Furong Ancient Town

Furong Ancient Town: Waterfall Wonders & Tujia Heritage

As I traced the Five Mile Stone Street of Furong Ancient Town, I couldn’t help but feel transported to a bygone era. The allure of this ancient town lies not only in its rich history but also in the myriad experiences it offers. From standing in awe of the majestic Furong Waterfall to immersing in captivating folk performances, every step felt like a page from a living history book. Indulge in the iconic Bull Head Banquet, savoring the flavors of tradition. In Furong Ancient Town, every corner narrates a tale, and every experience is a brushstroke on a canvas of cultural wonders. Uncover the magic with our Furong Ancient Town Travel Guide!

You might also be interested in:
⛰️ A Complete Guide to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Adventure
🌅 Your Ultimate Travel Guide to Fenghuang Ancient Town 2024

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🌟Hunan Travel Planning Guide

Considering a last-minute trip to Furong Ancient Town?

Private Transfer from Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang and stops at Furong old town: A private transfer service from Zhangjiajie to Fenghuang old town and Furong Ancient Town.

🇨🇳 Top Activities and Tours in Zhangjiajie:

1. Full-Day Zhangjiajie National Forest Park Tour: Tianzi Mountain and Yuanjiajie
2. 3 Days Private Tour to Zhangjiajie National Park&Glass Bridge&Tianmen Mountain

🏨Where to Stay:

Baihe Renjia Inn (⭐️ 4.9)
No.99 Mansion (⭐️ 4.8)
Tuwang Palace·Babutang (⭐️ 4.2)

🌐Make sure to install ExpressVPN in advance for unrestricted internet access during your stay in China!

🌏Where is Furong Ancient Town Located

Furong Ancient Town is located in the Yongshun County of Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan Province, China. The town is situated near the southern part of the Wuling Mountain Range and is known for its picturesque scenery, traditional architecture, and cultural heritage.

📕The History of Furong Ancient Town

Furong Town, also known as Hibiscus Town or Furong Ancient Town, originally named Youyang and Wangcun Village, is situated in Yongshun County of the Western Hunan Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, with a history spanning over two thousand years.

During the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period, it served as a small pier. In the Qin and Han dynasties, it developed into a market, and during the Western Han Dynasty, it was designated as Youyang County, hence the name Youyang.

Established as the capital of Youyang County by King Tusi before 910 AD, it was later renamed Wangcun Village, becoming the longest-standing minority ethnic dynasty in Chinese history. In 968 AD, the ruler left Wangcun Village, relocating the capital elsewhere. From then on, Wangcun Village remained obscure in the land of Western Hunan for centuries.

It wasn’t until the 1980s when a Chinese director adapted the renowned novel “Hibiscus Town” by Gu Hua into a film, shot in Wangcun Village, that the town gained widespread recognition. In 2007, inspired by the film’s success, Wangcun Village officially adopted the name “Furong Town” (Furong meaning Hibiscus in Chinese pinyin), replacing its original name.

The Tujia people are an ethnic minority group in China, primarily residing in the Wuling Mountains region of Hunan, Hubei, and Guizhou provinces. They have a distinct cultural and linguistic identity that sets them apart from the Han Chinese majority.

The Tujia language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. However, many Tujia people also speak Mandarin Chinese. Traditionally, they have been known for their unique customs, traditional clothing, and distinctive wooden architecture.

One notable aspect of Tujia culture is the “Diaojiaolou,” a kind of stilted wooden house. These houses are built on hillsides and use wooden supports to elevate them above the ground, providing protection against floods and wild animals. The Tujia people are also famous for their rich embroidery skills, colorful festivals, and unique rituals.

While the Tujia have their own customs and traditions, they have also been influenced by the surrounding Han Chinese culture over the centuries. Today, many Tujia people live in a more modernized society, but efforts are being made to preserve and promote their cultural heritage.

The best time to visit Furong Ancient Town and enjoy the scenic waterfall is from April to October. The rainy season typically begins in June, enhancing the beauty of the waterfall.

However, it’s worth noting that during the winter months, the weather can become quite cold, and there may be occasional snowfall. Additionally, the waterfall during this period is in a low-water phase, and the picturesque views might not be as prominent.

