Xiamen

Travel Guide Asia China Fujian Xiamen

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Introduction

Xiamen

Xiamen

© JohnVosler

Xiamen is a city in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian and has about 2.5 million inhabitants. It has been an important port for centuries and became one of China's earliest Special Economic Zones in 1980. The name Xiamen means "door to the house", referring to the city's centuries-old role as a gateway to China. The city is often overlooked by many travellers, but it is actually one of the most liveable cities throughout the country and has its fair share of attractions. The climate is just one of them, although this area can be hit severe by typhoons. The most important tourist area is Gulangyu, a small island close to downtown which contains some beautiful colonial buildings and is car free. It is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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History

The region has been inhabited since prehistoric times and Xiamen Island is mentioned in Han Dynasty records around the time of Christ. There has been a town in the area at least since the Song Dynasty, a thousand years ago. For most of that time, it was administratively a district of Quanzhou, which was historically the richest and most important city in Fujian. In the past couple of centuries, however, Xiamen has grown a great deal; now it is administered separately and is much more than just an appendage of Quanzhou.

Until 1842, the Chinese Empire allowed Western "barbarians" to trade only in Guangzhou (then known as Canton), and only under strict controls. After China lost the First Opium War, Britain took Hong Kong and China was forced to open five Treaty Ports — Canton, Xiamen (then known as Amoy), Fuzhou, Ningbo and Shanghai — to foreign trade, and to eliminate some of their restrictions. Trade boomed and these port cities developed very quickly.

Gulangyu
In Xiamen, the island Gulangyu became a foreign enclave with consulates and luxurious homes. Today it is a quiet area (no cars or motorcycles), five minutes by ferry from downtown, and remarkably scenic.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Fujian was a focus of missionary activity and there are many historic churches in the region. China's oldest Protestant church, the Xinjie Church, is in downtown Xiamen near the Ximing Road & Zhongshan Road intersection.

Some of the history of the China trade is darker; key commodities were tea, silk and ceramics plus "pigs and poison" — indentured labourers and opium. Some labourers were very badly treated, almost slaves, and opium caused major problems in China. Xiamen had its share of the dark side as well as the more positive side; one company there was prosecuted by the British for kidnapping potential workers.

Many overseas Chinese around the world can trace their ancestry to Fujian, often to the Minnan-speaking region around Xiamen. In particular, much of the Chinese immigration to Southeast Asia has been from Fujian, as was nearly all immigration to Taiwan before 1949. Some overseas Chinese maintain connections to the "old country", especially Xiamen. Tan Kah Kee, after making his fortune in Malayan rubber, started Xiamen University, an Overseas Chinese Museum nearby, and a technical college in neighboring Jimei. The Filipino chain store SM first entered the Chinese market with a store in Xiamen, the company founder's birthplace. Overseas Chinese often visit the region, some donate to various good causes in the area, and Xiamen university has many overseas Chinese students, including a large contingent from Indonesia.

In the 1980s, Xiamen was one of the first cities to become a Special Economic Zone to encourage development and open mainland China to the outside world; like other SEZs it has been booming ever since. While only Xiamen Island and Gulyangyu are in the SEZ, the whole region is flourishing. Xiamen has more Taiwanese investment than any other mainland city, partly because Taiwanese is a dialect of Minnan (Southern Min), the local language of southern Fujian. There is also a major influx of other foreign investment; among the foreign companies with large factories in Xiamen are Lifetime Products, Dell and Kodak.

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Neighbourhoods

There are 6 districts:

Huli-qu
Siming-qu
Haicang-qu
Jimei-qu
Tong'an-qu
Xiang'an-qu

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Sights and Activities

Xiamen has a few large clumps of interesting stuff to see. Gulangyu may be the main tourist area, but there is quite a lot on Xiamen Island as well, and some out in the suburbs. One is the area around Yundang Lake. The north side has a large group of restaurants and bars (see below) plus a rather pretty lakeside park area with a walkway right down by the water. Around dawn and dusk, you can watch the egrets (symbol of Xiamen, used as the logo for Xiamen Airlines) flying to and from the lake.

At night, there is a bit of a light show; many buildings (especially around the south side of the lake) have laser or LED displays that attract attention, sort of an advertisement by commercial buildings and some residential complexes to draw attention to their business. This sort of thing is fairly common in Chinese cities, but Xiamen has more of it than most others. It is best seen from the north side, augmented by reflections in the lake. This is not really an attraction in itself, just a nice extra for anyone imbibing in a lakeside bar.

