built along the waterfall and the two sides of the city are connected by a couple of bridges and a few paths that you can walk when the water is not too high.
There are a lot of local stores selling pretty much the same stuff you can find everywhere else in China, but the architecture of most buildings is really beautiful, built in the same style as Tujia households.
To end this quick guide, I can say that Furong has been a nice discovery for me and I liked it way more than Fenghuang (almost impossible to enjoy due to the ridiculous amount of tourists). For once in China, this place is not overcrowded and it lives up to its reputation.
If you want to visit another interesting minority village check out my Xijiang travel guide, in Guizhou province.