🚗How to Get to Furong Ancient Town

To reach Furong Ancient Town, there are no direct trains or flights, so travelers need to take a few steps to get there. Here are the options:

  • By Bus: To reach Furong Ancient Town by bus, one can board a bus at Zhangjiajie Center Bus Station. The journey spans approximately 2 hours, with a fare of around CNY 30. It’s important to note that there is only one bus departure daily, scheduled at 5:00 PM.
  • By High-Speed Train: For travelers coming from outside the province, take a flight or high-speed train to Changsha. From Changsha Railway Station, transfer to a high-speed train to Zhangjiajie West Railway Station or direcltly to Furong Town Station. The journey from Zhangjiajie West Railway Station to Furong Town Station takes about 25 minutes, and the fare is around CNY 40.

Upon arrival at Furong Town Station, take the shuttle bus from the square outside the station to reach the scenic area.

🎫Visiting the Furong Ancient Town

Ticket PriceCNY 108
Opening Hours08:00-22:00
Time for a Visit2-3 hours

Due to its relatively small size, one can fully explore Furong Ancient Town in just 2-3 hours. Therefore, it’s advised not to linger for an extended period in the town.

For visitors coming to Hunan, a recommended itinerary involves starting with Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Wulingyuan Scenic Spot) as the initial destination, followed by a visit to Fenghuang Ancient City or a direct journey to Furong Ancient Town. The proximity of these three places allows for flexible travel plans.

It’s suggested to concentrate the exploration of Furong Ancient Town during the evening, and spending a night in the town enhances the experience.

👑Top Must-See Places in Furong Ancient Town Worth Exploring

1. Baishou Hall (摆手堂)

Upon entering the ancient town gate, you encounter a building with red pillars, black tiles, and an all-wood structure. The main stage features three-tiered upturned roofs, with a large plaque in the middle bearing the inscription “摆手堂” (Baishou Hall). The entire structure is assembled without using a single nail, employing wooden tenons for a tightly connected framework. Remarkably, it lacks a foundation, making relocation easy.

In front of Baishou Hall, there is a square used by the Tujia people for ancestral worship and performing the Baishou Dance (摆手舞).

The Baishou Dance or baishouwu, a 500-year-old historic group dance of the Tujia people, typically takes place from the third to the seventeenth day of the lunar new year. With 70 ritual gestures, this dance symbolizes various aspects of traditional life, including war, agriculture, hunting, and courtship. It stands out as the most distinctive folk dance of the Tujia ethnic group, serving as the most primitive form of ritual dance.

2. Tuwang Bridge (土王桥)

Spanning over Yin Pan Stream, the Tuwang Bridge is a single-span connected house-style covered bridge with red pillars and black tiles. It directly leads to the palace of the Tusi King, the ruler of past generations, who was said to frequent the bridge for leisure and poetic contemplation, hence its name.

The bridge structure features five-arch stone formations, and the bridge deck is a wooden-covered corridor with high-raised eaves symbolizing royal authority and serving a protective function against evil spirits.

At the bridgehead, an exquisitely carved coiled dragon pillar stands atop a lotus base. The protruding columns outside the bridge corridor have wooden stakes carved into pumpkin shapes at the lower ends, as locally, the golden-seed pumpkin symbolizes wealth and offspring. Consequently, the Tujia people often carve such shapes under the eaves when constructing houses.

3. Tuwang Palace (土司行宫)

The Tuwang Palace by the waterfall stands out as a major highlight in Furong Town, showcasing the most spectacular architectural ensemble. The Tuwang Palace consists of two main structures: the Youyang Palace and the Babutang Palace. Countless stilted buildings are distributed in a staggered manner, creating a mysterious kingdom of ethnic minorities. Youyang Palace served as a summer retreat for later generations of Tusi Kings.

It was once home to the longest-running ethnic minority dynasty in Chinese history, with 28 generations and 35 Tusi Kings reigning over 818 years.

The current palace retains its original architecture, including rooms, connecting corridors, and wooden stairs, all exceptionally well-preserved. Most of the buildings have been converted into guesthouses or restaurants, allowing visitors unrestricted access. The platforms of the palace’s stilted buildings provide the best vantage point for viewing the waterfall. Sitting on the corridor, one can enjoy a panoramic view of the ancient town’s beauty and the cascading waterfall and streams.

4. Bronze Pillars Garden (铜柱园)

Within Furong Ancient Town lies the Bronze Pillars Garden, showcasing ancient bronze pillars used to demarcate territorial boundaries in ancient China. The 4-meter-high and 2500-kilogram Xizhou Bronze Pillar is engraved with a treaty between King Chu and the Tusi King, pledging to cease hostilities.

Despite enduring centuries of wind and rain, the inscriptions remain remarkably clear, marking the first instance of ethnic regional autonomy in Chinese history.

