With abundant green spaces and a pretty waterfront district, it’s easy to see why Fujian Province’s second-largest city is so popular with tourists.
Xiamen, previously known to Westerners as Amoy, is a clean, well-organized and prosperous city known for pianos, pearls and proximity to Taiwan.
Established in the 12th century, Xiamen became a refuge for Ming loyalists before serving as a foreign concession in the early 20th century. More recently, the city has been a focus for tension between China and Taiwan. Take a boat trip into the Taiwan Strait and cruise past Taiwanese-occupied Kinmen Island, once among the world’s most heavily fortified islands.
Visit popular Gulangyu Island, via a short ferry ride across the sea. Gaze at the island’s enchanting colonial buildings and listen for the sound of classical music drifting out the windows. Pianos were brought to the island when foreign concessions were built here. Now the island is home to a unique museum dedicated to pianos. Shop for cultured pearls in a spectrum of colors.
See the impressive 19th-century German Krupp cannon at Hulishan Cannon Fort. It is touted as one of the world’s largest and oldest cannons. Near the famous fort, enjoy impressive views over the Taiwan Strait from the observation deck or check out ancient weaponry exhibited at the Rongguang Cultural Relics and Treasures Museum.
Explore the grounds of gorgeous Nanputuo Temple, which is almost always buzzing with the activity of worshippers, monks and tourists. Behind the temple, find a path leading to the top of Wulao Mountain. Follow this trail for additional panoramic views over the city.
The temple grounds connect to beautiful Wanshi Botanical Garden, with thousands of species of flora spread across 29 botanical zones. Take a few photos of the garden’s unusually shaped rocks or walk along the path leading through thick bamboo forest.
Xiamen is located 68 miles (110 kilometers) south of Quanzhou. It’s well connected to China’s other major cities by train, bus and plane. Many of Xiamen’s best attractions are found outdoors, so try to visit in the spring or autumn when the weather is mildest.