Xiamen offers a unique travel experience with its picturesque landscape, vibrant culture, and rich history
Perfect blend of heritage and modernity
Published: Jun 13, 2024 08:51 PM
Xiamen, a coastal city in East China's Fujian Province, is a place where modernity meets tradition, and natural beauty harmonizes with urban life. 
Tourists spend their weekend at the Yundang Lake. Photo: VCG

Tourists spend their weekend at the Yundang Lake. Photo: VCG

Known for its picturesque landscape, vibrant culture and rich history, Xiamen offers a unique travel experience that leaves a lasting impression on visitors. 

After a series of visa-free policies benefiting the city's tourism, more than 60,000 overseas tourists have landed in Xiamen city, accounting for approximately 35 percent of all overseas entries, according to a report by local newspaper Xiamen Daily.

In May, visa-free entries constituted more than 40 percent of the total overseas entries for the month, setting a new historical record.

My journey through Xiamen city led me to three of its most enchanting destinations: Wuyuan Bay, Yundang Lake, and the island of Kulangsu. 

Haven of tranquility 

My adventure began at Wuyuan Bay, a serene oasis that perfectly embodies Xiamen's blend of nature and modernity. 

As I approached the bay, the sight of sleek yachts gently bobbing in the water greeted me, set against a backdrop of lush greenery and the distant silhouette of the city's skyline. 

The bay is not just a marina but a recreational area that offers a variety of activities for visitors. I decided then to start my day with a leisurely walk along the waterfront promenade. 

The cool breeze carried the faint scent of the sea, mingling with the fragrance of blooming flowers from the meticulously maintained gardens lining the path. 

Joggers and cyclists passed by, adding to the vibrant yet peaceful atmosphere. The calm waters of the bay mirrored the clear blue sky, creating a sense of infinite tranquility.

One of the highlights of the Bay is the wetland park. The green expanse is a sanctuary for both wildlife and people seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of urban life. 

I spent some time bird-watching, captivated by the sight of herons and egrets gracefully gliding over the water. The park also features several wooden boardwalks that snake through the wetlands, offering stunning views and a closer connection to nature.

Sipping on a cup of locally brewed tea, I watched as the city lights started to twinkle, reflecting off the serene waters of the bay. It was the perfect ending to a peaceful afternoon in one of Xiamen's most beautiful areas.
As the signature bird of Xiamen, Egrets have become a dynamic tourist attraction of the city. Photo: VCG

As the signature bird of Xiamen, Egrets have become a dynamic tourist attraction of the city. Photo: VCG

Blend of natural beauties

The next morning I made my way to Yundang Lake, another gem in Xiamen's crown. Situated at the heart of the city, Yundang Lake is a testament to the harmonious coexistence of urban development and natural beauty. 

The lake, once heavily polluted, has been transformed into a freshwater haven surrounded by modern skyscrapers, which create a striking contrast with the lush natural environment. I rented a bicycle to explore the extensive network of bike paths that encircle the lake. 

The ride was invigorating, with the cool breeze off the water providing a refreshing counterpoint to the warm sun. Along the way, I passed by bustling parks where locals engaged in tai chi, families enjoyed picnics, and artists found inspiration in the scenic surroundings.

One of the most captivating spots around Yundang Lake is Bailuzhou Park. The urban oasis amid the concrete jungle features manicured lawns, flower gardens, and tranquil ponds. 

The place is also an ideal place for bird-watching, as the area hosts an island dedicated to egrets conservation. 

I spent just a few blissful moments around Yundang Lake, but locals recommend I spend at least one day in the area to really appreciate its beauty. 

World heritage site

No trip to Xiamen would be complete without a visit to Kulangsu, also known as Gulangyu. This small island, just a short ferry ride from Xiamen's main island, is a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its well-preserved historical architecture and car-free streets.

Stepping off the ferry, I was immediately struck by the island's "old-world" charm. Narrow cobblestone streets meandered past historic mansions, each with its unique blend of Western and Chinese architectural styles. The absence of motor vehicles added to the island's tranquil ambiance, making it feel like a step back in time.

Here I wandered through Shuzhuang Garden, a beautiful coastal garden that seamlessly integrates with the surrounding natural landscape. 

The garden's design, featuring winding paths, rockeries, and traditional pavilions, provided a peaceful retreat with stunning views of the sea. Next, I visited the Piano Museum, housed in one of the island's historic villas in the beautiful Garden. 

The museum's collection of pianos, some dating back to the 18th century, was both fascinating and impressive. As a music lover, I was captivated by the stories behind each instrument and the rich musical heritage of Kulangsu - I never imagined musical tradition to be so deeply rooted on the tiny island.

My exploration of the island also took me to Sunlight Rock, the highest point on Kulangsu. 

From this advantage point, I could see the entirety of Kulangsu's picturesque landscape, a mosaic of red-roofed buildings, lush greenery, and sparkling blue waters.

While admiring the diverse landscape it was also quite fascinating to compare the aged buildings on Kulangsu with the skyscrapers on Xiamen Island.

As my day on Kulangsu came to an end, I found a quiet beach to relax and reflect on my journey. The gentle sound of waves lapping against the shore and the sight of the sun dipping below the horizon created a serene and magical atmosphere. It was a perfect conclusion to my visit to this enchanting island.

Xiamen, with its blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and modern charm, is a destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you seek tranquility, cultural immersion, or a touch of history, Xiamen promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you longing to return.

My time in Xiamen was limited and there are still a lot of places that I haven't explored. I only hope that on my next visit I will have more time to discover the secrets of this remarkable city.