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6-day tour that offers an authentic look at Xiamen

govt.chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: Nov 13, 2019

Day 1: Find out why locals prefer Gulangyu


View of colonial buildings on the Gulangyu Island in Xiamen city, Southeast China's Fujian province. [Photo/IC]

With giant banyan trees shading its graceful European mansions, Gulangyu (鼓浪屿) looks like a Mediterranean island in the South China Sea. 

The island is located just off the southwest coast of Xiamen. Its name Gulangyu, known in the local dialect as Kulangsu, also has musical roots, as Gulang means "drum waves," so-called because of the sound generated by the ocean waves hitting the reefs. Yu means "islet."

Covering an area of 1.87 square kilometers, Gulangyu includes a settlement composed of 931 historical buildings in a variety of local and international architectural styles, as well as natural wonders, historic roads, and gardens. 

Gulangyu is an exceptional example of the cultural fusion that emerged from international exchanges, which remains visible in its urban fabric. The island has witnessed clashes of culture and integration between the East and the West since Xiamen was opened to foreign trade in 1844.

Buildings here have a mixture of different architectural styles including traditional Southern Fujian Style, Western Classical Revival Style, and Veranda Colonial Style. The once modernized international community had consulates, churches, and hospitals, and was dominated by Victorian-style architecture. Currently, many historical relics and representative natural scenic spots are still well-preserved.

Gulangyu is also known as China's "Piano Island" due to the inordinate number of pianos owned by local residents and their enthusiasm for music. Currently, there are more than 5,000 pianos owned by local families, the highest density of pianos per capita in the whole country. China's only piano museum was established on the island in the year 2000 and now has more than 100 boutique pianos on display.

Taking a stroll along the sandy stretches or cobbled alleyways, visitors will find the best of cafes, local seafood restaurants, local eateries, and street food galore. Staying on the islet overnight, one can choose from a range of experiences from top boutique hotels to small inns.

Location: Southwest corner of Xiamen Island

Transportation: Take a taxi or bus Nos. L5, 51, 59 to reach the ferry piers. It will cost from 35 to 50 yuan (about $6) for a round-trip ferry ticket. Click here for detailed information about the 24-hour ferry lines.

Entrance: The island is admission free but some polular sites on the island have admission charges from 10 to 100 yuan.

Note: Vehicles, except for electric golf cars, are forbidden. Wear comfortable shoes as exploring on foot is the best choice.

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