Welcome to Xiamen, China!
The coastal city of Xiamen, which is in southern China’s Fujian province, is a traveler’s wonderland. Historic attractions, stunning parks, cafes, bars, and beaches, are part of the charm of this island city, which is fastly emerging as one of modern China’s premier destinations.
Since the city may seem like it’s sprawling to a new visitor, knowing your way around will prove to be essential. Here is an insider’s guide that will point out some of the best Xiamen has to offer and will ensure to make the best of your visit.
Xiamen at a Glance
After you land at Xiamen airport, the first thing you need to understand is the lay of the land. The bigger part of the city is on Xiamen Island. The mainland areas of Jimei and Haicang, are just across bridges, and the smaller island Gulangyu are all administrative parts of the same city, but with a significant geographical distinction.
Worldwide Local Tip: For an easy time moving around, choose accommodation in the Siming District. Located on the southern half of Xiamen Island, Siming is an excellent jumping off point for ferries to Gulangyu Island, and also to move around the Xiamen Island.
Don’t Miss Gulangyu Island
Gulangyu Island ranked as one of the top most-scenic areas in Fujian, is renowned for its delicate natural beauty, ancient relics, and diverse architectures. The best way to explore it is on foot. It is important to note that the island has become so popular with locals and tourists alike; so expect to rub shoulders with a large crowd of people. However, seeing old colonial buildings, visiting the Shuzhuang Garden, exploring the somewhat quirky Piano Museum, and hiking up to Riguang Mountain, for a panoramic 360-degree view, are all adventures you don’t want to miss.
Worldwide Local Tip: To get to the island, you’ll need to take a ferry if you are coming from Xiamen Island. You will need your passport or travel documents to book a ticket at the international cruise terminal/ferry pier, which is separate from the local terminal (used by local residents of Xiamen only). Be sure to leave ample time for security checks, which take even longer during peak hours/seasons.
Enjoy the Xiamen Weather on Its Gorgeous Beaches
Xiamen has a long stretch of sandy and accessible beaches (and great sunbathing weather). You can lounge around, partake in a game of volleyball, go swimming or try kite surfing - a local obsession. Xiamen is a major hot spot for Kitesurfing in China and often hosts various domestic and international competitions. Large crowds hailing from all over China, and sometimes even from abroad come to kite in Xiamen. The best surfing spots are at Haiyuntai, close to the Asia Golden Bay (Huandao Road), one of the nicest Xiamen hotels.
Worldwide Local Tip: The best time to enjoy Kitesurfing is from April to December, where you will find the perfect cross-shore winds and warm to mild water temperatures. The water is quite flat, turbulent waves are seldom infrequent.
Shopping in Xiamen
Xiamen is an excellent place for shopping as it has maintained a long history of international trading. Today, you have choices ranging from western designer shops to the smallest back street markets. All are conveniently located on Zhongshan Lu, which runs from the Zhongshan Park to the harbor area and the Ferry Wharf. The most common items you’ll find here include arts and crafts, and spices and oils; so make sure to save some time for shopping. Close to Zhongshan Road, there are Siming North, South, West, and East Road and Jukou Street, which are also good shopping areas.
Get Your Caffeine Fix
Due to its international trading, Xiamen is one of the first Chinese cities that had contact with the outside world, and naturally, it was one of the first cities that came into contact with coffee. Xiamen actually boasts the highest number of cafés in China, and there are an estimated 6 cafes for every 100 meters.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you are a coffee connoisseur or craving something sweet, Yundang Lu also known as Xiamen’s “Coffee Street,” is the place to go. There are about twenty-four coffee bars along the street, which also offer cakes, pastries, and most of them have full menus. Almost all of them feature outdoor terraces, where you can enjoy a beautiful view of Yundang Lake.
Xiamen After Dark
Xiamen is known to be a scenic and artsy city during the day, but when night falls, the town comes alive with open bars by the sea and night clubs in the city. The most buzzing bars are mainly in the Haiwan Park Area; which makes it the ideal place for a relaxing walk as you watch the setting sun along the coast and enjoy the summer breeze.
Have an Unforgettable Time in Xiamen!
Xiamen has so much to offer for anyone that chooses to visit and explore it, but doing so as a worldwide local ensures you experience the finest things in this city.