Kinmen

Travel Guide Asia Taiwan Kinmen

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Introduction

Kinmen (pronounced Jīnmén, literal meaning "golden gate", also known as Quemoy) is an outlying island near the People's Republic of China (PRC), but is controlled by the Republic of China on Taiwan (ROC). There are two main islands, Greater and Lesser Kinmen, plus several smaller islands. Administratively, Kinmen is split into six townships, four of which are on Greater Kinmen. Another has Lesser Kinmen plus its neighbouring small islands, and the sixth is a couple of more remote small islands.

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History

In 1949, the Communists won the Chinese civil war, defeating the Nationalists (Kuomintang) who had governed (most of) China from the 1911 revolution until '49. Since then, there has been a Communist government in most of China (the PRC) while the Nationalists hold Taiwan (still officially called the Republic of China or ROC).

The islands of Kinmen and Matsu are near the Chinese coast — Kinmen is about 10 km (under 6.5 miles) from Xiamen — but held by the ROC. They are symbolically important, and arguably strategically as well, and were often actively fought over from 1949 into the 1970s. The "Artillery Battle of 823" was one of the key battles that kept the PRC from invading Taiwan. It involved artillery bombardment of Kinmen and Matsu, beginning on August 23 (8-23) 1958.

In recent decades relations between the two governments have improved greatly; there is extensive Taiwan investment in China and travel in either direction is much easier than it used to be. However, Kinmen and Matsu remain sensitive areas and the PRC and the ROC maintain substantial military forces in the area. Travellers should exercise caution, avoid political discussions and avoid photographing military installations or even pieces of infrastructure (bridges, dams, etc.) which might be military targets.

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Cities

KinCheng, meaning Golden City, is the main city in Kinmen, located on the greater Kinmen island. The second city, Shanwai, is also on that island. The ShangYi airport is between the two cities.

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Sights and Activities

The late President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, left a calligraphy inscription in Kinmen, urging the ROC troops to fight on and to one day re-take the Mainland from the Communist "bandits".
The Wind Lion Gods of Kinmen are unique statues all over the island, you can either see the originals in the villages (this can take some patience and hunting skills) or just go to the new Wind Lion God Park near the ShangYi Airport.
The Kinmen cultural village is a great little place to poke around, with Kinmen's two best antique stores located within the walls. Its is only NT$50 to get in and a beautiful and well maintained example of Fujian style traditional Chinese houses with swallow tail roofs and was built towards the end of the 1800's.
Just walk around downtown Kincheng, there are temples in every other alleyway, often architecturally interesting and in active use.

The Forest Recreation Area is a must see when visiting Kinmen. Located along Section3, Huandao East Road, this is a multi-purpose area for bar-b-ques, a child playground, botanical gardens, and more.
During the winter, flocks of migratory birds come to Kinmen and Little Kinmen to nest. They can be seen and heard at the many lakes and ponds on the islands. The Shuangli Wetlands Area is a good place for information and birdwatching. It's in Nanshan village, very close to Beishan and Guningtou Battle Museum and not too far from Zi Lake (Ci Lake). Buses 9/10/11 go there.
Strolling along any of the beaches is quite peaceful and there are two bonus attractions to be seen: crumbling military fortifications and views of Xiamen, especially from the western shore of Little Kinmen or the northwestern shore of Kinmen.

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Events and Festivals

Buddha Bathing Festival

The Buddha bathing festival takes place on April 8 and is a Buddhist religious ceremony celebrating the birth of the Lord Buddha. The faithful bow three times to the Lord Buddha and then pour water and flowers of a statue of the baby Buddha.

Tomb Sweeping Day

Tomb Sweeping Day usually falls in early April and is a public holiday in Taiwan. Taiwanese people pray and tend to the graves of their departed relatives. Willow branches are used to decorate graves and doors in some areas and the flying of kites, carrying of flowers, and burning of incense, paper and joss sticks is common.

Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival is a June public holiday originating from China that is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The day is celebrated in Taiwan with dragon boat races, eating glutinous rice dumplings, drinking wine and writing spells.

Autumn Moon Festival

The Moon Festival talks place in late September or early October, on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The festival celebrates harvest time and is characterized by giving and eating moon cakes. Dragon dances, floating lanterns, fireworks and burning incense are also common.

Ghost Festival

September is Ghost Month in Taiwan with the gates of the underworld opening on the first day and closing on the last. Throughout the month, both Buddhist and Taoist religious rituals take place that include to offerings of food, drink and burnt paper money appease the dead. Many Taiwanese avoid moving house or getting married during this month.

Double Ten Day

Double Ten Day falls on the tenth of October and is the Republic of China National Day, celebrating the start of the Wuching uprising in 1911 that resulted in the defeat of the Qing Dynasty. Proceedings begin with the raising of the Republic of China flag and singing of the Republic of China national anthem. There is a Taiwanese presidential speech and celebrations include lion dances, drumming, and fireworks.

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Getting There

By Plane

Kinmen can be reached by air from the main island of Taiwan; three of Taiwan's four domestic carriers fly to Kinmen from the three bigger cities on Taiwan several times a day. One way tickets cost a little over NT$2,000.

