While backpacking in Fujian Province, we recommend touring Xiamen once you’ve had your fix of the countryside Tulou. Xiamen roped me in immediately for one strange reason – it’s beginning letter! I was sure that until I went to Xiamen, I had never been to a city beginning undisputedly with the letter ‘x’. The nearest I had come was when I was backpacking in Taiwan and got a train from Xincheng Station near Hualien, and also stayed in the city of Shinying (sometimes called Xinying). So after an epic trip through the Fujian Tulou buildings in the centre of China’s Fujian Province near Yongding, we got on a bus from Shuyang Town to Xiamen. The ‘X’ City by the harbour in Fujian Province, China! China has a load of other cities beginning with ‘X’, namely Xian and Xinyuan. It’s also worth noting that you may also hear Xiamen referred to as ‘Amoy’ – some people call it ‘Amoy’.
Xiamen is a growing industrial metropolis, in fact it’s an odd city really. It seems to appear richer than it is. Gasping skyscrapers, modern malls and state of the art fashion shops all make an appearance in Xiamen city centre and top world brands flash their lights in a city which has your common Chinese backstreets and typical factories. A harbour front with a view looks over to the marvellous island of Gu Lang Yu. (Piano Island)
The Portuguese, the British, the French and the Dutch for some reason all wanted to and tried unsuccessfully make Xiamen a main port for trade. It never worked out that way. The fact that it was unsuccessful might explain why Hong Kong (once British overseas territory) and Macao (once Portuguese) have infinitely more foreign culture influences than the neglected Xiamen. In Xiamen, some colonial buildings aside, you will know that you are in China. Let’s get back to the word ‘neglected’, as perhaps that is harsh. Xiamen is enjoying somewhat of a boom at present, with lots of Chinese factories nearby and the new rail links making this a decent port for trade. New offices and stylish apartments are being built in skyscrapers. Indeed I was surprised to hear that this city houses over 600,000 people.
Xiamen itself is an island called Xiamen, and the city called Xiamen is on the island of Xiamen. Hope that doesn’t confuse you. The prettiest part of Xiamen is the seafront, which is also great for eating out as you relax by the waterside. The most difficult part is negotiating the bus network. I have an advantage over other foreign visitors to Xiamen in that my girlfriend speaks, reads and writes Chinese! If it wasn’t for her, I’d have been lost.
We didn’t stay overnight in Xiamen, as out flight was around midnight, but a day there is worth doing and there is a hostel there called Xiamen International Youth Hostel. In terms of sightseeing in the city, basically there isn’t too much – the harbour front is fantastic for a walk and the Nanputuo Temple is recommended. There’s a university, a museum of Chinese “overseas communities” and a fortress are other possible sights but don’t forget to get the ferry across to Gu Lang Yu while you’re there! There will be more to follow from the Fujian Province in the coming months! Thanks to Xiamen for being my first ‘X’ city.
Out of curiosity, this list is my own personal list of cities I have been to beginning with every letter of the alphabet, I have included 26 different countries so as not to repeat:
Durban, SOUTH AFRICA
Hong Kong Island, HONG KONG
Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA
Newtownards, NORTHERN IRELAND
Some of our Videos from backpacking in Fujian Province at Xiamen:
The bus from Shuyang Town to Xiamen:
Travelling on a local bus in Xiamen city centre:
Down at Xiamen waterfront:
Overlooking Xiamen from Gu Lang Yu Island:
Getting a taxi through Xiamen: