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Overview

This major shipping port on the Taiwan Strait in Fujian Province is one of eastern China's most charming cities, largely because it includes the car-free island of Gulangyu, a well-preserved colonial enclave that retains many of the mansions and churches from the 19th and early 20th centuries when Xiamen was known as Amoy in the West. Gulangyu is a five-minute ferry ride from Xiamen's vibrant waterfront. The waterfront boardwalk and adjacent downtown streets are rapidly modernizing, but there are many attractions here, including Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street for shopping, the Huli Fortress where German colonial era cannons remain in ...

This major shipping port on the Taiwan Strait in Fujian Province is one of eastern China's most charming cities, largely because it includes the car-free island of Gulangyu, a well-preserved colonial enclave that retains many of the mansions and churches from the 19th and early 20th centuries when Xiamen was known as Amoy in the West. Gulangyu is a five-minute ferry ride from Xiamen's vibrant waterfront. The waterfront boardwalk and adjacent downtown streets are rapidly modernizing, but there are many attractions here, including Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street for shopping, the Huli Fortress where German colonial era cannons remain in place, and Nanputuo Temple, at the entrance to Xiamen University, a restored Buddhist shrine under a hillside dotted with small shrines and statues. Yundang Lake has become a romantic spot after dark with vendors, light shows, and bars and discos in nearby Haiwan Park. Tiny Gulangyu Island remains the chief attraction, however, with scores of Western mansions, consulates, and churches, many now converted into museums. Known as "Piano Island," Gulangyu has a long tradition in music and art, memorialized by China's largest museum devoted to pianos. The Piano Museum is located in Shuzhuang Garden, a former private garden estate that also houses a calligraphy gallery and a rockery with statues of the animals of the zodiac. Sunlight Rock is Gulangyu's most famous viewpoint, the site of an aviary with a thousand birds from a hundred countries. The former British Consulate (1917) is now a coin museum, but the most spectacular colonial-era structure is the City Museum, the former Eight Trigrams Building (1907), which affords fine views of the busy port and the Victorian-era enclaves of British, French and other European traders who made this a major Treaty Port.

J.D. Brown
About the Expert

J.D. Brown is a contributor to Frommer's China and Frommer's Beijing, coauthor of Frommer's China: The 50 Most Memorable Trips, Berlitz Shanghai, Berlitz Singapore, and other books.

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J.D. Brown for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Xiamen is a city on the southeast coast of China on the the Taiwan Strait.
  • Language: Mandarin, Amoy
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Xiamne and Gulangyu are year-around destinations, but the summers are hot, with typhoons in the early fall. The brief winters are mild and dry.