The use of bronze pillars as boundary markers was uncommon and reserved for special circumstances. In Chinese history, there were nine bronze pillars used for this purpose, with only two surviving to this day. One of them is the Xizhou Bronze Pillar.

🌷Tips: Bronze pillars were commonly employed in ancient China as symbols for delineating territorial boundaries. To settle conflicts and wars, ancient people often used blood oaths to forge alliances and sign treaties, demarcating territories for governance. To have a lasting witness, they erected bronze pillars as evidence. The ancients believed that bronze, being resistant to corrosion and capable of engraving, was the best material for creating enduring and witness-worthy markers, capable of warding off evil forces.

5. Five Mile Stone Street

Extending from the river dock all the way to the hilltop, there is a 5-miles-long slate stone road that runs through the ancient town, locally known as Five Mile Stone Street. This non-commercialized stone street, retains the simple customs and sentiments of Western Hunan. While wandering around, one can encounter locals strolling through the streets and alleys.

The stone street, flanked by steps, hosts diverse shops showcasing genuine Tujia cuisine, such as the Bull Head Banquet, Tujia-style Rice Tofu, preserved meats, and more. Moreover, there are establishments featuring intangible cultural heritage initiatives like Tujia tapestry and bamboo weaving. Though these stores may not be expansive, they typically house a couple of weaving looms, with walls adorned by vibrant tapestries, bags, wall hangings, bedding, and more. Enjoy a relaxed walk, appreciate the Tujia-style architecture, explore street-side stalls, and pick up some local snacks and souvenirs.

6. Furong Waterfall

The primary natural marvel in Furong Town, the largest and most impressive waterfall in Western Hunan, captivates every visitor with its grandeur.

Encircled by water on three sides, the waterfall courses through the town, reaching a height of 60 meters and spanning 40 meters wide. Descending in two tiers from the cliffs, it allows visitors to stroll behind its curtain. During the peak season, the waterfall resembles a divine cascade from the heavens, with its majestic roar audible for miles around. The town has aptly earned the title “Millennium Ancient Town Hanging on the Waterfall.”

The waterfall is entirely natural and formed by a stream called Yingpan Stream, which runs within the town for less than two kilometers before joining the You River (a Yangtze River tributary) flowing through the ancient town.

At the confluence of Yingpan Stream and You River, a massive two-tiered cascading waterfall is formed, resembling a gigantic curtain. This natural cliff is a result of the intermittent uplift and faulting of the You River. The waterfall descends from the cliff, creating a majestic spectacle. The first tier is 20 meters high and spills over a width of 50 meters, while the second tier is divided into three segments, with a drop of over 30 meters. This unique geological formation has given rise to the extraordinary “Millennium Ancient Town Hanging on the Waterfall.”

7. Rocky Cave

Located at the entrance beneath the waterfall, there is a rocky cave with sculptures portraying primitive tribespeople holds historical significance as the ancestral dwelling of the Tujia people. This stone cave, which could accommodate thousands of people in ancient times, has undergone changes over millennia due to fluctuations in water levels, leading to substantial sediment accumulation.

Historical accounts reveal that, uring the turmoil of the Qin Dynasty, people seeking refuge entered this area and, upon intending to rest, discovered individuals with long hair and bare feet, emitting sounds resembling birds and animals. Despite their peculiar appearance, these cave dwellers exhibited pure and gentle character traits, prompting the newcomers to coexist and share life in this cave.

8. Furong Ancient Town Night

Furong Ancient Town is even more charming for nighttime strolls. The town’s diverse topography, with its varied elevations and scattered architecture, creates a captivating scene at night. As the darkness falls, the You River, cliffs, waterfalls, palaces, and residences are bathed in the radiant glow of neon lights, turning the entire area into a fairyland seemingly suspended on the cliffs. This unique and enchanting spectacle is exclusive to Furong Town, making it unparalleled in its beauty.

9. Maogusi Dance (毛古斯舞)

Every day, the ancient town hosts several large-scale folk performances that showcase various intangible cultural heritage elements, including You River work songs, Tujia folk songs, wedding laments, and more, portraying the authentic daily life of the Tujia people. Among them, the Maogusi Dance is the most representative.

“Maogusi” in Tujia language means a hunter covered in fur. Most Maogusi dances revolve around historical events, fishing, marriage, and the daily activities of the Tujia people, combining elements of opera, dance, and drama. The dance originated from the sacrifice rituals of the ancient Tujia people.

