Xiamen
xm03_f.jpg - 19946 Bytes Xiamen is one of the most charming cities in China. Located on the southeast coast of Fujian province, Xiamen is only 2.5 km away from one of Taiwan's offshore island.

Xiamen is the ancestral home of millions of Chinese now living in other parts of the world. Ever since China started implementing its economic reform, Xiamen's economy has been booming. Today, Xiamen is one of the cleanest, most well run and most pleasant cities in China.

It is able to keep its pollution-free atmosphere by keeping heavy industries out of the city.
Xiamen City Ratings
** The following ratings are based on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best.
History(7) Art(6) Local Culture/Unique Tour(6)
Nature/Scenic(8) Food/Shopping (7) Night Life(7)
Religion(4) Adventure/Sports(5) Reasonable Cost(6)
Recommended Days of Stay: 2

Quick Facts
Area - 131 square km
Population - 6 million
When to go
Tourist Season: May through October;
Coldest Months: February with temperature as low as - 4C;
Hottest Months: July and August, with temperature as high as 38C;
Annual Precipitation : 1206 millimeters (mainly in May through July)
Getting In and Out
By Air - Xiamen is a 1.5-hour flight from Shanghai and 1 hour from Guangzhou. It also has direct links with 46 other Chinese cities and all major Asian hubs. The airport is one of the best organized in China;
By Bus - Xiamen is nine hours from Shenzhen, one hour from Quanzhou and 3.5 hours from Fuzhou by bus.
By Water - Xiamen is 17 hours away from Hong Kong by passenger ship which goes between the cities once a week.

History


Xiamen was the home base for General Zheng Chenggong (known as Koxinga), who rebelled against the Manchu invaders. Later on, when he was defeated on the mainland, Zheng Chenggong retreated to the island of Taiwan by driving out the Dutch.

In 1839, Xiamen was seized by the British. In 1842, the Treaty of Nanking allowed foreigners to build residences and warehouses here.

After the Nationalists retreated to Taiwan in 1949, Xiamen was bombed with both explosive and propaganda shells.


Xiamen's Old Town * * * *
The main street of the Xiamen Old Town is filled with shops, old and new. However, many of the side streets are as they have been for decades, consisting of row upon row of shop houses, their columns and colonnades covering the sidewalks.

Overseas Chinese Museum * *
Xiamen is the home base for many overseas Chinese. In order to assist them in tracing their family trees, the local government set up this museum. It is an interesting place to understand Chinese immigration history.

Art
Rongguang Treasure Museum * * *
This museum has 4,600 fascinating rocks with natural pictures on them. Among them is Emperor Qianlong's pet rock. These were collected by seven generations of a Singaporian family.

Unrelated to this was a collection of fire-arms ranging upwards from 11 cm long, including a 12th century cannon, believed to be the oldest in the world.


Local Culture/Unique Tour
Moon Festival * * * *
According to Chinese lunar calendar, during the moon festival in autumn, the moon is the brightest and the roundest. The roundness of the moon represents the completeness of one's family. Therefore, it's another festival when family members would get together besides the spring festival.

During moon festival, people buy cakes in different shapes. The pancakes have different fillings and usually are delicious.

Nature/Scenic
Botanical Garden * * *
The botanical garden is for plant lovers. However its significance is tied to a redwood tree that was planted by President Richard Nixon in 1972.

Food/ Shopping
Local Seafood Cafes
Xiamen is celebrated for its delicacies from the sea. The best place to try them is not the expensive restaurants in the fancy hotels. The neighborhood cafes usually are bright and pleasant. Although most of them do not have English menus, pointing at the food of your choice and settling the price with sign language are sufficient.

Lujiang Hotel's Rooftop Restaurant
This restaurant has the best evening view of the city. It overlooks the ferry to Gulangyu. The restaurant has an English menu. The food is hot local Fujian and Cantonese dishes.

Lotus Court
The Lotus Court Restaurant is located in Marco Polo Restaurant. It is said that the food is the best in Xiamen and the service is impeccable.

Xiamen Culture Relics Factory
This factory is a good place to pick up some interesting products. Famous local products include Caiza silk figures, lacquer thread-decorated vases, colored clay figures, and bead embroidery.

Night Life
Arcadia Disco Pub
Local Chinese disco pubs are well decorated and usually pretty new. This pub is especially busy and hip. Do check it out.

Religion
Nan Putuo Temple * * * *
South Putuo Temple is Xiamen's greatest place of worship. Built into a rocky hillside, it is an active Buddhist complex of grand halls, bell towers, inscribed rocks, and pavilions, with striking white marble and upswept tiled roofs. The temple was originally built in Tang Dynasty and has been extensively rebuilt ever since.

At the highest hall, a gigantic character meaning Buddha was carved into a massive boulder. Most people think of this character when Nan Putuo Temple comes to their minds.


Mazu Temple * * * * *
Mazu Temple is on Meizhou Island, facing Taiwan across the straits. Legend has it that Mazu was a girl originally named Lin Mo who had saved a large number of fisherman and vessels in sea storms. After her death a temple was erected in her honor. She is worshipped as the goddess of sea, and also known as Tianhou, or Heavenly Empress. The temple was first built in 987 during Emperor Yongxi's reign of he Song Dynasty and was expanded on several occasions later. Mazu is the most popular deity along the coast of China, as well as in all Chinese communities all over Southeast Asia. There are over 1,000 Mazu temples around the world. But the one in Meizhou is regarded as the ancestor of all the Mazu temples.

Despite its importance, it is rarely mentioned by English tour guides.

Adventure/Sports
Kinmen Island * *
This island, only 2.5 miles from an island under Xiamen's control, is the closest Taiwanese island to mainland China. In the past, this island has been both the originator and the recipient of much shelling between the Communists and the Nationalists. For those who are more adventure-minded, hire a fishing boat for a tour of the harbor to take a closer look at this tightly guarded island.

Warning: Don't get too close to it.


Gulangyu Island * * * * *
Gulangyu Island is Xiamen's most engrossing attraction. People call it the Garden Island. Like the Macnaw of Michigan, this island is free of cars. It is an island for walking.

Foreign traders moved to this island in 1842. They built villas, sanitation systems, consulates, schools, churches, hospitals and roads that still remain today. In 1903, Gulangyu became the official concession. Both the British and Germans had their consulates on the east hill. The old British Embassy building still stands atop one of the hills. There are two hundred year old churches on the island, one Catholic and one Protestant.

The westerners left many beautiful villas with delicate gardens behind them. They represent many foreign architectural styles, especially the Portuguese types still prevalent in Macau.

Looking to the southeast cusp of the island, you will see a mesmerizing statue of the patriot General Zheng Chenggong, who expelled the Dutch from Taiwan in 1661 and died there the next year. To some degree, this statue is as representative of the island as the Statue of Liberty is to New York.

Nearby the statue is the Gulangyu Guesthouse compound. President Nixon stayed here during his visit in 1972 while trying to open up relationships with China.

To the west of the Statue is the best beach of the island. The sands are inviting and a new graceful portico has been built on the shore.

While on the island, also make sure you stop by the famous garden of Shuzhung.

The highest peak on the island is Sunlight Rock, nearly 300 feet above the harbor. Hike to the higher level to avoid the crowds. From the top of the Sunlight Rock, one can get a nice view of the harbor, and downtown Xiamen to the east.

The most prominent building on the island is the Xiamen Museum. It has a large red dome and you won't miss it.

 

 

 
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