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Xiamen has a 144-hour (or 6-day) visa-free policy for international stopovers using Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport and its eligible seaports including Xiamen International Cruise Terminal. During the time period, you may travel around only within the municipality of Xiamen.
This is a convenient policy for those wishing to spend some time for a visit to the tourist city of Xiamen without the hassle and extra cost of obtaining a China visa.
Here, we present useful information about the policy and how to take advantage of it for touring and visits.
Good news: Starting from January 1, 2019, Xiamen's 144-hour visa-free travel policy came into effect. It replaced the earlier 72-hour policy.
Visit Xiamen with your passport and air tickets, but NO visa!
This policy requires that passengers must be in transit to a third country or a Specially Administered Region of China. Making a round trip from/to the same country doesn't qualify.
Your itinerary should be: departure country → Xiamen → a third country or region. For example, UK → Xiamen → Australia is an acceptable itinerary.
Hong Kong and Macau are considered to be regions separate from Mainland China for international transit purposes, and you won’t need a visa if you transit in either of these Special Administrative Regions (SARs). You can include them in your itinerary like this: USA → Xiamen → Hong Kong → USA.
1) Inform your carrier of your intent to use the 144-hour TWOV (Transit Without a Visa).
2) Fill in arrival and departure cards (available on your flights).
3) Apply for the 144-hour visa-free stay at the dedicated counter on your arrival.
4) Claim your luggage, go through customs, and exit the airport.
5) Leave from Xiamen Gaoqi Airport or eligible Xiamen seaports within 144 hours from 00:00 on the day after arrival.
More about China's national 144-Hour Visa-Free Policies.
Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport is a medium-sized international airport, and it has a few international flights (around 10/day, only 2 further than E Asia). So, when you are traveling to a third destination outside of Mainland China, you are likely to need to look carefully for suitable connecting flights.
Gaoqi International Airport is convenient for city visits since it is only 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the downtown. You may conveniently take metro Line 1 from the airport to Zhongshan Park Metro Station downtown in about 23 minutes. It is only about 15 minutes away by taxi. Taxi directions: "Please take me to Xiamen Gaoqi Airport, thank you." 请送我到厦门高崎国际机场，谢谢。
(A new international airport, called Xiamen Xiang'an International Airport, is being built on Dadeng Island of Xiang'an District. It might open by the end of 2020 and is expected to greatly facilitate international travel.)
See more on Xiamen Transportation.
Xiamen International Cruise Terminal handles international cruise ships, and it has ferries to Taiwan too. It is part of a scenic waterfront area.
It is an alterative to the airport for those wishing to arrive in or depart from Xiamen. Be aware that there is another eligible cruise terminal, Xiamen Wutong Port (厦门五通码头), that serves ships to Taiwan also.
Taiwan qualifies as a region outside of Mainland China for the 144-hour policy.
Downtown Xiamen, around Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street, is conveniently about 16 minutes from the airport by taxi. This is the central shopping and tourism area, and it is known for the many preserved colonial-era buildings left by foreigners.
Along with the old architecture, one of the draws of Xiamen is the generally pleasant subtropical weather that makes for pleasant walking tours around the downtown and seaside area.
On Zhongshan Road, there are many stores and small restaurants where you'll have plenty of choices for dining and street snacks. You can also buy local products such as the local tea. Xiamen is especially known for its Fujian-cuisine-style seafood. Fujian or Min cuisine is one of China's Eight Famous Schools of Culinary Art and is known for fancy artistry and unusual ingredients that produce unusual delicious flavors and an unusual dining experience.
For travelers, the downtown has convenient tourist and business oriented hotels and access to public metro transport.
The Hulishan Fortress: For an excursion to a fort in the main city, you can go see the Huli Mountain Fortress that was built in 1894. It is quite big and made of granite rocks, and it occupies 13,000 square meters. A museum shows military artifacts and unusual rocks.
One of the main displays is a quite large Krupp cannon that was said to have been able to shoot shells 16 kilometers (10 miles). The views from the top of the fort afford expansive views of the sea and distant islands.
Gulangyu Island is a little island offshore that you can visit. Gardens, parks and museums are places you can go to, and dining and walking tours are things you can do.
Shuzhuang Garden is a restful park and garden. It has been finely crafted by the gardeners to create feelings of space and motion. There is also a piano museum there. You can go there to see antique pianos, and you can hear fine piano performances.
There is a hill there called Sunlight Peak that affords some exercise and the best scenic views on the island.
For more ideas, see 7 Free Things to Do in Xiamen
It makes sense to let experts arrange your local tour to save your time and save you from stress and headaches when you're on a tight schedule. Our experts can help you do what you want to do. Our private drivers and guides can make your tour of Xiamen and the islands a lot more comfortable, fulfilling, and efficient on time. Here is a travel idea:
Our tours can be tailor-made. We could design a stopover in Xiamen according to your interests and requirements, and create a Xiamen tour for you.