Situated in southeast China, opposite the island of Taiwan, Xiamen is a city in Fujian province. Historically, it was one of the centers of the Chinese Maritime Silk Road. In modern times, it has been known to Westerners under the name Amoy, as one of the gateways to China.
This pleasant metropolis bordered by the East China Sea is a popular seaside resort for tourists. The beaches extend towards the east of the city and are reputed to be among the most beautiful and cleanest in China. In addition, the place is rich in cultural and architectural discoveries.
Area: 1912 km²
Average annual temperature: 15-22 degrees
Geography: The region is covered by mountains, valleys, hills, and sea areas.
Population: 5,280,000 inhabitants. (2021)
Altitude: 20 m – 330 m
Economy: Aquaculture, Textile industry, mechanical manufacturing industry, building materials, energy, etc.
How to get to Xiamen?
Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport is located at the northeast end of Xiamen Island, 10 kilometers away from the city center of Xiamen. It has domestic flights to 83 cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Kunming, Xi’an, and international flights to countries including the Netherlands, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, etc. If you depart from Europe, we recommend flying from London to Amsterdam or Kuala Lumpur and then connecting to Xiamen.
Also, if you prefer to travel by train, there are high-speed trains to Xiamen from Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou, and the cities surrounding Fujian can travel to Xiamen within five hours by high-speed rail.
The best periods to travel to Xiamen are spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November), for the pleasant weather and mild temperature. There is no real winter in Xiamen, and temperatures vary between 15-25 degrees. The summer is warm with blue skies and cooling breezes, but typhoons can occasionally hit the area from August onwards.
Activities in Xiamen
Xiamen itself is a charming city, and it is home to ancient monuments, streets, and a lovely waterfront where it is pleasant to walk. A city discovery route starts from Xiamen University and ends on the beach. This long walk by the sea allows you to appreciate beautiful maritime landscapes interspersed with rocks and reefs. Many newlyweds come here to take photos of wedding outfits. This is a custom practiced in many famous Chinese landscapes!
Many bars and restaurants with sea views effectively allow you to take a break to eat or refresh. The subtropical climate of Fujian offers beautiful sunny days from the first days of spring. Be careful, however, to avoid school vacation periods, especially in summer.
For a local immersion, don’t forget to discover the Kaihe Lu market. In the old quarter of Xiamen, this lively little market sells all kinds of sea creatures, with a church and buildings with covered terraces in the background.
A unique and romantic option is to go to Gulangyu Island. Accessible by ferry to this islet of 1km², it was once a former colonial trading post that has retained many buildings from that era. On arrival, you could enjoy the secluded beaches of Gulangyu and their view of Xiamen. The ferry between Xiamen and Gulangyu operates from 6h00 a.m. to midnight. If you decide to go there, here is some useful information for you:
1. There are several piers in Xiamen, and tourists can choose to board from Xiagu Pier in Xiamen to NeiCuoAo Pier on Gulangyu Island. The ferry operates from 07h10 to 17h50.
2. After visiting Gulangyu Island, it is advisable to return from Sanqiutian Pier, located on the east side of the island. Return Ferry operates from 07h20 to 18h00, and you will arrive at Xiagu Wharf from Xiamen. After 6h20 and 12h00, the ferry arrives at Lundu wharf in Xiamen.
3. Arrive at the pier one hour before the ferry departure time (exchange your passport and go through security).
Xiamen also offers many cultural and architectural landmarks, and they are not far from each other.
Among them, the Nanputuo Temple is a well-known Buddhist sanctuary for the Fujianese, attracting many devotees from Southeast Asia. It is a busy temple where worshipers light incense sticks and pray while monks chant. In and around Nanputuo Temple, there are some good vegetarian restaurants.
Next to the temple, Xiamen University has beautiful buildings from the Republican period and a pretty lake, which make up a pleasant setting for a walk. Within its enclosure, the Museum of Anthropology exhibits two “hanging coffins” from a cliff in Wuyishan.
Close to the university, the Museum of Chinese Expatriates pays a great tribute to Chinese communities abroad through reconstructions of street scenes, models, photos, and other accessories.
Built-in 1894 and more than 70,000 square meters, the huge Huli Shan Fortress equipped with German cannons stands to the south of the Xiamen University. Standing here, you can use binoculars to observe the island of Kinmen.
Daily ferries connect Kinmen Island to Xiamen City, so it is possible to visit Kinmen for a day or half a day. Be careful, however, that Kinmen belongs to Taiwan, while Westerners do not need a visa to visit Taiwan within 90 days, and a double-entry China visa will be necessary if you wish to return to Xiamen after the visit to Kinmen. Or it is possible to continue your journey to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan (cheap domestic flights between Kinmen and Taipei).
Xiamen is the gateway to the region of the Hakka land, and travelers come to visit the famous round houses called “Tulou“. For more information, see our more comprehensive article below.
Geographically close to Taiwan, Xiamen has similar cuisine, dialect, and customs to many Taiwanese origins from southern Fujian province.
Xiamen dishes are traditionally fresh, light, and a bit sweet. The fish and seafood restaurants are usually without a menu and just show the shellfish you want to taste.
Among the famous local specialties of Xiamen:
Thoo SunTang or lugworm aspic(sipunculid worm jelly) 土笋冻: This is a dish for the brave, for it is a frozen jelly made from the boiled sipunculid worm.
Oyster omelet 海蛎煎.
Crab glutinous rice soup 蟹黄粥.
Fishball soup 鱼丸汤.
Creamy and refreshing peanut soup 花生汤.
Satay-style noodles 沙茶面.
Sweet glutinous rice with bamboo shoots 甜竹笋饭.
Kung Fu tea
Tea is an ingrained habit for people in Xiamen, just like coffee is for Westerners, and has the same effect. Imagine a tea prepared with the concentration of espresso, and it takes a while to get used to the strong taste of this tea, but it is something locals savor like connoisseurs. Drinking tea, chatting with friends, and spending the weekend relaxing on a hill are the favorite pastimes of the inhabitants of the city.
You will find more detailed information on Chinese gastronomy on the page: Popular Chinese dishes.
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