Fuzhou is a city in the southeast of China, not far from the coast and almost directly opposite Taiwan.
Few tourists come to Fuzhou. It’s just an ordinary city with people going about their lives.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting things to do there.
I lived and taught English in Fuzhou for a year, and I found it interesting, baffling, chaotic and peaceful all at the same time.
Fuzhou is close enough to the bigger, famous cities for weekend trips and far enough away from the tourist traps that you get a unique view of China’s people and its culture.
If you end up there at some point, here are 10 things to do in Fuzhou that you shouldn’t miss out on.
1. Eat seafood
Each province in China is known for different customs, languages and foods. Fuzhou is the capital of Fujian province, known for its sweet dishes.
Also, because Fuzhou is close to the coast, it specializes in seafood. This is truly a winning combination.
Enjoy eating fish baked with herbs and sauces in foil, freshly cooked seafood tossed onto a plastic table cloth, or prawns in broth cooked in foil that’s twisted to look like birds.
You can find all this and more in the markets, restaurants and food courts of Fuzhou.
Eating this way is not to be missed while you’re in the city.
2. Visit Sanfang Qixing
Also known as 3 lanes and 7 alleys, Sanfang Qixing is the cultural center of Fuzhou.
Here you’ll find more than 200 houses preserved from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The lanes and alleys lead off a popular shopping street where you can buy McDonald’s or fish balls from old wooden houses, as well as silk and other traditional products.
Although Sanfang Qixing is very crowded (particularly on holidays), I still think it’s one of the top 10 things to do in Fuzhou.
But if you really don’t like touristy places, perhaps steer clear.
3. Climb up Gushan Mountain
Everybody who visits Fuzhou goes to Gushan Mountain.
It’s one of the most scenic spots in the city and has a rock at the top that looks like a drum and gives the mountain its name.
It’s quite a climb to the top of the mountain, though there are places to stop and take in sites such as temples and caves along the way.
Just make sure you have a strong stomach for heights, as the stairs are fairly steep.
There is a cable car which will take you straight to the top for a small fee.
4. Visit Student Street
If you want to eat, then Student Street or Shilin Market is the place to go.
Although it’s called a street, the market itself is huge, and you’ll find popular clothes stores as well as stalls selling everything from clothes to toys and luggage.
But the food is the real draw. At tiny stalls, locals flip giant pancakes, sizzle seafood with spices, and sear meat on sticks.
The only difficult thing is deciding how much you can actually fit in your stomach!
Student Street is located near the university, which means that the prices are cheaper than anywhere else in the city. It’s open every night.
5. Spend time at a hot spring
Fuzhou is famous for its natural hot springs. A number of hotels and resorts have sprung up to take advantage of their popularity.
Some of these resorts offer more than 50 different types of hot springs, with herbs, flowers and even wine added to the water.
Just be careful which hot spring you choose. They’re so popular that some hotels claim they have a hot spring when really it’s just a communal bath. These aren’t as good as the real thing.
If you’re looking for one of the best, try Gui’An Hot Spring Resort. It’s popular for a reason.
6. Relax in West Lake Park
If you get a bit tired of the rush and push of Fuzhou, West Lake Park is an oasis of grass and trees in the middle of the city.
The park has a history stretching back more than 1,700 years and is a stunning example of a classical Chinese garden.
It’s particularly beautiful in spring, when the flowers are in bloom and you can take a paddle boat along the river.
Entry is free year-round, so many people visit this garden regularly to read or exercise.
Although it’s popular, as long as you don’t go to the park on a Chinese public holiday, you should be able to find a quiet corner to sit and enjoy the natural scenery.
7. Eat fish balls
This may seem similar to number one, but it deserves a special mention (can’t you tell I love Chinese food?).
Fuzhou is famous for its fish balls. Essentially they’re doughy balls filled with a flavored pork center, and you can find them in restaurants all over the city.
If you have a few minutes to spare, check out the cool video above. Amy Lyons, an internet celebrity in China, visits Fuzhou and tries the fish balls.
Her Chinese friend’s Eminem rap (towards the end) is also pretty funny!
8. Hike in Qishan Mountain Forest Park
Located in the west of Fuzhou and just 20 minutes from the center of town, Qishan Mountain Forest Park is well worth a visit.
It’s somehow surprising and very pleasant to see such a wild area so close to the skyscrapers and cement of a big Chinese city.
If you like to hike, there’s plenty to see and explore from waterfalls and caves to snaking bridges over gorges.
The roads are quite bendy as they wrap around the mountain, so hopefully you don’t suffer from motion sickness too much.
9. Take a trip to Pingtan Island
Pingtan has stunning natural scenery and clean, clear water and air.
If you’re permanently living in Fuzhou, which has a fairly high level of air pollution, taking a trip to a location like this can help clear your lungs.
Try renting a bike and ride through some of the small stone villages. You’ll get great views of the coast, and you can stop along the way for some seafood.
Pingtan Island is both unique and beautiful which is why it makes my list of the top 10 things to do in Fuzhou.
10. Visit Yushan Mountain
Yushan Mountain is in the heart of Fuzhou and it looks something like a giant turtle.
There are a number of historical sites within the 11.9 hectare area including palaces, wells, temples and towers.
Because it’s so conveniently located, it makes a great afternoon trip, and some of the buildings are really amazing.
Traveling beyond Fuzhou
I know this blog is about things to do in Fuzhou, but if you need some inspiration on what to do next, I recommend Xiamen or Taiwan.
Xiamen is an eclectic coastal city a few hours south of Fuzhou. You can get there by bullet train within a couple of hours.
And from Fuzhou or Xiamen, you could make the short flight over the Taiwan Strait to Taipei for a totally different adventure.
Final travel tip for Fuzhou
If you plan on sharing your photos of Fuzhou on Instagram or staying in touch with friends on WhatsApp via Wi-Fi, you’ll need a VPN app.
In case you haven’t heard, many popular foreign websites and apps are blocked in China due to the country’s strict censorship laws.
To get access, make sure you download the VPN app before you arrive, otherwise you’ll be left high and dry!
Here’s a review of the best China VPN apps to help you stay connected.
Alright, so that’s my list of the top 10 things to do in Fuzhou. I enjoyed doing all these things when I lived there and I hope you do too.
I’ve also written an article about China’s squat toilets which you may find interesting, or at least a little funny!