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Gulangyu: China's loveliest island [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2012-2-2 09:33:58 |Display all floors
"Two legs good, four wheels bad," might be the unofficial motto of Gulangyu Island, which lies a short way offshore from the city of Xiamen.

With the warm climate, good air quality, abundant beaches and laid-back lifestyle, Xiamen (厦门) is one of the most pleasant places to visit and live in China: but a lot of the credit goes to its tourism magnet, Gulangyu (鼓浪屿).

The island, which is just under two kilometers square, is a five-minute ferry ride from Xiamen’s urbanized city center and is most famous for its beaches, seafood and a refreshing lack of automobiles, which are banned.

Gulangyu is nicknamed "Piano Island." With a population of around 25,000, the subtropical town contains more than 5,000 pianos and a 450-square-meter piano museum, showcasing more than 40 ancient pianos from around the world.

The other main draw of Gulangyu is the large number of colonial houses -- a legacy of having been an international settlement of 14 different countries in the 19th and early 20th century.

Click the above gallery to enjoy Gulangyu’s mellow lifestyle away from noise, traffic jams and pollution.

Getting there

China Eastern, Juneyao Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Xiamen Airlines and Spring Airlines fly to Xiamen daily from Shanghai.

A taxi from the airport to the pier takes about 20 minutes, followed by a five-minute ferry ride to reach Gulangyu. Ferry fare is RMB 8 per person.

The island contains many cute hotels in beautiful colonial houses, but budget travelers should look to stay in Xiamen rather than on Gulangyu Island.

Visitors can land at Gulangyu for free at the moment, but the local government is planning to charge an entry fee from July 2012. The fee is expected to be between RMB 100-150.



1. A glance towards Xiamen from Gulangyu’s highest point, Sunlight Rock (日光岩), illustrates how the island has maintained its old-world charm while its bigger sister developed into a buzzing city.
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2. Sunlight Rock dominates Gulangyu’s scenery. Every day, legions of visitors scale the 40-meter-wide stone for a panoramic view of the Gulangyu Island and neighboring Xiamen city center.

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3. The island’s beaches are one of its main attractions and the opportunity to roll up one’s trousers, splash around in the surf and then stare off into the sunset together is what makes the island so popular with young Chinese couples.
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4. When I was young, I had wanderlust," says Zhang Tao (张涛), 23, a Xiamen-based artist originally from northeast Heilongjiang Province.
“I wandered all over the place before I finally settled in Xiamen … the city is beautiful, the weather is good and the people are civilized,” says the artist, who lost his left arm, right calf and three fingers on his right hand in a traffic accident at the age of nine.
Zhang owns an art shop in the city and comes to Gulangyu on the weekends to paint calligraphy.
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5. isitors flock to the island to try its fresh seafood. Every day visitors line up outside 189 Longtou Lu (龙头路189号) to try Gulangyu’s tastiest pan-fried oyster cake (RMB 10 per plate). While the basic dish is served all over the island, the oysters at number 189 are shipped in daily and fried with a special blend of sweet potato powder, eggs and green onions.

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6. The island’s local government is promoting Gulangyu’s attractions to travelers through a tourism passport (in Chinese only).
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7. Visitors navigate Gulangyu’s winding streets, finding listed stores and scenic spots and collect stamps to compete their “passport”. Businesses make their own stamps, but do not require visitors to make a purchase in order to obtain their stamps.

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