The dance typically involves 10-20 participants, all dressed in attire made of straw, couch grass, leaves, and even their faces are covered. With five plaits made of palm leaves on their heads, they joyfully dance on the stage, vividly expressing the Maogusi dance with primitive and rustic musical notes splashing around.

🍖What to Eat in Furong Ancient Town

Bull Head Banquet (牛头宴)

The Bull Head Banquet is a grand ceremonial feast hosted by the Tujia people to welcome distinguished guests. The specific preparation involves steaming a whole bull’s head and bringing it to the table in a large iron pot. It is served with pickled red peppers, sour meat, cured meat, and other accompaniments.

Guests use knives to carve and enjoy the beef from the bull’s head, relishing the experience with bamboo-tube rice wine, reminiscent of the ancient times when the Tujia people returned from hunting and feasted heartily.

Rice Tofu (米豆腐)

In Furong Town, it’s a must-try to indulge in the local specialty known as Rice Tofu. This delicacy is prepared by soaking rice in mountain spring water, grinding it into rice milk with a stone mill, and then steaming it. It is served with ingredients like red chili, sesame oil, minced ginger, garlic, oil, and salt, topped with pink pickled radish cubes and mixed thoroughly before enjoying. Locals claim that the most genuine experience of this dish can be found near the village archway.

Ginger Candy (姜糖)

In the Five-Mile Stone Street, you will come across many small shops selling ginger candy. Ginger candy is made by simmering raw ginger, brown sugar, water, and other ingredients in an iron pot. It has a fragrant aroma and a crunchy texture when bitten. Unlike overly sweet candies or intensely spicy ginger, it strikes a balance with a mild sweetness and just the right amount of spiciness.

Sour&Spicy Mandarin Fish (桂花鱼)

One famous dish in Furong Ancient Town is Sour&Spicy Mandarin Fish, made with locally sourced wild Osmanthus fish. It is delicious with a distinctive spicy and sour flavor, representing the taste of Western Hunan. The flesh of Osmanthus fish is finer and more tender compared to other fish, offering a delightful and fresh taste. Moreover, this fish has fewer bones, and it lacks the typical fishy odor, making it highly palatable.

Fried Snail Meat (螺丝肉)

Tourists visiting Furong Ancient Town often enjoy tasting the flavor of Fried Snail Meat. This dish features tender snail meat as the main ingredient, combined with green peppers, red peppers, onions, and more, all infused with the spicy and sour flavors characteristic of Western Hunan.

The most famous restaurant in Furong Town known for this dish is the “天下第一螺” restaurant, renowned for its authentic and widely acclaimed flavors.

🏨 Where to Stay in Furong Ancient Town

If your schedule allows, it’s highly recommended to spend a night in Furong Town, especially because the nighttime scenery here is the most captivating. Opt for accommodation in one of the stilted houses along the river, preferably on the top floor with a viewing balcony. This way, you can witness the waterfall, hear the soothing sound of the cascading water, and enjoy the spectacle of the sun slowly setting behind mist-shrouded distant mountains.

Baihe Renjia Inn

Baihe Renjia Inn
⭐️ Rating: 4.9/5 | 🤑 Cost: from $35 USD | 🏩 View on Trip

Baihe Renjia Inn is situated above the waterfall, nestled by a small bridge with flowing water and hanging cliffs. The interior design incorporates characteristic logs and century-old materials from the mountains of Western Hunan, constructed in traditional craftsmanship and Tujia style. The rooms are divided into four different styles, immersing guests in the primitive nature and rich Tujia culture of the untamed Western Hunan.

Tuwang Palace·Babutang

Yayunju Inn
⭐️ Rating: 4.2/5 | 🤑 Cost: from $67 USD | 🏩 View on Trip

Babutang, one of the two main buildings of Tusi Palace, has been transformed into a boutique guesthouse. Perched on the cliff’s edge, it overlooks the You River. Renowned designer Mr. Fu Wen has redesigned it into a high-end cliffside guesthouse that aligns with the world’s contemporary architectural trends.

The guesthouse’s design revolves around exploring the “Tujia Tusi culture,” with locally sourced materials such as wood, bluestone, meticulously crafted Tujia batik, tapestry, bamboo weaving, and other distinctive handicrafts.

Each room features an independent balcony for enjoying the waterfall view, with the added uniqueness of 270° waterfall-view rooms exclusive to Furong Town.

