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10 Top Things to Do in Xiamen

The coastal city of Xiamen, located in China's Fujian province, is a beautiful city with plenty to explore. With a long history as a colonial trading port located in the beautiful south of China, you'll find a mix of historical and natural sights. Here are our top 10 things to do while you are in Xiamen.

1. Explore Gulangyu Island

Gulangyu Island's architecture Gulangyu Island's colonial architecture

One of Xiamen's top attractions (probably it's top attraction) is Gulangyu Island. The island is famous for its mix of natural beauty, colonial-style architecture, and interesting museums, including the piano museum.

Because it is such a popular sight, it takes a little bit of planning to make sure you have tickets to go there. There are a lot of different things to do and see on the island, so set aside at least half a day to explore! Check out our page on Gulangyu Island for more information on how to get there, and what to see while you are there.

2. Relax at Nanputuo Temple

Nanputuo Temple Nanputuo Temple

Nanputuo Temple, or South Putuo Temple, is the most famous and beautiful temple in Xiamen. It is named after Putuo Mountain, a Buddhist mountain, which it is based at the foot of.

The temple grounds have a peaceful atmosphere as they are surrounded by ponds and lotus flowers, and is the perfect spot for a stroll. As part of the temple, you'll find the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Precious Hall of Great Hero, the Hall of Great Mercy and the Buddhist Scripture Garret to explore.

3. Experience History at Hulishan Fortress

Hulishan FortressHulishan Fortress cannons

An absolute must for history buffs, Hulishan Fortress is an important historical site located on the south of Xiamen at the top of Huli Mountain, overlooking the sea. A visit is worth it just for the view over the ocean and of Xiamen.

On the site, you will find a rectangular fort, barracks, a secret tunnel, a commanding tower, a sentry platform, an ammunition depot, a castle, and more. If you visit at 8.30am, you'll find guards in traditional uniforms opening the gate to welcome visitors. This happens daily.

Check out the connecting Rongguang museum for artifacts from the site such as weaponry.

4. Take a Stroll at Xiamen University

Jiannan Auditorium at Xiamen UniversityJiannan Auditorium at Xiamen University

Chinese universities are usually based on beautiful grounds, their buildings surrounded by parks, and Xiamen University is no different. Xiamen University is worth a visit if you want to go for a walk, check out the park-like grounds, or just take a look at student life in China.

Xiamen University is also special because it was the first university founded in China by an overseas Chinese, established in 1921 by Tan Kah-Kee (陈嘉庚, Chen Jiageng in Chinese) of Malaysia. The university is a mix of Western and Eastern philosophies, which is reflected in the spectacular entrance gates adorning several sides of the campus.

It is also one of the top-ranked universities in the country.

5. Go Shopping at Zhongshan Road

Xiamen's Zhongshan RoadXiamen's Zhongshan Road

If you're looking for somewhere to go for a spot of shopping in Xiamen, you don't need to look further than the bright neon lights of Zhongshan Road, or Amoi Yat-Sen Road.

It is the most prosperous street and commercial center of Xiamen and the road is lined with shopping centers, cinemas, restaurants, and other entertainment complexes. This is the best place to get your souvenirs, too!

6. Check out the Fujian Tulou Clusters

Chuxi Tulou Cluster, Yongding CountyChuxi Tulou Cluster, Yongding County

Fujian's Hakka Tulou buildings are located just outside Xiamen but are definitely a top spot to visit while you are in the area.

They are unique because they are round, fort-like buildings made out of a mixture of clay and sandy soil, and are only found in this area. These rare buildings were designed by the Hakka minority of the area, and served as both large fortresses and apartment buildings in one, and were inscribed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites in 2008.

We recommend visiting Nanjing Tulou Area or Yongding Tulou Area (find out more here), or you can visit these sights on a Xiamen and Tulou tour with China Highlights.

7. Enjoy the Flowers at Wanshi Botanical Gardens

Enjoy the flowers at the Botanical GardensEnjoy the flowers at the Botanical Gardens

Behind Nanputuo Temple, on top of the hill, you will find the amazing Wanshi Botanical Gardens, or Xiamen Botanical Gardens, which actually consists of multiple gardens merged together.

You'll move from one type of landscape to the next, enjoying plants and trees that are found locally as well as ones found worldwide, such as cacti! It is highly recommended if you're looking for a more active and outdoor activity while in Xiamen and works well after a visit to the temple.

Make sure you bring enough water and sunscreen if you are visiting in summer, as it does get warm in the park!

8. See Xiamen from Above at Zhonggu Cableway

If you want to see Xiamen from further above, go for a ride on the Zhonggu Cableway for a different perspective of this incredible city.

You can get off mid-way for a quick stroll and to take some photos of the view, and there are some rock formations to take a look at at the top of the mountain. But of course, what you came for is the view of Xiamen Island from the top.

9. See the Sunset at Baicheng Beach

Xiamen beachXiamen beach

As Xiamen is a coastal city, we couldn't not recommend a sunset location on the beach.

One of the best beaches for a sunset in the city is Baicheng Beach. Although you cannot swim here (it is actually prohibited), the sand is soft and it's a wonderful place to relax at the end of the day. Why not bring a picnic?

If you don't have time to go in the late afternoon for sunset, the morning is lovely too, as you'll be able to see the locals fishing off the coast and enjoy the ocean breeze.

10. Climb the Wuyi Mountains

Wuyi MountainsWuyi Mountains

For those looking for some more nature, the Wuyi Mountains are the perfect city escape right outside of Xiamen.

The area is known for its canyons, lush greenery, waterfalls, and unique flora and fauna, and it is best to visit between June and October. For more specifics on visiting the Wuyi Mountains, how to get there, and how to prepare for a visit, click here.

Visit Xiamen with China Highlights

Visit Xiamen with China HighlightsDo more of what you want in Xiamen with China Highlights.

We have lots of options for visiting Xiamen, whether you are looking for a one-day, three-day, or five-day tour, or would prefer to incorporate Xiamen in a tour throughout China alongside other top cities such as Beijing or Shanghai.

If you would prefer us to tailor a tour to your preferences, get in touch here so we can keep your preferences in mind when planning your trip to Xiamen!

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