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Xiamen, alternatively known as Amoy in some circles, may just emerge among the countries’ most sophisticated cities. Comfortably nestled in southeast China’s Fujian Province, this beautiful island city overlooks six districts which include Xiang’an, Huli, Haicang, Jimei, Tong’an and Siming, cumulatively housing a populace of a little over 3 million people, over an area spanning almost 1700 square kilometers.
Impressive, right? Its no overnight feat that this beautiful port-city has increasingly been attracting tourists, foreign and domestic alike, offering a unique blend of upbeat urban energy and laidback coastal siesta. They have an aerial bike lane that spans 7.6 kilometers, linking two metro stations, 11 bus stations, in between the residential areas and the main business hub. China now boasts ‘Xiamen Cycling Skyway’ the longest areal bike lane in the world!
Tip: Xiamen on the fast track to becoming a hub of creativity to reckon with. It’s always advisable to keep a lookout for their contemporary art scene.
The area of Xiamen was initially Togan’County under the Jin Dynasty. It was only after the 1300’s that Xiamen got its name. Over time, Xiamen proved to play a pivotal role in China’s tea trade, functioning as a primary international port for the entire Fujian Province. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of tea, porcelain, and paper were exported annually to Europe and the Americas.
Tip: We recommend visiting the museums in Xiamen, they give invaluable insight into the origins of this industrious coastal city and it's becoming.
Located on the north side of Xiamen Island, the Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN) is the airport that serves the city. In 2012 it was considered to be the 8th busiest airport in China with regards to cargo traffic, whilst passenger traffic made it China’s 11th busiest airport. Flights to Xiamen are offered by a host of airline services including Cathay Pacific Airways, Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Thai Airways, SilkAir, Singapore Airlines among many others that offer cheap flights to Xiamen. Direct flights to Xiamen are available from cities like Amsterdam, Singapore, Seattle, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Sydney to name a few.
Tip: The airport is located 13 kilometers from Xiamen city center, and is estimated to be a 20-minute taxi ride under moderate traffic conditions.
The Xiamen city center is known to be a safe bet in finding great places to stay, for all budgetary margins, and it’s not too far off from the most popular tourist sites. We would also suggest Zhongshan Road which neighbors a snack street and shopping centres. The Siming district has shown a trend to attract ex-pats, as well as the fashionable youth of China. If you are a solo traveler and are looking to absorb the true grit of Xiamen culture, the local earthen building hostels are worth a try.
If you’re a lover of all things fishy, head over to the Eighth Market. All local restaurants in the vicinity are prominently renowned for their seafood and sweet bean pies and pastries. The Deep-fried tofu and dumplings are a must-have.
The city has grown to have a flourishing contemporary art scene as well. The Shapowei Art Zone is considered to be the soul of the local youth culture, housing deserted shipbuilding areas converted into art studios, a skater park and boutiques. Apart from the Shapowei Art Zone, there has been an increase in the number of museums and art galleries across the city.
If you’re the kind of traveler that takes joy in the little things, like chancing upon an unexpected narrow alley that instantly demands your undivided attention, Ding’aozai Cat Street is for you. Located close to the University of Xiamen Campus, in a narrow wound stone-paved lane, Ding’aozai will catch you completely unexpected, for it has a charm unlike no other. From the colorful graffiti and murals, life-sized cat statues lining the pathway, to the Cat-Museum, every aspect of that locality will bring out your appreciation for the feline.
A five to eight-minute ferry ride from downtown Xiamen, Gulangyu Island is quite possibly the most well-known tourist destination of Xiamen city. It is a pedestrian only-island and a Unesco World Heritage Site. Spanning a total area of around 2 square kilometers, the building and street architecture along with its narrow lanes are reminiscent of early European settlements. The island is home to a piano as well as an organ museum, thereby earning the title of “The Island of Pianos”. Some time spent on the beach of the island would privy you to picturesque sunsets and sunrises. There will be a wide assortment of restaurants, cafes and tea houses for you to pick from.
Xiamen will be a pure treat for the avid reader, as the city is also very well known for its bookstores and libraries. You will find stories that have massive multi-storied bookshelves, integrated with cafes and craft stores.
Xiamen is a 4-hour train journey from Hong Kong, within the city, the best way to travel is by app-controlled bike for hire services. They’re available in abundance. It’s almost impossible that you’ll be on a street that doesn’t have a bunch of the app-controlled cycles parked in a corner. The beautifully made cycle lanes make commuting through the city a joyful experience, not to mention the boost to the environment with the go-green initiative. The city does have a metro service restricted to only one line, though it is being expanded to increase connectivity across the island.
Tip: 3-4 days would be sufficient to have an eventful stay in Xiamen, including a day trip to Wuyi Mountains, take note hikers and birdwatchers!
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