Another is the area around Xiamen University. In Chinese, it is 厦门大学 (Ē-mn̂g tōa-o̍h in Minnan, Xiàmén dàxué in Mandarin), usually abbreviated to 厦大 (Hā-tāi in Minnan, Xiàdà in Mandarin). This is Fujian's most prestigious university, the province's only "national key university" controlled by the central government in Beijing rather than by the provincial education department.

To get there, take a 20-minute walk south from the Zhongshan Road and Gulangyu ferry area, along either Lujiang Road or Siming Road, jump in a taxi or take a bus. Buses that go to the main gate include #1, 15, 18, 21, 29, 71 and 82. #2 or 22 go to other parts of the university.

The university has a beautiful campus with old traditional buildings, extensive gardens and a small lake. Among the attractions are a small but interesting Anthropological Museum (straight ahead and a bit to the right from the main gate) and a large bookstore with quite a few high-grade Chinese art books and (by Chinese standards) a fine selection of English books. Entrance via the main gate may be restricted on busy holidays; use one of the three smaller gates which are across from Baicheng beach.

Just outside the main university gate is the south end of Siming Road, generally referred to as Xiada Street. This is a lively area of shops, street stalls and restaurants; it is only perhaps 150 m long, but packs a lot into that space, plus a few smaller streets running off it. There is also a large bookstore here, not quite as good as the university store for art books, but better for CDs and DVDs. Because this area caters to the student market, it tends to have a lot of fairly cheap stuff. You need to bargain to get good prices. Few of the vendors speak English, but there are sometimes helpful English-speaking students about.

Bailuzhou Park (白鹭洲公园), 565 Bailuzhou Street, Siming District (思明区白鹭洲路565号) (On an island in the lake, crossed by a bridge, east of the Marco Polo on the north side and of the bus station on the south. Bus routes 8, 26, 97 and 758), ☏ +86 592 5082380. Open all day. A large park that includes hotels, bars, restaurants and shopping. Go around 8:30PM and enjoy the vendors, music, and dancing. Free.
Nanputuo Temple (南普陀寺), 515 Siming South Rd, Siming District (思明区思明南路515号) (a bit north of the main university gate; Bus routes 1, 21, 45, 309, 751, 841 and b1), ☏ +86 592 2087282. 04:00-18:00. This is a large Buddhist temple parts of which are over a thousand years old, mainly dedicated to the bodhisatva Guan Yin who is sometimes described as the Goddess of Mercy. Mount Putuo in Zhejiang is one of China's greatest Buddhist temples; "Nanputuo" means "south Putuo". Visitors can climb the mountain behind the temple for beautiful views of Xiamen and surrounding nature. The mountain is also littered with small enclaves with hundreds of Buddhist statuettes. Free.
Xiamen-Above-the-Clouds Observation Deck (云上厦门观光厅), Level 55, Shimao Cross-Strait Plaza B, 188 Yanwu West Road, Siming District 思明区演武西路188号世茂海峡大厦B塔55层 (To the west of Xiamen University Hospital. The Airport-Xiamen University Express Bus stops here. You can also take bus no. 71 or 86), ☏ +86 592 2563326, toll-free: +86 400 0028288. 09:00-21:00 (main observation deck on 55th floor), 09:00-20:30 (Love Balcony and Sea & Sky Walk on 58th floor). Probably the best place to see Xiamen's skyline. The observation deck sits atop Building B of the 300-metre high Shimao Cross-Strait Plaza twin-tower complex. ¥160 (adults aged under 60), ¥80 (persons over 60), ¥80 (children between 1.1 and 1.49 metres in height). Free admission is granted to children under 1.1 metres in height who are accompanied by an adult.
Hulishan Fortress (胡里山炮台), 2 Zengcuo'an Road, Siming District (思明区曾厝埯路2号) (On the Southeastern headland of Xiamen Island. Bus routes 2, 20, 22, 29, 47, 48, 86, 87, 92, 96, 122, 135, 310, 659, 751 and 857. You can also get there on the sightseeing bus), ☏ +86 592 2099603. 08:00-18:00 (summer), 08:00-17:30 (winter). Xiamen has always been vulnerable to attack from the sea and various fortifications have been built over the centuries. The Ming built a fort to defend against Japanese pirates in 1387. The remains of Koxinga's fortifications from the late 1600s are now a tourist attraction on Gulangyu. Cold War era tourist attractions on Taiwan-controlled Kinmen off the coast include guns built for shelling Xiamen and bunkers built to protect against shells from Xiamen. ; The Hulishan Fortress was built in 1894 as part of China's Westernization Movement. The architecture is in a Qing Dynasty style. On the front of the platform there are “Wanggui platform” and “Pangui platform”, from which you can see the Dadan and Xiaodan islands through a telescope. In the yard of the cannon platform there is a gorgeous wall sculpture named “the Soul of the Nation” and a water fountain. ¥25.
Music Square (音乐广场), 318 Huandao Road South, Siming District (思明区环岛南路318号) (Bus routes 29, 47, 122, 751 and 857). A park-like area along the boardwalk with sculptures of/about many famous composers and musicians, both Western and Chinese. Look for the public toilets with the musical notes on the wall, or a large red sculpture that looks somewhat like an open fan. Free.

