Although Xiamen is known as the ‘Gate of China’, it has been occupied by both Britain and Japan over the years. The British left an indelible mark on the city, especially on Gulangyu Island. The island is full of colonial charm and the sound of piano music wafting through the streets is sure to put a spring in your step – and considering no cars are allowed, you want to hope it does!
Early missionaries also visited and built some fantastic churches, including Xinjie Church. Yet Xiamen is by no means stuck in the past. One of the first of China’s capitalism-embracing Special Economic Zones (with appropriately high-rise architecture), it boasts a bustling nightlife. If partying isn’t your thing, the Night Markets are always worth a visit.
Xiamen's Top 10
10. Bailuzhou Park Enjoy music and dancing under the stars.
5. Xiamen Shinegood Culture Gallery The largest private gallery in China is filled with ancient jade objects to make you, um, green with envy.
9. Underwater Sea World Feed the sharks at this local attraction.
4. Xiamen Wushipu Oil Painting Village Many of the world’s oil paintings originate here. Pick up a replica Rembrandt in person rather than ordering one online.
8. Yundang Lake If you’re an early riser, watch the egrets arrive in the morning; if not, watch them go off to bed in the evening.
3. Huli Fortress Great views and antique weaponry collide in this old fortress.
7. Xiamen’s Botanical Garden A nature lover’s heaven and great place to relax.
2. Nanputuo Temple With its rich history, this active Buddhist temple is a national treasure.
6. Music Square With sculptures of both Chinese and Western musicians, see if you can spot somebody you recognise.
1. Gulangyu Island Charmingly at odds with the vibrant modern city. Feel free to walk around humming ‘Rule Britannia’.
- Nanputuo Temple – A magnificent primeval temple complex, build amidst a mountainous backdrop in 686 AD to worship goddess Guanyin.
- Sunlight Rock – Considered to be one of the most scenic spots in Xiamen, this area offers a breathtaking view of islands.
- Jimei School Village – This Xiamen village is comprised of a number of schools of different varieties.
- Zheng Chenggong Memorial Hall – This hall was built as a mark of respect for Zheng Chenggong, who defeated the Dutch.
- Xiamen Tianjie Temple – This beautiful temple, also known as the Temple of Heaven, is located at South Tianjie Hill.
Xiamen Art & Culture
- Piano Museum – Situated in the picturesque Shuzhuang Garden, it houses nearly 100 pianos.
- Bridge Museum – Those who are fascinated with architecture and bridges must visit this museum.
- Museum of Anthropology – This foundation was built in 1953 and displays captivating compilation of anthropological artefacts.
- Overseas Chinese Museum – This museum is located centrally and showcases over 7,000 artefacts.
- Xiamen Museum – Considered the largest museum in Xiamen.
- Friendship Store – A posh, exclusive department store in Xiamen where tourists can buy fashionable clothes.
- No.1 Department Store –This historic store is extremely popular among the Xiamen locals.
- Xiahe Lu – A street crowded with shops selling souvenirs and other attractive products.
- Zhongshan Lu – Some of the best shops, including high-end boutiques, jewellery stores and factory outlets are here.
- Longtou area – This particular place on the Gulangyu Island is famous for malls and markets.
Xiamen Gay & Lesbian
- Zhongshan Lu Harbor – The alleys surrounding the harbour are crowded with restaurants selling affordable cuisine.
- Venezzia Café—This café is famous in Xiamen for mouthwatering pizzas and Western cuisines.
- World Trade Centre Food Court – This place offers a variety of restaurants.
- Xiamen's Lujiang Hotel – To enjoy delicious Cantonese dinner buffets, one must visit this rooftop restaurant.
- Cold Food Festival – During this festival on April 4, Xiamen locals eat cold food like spring rolls and noodle soup.
- Shuzhuang Garden – This scenic garden is situated on Gulangyu Island and adorned with rock gardens, small bridges, large ponds and seasonal flowering plants.
- Zhongshan Park and Zoo – Located centrally, this Xiamen park is beautifully decorated with flowers and plant, while the zoo houses a wide variety of animals.
- Turtle Garden – This charming garden includes Tan Kah Kee’s grave, a monument and a covered corridor.
- Wanshi Botanical Garden – This botanical garden is heaven for horticulture lovers as it exhibits a wide collection of flora.
- Kai Kou Golf Club – Constructed in 1994, this golf course is one of the best in Xiamen.
- Play golf on one the many golf courses in Xiamen.
- Enjoy a family picnic in the charming parks.
- Windsurf along the beautiful beaches of Xiamen.
- Catch a match at Xiamen Stadium.
- Enjoy a variety of water sports in Xiamen.
Chinese New Year falls in January or February. Xiamen is colourfully transformed by paper stuck in nearly every doorway to bring good luck.
Brightly coloured lanterns fill the city in late February or early March for the Lantern Festival.
Cold noodles, a cold spring roll or even cold KFC may surprise during April’s Cold Food Festival. Smoke and fire are banned on this day in memory of a Chinese hero who died in a forest fire.
The annual Tourism Festival takes place in May and shows off the city’s culture through various performances.
The Dragon Boat Festival in May attracts huge crowds to watch the dragon boat race – pick your favourite dragon and go.
When To Go
Summer in Xiamen is long and humid, with temperatures averaging around 28°C (82°F).
Spring and autumn offer the most comfortable temperatures, but the monsoon season falls over much of spring.
Snow hasn’t fallen since 1893, but winter can still get pretty chilly!
The easiest way to get around is on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, which is a network of roads on which only the BRT buses are allowed to travel.
Jump on a ferry for the short trip over to Gulangyu Island.
Join the locals and grab a bicycle for an environmentally friendly way to see Xiamen. Just hold your breath in the traffic.
Consistently rated as the most livable city in China, behind only Dalian, Xiamen is a superb coastal destination in southeast Fujian province. With more than 5 million people, the city was one of the first Special Economic Zones in the country and is one of the top commercial ports in the world today. A favorite target of foreign investment, Xiamen's popularity as a tourist destination has also grown in recent years.
The city's appeal lies in unique attractions such as Gulangyu Island, home to colonial architecture and delightfully free of automobile traffic. Known as "Piano Island", Gulangyu is home to the only piano museum in China. Naputuo Temple, in southeast Xiamen Island, is a foremost Buddhist landmark that dates back to the Tang Dynasty and offers terrific views of the city and nearby countryside. Visitors should also endeavor to walk along beautiful Yuandang Lake at night and hit up Xiamen's excellent night markets.
Attractions & Activities
- Naputuo Temple
- White Deer Cave
- Gulangyu Island
- Turtle Garden
- Overseas Chinese Museum
- Lantern Festival
- Dragon Boat Festival
- Tourism Festival
- Mid-Autumn Festival
- Winter Festival
Restaurant & Nightlife
- Huasheng Tang Dian
- Yuetailou Seafood Restaurant
- Wuzaitan Refreshment House
- Labeng Bar
- True Love Bar
- Love After Xiamen Bar
- Jinhai Paradise
- Jingzhou Paradise
Xiamen has a humid subtropical climate, with occasional monsoon activity between May and September.
- Winter (December to February) 10-19°C
- Spring (March to May) 12-27°C
- Summer (June to September) 24-32°C
- Fall (October to November) 16-27°C
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