24 Hours in Xiamen

A charming combination of European architecture and seaside chic, Xiamen is stepping into its own as a travel destination to visit.

A panorama of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen
A panorama of the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen

Located in China’s Fujian province, the coastal city of Xiamen is known for its seafood as well as the charms of its outlying island, Gulangyu. Get a taster of all the Chinese city has to offer with this 24-hour itinerary.

9am Ferry to Gulangyu

Gulangyu-is-a-car-free-island-off-the-coast-of-Xiamen
Gulangyu is a car-free island off the coast of Xiamen

About a 10-minute ferry ride away from Xiamen, Gulangyu is a popular island destination known for its natural beauty — lush greenery and sunny beaches, colonial architecture and unique sights like the Piano Museum and Shuzhuang Garden. Purchase the combination ferry ticket that allows you entry into the island’s major sites. Take your time to stroll around the car-free island and frolic in the waters, and also refuel at one of the island’s many hip cafes.

1pm Visit Nanputuo Temple
A Buddhist temple famous among pilgrims, Nanputuo Temple is set against a backdrop of verdant hills, making it a scenic spot to soak in a bit of culture. Venture within to see chanting monks, as well as the golden 1000-armed Guanyin statue, and then sit down to lunch at the temple’s vegetarian restaurant. The food is a little pricey, but it offers great variety; don’t miss their signature green bean tart dessert.

3pm Visit Xiamen University
Walk off lunch at the neighbouring Xiamen University —considered one of the most beautiful universities in China — and take in the lovely architecture. If you’re feeling peckish after your meatless meal, head outside the campus’ west gate to check out the budget-friendly eateries popular with students — try a plate of pan-fried potstickers (guo tie).

4pm Visit Hulishan Fortress
An important historic site, this German gun artillery built in 1894 overlooks the sea, and was built to protect the coastline from invaders. Clamber around the fortress, which includes barracks, trenches and even a small museum showcasing weapons and unusual stones. Climb right to the top to take in stunning views of outlying Dadan and Erdan islands. Interesting fact: One of the gigantic cannons is listed in the Guinness World Records!

630pm Eat your way through Taiwan Snacks Street
Xiamen’s geographical proximity to Taiwan inevitably leads to plenty similarities in the food of both regions. In downtown Xiamen, Taiwan Snacks Street’s buzzy market atmosphere is a good place to head to for Taiwan-style street food like da chang bao xiao chang (sausage wrapped in glutinous rice), fried oyster cake and Alishan grilled sausages. Xiamen is known for its seafood, so don’t miss out on the array here, from grilled lobsters to scallops and creamy oysters.


Zhongshan Road is the undisputed thoroughfare of Xiamen with its variety of shops and eateries
Zhongshan Road is the undisputed thoroughfare of Xiamen with its variety of shops and eateries

8pm Stroll along Zhongshan Road Walking Street
Head on over to nearby neon-lit Zhongshan Road, a pedestrian-only street lined with a wide variety of shops (both high street brands and smaller boutiques) as well as eateries. There are many shops selling tea as well as dried seafood, both of which make great souvenirs. To fully soak in the area’s charms, lose yourself exploring the various side streets, which often promise more interesting shops and snacks. If tummy space allows, sit down for a bowl of Xiamen’s signature sha cha mian — noodles in a peanutty satay-like gravy.

8am Breakfast at Huang Zehe Peanut Soup Restaurant
End your trip on a sweet note with a local favourite, peanut soup (hua sheng tang). It is a popular breakfast choice, often had with a side of fried dough sticks (you tiao). Head to this buzzy shop in Zhong Shan Road for a taste. You can also order other Xiamen snacks like meat dumplings.

 

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