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Events and Festivals

China has three "Golden Week" holidays per year. People get a mandatory two or three days off work for each holiday, and workers' companies can grant them the rest of the week off, making each holiday a total of 7 days. As you can imagine, having almost 1.4 billion people with the same days off can make travelling at these times arduous to say the least.

Travelling during the Spring Festival/Chinese New Year is incredibly difficult. Chinese New Year is China's Christmas, so the millions of migrant workers and students flood back to their home towns. Everybody else takes the opportunity to spend their hong bao (gifts of money traditionally given at CNY) and go travelling. Most of the time, since you are only allowed to purchase train tickets 6 days in advance and must be present in the city of origin, sometimes only standing room tickets are available. Be aware! The Spring Festival is undoubtedly the busiest time for the Chinese transportation system. Flying will avoid the crowded trains, but book early and expect to pay higher prices. All the main tourist attractions will be crawling with tourists (worse than usual), so unless you like crowds, it's best to avoid it altogether.

Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar, so the date changes each year. The Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday is 7 days long and usually starts on New Year's Eve.

The two other national holidays are October 1st, National Day, celebrating the founding of the People's Republic of China and May 1st, which is International Labor Day. Almost all Chinese get the two holidays off and many take the opportunity to travel. If you want to avoid the crowds, fly, but it should get a lot less busy towards the end of the week.

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Weather

Xiamen has a subtropical climate with generally warm and humid conditions. Summers last from June to September when average daytime temperatures are mostly between 30 and 32 °C, while nights are balmy at 23-25 °C. The absolute record is 39 °C, which combined with the high humidity can feel very oppressive. From December to March it is between 17 and 20 °C during the day and 10-12 °C at night. This is also the driest time of year, although from March onwards rains starts to increase. April to September is the wettest time of the year with almost 200mm a month on average. This is also the season when typhoons can hit the city and an average of 4 to 5 a year have their influence.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max16.8 °C16.5 °C18.8 °C23 °C26.7 °C29.4 °C32.4 °C32.2 °C30.7 °C27.4 °C23.4 °C19.1 °C
Avg Min9.7 °C9.8 °C11.9 °C16.1 °C20.3 °C23.3 °C25.3 °C25.2 °C23.8 °C20.5 °C16.4 °C11.7 °C
Rainfall37 mm65 mm99 mm147 mm152 mm196 mm140 mm155 mm117 mm29 mm37 mm25 mm
Rain Days81317161614101011354

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Getting There

By Plane

Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport (XMN) serves the city and is the base of Xiamen Airlines which serves most Chinese cities, along with over a dozen of other Chinese airlines. The main cities all have direct connections, including Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Guilin, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Zhuhai, Wuhan, Shenyang and Nanning.

Direct international flights to Xiamen are becoming more common, and may offer better options for many fliers.

From Taiwan, there are numerous flights on multiple airlines from both Songshan and Taoyuan airports in Taipei to Xiamen, as well as several flights form Kaohsiung. However, these do not take the most direct routing and can be rather expensive; consider flying into Kinmen and taking a ferry to Xiamen instead.

From Southeast Asia, there are flights direct to Xiamen from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur. Jakarta, Bangkok, Manila and Cebu. See Discount airlines in Asia.

From North America, there are direct flights on Xiamen Airlines from Los Angeles and New York but several two-hop possibilities are available from the US, Canada or Mexico. Korean Air have direct flights to Xiamen from Seoul. They sometimes offer good discounts, and the Seoul Airport is very user-friendly, with free Internet and nice free lounges with couches to stretch out on. Japan Airlines have direct flights to Xiamen from Tokyo and Osaka, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have direct flights from Manila and Cebu Pacific also have flights from Cebu.

KLM offers direct flights between Amsterdam and Xiamen, creating the first direct link to Europe for Xiamen. Flights are scheduled three times per week: Amsterdam-Xiamen on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and Xiamen-Amsterdam on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Buses from the airport include #18 to Xiamen University and #27 to the harbour, both with stops at the train station. #37 just goes to the train station, #41 to the SM Mall area, 91 to the Exhibition Center. #105 goes north into the suburbs, to Tong'an via Jimei.

