Within a country spanning vast territories with abundant tourism resources, Xiamen has earned herself the supreme crown as the favorite destination among the country’s 1.3 billion citizens.
Xiamen City or Amoy, located on the eastern coast of China, has been consistently ranked as the No. 1 tourist destination in the country. Its resounding reputation has often resulted in the common misconception that it is the capital of Fujian province, culminating in some jealousy from its twin city Fuzhou. Xiamen not just appeals to the Chinese domestic travelers; it has also been hailed as the “Hawaii of the East” by Richard Nixon, the former President of the United States.
What is the reason behind its draw to countless visitors? Follow the Travelogue team on a visual journey to find out for yourself.
Gulang Island (鼓浪嶼）is the crown jewel of Xiamen city. It is a preserved historical zone where modern buildings are banned and vehicles are prohibited. As such, the only modes of transportation on the island are bicycles or by foot. Just like the Bund in Shanghai, Gulang Island (鼓浪嶼) is dubbed as a World Expo area and boasts an eclectic collection of European architecture styles apart from extravagant traditional Chinese mansions. After China’s defeat in the Opium War, Xiamen was one of the five port cities which were forced to open up. Following this arrangement, many countries such as England, France, Spain and Portugal set up their embassies or representative offices on Gulang Island. Also nicknamed the Piano Island, Gulang island is the home to many famous pianists and claims to have the highest rate of piano ownership per family in China. Picture this: while you are walking down the small old lane with centuries-old European- and Chinese-styled houses lined up on both your sides, soothing sounds of piano stream into your ears. For a split second, you might feel like you have been transported back in time.
Due to its close proximity to Taiwan on its east, Xiamen is also famed for its cross-straits ties and bears a great resemblance to Taiwan. In part, this is also because Taiwan and Xiamen share the same cultural roots and even the same dialect, Southern Hokkien Dialect (閩南話). In the city, cool and chic establishments are all around, some of which are so well-known that many Chinese tourists fly all the way over to Xiamen to visit. Worthy of particular mention is Zeng Cuo An (曾厝垵). Previously a small fishing village, it is an embracing and thriving community today. The abundant cute and stylish cafes, galleries, bars and shops in the neighborhood give it an additional aura of petty bourgeois.
Besides its rich and diverse history, Xiamen is also one of the most modern and greenest cities in China. It has well-developed tourism infrastructure, enabling travelers to fully appreciate the charm of the city. Exalted as the most beautiful road in Xiamen, the Amoy Circular Road rims the island of Xiamen. Locals and tourists alike enjoy riding a bike or simply strolling along the island’s coast line in the late afternoon.
Cycle along the seafront, enjoy the sunset and the gentle touch of the sea breeze. When you are tired, just take a break and hop into any of the seafood restaurants dotted along its coast line. Indulge in a seafood feast, with an open sea view to boot. That’s the life in Xiamen.
Xiamen is multifaceted. It has both modern and traditional aspects, eastern and western perspectives. You could only fully experience its unique charm when you make your trip here.