Xiamen Sightseeing Guide - Visit notable attractions and landmarks
Sightseeing in Xiamen begins in the historic quarter with its fantastic colonial shop houses. Other sites are arranged on hillsides around the city, each with their own view over the sea and the city center.
Xiamen was ceded to foreign powers in the early 20th century, but some of its colonial architecture is older than this. Tourists who were disappointed by the lack of nostalgia in Shanghai will find everything they missed in Xiamen.
The best colonial mansions line the streets of Gulang Yu Island. Outlying sites worth the visit are White Deer Cave, Sunlight Rock and Huli Shan Fort. Wherever tourists venture, they're sure to pick up on Xiamen's unique dynamic built on foreign (often Taiwanese) investment, strong Chinese nationalism and a hint of nostalgia for colonial days.
Xiamen City Museum (Shi Bowuguan) is housed in the former residence of a Taiwanese businessman. It receives few visitors but has several interesting exhibits outlining Xiamen's colonial history, the Japanese occupation and the Opium Wars. Qing Dynasty house wares are also on display.
White Deer Cave
This cave sits on a hillside outside of town and enjoys a view of Xiamen. The mouth of the cavern is directly across from a Ming Dynasty temple, and it takes its name from the two white deer statues that guard its entrance. Mists rising from the depths of the cave present a good opportunity for photographers.
This quiet green space is a suitable place to escape for an hour or two. Walking paths explore the subtropical gardens which are strung with reflecting ponds and monuments. The central fixture is a statue of Dr Sun Yat Sen, an early 20th century champion for democracy.
This is the main lookout point over the sea, and some say that a legendary 17th century pirate (Zheng Chenggong) used to survey the seas from here. Gardens line the hillside leading up to the observation deck, or visitors can ride the cable car to the top. The onsite museum examines the life of pirate Zheng Chenggong and the role he played in annexing Taiwan.
Built in the mid-19th century, this building has been converted into the Jinquan Qianbi Bowuguan museum. Today it houses a collection of antique coins from the bygone colonial age.
Huli Shan Fort
On a hilltop overlooking the city and sea, this fort was built from mud, sand and sticky rice. The star attraction is a 60-ton field gun that was placed here in the late 19th century. Legend says a few local houses collapsed the first time it was fired. Plaques outline the cannon's role in sinking a Japanese warship in the 1930s. An antique weapons museum is also onsite.
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