By Train

Xiamen is well connected to China's high-speed rail network; it is on a major line that runs along the South China coast from just across the border from Hong Kong all the way to Shanghai.

There are two high speed railway stations: Xiamen (near downtown) and Xiamen North (Xiamenbei; outside of the Xiamen Island). More high speed trains run from the latter which can be reached by BRT from downtown.

From Xiamen, the routes are:

Northeast to Fuzhou (¥85, 100 minutes), Wenzhou, Ningbo, Hangzhou and Shanghai (around ¥400 and eight hours).
Southwest, to Zhangzhou and Longyan in southwestern Fujian, and on to places in the next province, Guangdong like Chaoshan for Chaozhou. The line runs via Shantou and Huizhou all the way to Shenzhen (¥150, 3.5 hours). From Shenzhen, one can cross to Hong Kong, change trains for Guangzhou, or take a ferry to Zhuhai.

Another high-speed line goes inland from Putian (north of Xiamen on the Fujian coast) to Nanchang in Jiangxi (an inland province West of Fujian). Xiamen-Nanchang time is about five hours.

There is also service on regular trains from Xiamen to various destinations in Fujian and to major cities throughout China's interior. It is inexpensive, but slow (e.g., about 20 hours to Wuhan) since the railroads travel a circuitous route through mountains.

By Bus

Quanzhou, ¥35, 1.5 hours.
Fuzhou, ¥70-90, 4 hours.
Hong Kong, Guangzhou, or Zhuhai, around ¥200-300, overnight sleeper bus. There is a bus direct to Xiamen from Hong Kong airport. From Hong Kong, there are some buses that go all the way and some where you have to change buses at the Hong Kong-China border.
From Hong Kong via Shenzhen: take the metro to Lo Wu border station, cross the border on foot (usually fast and easy if your visa is in order). There are small shops selling bus tickets within the border complex, with pickup nearby, or you can walk a block to the main bus station. A number of bus operators are available and bus service is frequent. A trip from Lo Wu (China side) to Xiamen will take 9 hours and cost ¥250-300. Night sleeping coaches are also available.
Shenzhen, ¥200-300, 8 hours. Buses leave for Xiamen from the Qiaoshe long-distance bus station (侨社客运站) daily at 09:10, 09:40, 11:00, 11:40, 12:30, 20:00, 20:30, 21:00, 21:30, 22:00 and 22:20. Tickets can be purchased at the Shenzhen Tourism Group (深圳市旅游股份有限公司) counter at Qiaoshe bus station. They take credit card or cash.

By Boat

A ferry service links Xiamen Island and Gulangyu Island. Ferries start from Dongdu cruise terminal. The ferry is cheap and it takes only between 15 to 20 minutes, depending to which one of the three terminals at Gulangyu you go to. Expect crowds in weekends and holidays. Taking the ferry gives a nice view on the skyline of Xiamen and on Gulangyu island, where many foreign diplomats in the past used to have their summer residences.

There are also several ferry services between Xiamen and the island of Kinmen, which falls under Taiwan administration. This island (also written as Jinmen) is very close to Xiamen's coast, so you can take a day trip there. Attention: the ferries no longer leave from Dongdu Wharf in the west of Xiamen island, but from Wutong Passenger Wharf, on the North East side of the island, which is close to the airport. Accessible by taxi or Bus nr. 6.

  • Very important for those who need a visa for China: if you go to Kinmen (or other Taiwan territory) and want to come back to Xiamen, then you will absolutely need a double- or multiple-entry visa! The people at the ticket desk of the ferry may not check this, so keep this in mind. If you go from Xiamen to Kinmen Island with only a single entry visa for China, then you will not be able to return to Xiamen, even if you just went there for a day-trip.

Now there also is one weekly ferry from Dongdu Harbor in Xiamen to Keelung, that leaves on Thursdays at 6:00pm, as well as one to Taichung leaving on Tuesdays. Call 0592-2393128 for information or 0592-6011758 for bookings from China.

The Cosco Star leaves Xiamen every Thursday at 6:00pm and arrives in the north end of Taiwan (Keelung) at 08:30am the next morning. The ship also leaves Xiamen every Monday evening to arrive at the south end of Taiwan (Kaohsiung) the next morning and then central Taiwan (Taichung) the day after that. From Taiwan back to the mainland, the ship leaves Keelung every Sunday at 7:00pm, arriving Xiamen the next morning at 09:00am. The ship also leaves Taichung every Wednesday at 9:00pm for an overnight sailing to Xiamen.

