Looking for an amazing Fuzhou itinerary?
If you haven’t spent much time in China, then you’ve probably never heard of Fuzhou.
This city is located in China’s southeast, near the coast and about four hours on the high-speed train from Shanghai.
It’s a relatively large city, home to around 8 million people, with a great climate, tasty food, and some interesting tourist spots to explore.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track and explore the real China, a place that only the locals know, then you need to spend some time in Fuzhou.
To help out with that, here’s a 5-day itinerary for Fuzhou from someone who lived there.
Day 1 – Arrival and Fuzhou City
The easiest way to get from the airport to the city is by shuttle bus. It runs regularly and is cheap and reliable.
If you’re staying in the city center, the shuttle bus should drop you very close to your hotel. You can check the Fuzhou city shuttle routes here.
Obviously, the first thing you should do when you arrive in the city center is settle into your hotel and explore the area around where you’re staying.
Most of the major hotels in Fuzhou are located close to the city center, so choosing one of them will ensure that you’re close to all the city attractions.
Once you’re settled in, ask your hotel reception to book a taxi to Yushan Mountain. It’s fairly close to the city center, so it will be a short trip, but you’ll be hiking once you get there so save your legs until you get there.
This is one of the most important landmarks in the city and it’s popular among both locals and tourists.
Yushan Mountain dates back to the local tribe known as Yu Yue from the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) and the whole area is dotted with historical buildings and pavilions.
Lots of locals and tourists make the walk up Yushan Mountain as it’s not every steep or high.
While you’re on the way up there, make sure that you check out the Baita Temple, which offers beautiful views over the city, as well as Qi Jiguang Temple.
You’ll also find lots of pavilions hidden among the lush landscape, so keep your eyes open on your way up.
Once you’re done on the mountain, you’ll probably be hungry unless you stopped for snacks, so grab a taxi to Sanfang Qixiang, which should take you close to your hotel and to lots of places to have your evening meal.
Otherwise known as Three Lanes and Seven Alleys, Sanfang Qixiang is the tourist center of Fuzhou.
It’s a busy, prosperous historical area that consists of lots of winding, small lanes that contain shops, cafes, and historical sites.
Sanfang Qixiang consists of Yijin Lane, Guanglu Lane, and Yijin Lane. The axis street is Nanhou Street, and the seven alleys are to the east of this street and are:
- Yangqiao Alley
- Langguan Alley
- Ta Alley
- Huang Alley
- Anmin Alley
- Gong Alley
- Jibi Alley.
There are more than 270 Ming and Qing Dynasty dwellings dotted throughout these lanes and alleys. Make sure you check out the Ancestral Hall and Museum of Lin Zexu, dedicated to national hero Lin Zexu who famously sparked the First Opium War.
This is also one of the best places in Fuzhou to visit for tasty snacks and restaurants, so make sure you have at least one meal in this area.
I recommend a bowl of the city’s famous fish balls. If seafood isn’t your thing, try one of the many other popular foods from China you can find in this tourist area.
Day 2 – Hot Springs and Student Street
After all the time you’ve spent on foot in Fuzhou, why not relax and pamper yourself and then end the day with some shopping?
Book yourself a taxi again, or a rideshare such as Didi (China’s Uber), and head out to the one of the local hot springs for a morning of pampering.
Fuzhou has long been famous for its natural hot springs, with more than 50 different types dotted throughout the city. Most of them have been claimed by resorts and hotels, so you can book a spa morning and come out looking fresh and feeling relaxed.
For an amazing choice just 20 minutes from the downtown area, try Gui’an Hot Spring Resort. It has its own swimming pool, numerous bathing pools, water park, and gym. It also has facilities to entertain the kids if you’re traveling with the family.
Once you’ve finished at the hot springs, hop into a taxi again and head over to Xi Chan Temple. It’s on the way to Student Street, your ultimate destination, and a great place to explore in the afternoon.
Xi Chan Temple
Located close to the river on the slopes of Mount Yi in Gulou District, this is a huge working temple.
Visitors are allowed, so you can explore the busy complex and watch the monks practicing their religious rites.
Just don’t get in anyone’s way and always obey any signage or roped-off areas and you’ll have a fascinating afternoon watching the Taoist monks.
Once you’re done there it should be close to evening, so grab a taxi and head to Student Street.
To put it frankly, you spend time in Student Street when you want to eat or shop.
I spent a lot of time in this market actually, trying whatever smelt good and sometimes ignoring the slightly odd appearance of other snacks (octopus balls, I’m looking at you).
Also known as Shilin Market, this market spreads over a huge area and sells everything from clothes to classic Chinese souvenirs and luggage.
And because it’s near the university, the food and other goods are cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else in the city.
Day 3 – West Lake and Drum Mountain
On your third day in the city, you should visit West Lake Park and the Drum Mountain Scenic Park. The first is in the city and the second is a little way out of it.
You can take a taxi or rideshare to West Lake Park or you can even walk there if your hotel is close enough.
West Lake Park
West Lake Park is located around 15 minutes from the city center and is the former imperial garden of the King of ancient Fujian (Fuzhou is the capital of Fujian).
It’s a beautiful natural area, popular among the locals, and a stunning sight in spring, when all the flowers are in bloom.
