Hike schedule is reduced due to coronavirus—closures and restrictions mean there are few options for hiking. Read more about it here

Fenghuang Ancient Town and Fanjing Mountain (4 days)

See Hunan’s beautiful Fenghuang Ancient Town; summit Guizhou’s 2,572m Fanjing Mountain; see Tujia and Miao customs and culture.

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The lights of Fenghuang Ancient Town, Hunan
The lights of Fenghuang Ancient Town, Hunan.

Trip overview

Day One
Fly to Tongren, walking tour of Tongren’s canals in the old quarter.
Day Two
Hike to the top of Fanjing Mountain, dinner and night time walk in Fenghuang Ancient Town.
Day Three
Day time tour of Fenghuang, then a hike at the ‘southern’ Great Wall.
Day Four
Visit the City of the Miao Kings, fly back to Beijing.

Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture

The Tujia are China's eighth-most populous ethnic group, and their traditional home is the Wuling Mountains, a range that runs through western Hunan and northeastern Guizhou.

The Miao are the sixth-largest of the 56 different ethnic groups in China, with a total of around nine million people. Around 50% of that total live in Guizhou Province.

On this trip we'll be in an area that is home to many Tujia and Miao, which will give us a look at their different customs and culture, including the architecture. We'll also summit Fanjing Mountain, which is the tallest peak of the Wuling Mountains.

Highlights

A canal in Fenghuang Ancient Town, Hunan

Bright lights on the buildings above a canal in Fenghuang.

Fenghuang Ancient Town

With its Ming- and Qing-era canals, bridges, ancient paved lanes, city wall and gates, and more than thirty temples and pavilions, Fenghuang has a reputation for being a beautiful example of Ming and Qing Dynasty architecture.

It's said that the best time to visit Fenghuang is in the evening, when all the lanterns are lit and you can see the reflections in the canals. Though a beautiful sight, it may also get crowded. We'll do an evening tour, and then head back the next day to explore during the day, when things should be quieter.

Fanjing Mountain

Near the peak of Fanjing Mountain, Guizhou

Near the peak of Fanjing Mountain.

Fanjing Mountain is part of the Wuling Mountains UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and with a height of 2,572m at the summit it's the tallest of the Wuling Mountain peaks.

The scenery ranges from forested to rocky, with the tall and strangely-shaped sandstone columns near the peak a particular highlight. If we're lucky we might spot one of the rare Golden Monkeys.

Weather permitting, we'll hike up to the top—a fairly tough walk that we'd rate a Level 4 on our hike difficulty scale. As typical for a holy mountain in China (this one is a Buddhist holy mountain), the paths up and down are paved. If the weather is not so suitable (for example, very icy) we'd take the cable car up and back down.

The City of the Miao Kings

Views of the City of the Miao Kings

Views of the City of the Miao Kings.

Sited on a bend in the Paozhou River, the City of the Miao Kings is a large, fortified town of the Miao ethnic group that dates back to the fourteenth century. The city has three areas – Centre, Upper, and Lower — all linked by stone paths and bridges. The fortifications include large gates, defensive walls, and traps, and you'll see excellent examples of Miao-style architecture. We'll spend a day here to explore the paved lanes, hills, bridges, temples, and houses.

The ‘Southern’ Great Wall

Almost all of the Great Wall you see around Beijing was built by the Ming, to keep out raiders from the west and northeast. But there were also raiders in the south to worry about, and there's a line of Ming Dynasty Great Wall that runs through the mountains near Fenghuang.

We'll visit for a walk up and down - this time around about Level 2-3 on our scale of difficulty.

Weather

In February, the temperatures are expected to be in the range of 1°C to 14°C, and there's a chance of a few rainy days. Bring warm clothes and a waterproof layer. For the Fanjing Mountain hike we'll be at altitudes of more than 2,000m, so bring your cold-weather hiking gear: thermals, hat, and gloves.

Accommodation

We will be staying in a comfortable hotel in Tongren. (We had planned to spend a few nights in Fenghuang, but at this time of year quality accommodation cannot be found a a reasonable price.)

You’ll be sharing a room at the hotel with another hiker. If you'd like a room to yourself, it can be arranged at an extra cost, if a room is available—usually not a problem!

Further details about room shares and single supplement can be found in the documents we send you as part of the registration.

Flights and transport

We fly to and from Tongren for this trip. Transportation between the various scenic locations will be by private vehicle.

Frequent flyers: Please let us know if you would like to use your frequent flyer miles or if you are a frequent flyer member. If you would like to organise your own flights, we can provide further details.

Food

We will take most of our meals at restaurants in the areas we visit, or at the hotels or guesthouse. On one of the days we include a picnic lunch for you. Bring some spending money for snacks during the trip. Please let us know if you have any special dietary requirements or food allergies.

Things to bring

  • Passport/ID card
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers
  • Warm clothes
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Hiking boots
  • A day pack to take on outings, suitcases or bigger bags can be left at the hotel
  • Camera and charger, batteries
  • Suncream
  • Torch or headlamp
  • Mobile phone, charger

Full itinerary

  1. Day One
    Early flight from Beijing (time TBC)
    Check in at hotel in Tongren
    Restaurant lunch
    13:00 – Walking tour of Tongren's canals, bridges, and old quarter
    17:30 – Back at the hotel
    18:30 – Dinner and free time

  2. Day Two
    07:30 – Breakfast at the hotel
    08:30 – Drive to Fanjing Mountain
    10:30 – Start hiking
    13:30 – At the summit (timing approximate) 14:00 – Take the cable car back down
    15:00 – Start driving back to the hotel
    17:30 – Arrival at the hotel, clean up and get ready to go to Fenghuang for dinner
    18:30 – Drive 30km to Fenghuang Ancient Town for dinner
    19:30 – Dinner in Fenghuang
    20:30 – Night tour of Fenghuang
    22:30 – Back to hotel in Tongren

  3. Day Three
    08:30 – Breakfast at the hotel
    09:30 – Drive 30km to Fenghuang Ancient Town for daytime tour and free time
    12:00 – Lunch
    14:00 – short hike at the Southern Great Wall
    17:00 – Drive back to hotel in Tongren
    18:00 – Dinner and free time

  4. Day Four
    08:00 – Breakfast at the hotel
    09:30 – Check out the car to go to the Castle of the Miao Kings
    10:30 – Explore City of the Miao Kings
    12:30 – Lunch
    13:30 – Continue to explore the Castle of the Miao Kings
    17:30 – Dinner
    Evening flight back to Beijing (time TBC)
    All times are approximate, and depend on our speed of movement.

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