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Getting Around

By Taxi

There are hundreds of taxis available. Taxis are cheap, starting at ¥8 (plus ¥3 fuel tax – so ¥11) for the first 3 km. After the first 3 km, the meter charge will go up based on distance. Although the meter may read with a decimal, most taxi drivers will round up. On the other hand, as anywhere in China, tipping is not expected. During the day time, you should be able to get anywhere on Xiamen island, including the airport, for under ¥40. But be wary that some taxi drivers might take advantage of you if they know that you are not a local and might take the longer route to your destination. For example, if the driver says "Huándǎo Lù" after you tell him where you want to go, say bù (no), because that is the ring road that circles the entire island and although it is scenic, it is likely the most expensive way to go.

By Public Transport

If you are planning on staying in Xiamen for a significant amount of time, consider getting an eKatong (e卡通) stored value card. It can be used in different forms of public transport not only in Xiamen, but also in the neighbouring cities of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou. The local bus system is very good, but the normal bus routes are listed in Chinese and do not have English on the signs.

Xiamen BRT (Bus Rapid Transit). This uses buses on elevated bus-only roads with 4 lines operating. The BRT is very fast and comfortable and does have signs in English. Fare depends on distance, usually ¥1-¥4 per person. Line 1 connects the northern high speed railway station, Terminal 4 of the airport and downtown/Siming. Xiamen BRT on Wikipedia edit
Xiamen metro. As of mid-2019 the rail network has one north-south line mostly connecting the Xiamen North railway station with downtown. Four more lines are under construction, with Line 2 (to Haicang and east-west through downtown) scheduled for late 2019 and the others 2020-2022. Eventually there may be 11 lines.

There is a frequent ferry service to/from Gulangyu. Non-Xiamen residents have to take the ferry from Dongdu Wharf, accessible via taxi or bus #51. Tickets are ¥35 for the trip to Gulangyu, and ¥18 for the trip back to Xiamen; the ferry ride takes about 20 minutes.

By Foot

Siming district, which is the island on which the heart of Xiamen is located, has many walking paths.

By Bike

Xiamen is a very nice city to explore on bicycle. There is a system of public rental bikes that can be picked up and dropped at many locations throughout the city. You may need a local friend to explain how to get and pay them at the points where they are standing in their clamps. The city, and especially Siming District has a good network of cycling routes/path, and you can in fact cycle around the entire island of Siming District.

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Eat

Xiamen is well-known for its sea food. Many restaurants and street stalls serve delicious and very fresh fish, , crab, shrimps and other shell fish dishes, but also more adventurous things like sea worms. Eel, grouper, and many other fish all year round. The cooking style of Xiamen and Fujian province is not too much different from Cantonese: tasteful and colorful. A Fujian style banquet has an enormous variety of foods and flavors. Special local dishes include scallion pancake, fried rice noodles, pork dumplings, sticky rice wrapped in triangle shape in banana leaves, a special soup based on peanuts, and on Gulangyu one of the specialties is oyster omelet.

Also there is a large choice of vegetables and fruits everywhere all year round, thanks to the climate of the province. Nanputou Temple is a place that is famous for the vegetarian dishes that are served there.

Tuscany Cafe (厦门市湖滨北路27号海湾新城102之二), Shop 102-2. Mainly European dishes with a few Mexican dishes. The owner/chef is a former chef of the Four Seaons Hotel, Hong Kong. The prices are reasonable, with most items under ¥50 with free bruschetta. They also have a special lunch menu which is quite cheap. The staff are able to speak English.
Xiamen Sports Cafe, Shop 103 (In the back left corner of the group of shops). Nice sports bar popular with some locals but mainly expats. The bar has a reasonably priced food menu, with the pizza being of high quality. Daily happy hour with cheap pints of Tiger. Especially good if it is your first time to Xiamen and you are looking for some advice on things to do.
Tastes of South-East Asia (厦门滨北中行肯德基后面), Shop 106, ☏ +86 592-514 3227. 11AM – 9PM. Bright, clean and colourful, TOSEA serves a selection of fresh homemade food from Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia. All at very reasonable prices. English/Chinese menus. ¥15-35.
Greg's Restaurant, 1C N 10 Hubin Bei Road, ☏ +86 13950107808, ✉ greg@gregs.com.cn. 10 am to 10 pm. Greg's is a little piece of France in China. They serve traditional French dishes, from bouillabaisse to the lamb shank, including Gillardeau oysters from Arcachon. The chef adapts his recipes for each customer, personalising the sauce and way of cooking. He also changes the menu seasonally, featuring fresh seasonal products. 200rmb.
JJ Bar and Grill, Haiwan Park (Near the south end of the group of bars by the sea.). A neon sign above the entrance says "Welcome to Texas" and that is the theme. For an American looking for a taste of home, this is good choice – steaks, barbecue, fajitas, and a lot of classic US-style appetizers. If you're really sporty, there is even a mechanical bull. Band at night plays mostly western classics. Frequent dinner stop for expats. Just around the corner are the popular nightclubs.
Me & You 2, No.1 Hou Hai Ting, Haiwan Park (At the north end of the strip of bars by the sea.). Owner is a cheerful Scandinavian; decor includes some Viking-themed items. Good menu with both Asian and Western options including a large range of pizzas from Y45-65 (they also deliver). They have Becks, Tiger and Stella on tap. Happy hour until 8PM (Becks and Tiger are half price). Live music sometimes (in English).

