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Exploring Xiamen

Xiamen is a sizeable Fujian city/island on the southeast coast of China, somewhat between Hong Kong and Shanghai, and is an excellent alternative to both, with its cheaper hotels and laidback atmosphere. A launch point for visits to Taiwan, this historic harbour town has lots to look at and a rich past that has seen foreign invasion and influence over the centuries.

There is a lot going for Xiamen and it’s a good place to hole up for a few days rather than go straight over to Taiwan. There are some nice beaches here, great seafood, lush parks and many intriguing tourist attractions to check out. It also boasts good shopping options along its pedestrianised main street and a whole slew of tea houses. Many visitors also choose to escape the bustle to nearby Gulang yu Island, with its old houses and penguins.

Sights nearby

Owing to its age, Xiamen comes with a large number of historic sights, including temples, forts and some excellent museums. There are also lush parks and nice beaches to complement the sightseeing and the city is small enough that hotels are close at hand.

Xiamen Museum
Located on Gubagua Road, Xiamen Museum is a must for those interested in learning about the rich history of this city. It covers the era from the Ming Dynasty through to Japanese occupation and the Mao years. Items include ancient printing presses, ceramics and even wood rifles, and it is nice to stroll around the architecturally-pleasing building. The museum is not far from the three-star Royal Coast Hotel.

Hulishan Fort
One of the top landmarks on Xiamen is this intriguing fortress in the south of the island on Siming Nan Road. Built from mud and sticky rice in the latter part of the 19th century during the Westernisation Movement, it features a huge cannon along with various weaponry on display. There is also a telescope on site for viewing offshore islands, while also nearby are the Xiamen and Wanshi botanical gardens.

Nanpuoto Temple
Not far from Hulishan Fort is this striking, high profile temple which hails right back to the Tang Dynasty, making it over 1,000 years old. It has of course seen extensive renovations and add-ons over the years, including that of a new pavilion, but its ancient bronze bells and Buddhist scriptures are the highlights. There’s also a large lotus pond and a vegetarian restaurant but it gets very busy, so arrive early.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Zhongshan Road is the main thoroughfare for shopping and for eating. It is a pedestrianised street right in the town, running up from the harbour, and has local foods as well as souvenir shopping. The other main area is the Xidi Coffee Street, which is along the lake and near the four-star Marco Polo Hotel. Good bars can also be found along the nearby Guanren Lu Bar Street and there are tea houses all around. The top hotels also have good eating and live entertainment; one example is the Ramada Hotel Xiamen 4.

Public transport

You can walk the town and beaches as Xiamen is quite compact, though getting about by bicycle is the best way to explore the island around the ring road. Taxis are also pretty good value and there is the Bus Rapid Transit for out of town travel, with local buses covering the city. Hire a motorbike if you dare as although it is an excellent way to get around, they are actually banned. If you do, stay away from the main areas like the lake or Zhongshan Road.

Xiamen Travel Guides & Things To Do

Read about more things to do in Xiamen