In the old days, the Chinese island of Xiamen was known as Amoy, and it carved out a healthy reputation as a foreign concession in the early 20th century. It later became one of China's first Special Economic Zones to give capitalism a try in the 1990s. All this has given Xiamen a healthy dose of modern success.
A century ago, hundreds of foreigners lived here. Many of them were based on the adjoining island of Gulangyu where the old-world architecture persists. Xiamen is praised for its architecture, particularly for the European-style mansions that have been so well preserved.
But the city's formidable modern side is also attractive. Excellent beach facilities, fine international restaurants and a booming shopping district are attractive to international and domestic tourists alike. In fact, Xiamen is quickly becoming one of China's most-visited cities.
From the bustling streets of Kaiyuan to the car-free neighborhoods of Gulangyu, Xiamen is a pleasure to explore. This combined with the city's well-ingrained international atmosphere makes Xiamen especially well-suited for Western tourists.
Gualngyu Island is a mere five minutes by ferry from Xiamen. It hosts an intriguing mix of colonial and classical Chinese architecture, the whole of which is enhanced by a lack of motorized traffic. The shops, restaurants and few hotels found here cater strongly for tourists.
This district encompasses the southeastern bloc of Xiamen and includes a number of beaches and natural attractions. Despite its off-center location, Siming is also home to the busiest commercial district in the city.
This district technically merged with Siming a few years ago, but it still maintains its own identity. Kaiyuan is the vibrant downtown district, with the best lodging, dining and entertainment options in Xiamen. This is where you'll find the city's best nightlife.