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Drink

Around Zhongshan Road there are many restaurants and bars to go for a drink. Apart from the usual international selections, that are widely available, there is also a good choice of Chinese maotai and other spirits.

Xiamen intends to become the #1 wine importing city in China, according to the China Daily in 2017. It has a big wine exchange called XIWE in the port area. Unlike the more inland parts of China, where solid full-body red wines still seem to be the preference, Xiamen people start to like more and more fresh white wine as well as the lower alcohol types of sparkling wine.

Just northwest of Bailuzhou Park, in the west part of Siming District, there is Yundang Road, nicknamed Coffee Street. It is the to-go place for coffee addicts, with a big variety of café's and many western varieties of coffee with pastries.

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Sleep

The two top-end hotels in Xiamen include the Kempinski and the Marco Polo Hotel, both are close to the green surroundings of Bailuzhou park. For a somewhat more affordable hotel in the same area (but still high level of service), the Pullman Xiamen Powerlong hotel in the same area may be an option, although Kempinski sometimes offers exceptional rates if you book early. The area of Bailuzhou park is especially recommended for longer stays. It is a few kilometers from the buzzling area of Zhongshan Road, but the location is quieter, and it is a great place for jogging, strolling or taking a bicycle ride. For the rest, Xiamen has an enormous choice of hotels, hostels, services apartments, homestay etc. in all price categories. If you are not staying in a regular hotel or hostel, check if your host does the registration with the tourist police, otherwise do it yourself after arrival.

