Visiting China soon? Start here

Visiting China soon? Start here

Xiamen Travel Guide




East China


4 million




Welcome to Xiamen!

If you prefer relaxed cities, then you’ll really enjoy Xiamen. Although it has a couple of incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites within easy reach, the city maintains a chilled out, seaside vibe.

Xiamen, also known as Amoy, is well-known within China for being a modern and clean beachside city. However, not many foreigners have heard of Xiamen.

Located on an island, the city is laid back and relaxed, probably because of all the beaches. But it also has a fascinating history.

Centuries ago, unique round and square buildings called Tulou were constructed to keep invaders out. Today, you can walk through these ancient buildings and imagine what life used to be like for the locals.

Xiamen also used to be a treaty port, and the city still has that international flavor today.

fujian tulou near xiamen

The awe-inspiring Fujian Tulou buildings. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

xiamen beach

Life’s a beach in Xiamen. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

Best things to do in Xiamen

You’ll need a couple of days to explore Xiamen. And take your time, because this part of China seems designed for relaxation.

1. Explore the Fujian Tulou

fujian tulou

These amazing ancient buildings are found in numerous villages. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

The Fujian Tulou are traditional Chinese dwellings built between the 12th and 20th centuries. They were mostly built by the Hakka people in the country’s mountainous areas.

There are many Tulou buildings to explore across a number of towns, and one of the most popular is the Yongding Tulou.

It’s located about 2.5 hours from Xiamen, near Longyan City. It’s surrounded by beautiful countryside, and you could even spend a night in the area to truly appreciate rural life in China.

2. Take the ferry to Gulangyu Island

gulangyu island

Gulangyu is an island off a bigger island. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

Back in the 19th century, the British insisted that Xiamen should be a treaty port. While there’s more to the story than that, this is the place they set up shop.

Boasting lots of historical monuments, beaches, and natural beauty, Gulangyu is the most popular attraction in central Xiamen.

The island offers an oddly Mediterranean feel in a country that otherwise has cities that look and feel the same.

Gulangyu is car-free, and luckily it’s small enough to explore on foot. It’s a great opportunity to indulge in a slower, warmer, more relaxed way of sightseeing.

There’s a lot to see, and the ferry to the island fills up fast, so get there early.

Some of the most popular attractions on Gulangyu are:

  • Shuzhuang Garden
  • Piano Museum
  • Guxin or Anhai Road for architecture from around the world
  • Sunlight Rock for amazing views.

Have a read of this Xiamen itinerary for trip planning which includes the Fujian Tulou as well as Gulangyu Island.

3. Visit Baicheng Beach and Hulishan Fortress

baicheng beach

Inner-city beach, Baicheng. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

As an island, Xiamen of course has lots of beaches.

Baicheng Beach, in the city’s south, is one of the most popular as it’s so close to downtown. If you don’t mind crowds, watching the sunset from the sand is a must-do while you’re in Xiamen.

You can’t swim at the beach, but the sand is soft and warm and there are shops to explore along the beachside street.

Right beside Baicheng is Hulishan Fortress. It’s one of the most important historical sites in Xiamen.

Located on Huli Mountain, it has beautiful views over the sea. Get there early to be greeted by guards in traditional uniforms and then explore the barracks, fort, sentry platform, castle, and secret tunnel.

While you’re at the fortress, make sure you visit the Rongguang Museum to learn more about weaponry and other artifacts from the site.

4. Go shopping

zhongshan road xiamen

The main shopping street. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

Xiamen boasts really good shopping, so make sure you put on your most comfortable shoes and head out to buy some souvenirs of your trip.

The most popular streets for shopping are Zhongshan Road and Amoi Yat-Sen Road, both of which are lined with shops, restaurants, and entertainment complexes.

Zhongshan Road is the most famous street in the city. It comes alive at night, so perhaps start your shopping in the afternoon, and then sit down for some peanut soup or grab a snack from a local street food vendor.

The locals use their phone to pay for everything, and you can too. Check out the page on China travel apps to help you.

