The amazing island of Gu Lang Yu in China is totally worth a visit. It’s an island on the coastal side of the Fujian Province attached to the city of Xiamen. All very remarkable – to reach Gu Lang Yu you can take a ferry from Xiamen.
Gu Lang Yu has fascinating history, splendid views, colonial architecture and quirky restaurants, cafes and shops. It is very touristy and very busy but it is definitely worth checking out. It might be a cliche, but try your best not to miss it when you’re in Xiamen (although remember your journey is your own so you don’t have to listen to me!!). The oddest part of this bit of travelling is actually that Xiamen the city is on an island itself. Having arrived in Xiamen by bus (from Shuyang Town) we then walked around, had our lunch and headed on a ferry to another Chinese Island, this one is Gu Lang Yu!
How to get to Gu Lang Yu – take the ferry from the harbour front at Xiamen. It’s easy to find and the cheapest ferry is not always a direct one – which adds to the journey since you get a great view of the harbour.
This by the way is totally worth doing – you get longer on the boat and you get to relax and check out the views. It’s was a bright “sunshiney” day when we were there and the views were exceptional. The ferry cost us 15 RMB each for a return (in March 2012), but the prices vary and I’ve heard you can get a free ride at off peak times if you stand. It gets busy.
What can you see and do there? – Gu Lang Yu may be a small island but it’s not short of tourist options that’s for sure and here are my highlights (there are plenty more – you can go running if you like!):
1. Climb to Sunlight Rock – Climbing to the highest point of the island of Gulang Yu is recommended. Sunlight Rock is the English translation and the views are exquisite and the exercise of the climb up is also good for you. To get there basically follow signs for Sunlight Rock climb when you are on the island and you will find it, through the flurry of cobbled streets. Entrance to walk up there is a fee of 60 RMB which also includes a small memorial hall. It’s a rip off and it’s over-priced, especially for China, BUT I’d say do it as the view is spectacular as you can see.
2. The Colonial Style Architecture – Gu Lang Yu is unique for China – it includes building designs from the UK, Netherlands, Japan, Spain, China and a host more countries. This range of architecture makes it pretty to look at.
3. Pretty Cobbled Streets – The pretty, lively cobbled streets are busy but enjoyable to walk down.
Gu Lang Yu is very different to mainland China – just by walking through it you get to appreciate a few of the finer things in life – the amazing architecture. Take your time to walk and admire – this type of street design maybe common in Europe but not in China!
4. The Music Influence – Gu Lang Yu is famous for its music. It has been nicknamed ‘Piano Island’ by locals and the Chinese. Lots of famous pianists come from Gu Lang Yu, which is incredible as its a very small island. When I was there I saw a free music parade and festival.
* There are also museums, colonial residences, a cable car ride, a Protestant church and a waterfront garden as well.
Where should you stay? On Gu Lang Yu, space is limited bu there is a hostel on one of the first main streets after you leave the ferry terminal. It’s easy to find in fact.
That’s basically it – Gu Lang Yu! Head over for a day trip and see it, or spend a night there and enjoy the restaurants and bar life after dark. It’s a splendid place to visit and extremely different to parts of the main Fujian Province.