Xiamen Old Town Hostel (厦门古街青年旅舍), Kaihe Road, 24 Jiutiao alley (开禾路-九条巷24) (From Train Station take the BRT in front of the station #3/#2/#1 exit at Kaihe Road stop (开禾路)The hostel is a little hard to find, deep in a maze of narrow alleys, but the neighbors seem to know that travelers are looking for this place. From the airport it is best to take a taxi to intersection of Xiahe road (厦禾路)and Kaihe Road (开禾路). From there, call the hostel and staff will come find you.), ☏ +86 13313848939, ✉ xiamenhostel@hotmail.com. Check-in: 12:30PM, check-out: 12PM. A family run Hostel in a three floor house located in one of the oldest parts of Xiamen, very central. The hostel has a large rooftop garden with a view of the city and harbour, wireless Internet, and big community kitchen. It is right off of the Kaihe road food market, one of the largest open air markets in China with lots of fresh veggies and seafood. You can also eat some the cheapest food in China at many small local eateries. 60元 4-bed dormitories. Single rooms start at 120元.
Hostel Locanda, No.35 Minzu Rd, Siming District, Xiamen, China, ☏ +86 592 2082918. One block from the waterfront with Gulangyu island across the water. It is a 10 minute walk to Zhongshan Road and Lundu Ferry and 20 minute walk to Xiamen University. Lovely double rooms upstairs, but the dorms on the ground floor are cramped and the shared bathrooms far from clean. Garden but no kitchen at all.
Xiamen Baijiacun International Youth Hostel (厦门百家村国际青年旅舍), 20 Liaohua Lu (蓼花路20) (From Songbo (松柏) bus station, take bus #86/#616 to Gongyuan Dong Lu (公园东路), the hostel is on the opposite side with a red wall. Taxi 17元.), ☏ +86 592 2131010, ✉ baijiacunhostel@hotmail.com. Clean, spacious hostel located in a great location at Zhongshan Gongyuan (中山公园) 50元 8-bed dormitory.
Xiamen International Youth Hostel, 41 Nanhua Road, Siming District, ☏ +86 592 2082345, fax: +86 592 2199876, ✉ yhaxm@yhaxm.com. Very well kept YHA hostel, dorms or rooms are impeccably clean and comfortable. Friendly,small kitchen, bar, space to sit. Close to Xiamen university and easily reached by bus (1 or 21 from the railway station, ¥1).
Meihulu Hotel (美湖鹭酒店), 52-5 Hubin Nan Lu (湖滨南路52-5号), Siming District (Almost invisible on the opposite left of the long-distance bus station), ☏ +86 2572255. Small place that accepts foreign passports and is quiet, yet conveniently located. From ¥70+.
Xiamen Travellers' Home (旅行者之家), No.23 Zeng Cuo An, Island Ring Road 厦门环岛路曾厝垵23号, ☏ +86 592 2516180 -136 0693 7090. A very homy place to stay for holiday. clean, great hospitality, 5 rooms ensure small number of guests staying. low seaon – 200rmb / high season 280rmb/night.
Gem Hotel. Beautiful Japanese-style rooms overlooking much of downtown Xiamen. Includes Chinese buffet breakfast and free wired internet access. Most of the staff speak English well and are extremely helpful. ¥200+.
Jing Hua Hotel, 1130 Xiahe Rd, Siming District, ☏ +86 592 5819898. Three star hotel offering 146 air-conditioned rooms, all of which have Internet access, satellite TV, and mini-bar. Some of its amenities include KTV, fitness center, and sauna. Best rates on official website start at ¥258.
Lujiang Harbourview Hotel, 54 Lujiang Rd (100 metres south of the ferry station, at the foot of Zhongshan Road), ☏ +86 592 2022922. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. A grand old place, very central, near the Gulangyu ferry terminal. The restaurant has authentic dim sum. edit
Somerset Software Park Xiamen, No.2 Jinshan Rd, Siming District, ☏ +86-592-3236-888, ✉ enquiry.china@the-ascott.com. With 167 apartments ranging from studio to three bedroom apartments, the property is equipped with a breakfast lounge, children's playground, gymnasium and a video room.
Le Méridien Xiamen (厦门艾美酒店), 7 Guanjun Rd, ☏ +86 592 770 9999, fax: +86 592 770 9998, ✉ reservation.xiamen@lemeridien.com. Surrounded by open spaces and lush vegetation. Nestled on a slope of Xianyue Hill. Breathtaking views of Xiamen Bay.
4 Marco Polo Hotel. This hotel is located on Yundang Lake, and offers a very good international buffet and a great atmosphere.
Millennium Harbourview Hotel Xiamen, 12-8 Zhenhai Rd, ☏ +86 592 2023333, fax: +86 592 2036666, ✉ bc@millenniumxiamen.com. Check-in: Noon, check-out: Noon. Located in downtown Xiamen which is a major shopping and business district, the hotel is only minutes away on foot to the ferry to Gulangyu Island. It features a 22-story building that houses 352 rooms that include various business facilities including a work-desk and high speed Internet access.
Pan Pacific Xiamen, 19 Hubin Bei Lu (Lakeside North Road), ☏ +86 592 507 8888, toll-free: 0800 0850 229, fax: +86 592 507 8899, ✉ enquiry.ppxmn@panpacific.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. A super modern hotel, formerly Xiamen Sofitel. The rooms use a lot of glass and modern design techniques. The hotel also has an excellent ¥100 lunch buffet. Rooms start at ¥630.
Sheraton Xiamen Hotel, 386-1 Jiahe Rd, ☏ +86 592 5525888. The latest international chain hotel to grace Xiamen's shores. It is very plush, and the Waves Pan Asian buffet is very good.
Xiamen Fliport Software Park Hotel. Luxury hotel in a software park development area near the airport.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Language

The main local language is called Minnan Hua (Southern Min speech) in Chinese, and in China usually just Minnan in English. It is also widespread in Southeast Asia, where it is known as Hokkien, and in Taiwan where it is called Taiwanese. All these variants are mutually intelligible and the Xiamen version is the standard, so Xiamen is an excellent place to learn Minnan. Minnan is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin, Cantonese or even with other Min (Fujian) dialects, though it is partially mutually intelligible with Teochew, which is spoken across the border in Guangdong province.

As with anywhere else in China, Mandarin is almost universally spoken, at least by educated people, since it has been the only language used in education, government and most media since the 1950s. Like other prosperous coastal cities, Xiamen has many migrants from other parts of China, most of whom speak Mandarin but not Minnan.

Foreigners staying in Xiamen long term generally choose to learn Mandarin instead of (occasionally, as well as) Minnan because Mandarin is so much more broadly useful. Go a hundred miles from Xiamen in any direction, except across the Taiwan Strait, and no-one will speak Minnan; the local language will be something completely different. Go anywhere in China, though, and most people you meet will speak Mandarin. That being said, attempts to speak Minnan are most certainly appreciated by locals, and might even be essential for breaking into local social circles.