5. Explore the Wanshi Botanical Garden

cacti wanshi botanic gardens

The botanic gardens are famous for the collection of cacti. Image by sleepingpanda on Shutterstock.

If you want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city, then spend some time in the Xiamen Botanical Garden.

With more than 20 specialized gardens and 6,000 types of tropical and subtropical plants, it’s a relaxing and soul-reviving way to spend a few hours.

And if you explore the New Steles Forest, make sure you take in the views over Xiamen from the highest point.

6. Wander around Nanputuo Temple

nanputuo temple

Relax in the city’s most well-known temple. Image by Claudio Zaccherini on Shutterstock.

You can get a bit templed-out when traveling in China, but this temple is worth risking the burnout. And, it’s only a stone’s throw away from the botanical gardens.

Nanputuo Temple is the most famous in Xiamen. It’s nestled at the foot of Putuo Mountain and has the peaceful atmosphere that seems to come along with Buddhist buildings.

It also has beautiful grounds complete with ponds, lotus flowers, and interesting inner halls.

7. Spend time in Zeng Cuo An Village

Zeng Cuo An Village

Eat and shop at Zeng Cuo An Village. Image by wuanxiang on Shutterstock.

This used to be a fishing village and is now known as “the most exquisite and artistic village in China”.

Wandering along its streets you’ll see the modern and the old, unique shops, and so many restaurants and snack bars that you could eat in the area for days.

Located close to Baicheng Beach, you can get to Zeng Cuo An Village via public transport or by taking a short ride in a taxi.

8. Stroll around Xiamen University

xiamen university

The lush grounds at Xiamen University. Image by 4045 on Shutterstock.

If your feet aren’t sore from all the touring, then it’s worth walking through the grounds of Xiamen University.

It’s of China’s most reputable higher education institutes. But locally, it’s also known for having lovely grounds to explore and just watch the world go by.

Most attractions in Xiamen are fairly central to downtown, and this includes the university.

Check out this page for more things to do in Xiamen.

Where to eat in Xiamen

Xiamen has its own food culture boasting Fujian food.

Although seafood is super popular, one of the real benefits of this cosmopolitan city is the amazing variety of cuisines you can find in such a small area.

Sha cha nodles

Sha cha noodles are a local specialty. Image by Ikkyupan on Shutterstock.

So, if you’re longing for some different flavors, then you’ll definitely find a restaurant to keep you happy in Xiamen.

Kāihé Shāchámiàn

This shop is simple, and the food is the same: nourishing, simple, and absolutely delicious.

Offering reasonably priced shāchámiàn (沙茶面), the province’s favorite seafood noodle dish, this restaurant proves that you don’t have to be fancy to be satisfying.

Address: 126 Xiahe Lu 厦禾路126号


You might not know it, but Xiamen has amazing Mexican food. And Coyote offers some of the best Mexican food in the city according to expats and travelers.

The restaurant is English-friendly and reasonably priced as well.

Address: 20-22 Jianye Lu, Siming District

Shuyou Seafood Restaurant 舒友海鲜大酒楼

Xiamen is famous for its seafood, and this restaurant proves why.

Shuyou Seafood is one of the oldest and most famous restaurants in the city and serves an astonishing variety of seasonal seafood.

Address: 1A Bailuzhou Dong Lu, Siming District

Indiano John’s Samrat 印度风

If you enjoy Indian food, then this is one of the best places to eat in Xiamen. It offers delicious dishes from both the north and the south of India, all of them cooked to authentic perfection!

Address: 69 Jiangtou Bei Lu, Huli District

Dàfāng Sùcàiguǎn

For vegetarian dishes near Nanputuo Temple, you can’t go past this restaurant.

It’s best visited in a group, as the soy-based dishes are large and beautifully presented. Definitely Instagram-worthy!

Address: 3 Nanhua Lu 南华路3号

Hai Tien Lo 海天楼

This restaurant is for anyone who enjoys really good Cantonese food.

This sophisticated restaurant offers traditional Cantonese favorites like seafood and dim sum that are so good you’ll believe you’re back in Hong Kong.

(If you’re headed there soon, check out all the interesting things that Hong Kong is known for.)