No.99 Mansion

No.99 Mansion
⭐️ Rating: 4.8/5 | 🤑 Cost: from $35 USD | 🏩 View on Trip

No.99 Mansion is a themed guesthouse inspired by the style of the Republic of China. The exterior of the mansion combines the architectural elements of Tujia stilted houses and Hui-style horse-head walls. The interior of the guest rooms is adorned with distinctive features of the Republic of China era, including a phonograph, vintage telephones, and lighting fixtures with elements from that period.

The guesthouse also provides qipaos (traditional Chinese dresses) for guests to wear while taking a ride in a rickshaw or a black-awning boat for scenic photography.

🌸Final Tips for Furong Ancient Town Adventure

Weather Check: Visit between April and October for the most vibrant experience. June brings the breathtaking beauty of the rainy season.

Plan a Night Stay: To capture the essence of Furong’s night charm, consider staying overnight. Top floors with viewing balconies offer a mesmerizing spectacle of the waterfall.

Local Delicacies: Don’t miss the Bull Head Banquet and Rice Tofu. For a sweet touch, try the locally famous Ginger Candy.

Evening Focus: Since the town is compact, spend 2-3 hours exploring during the evening for a magical experience.

Nearby Attractions: Combine your trip with visits to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and Fenghuang Ancient City.

China Travel Planning Guide&FAQ

🎫Do I need a visa for China?

Yes. Most visitors to China will need a visa to enter the country. The type of visa you need will depend on the purpose and duration of your trip, as well as your nationality. If you are a resident of the US, you must apply for a Chinese visa at the Consular Office in the country. On the other hand, inhabitants of countries like Japan, Canada, and the UK can request a visa through the Chinese Visa Application Service Center.

🤔Why is it necessary to install a VPN in China?

In China, the government has strict regulations on internet access, leading to the blocking of popular websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and YouTube. To access these sites, a VPN is suggested as a means of bypassing the restrictions. It is important to choose a reputable VPN provider and use caution while doing so. ExpressVPN has been historically deemed the most reliable VPN for this purpose, despite being heavily targeted by China’s censors. Nevertheless, it is still a widely preferred option owing to its ease of installation and user-friendliness.

📲Is it necessary to have a Chinese SIM card while in China?

Yes. It is crucial to acknowledge that accessing the internet in China may pose limitations due to certain websites being prohibited or filtered. To ensure uninterrupted connectivity while staying in China, purchasing a local SIM card is advisable. For optimum results, acquiring SIM cards from either China Unicom or China Mobile is recommended. While China Mobile has the most comprehensive coverage in China and is a market leader, China Unicom is more compatible with foreign phones, enabling 3G and 4G services. Or you can purchase a SIM card online.

🔮Should I buy China travel insurance?

Yes. Although China is generally a safe country for travel, it is still possible to encounter accidents or other unexpected occurrences. Therefore, obtaining travel insurance can provide a sense of security and financial protection. In my research, I have found that World Nomads is a reputable travel insurance provider that covers a wide range of activities and is recommended for the average traveler. Nevertheless, I advise you to compare insurance quotes from various providers before making a decision.

🚙Can you rent a car in China?

Unfeasible. Obtaining a Chinese driver’s license to rent a car and self-drive may seem like an option, but it is not a practical choice for most foreigners. Therefore, many prefer to opt for a driver or public transportation when navigating China, as it proves to be more convenient.

✈️What’s the best site to purchase flight tickets for China?

I suggest using Trip for affordable flights to China. As a China-based company, they often offer lower prices compared to foreign companies. Additionally, they offer English-speaking phone support in case of any issues.

🏡What is the best way to book hotels in China?

Not only does Trip offer a wider range of flight options, but it also provides a greater selection of hotels to choose from. Moreover, Agoda is a reliable resource for hotels throughout Asia.

🎒What do I pack for China?

Travel adapter and converter: China uses a different electrical system than many other countries, so it’s important to bring a travel adapter and converter if you plan to use electronic devices such as phones, cameras, and laptops.  
Sunscreen: The UV index in China can be high, particularly during the summer months, and prolonged exposure to the sun without protection can cause skin damage and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Deodorant: It should be noted that finding deodorant in China may not be a simple task.

📚Can a guidebook for traveling to China be useful?

Yes. If you’re planning to travel to China for the first time, a travel guidebook can be a valuable resource, and Lonely Planet is one of the most reputable guides available globally. Its comprehensive itineraries and recommendations take into account your personal preferences and can save you both time and money. The insider tips are also extremely helpful in navigating China’s unique cultural landscape like a local.

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