Brief introduction to Xia Men
Xiamen (厦门 Xiàmén) is a coastal city in Fujian Province in Southern China. It has been an important port for centuries. It is one of China’s earliest Special Economic Zones in the 1980s. Comparing to other China cities, Xiamen is a very vibrant and modern place. There are three reasons why Xia Men gets the reputation to be a most livable city, one is its warm climate, two is its sea foods, three is beautiful ocean-coastline and islands.
Xia Men is a historic city. After China lost the Opium War in 1840, Britain took Hong Kong. China was forced to open five Treaty Ports: Guangzhou, Xiamen (old name Amoy), Fuzhou, Ningbo and Shanghai. In the early 20th centuries, Fujian was a focus of missionary activity. There are still many historic churches in the island.
How to talk?
As with elsewhere in mainland China, standard Mandarin is the main language taught in schools and the main language in the official broadcast media so you can expect all educated people to be fluent in Mandarin. English is not widely spoken. The local dialect is Minnan, due to the influence of the neighbor Taiwan who uses Taiwanese Minnan (台灣閩南語). Many local people of Xiamen speak Mandarin with minnan accent.
Bailuzhou Park | XiaMen University
Bailuzhou Park (白鹭洲公园) is a big and beautiful park. It is famous for a bird with name “egrets”. The Yundang Lake (筼筜湖) lays in the middle of the park, attracting many egrets flock in the day and fly home in the night.
Xiamen University (厦门大学) has beautiful campus with old traditional buildings and a tranquil lake inside the campus. Nowadays the University is open to the tourists. People need. The registration earlier in order to avoid waiting during peak holidays. There are dragon boat races during June eavery year in the Jiageng Park (嘉庚公园). It is a beautiful park in memory of Chen Jiageng, founder of Xiamen University.
Gulangyu（鼓浪屿）| Shapowei (沙坡尾)
Gulangyu island is a must visit in Xia Men. The island just across the harbour. Tourists walk around the island with beautiful ocean scenery and “European themed” old buildings . There are all sorts of food vendors, handicraft hawkers, and cute little cafes and restaurants. There are lots of colorful portrait artists in every nook and corner. A day’s trip is just fine. The island falls into peace and quiet during the evening. Maybe you are into seafood dining and the cafes and restaurant for drinks. It is not cheap because Gulangyu provides catering service for tourists only. Gulangyu Island is car free.
Shapowei (沙坡尾) is a gritty old sheltered dock area in the downtown area, not far from Zhongshan Rd. Shapowei has been rejuvenated and become famous for its art zone, design center and stylistic cafes.
Xia Men. Roundabout highway 厦门环岛公路
The roundabout highway runs along the coastal beach, it is also the path for marathon race every year. There are several scenic spots along the highway:
Music Square (音乐广场) is a park-like area along the boardwalk with sculptures of many famous composers and musicians. Some are famous western musician and some are Chinese. You may find some musical notes on the wall of the public toilets.
Xiamen Shinegood Culture Gallery (厦门文化馆)
It is located in the Culture Exhibition Centre near the beach and a yacht dock. It is the biggest private gallery in China with the theme of ancient jades. Walking the museum, people will see hundreds of ancient jade objects, very valuable and pleasant for an eye.
Hulishan Fortress (湖里山炮台)
Hulishan fortress is near Xiamen University. It is built in 1894. It is a relic of the Westernization Movement. The architectural of the canon platform is in a Ming and Qing dynasty style. In the yard of canon platform there is a gorgeous wall sculpture named “the Soul of Nation”. Entrance ticket is ¥25.
XiaMen Travel Guide
Zhongshan Road is a shopping street, like many other cities in China. Zhongshan road runs through the downtown of Xia Men city. It is a pedestrian walking street now. There are many stores there. The opening time is from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. The major places are Hualian Building, Huahui Market, Paris Spring and Jinlu-Jewelry. The buildings along Zhongshan Road combine a European style architecture with coastal city character. It is one commercial street leading to the coastal beach.
World Trade Mall is located near the train station in the city center. SM City Plaza and SM Lifestyle Center are two large shopping malls. They are part of the Filipino SM chain in Xia Men island.
Rich Night Life in Xia’men
Xiamen has a rich nightlife. The cost is affordable if you compare to Shanghai or Beijing. In all major luxurious hotels, you will find Filipino-Bands in the Lobby in the evening, creating a perfect atmosphere for a relaxed time and drink. Another main hot spot for nightlife is the Haiwan Park, next to the Yuandang Lake. There you will find different styles of dancing clubs and musical pubs.
曾厝安Zengcuoan is a place for both low priced hostels and cheaper nightlife. There are always lots of students and younger people, just nearby to Xiamen University. There you will find a lot of cheap pubs, open-air BBQ´s and parties of young people, enjoying the sunset and cool nights with cups of drinks.
Zengcuoan is a place for backpackers, it is a hostel village. Most backpackers like to choose there because of its affordable price and comfortable stay. All hotels provide free WiFi, travel information and a cozy atmosphere. Cuo in Chinese means village in local dialect. Zengcuoan is only 150 meters away from the bus station of Xiamen University Student Dormitory. Prices range from ¥150-500 per night. Some hostel staffs can speak English. Zengcuoan is easy to connect your travel spots, to explore the city and mountains. It is also close to the ferries to Gulangyu Island and your next destinations for Kinmen, Taiwan.
By plane | By Train
Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport is in Xiamen island and conveniently to downtown, 20 minutes away by taxi. They have connections all over China and some international flights to Asian destinations. Public buses depart from terminal 3, just 5-minute-walk. The BRT also goes to the airport at Terminal 4 from the downtown.
You can now get a high-speed train from Hong Kong’s Kowloon to Xiamen in 4 and a half hours. Fast bullet trains connect Xiamen North to Fuzhou and toward Hangzhou and Shanghai. The fast train line to the south, connecting Xiamen North with Shenzhen.
By Taxi | By Subway
Taxis price starts at ¥10 for the first 3 kilometers. After the first 3km, the meter charge will go up based on distance. During the daytime, the prices are usually under ¥40, if you go to anywhere on Xiamen island. But prices are not cheap if you go to the places outside of the island, be wary that some taxi drivers might take advantage of you if they know that you are not a local guy. Drivers might take the longer route to your destination. Because it is easy to choose a ring road that circles the entire island and although there is scenic view, it is likely the expensive way to go. Xiamen is known to have the 2nd worst taxi service in China.
Xiamen’s Metro is opened in December 2017. There is one line (line 1) to run from Xiamen North Railway Station to the Xiamen downtown. The fare for a single journey ranges from ¥2-¥7 depending on the distance covered.
By bus | By Ferry | By Bike
The local bus system is very good, but the bus routes are listed in Chinese only. The BRT is Bus Rapid Transit, very fast and comfortable, but it does not go everywhere. Fare is as cheap as 1 Yuan.
There is a frequent ferry service to and from Gǔlàngyǔ. You can buy tickets near the pier on Gǔlàngyǔ for the return trip, ¥30 for anyone who is non Xiamen resident.
To go around by bike is a great way to explore the Island. Motorbike is forbidden on the whole island! Try the Island Ring Road (Huándǎo Lù) which has an extra path for bicycles in most of its parts. Start at Xiamen University Beach and go up until the International Exhibition Center. There are various rental stations on the Huándǎo Road, starting at ¥30 per day. Enjoy the sunshine while cruising next to the sea.