By Boat

There are ferries from Xiamen in mainland China to Shuitou on the main Kinmen island, and this link is now open to foreigners. Boats are NT$750 from Shuitou to Xiamen and ¥155 from Xiamen (Wu tong ma tou 五通码头) to Shuitou and run once an hour between 08:30 and 19:00 in each direction. There is also a ferry from Quanzhou, but it allows only Chinese and Taiwanese passengers. The ferry from Xiamen Wutong terminal to Shuitou runs every 30 mins from 8:00 until 17:30. See the full timetable here

If you are arriving by ferry, the ferry terminal has a tourist information desk that can help find you an inn. There are also money exchange counters, but they will only exchange RMB to NT$; they will not exchange other currencies.

There is also an ATM just outside the ferry terminal (cross the road) that accepts Visa and Mastercard. A UnionPay ATM is in the departure area, where you also find a stall to change RMB to NT$.

At the tourist services counters besides Joane Ranch Restaurant, you can rent portable WiFi (250 NT$ per day) or get a unlimited data SIM Card (starting from 400 NT$ for 5 days). Cash only, no cards.

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Getting Around

There are taxis on the island, though you need pretty good Mandarin or Taiwanese skills to negotiate a rate with the driver. They are also concentrated mostly in the city center, so you can't count on finding one just anywhere. If you can speak Mandarin, or the local dialect, most of the drivers are quite friendly, so one shouldn't worry about bargaining super hard. Most of them aren't looking to rip you off.

Taxis from the Shuitou wharf to Jincheng city's downtown are NT$250 flat rate, and roughly NT$200 to return to the wharf.

There are a few buses that run around, but they are not frequent and bus stops aren't particularly convenient.

It is easiest to just rent your own scooter. You can get a 150 cc for about NT$550 per 24 hours. There is a rental shop in the airport. There is also a rental place in downtown Jincheng near the northern entrance to Mofan St (模範街).

Roads are all paved and there are good maps at every village and in every hotel. Road signs are written in both Chinese characters and pinyin (Chinese words in the Latin alphabet), so it is hard to get lost. Bicycles are free to borrow for the day and can be picked up at various key locations, such as Zhaishan Tunnel, Jinshui Primary School (金水國小) in Shuitou, the Shuangli Wetlands Area close to Guningtou Battle Museum, Siwei Tunnel on Little Jinmen, as well as various other locations. They are a spectacular way to see the sights around the island. Rental stations will keep your passport until you return the bicycle. Be aware of when each rental station closes. Little Jinmen is particularly great for bike riding as there is a bike path ringing the perimeter of the island, connecting most of the important sights.

Kinmen has a bus service specifically for tourists. Day tickets are NT$200 and include bus rides and guided tours at all destinations (Chinese only). Departure is from the bus station in Kincheng at 8:30 and 13:30.

  • Line A (morning): to Juguang Tower (莒光樓) and several sites in Shuitou, including traditional architecture, houses by returnees from Southeast Asia (including a Peranakan house) and the Zhaishan tunnels (翟山坑道) an underground navy installation.
  • Line B (afternoon): to Guning, north of Kincheng, to several museums and sites related to military history and the battle of 1949 in particular, and a wildlife museum.
  • Lines C and D start from Shanwai in the east of the island.

Public buses also go to all parts of the island, including the major sites, the ferry terminal and the airport (red 1 line, 紅一). Buses 7/7A/7B run from the Shuitou Pier, to Shuitou, and finally to Kincheng. Buses 9/10/11 go to the northwest part of the island, particularly the Shuangli Wetland Area and Guningtou Battle Museum. Bus fares are NT$12 or NT$24 for long distances (such as from Kincheng to the eastern half of Kinmen). For Little Kinmen, the fare is NT$10. Understand that buses can be rather infrequent and many do not run late. Also, the bus drivers will skip a station if there is no one waiting there, so press the "get off" button when you want to get off. Kincheng has a major bus station with buses to many parts of the island and also has a very useful tourist office.

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Eat

While Kinmen lacks the high price fancy fare of more populated locales, cheap delicious snack shops are everywhere in the downtown area of Kincheng. Taiwanese favorites such as fried chicken cutlets, fried oyster balls and chow mein can be found without much trouble. Prices average around NT$50 per item which is quite reasonable considering the quality.

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Drink

Kinmen is the home of Taiwan's distinctive "Kaoliang" liquor, a tequila-like hard liquor popular all over Taiwan. The factory is located right in the middle of the island, not far from the airport and is hard to miss with it's distinctive smell and two two-story liquor bottles guarding the front gates. This is one of the upmarket brands of the widespread Chinese liquor bai jiu; see China#Alcohol for background.

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Sleep

  • Da Jhai Men Homestay, ☎ +886 82-320008. Actually a rather tumbledown hotel, not a homestay, the management is nevertheless very friendly and the location convenient. Double room NT$1,200 regular days and NT$1,500 weekends and holidays. Location No. 84 Jhushan Village, Jincheng Township, Kinmen.
  • Visit Kinmen Guest House is a traditional Kinmen old house restored by Kinmen National Park. Located in Shanhou Village, the north east side, Visit Kinmen Guest House provides a place where travelers can stay with a relaxed atmosphere after exploring the beautiful scenery of Kinmen. The guest house has three double rooms for two people and one family room with twin bed that is good for group of four people, rates from NT$1,400-2,400. Please find us on web for further information.
  • IN99 (near to jincheng bus station, new building), ☎ +886 82 324851. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. nice new business hotel in Jincheng NT$1,800.

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This is version 2. Last edited at 15:09 on Mar 11, 19 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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