English is not widely spoken. You can expect reasonable-to-excellent English from staff in higher end hotels, tourist shops, and the many restaurants and bars that cater to expatriates. Elsewhere the range is likely to be none-to-limited, with the occasional exception. This is a Chinese-speaking city with some English facilities, not somewhere like Amsterdam or even Hong Kong where an English-only traveller can expect to cope quite easily.

You can survive and have a good time in Xiamen speaking only English more easily than in most Chinese cities, but there will be difficulties. You will need some help from Chinese friends or hotel staff — things like writing down a destination in Chinese or giving directions by cell phone — because the cab drivers generally have no English. English is OK for high-end restaurants, but if you want to eat more cheaply or more adventurously then you need to learn some Chinese or bring along a translator.

Learning some Mandarin opens up most of the city to you. The only areas where knowing some Minnan, or bringing along a local guide, are likely to be essential is if you want to get out into the countryside, shop in a farmers' market, or buy from fishermen at the docks.

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Learn

Xiamen is home to Xiamen University (厦门大学 Ē-mn̂g Toā-o̍h in Minnan, Xiàmén Dàxué in Mandarin), one of China's premier universities and the most prestigious one in Fujian. There are opportunities for international students to enroll at the university, as well as for students at foreign universities to study here on exchange programs.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Wangba (联网) means internet bar in Chinese. Almost every town will have an internet bar or gaming center. The best way to spot an internet bar is to look for the 网(ba) character, which means net, and large digitized images of computer game characters. Often, there will be a sign saying Green Power in English at the entrance. Most gaming centers cost about RMB3 an hour. You prepay at the main desk and are then given a plastic card or a piece of paper. Once you are done you return the card or piece of paper and get reimbursed for the money you didn't spend. Be prepared for a place that might be dingy, basic and messy. Internet bars in China tend to get crowded starting in the late afternoon to the late evenings.

Some hotels provide access from the rooms that may or may not be free; others may provide a wireless service or a few desktops in the lounge area. Also, quite a few cafes provide free wireless Internet service. Some cafes, even provide a machine for customer use.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to China is 86. To make an international call from China, the code is 00.

When making international phone calls it is best to buy an IP card. They typically have a value of ¥100 but sometimes can be had for as little as ¥25. The cards have printed Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a ¥100 card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be another 20% cheaper. There is no warning before the card runs out of minutes.

If you already have a GSM 900/1800 cellphone, you can roam onto Chinese networks, but calls will be very expensive (¥12-35/minute is typical). If you're staying for more than a few days, it will usually be cheaper to buy a prepaid Chinese SIM card; this gives you a Chinese phone number with a certain amount of money preloaded. Chinese tend to avoid phone numbers with the bad-luck digit '4', and vendors will often be happy to offload these "unsellable" SIM-cards to foreigners at a discount. If you need a phone as well, prices start around ¥100/200 used/new. Chinese phones, unlike those sold in many Western countries, are never "locked" and will work with any SIM card you put in them. China's two big operators are China Mobile and China Unicom. Most SIMs sold by the two work nationwide, with Unicom allowing Hong Kong/Macau/Taiwan usage as well. There is usually a surcharge of about ¥1/min when roaming outside the province you bought the SIM, and there are some cards that work only in a single province, so check when buying.

Post

China Post (中国邮政) is the official postal service of the People's Republic of China, operated by the State Postal Bureau of the People's Republic of China (website in Chinese only), and has more details about price to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. The Chinese postal service is very good. Remember that in more remote places usually only one post office in a city can handle sending international boxes or letters. Also many times it might be worth having the name of the country you are trying to send to in Chinese characters, because small town people might not know what Estonia is in English. Post offices have a striking green logo and can easily be found everywhere in the cities. They are mostly open every day (including weekends!) from 8:00am to 6:00pm, though small offices might have shorter opening times, while the bigger ones in central and touristic areas are sometimes open during evenings as well.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 24.4796693
  • Longitude: 118.0897665

Accommodation in Xiamen

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Xiamen searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

Contributors

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Xiamen Travel Helpers

  • Melimei

    I came to Xiamen in Oct 2012 and have been living and working here ever since. I teach English full-time, but in my spare time I am learning Chinese and discovering the island bit by bit. I have a great network of friends from all over the world here so can easily set you up with the best places to stay, to go out, to sight-see, to shop, and to work. Come to Xiamen, it's really the best place to live in China!

    Ask Melimei a question about Xiamen

This is version 41. Last edited at 10:33 on Dec 31, 19 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

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