Some will tell you, without flinching, that China’s roof is Beijing, while others will claim Shanghai as the window between the East & West. On the other hand, some passionate explorers who live beyond their five senses describe Xiamen as the green gateway to the Middle Kingdom. Between its historical seaside colonial charm, local culture, and the emergence of its ultramodern amenities, it’s no wonder why Xiamen is one of the most enjoyable cities in China. Let’s take a look to find out more!
A Step Back to the Old Xiamen
Visitors will relish the picturesque landscapes, traditional culture, and local flavor of this city. The mountains and clear rivers of Sanming District, the culture of the Anxi county and Putian Sea goddess, the Hakkas fortresses, and the mountainous landscapes of Wuyi, are some of the best examples of Old Xiamen’s beauty. Dating from the Song Dynasty, the Tulou or Fujian Hakkas fortresses are renowned attractions for locals as well as spring-time travelers.
Where Innovation Meets Art
The Furong Tunnel could be the most impactful example of the clash between innovation and art in this coastal city. A kilometer in length, it was dug in 2005 to connect the college campus to the student’s dormitory. Covered today by graffiti (some of which are true masterpieces), it has become a tourist attraction in itself. More recently, the Shapowei Art Zone has been developed around former warehouses to shape the major creative hub including artist studios, stores, cafes, and even a wonderful park for skaters.
Other examples of how innovation meets urban transportation: the RTB (Rapid Transit Bus) helps people move quickly throughout the city, even to reach the airport, thanks to the elevated lanes reserved for passengers. Additionally, Xiamen is home to the world’s longest bicycle lane, which is built 5 meters above the ground, it is 7.1 kilometers long and has 11 entry and exit points. It connects residential neighborhoods to business districts and allows cyclists to move safely all over the city.
One of the most enjoyable things about Xiamen is the pedestrian walkway spanning several kilometers that makes a lovely hike along the coast. The boardwalk begins near the University of Xiamen and heads east. Some sections were built above the sea to allow crossing to otherwise unreachable and rocky areas. Stroll by at sunset to witness a bit of romance as couples take wedding photos and creating lasting memories in this paradise. Other great beach options in Xiamen include Guanyin Mountain Beach, Baicheng Beach, and Huangcuo Beach.
Gulangyu: An Island Paradise & Cultural Treasure
Sitting like a mermaid off Xiamen, Gulangyu Island combines tropical rainforest and European houses with authentic architecture. Renowned for its ancient monuments, atypical buildings, and natural beauty, Gulangyu is also closed off to all traffic. Thus, the walkers have to cross the 2.5 km² of the island on foot or by small electric cars. You’ve probably already noticed: in Xiamen, everything waltzes to the rhythm of waves and serenity.
Note: It’s highly advised that ferry tickets are scheduled and booked in advance.
The Tulous – Earth Houses – of the Hakka Minority
A day trip from Xiamen, will take you to one of the more interesting places in China – the Tulous. The Hakka is one of China’s famous minority groups, and many of their people served in Chinese politics, or as famous artists and writers. The Tulous are huge, mostly rounded, buildings, made of earth, and housing several dozens of families surrounding a central yard.
If you have more than a day to spend in Xiamen, we strongly suggest you visit the Tulous. You can also stay overnight in a local family style accomodations and hike around the area, the next day.
Plan Your Next Trip!
Now that you’re an expert on the city, it’s time to plan your trip to Xiamen! Make it a weekend or a longer trip, and explore other beautiful areas in Fujian province like Wuyishan mountain area.
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