The island of Gulangyu is a pedestrian-only destination, where the only vehicles on the islands are several fire trucks and electric tourist buggies. The narrow streets on the island, together with the architecture of various styles around the world, give the island a unique appearance. The site is classified as a 5A scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration. In fact, the tourist-friendly city’s clean and attractive beaches, botanical gardens, waterfront promenades, and parks — combined with its booming economy and nice weather — have helped earn Xiamen the reputation of having the best all-around standard of living in China.
Situated off the coast of Xiamen City, Gulangyu Island can be reached by ferry from Xiamen City in 5 minutes. Only about a square mile (2 sq km), Gulangyu island’s quirky streets and alleys, tourist shops and restaurants, clean beaches and waterfront views are immensely fun to explore on foot. Unless your main objection is to hit the clubs and fancy restaurants in Xiamen, visiting Xiamen but to stay on Gulangyu, which is home to a good and cheap hostel, as well as a good supply of mid-range accommodation, will be more delightful. If you’re a fan of wandering back streets and observing daily life like your young fellows, you’ll love this gorgeous and atmospheric island. In addition to becoming a top domestic tourist attraction, the city has also become popular as a party town among young ex-pats. Sometimes referred to as “Shanghai’s little sister,” Xiamen’s thriving nightlife and chic restaurant scene — essentially non-existent ten years ago — has exploded with the region’s fortunes.
Chic architecture and art charming
Owing to historical reasons, the structures remain well-preserved, giving it the nickname of "Architecture Exhibition of Ten Thousand Nations". Besides, Gulangyu is also well known as the “Hometown of Music" and "Island of Pianos".
As a place of residence for Westerners during Xiamen's colonial past, Gulangyu is unique in its undisturbed colonial architecture and 19th century European flavor and for hosting China's only piano museum, giving it the nickname of "Piano Island" or "The Town of Pianos" or "The Island of Music". Music lovers will also appreciate Gulangyu, which—thanks to Christian missionaries—has more pianos per capita than any place in China (about one piano in five homes). There are over 200 pianos on this island. The Chinese name “Gulangyu” also has musical roots, as gu lang means drum waves so-called because of the sound generated by the ocean waves hitting the reefs. Yu means "islet".
Beautiful senery - “Garden on the sea”
Meanwhile, Gulangyu also enjoys the good reputation of "Garden on the Sea", because it is delightful in all seasons, characterised by singing birds and fragrant flowers. Main attractions include Sunlight Rock, Shuzhuang Garden, Yu Park, Bright Moon Garden and Museum. Simply wander around and appreciate the old building at leisure, happiness will rise from your bottom of heart. Some Gulangyu tourist attractions worth noting: the highest point on the island is the view over Gulangyu on Sunlight Rock, which is dedicated to the rebel pirate Koxinga, who famously held out against the encroaching Manchus for years. Located next to the pier is the Xiamen Seaworld, which is home to an assortment of sharks, dolphins, penguins, seals and tropical fish.
When sun is setting over the mesmerising Gulangyu Island, it’s simply romantic even if you just sit there. The mixture of cold ocean wind and warm orange sunshine will decorate the scene to be the most wonderful ever. Ends the day.