Also known as the ‘Pearl of Fujian Garden’, the history of the garden goes back more than 1,700 years and is designed in classical style. It’s the ideal place to wander and enjoy the ancient temple, bridges, flowers, and pavilion.
You can also take a paddle boat on the lake or arrive in the morning to join the locals in their morning exercise by the water.
From there, head to the Drum Mountain Scenic Area. Take a taxi or, if you’re feeling brave, jump on one of the local buses and get off at Xiyuan Station (下院站).
Bus routes that will get you to the mountain are: 7, 29 36, 40, 58, 69, 70, 73, 97, 108, 112, 115, 131, 137, 162, 170, 178, 302, and 303.
Drum Mountain Scenic Area
The Drum Mountain Scenic Area is about an hour out of the city and is a hotspot for hikers and history buffs.
Ride the cable car up the mountain to see Yongquan Temple, often called the Crown of Buddhist Temples in Fujian. The temple has more than 1,300 years of history behind it as well as an intricate complex filled with history and surprises.
After seeing the temple, you can take the cable car back down the mountain or hike down.
It will take you around an hour to hike down and you’ll need a guide to truly appreciate the folk legends carved into rocks along the way.
Day 4 – Pingtan Island
Located off the east coast, this island is between China and Taiwan and is the largest island in Fujian province.
Also known as Haitan Island, it’s just an hour and a half from Fuzhou by bus. To catch the bus, head to Fuzhou North Bus Station for a ticket.
The island has a humid, subtropical climate and is most popular for its ‘blue tears’. These are plankton blooms that occur in summer, between April and August, and radiate light when they’re disturbed.
If you’re visiting the island in summer, then you definitely want to see this amazingly eerie sight.
Pingtan is home to lots of traditional, stone-built houses that are a big draw for tourists. If you’re interested in seeing them, then visit Beigang Village while you’re on the island, which contains many examples of this architectural style.
Pingtan Island also has nice pristine beaches like Longfengtou Beach as well as lots of resorts, hotels and restaurants. It’s also a popular spot for sports, so you could try kiteboarding, cycling, or other activities during your stay.
Just remember that not a lot of English will be spoken so exploring Pingtan is more suited to adventurous travelers.
Day 5 – Fuzhou National Forest Park and Departure
For your last day in the city, why not get out of the concrete jungle and back into nature? You can do just that in Fuzhou Natural Forest Park, one of the 10 national forest parks in China.
It’s located in Chiqiao Village in the north of Fuzhou city, about half an hour from the city center. You’ll need to travel to the park by taxi or join a tour heading out there.
Also known as the Fuzhou Botanical Garden, this is a place of soaring mountains, rushing waterfalls, and wildlife, the perfect place to destress from the busyness of the city.
The park stretches over 860 hectares (2,125 acres) and offers lots of chances for great photo ops. Entry into the park is free, but you should also think about seeing the World of Birds section or go sledding, which will both incur a fee.
Once you’re spent some time relaxing in the park, it’ll be time to head to the airport and start your journey to your next destination!
On your way out of Fuzhou
Once you leave Fuzhou or if you just want to skip one of the above entries on the itinerary, then why not go and see one of the most important historical sites in the area?
Also known as the Earth Towers of the Hakkas, these rural dwellings are more than a thousand years old. They’re located in the mountainous areas in southeastern Fujian, around 3.5 hours out of the city.
Although the Fujian Tulou dwellings are in a fairly isolated area that’s hard to get to, they’re well worth seeing if you’re interested in history. The houses are usually round but can also be square, octagonal or rectangular.
Because this site is so isolated, you’ll want to stay in the area. There are plenty of hotels, hostels and inns in the area, as it’s a very popular tourist spot.
Many of the accommodation choices are located in the unique Tulou buildings, which will show you another side of this important historical site.
Aside from being a World Heritage Site, the Fujian Tulou houses can be seen in the Disney movie, Mulan.
A Fuzhou itinerary for 1 or 2 days
Most travelers visit Fuzhou almost by accident, on their way to somewhere else. If this describes you, then you may not have five days to explore all that this city has to offer.
So, just cut down on the amount that you see and do. Here’s what I recommend for a 1- or 2-day Fuzhou itinerary in order of importance/interest:
- Sanfang Qixiang for food, people watching, and souvenirs
- West Lake, particularly in spring or autumn when it’s really beautiful
- Student Street for shopping and food
- Yushan Mountain, for lots of historical and cultural attractions all in one place.
And of course, if you have the time, try to see the Fujian Tulou on your way out of the city. There’s no better way to learn more about China’s past than to see it firsthand.
Keep your Fuzhou itinerary simple
Although Fuzhou does have a very well-developed public transport system and lots of taxis, it can still be hard for travelers to get around the city.
The bus system is complex if you aren’t used to it and taxi drivers don’t usually speak English, so it might take you longer than you think to get where you need to go.
Rideshares like Didi are a good option as there’s an in-built translation function to help you get to the right destination.
My best advice is to keep your itinerary simple. Remember that you can always add things later if you want to do more or have the time.
As long as you’re traveling outside of the big cities, you’ll get a unique look into the local culture and way of life.
And that’s more valuable and much more fun than rushing around trying to squeeze everything in!
I hope my Fuzhou trip planner has helped you work out what you want to see in this awesome city. You may also like the article I wrote about delicious dumplings in China.
Explore more of Fuzhou
Main image credit: Zarko Prusac on Shutterstock.