Travel Guide Asia China Fujian Xiamen

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Introduction

Xiamen

Xiamen

© All Rights Reserved JohnVosler

Xiamen is a city in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian and has about 2.5 million inhabitants. The city is often overlooked by many travellers, but it is actually one of the most liveable cities throughout the countries and has its fair share of attractions. The climate is just one of them, although this area can be hit severe by typhoons.

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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

  • Gulangyu island
  • Xiamen Botanical Garden
  • Buddhist Nanputuo Temple
  • View of Kinmen island, Taiwanese territory
  • Yuandang Lak
  • Bailuzhou Park
  • Jiageng Park
  • Night markets
  • Zengcuoan Village
  • Kaihe road wet market (one of the biggest open air markets in China)

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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.
International connections include Jakarta, Macau, Hong Kong, Osaka, Tokyo, Manila, Penang, Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Taipei, Singapore and Bangkok, mostly with the respective international airlines of those countries. Xiamen Airlines and KLM fly directly between Amsterdam and Xiamen on code sharing basis. Which of the two partners does the flight depends on the date.

Gulangyu Island

Gulangyu Island

© All Rights Reserved JohnVosler

By Train

There are direct passenger services available between Xiamen and Shanghai, Nanjing, Hefei, Fuzhou, Nanchang and Yingtan. This link gives free access to a quick reference timetable of Chinese trains. For a map of Chinese railroads, click here. Shanghai is 27 hours by train, Beijing 34 hours.

By Bus

Buses connect Xiamen with many regional cities and towns, as well as some cities further away. Trains are a better options for long-distance travel though. Express buses go to Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou (9-12 hours).

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 Car

Driving yourself is not possible, but there are hundreds of taxis available and fares are cheap.

By Public Transport

The Xiamen Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system is the main form of public transport. The system uses buses along a 115 kilometres lon system of bus lanes.

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.

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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 university

Xiamen university

© All Rights Reserved boy_fromOz

View our map of accommodation in Xiamen or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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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. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Xiamen and areas nearby.

Contributors

as well as xiamenhostel (1%)

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 30. Last edited at 8:18 on Apr 3, 18 by Utrecht. 13 articles link to this page.

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