Address: 19 Hubin Bei Lu, Siming District

The best food markets in Xiamen

Food in Fujian Province is typically sweet and sour rather than spicy, which is why it appeals to almost everyone.

And often, the best and freshest food in any Chinese city is found at the local markets!

Eighth Market

eighth market

The historic food market in downtown Xiamen. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

This is the biggest and most extensive seafood market in Xiamen. It’s been in business since the 1920s and is a central part of local life.

You can find almost any type of seafood at this market, as well as fresh produce and snacks.

Just be aware that you may need to bargain for the best deals at this market. And, you might need to hold your nose if you’re not a seafood kind of person!

Xiamen Renhe Road

taiwanese snacks

Taiwanese-style snacks are popular in Xiamen. Image by Carlos Huang on Shutterstock.

This street is also known as Taiwan Snack Street.

It offers some of the most delicious Taiwanese snack foods in the city in a crowded, chaotic atmosphere.

Visit this street for great food and a really unique experience!

Where to stay in Xiamen

Xiamen has countless accommodation options, from high-end hotels to your more traditional (i.e. cheaper) Chinese accommodation.

There are also plenty of places to stay near the Fujian Tulou, a few hours away from the city.


The Backpacker Village Hostel is a great choice when you’re trying to decide where to stay in Xiamen on a budget.

Located in the local university town that has sprung up around Xiamen University, it offers cheap food and drinks as well as a friendly, young atmosphere.

The hostel is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and is a short walk from the local bus station so you can travel around Xiamen with ease.


All hotels in the “Ji” range (known in Mandarin as 全季 or “Quán Jì”) are clean, modern and super affordable.

There are a number of Ji Hotels dotted all over Xiamen. If you want to be close to the action, stay at the Ji Hotel near Zhongshan Road. Specifically, its called Ji Hotel (Xiamen Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street Siming South Road).

Choose one of the rooms with the terrace balcony. Even though there’s not much of a view, balconies are rare in China and it’s nice to get outside in the Xiamen weather!


The Ibis Styles XM Zhongshan Hotel has a fitness center and restaurant on site as well as modern rooms with all the usual amenities.

It has metro access for easy travel around the city and is a short trip from landmarks like Xiamen University.

Transport in Xiamen

Traveling to and around Xiamen is easy. The transport system is efficient and modern, and this city gets enough tourists that there is some English around to help you out.

Air transport

xiamen air

Xiamen Air is the major carrier in the city. Image by Chintung Lee on Shutterstock.

The main airport in Xiamen is Gaoqi International Airport.

It’s one of the busiest airports in China and is just 6 miles from the city center (a new airport is being built a bit further out).

You can catch planes from Xiamen to most of the major cities in China as well as international flights to Taiwan, Japan, Australia, and even as far as America.

Your hotel might offer a shuttle bus to the airport. Otherwise, jump in a tax as there is no airport station on the metro.

High speed rail

high speed rail china

High-speed rail is the best way to explore China. Image by ABCDstock on Shutterstock.

There are two types of long-distance trains in Xiamen.

The normal speed trains arrive and depart from Xiamen Railway station. But if you have less time and a bit more cash, take a high-speed train from Xiamen North Station.

From this station, you can catch trains to lots of major cities like Shanghai, Fuzhou, Nanjing, and Suzhou.

See also: Things to do in Fuzhou

Long distance buses

Long distance buses are a cheap and convenient way to travel around China.

However, be aware that they’re much slower than trains (even the normal speed ones). There are five main bus stations in the city, and they offer buses to various cities within Fujian province.

You can also catch buses to major cities outside the province like Shanghai and Shenzhen further south.


Xiamen has three public metro lines, with another two being constructed.

They all criss-cross on the main island, and can take you out further onto the mainland. Line 3, the most recently built metro line, takes you to Xiamen Railway Station.

Metro China Subway is a great app to download to help you navigate the local metro (more info on the China travel apps page).

City buses

xiamen hop on hop off bus

The sightseeing bus takes you to all the main Xiamen attractions. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

Local city buses are cheap and go almost everywhere in Xiamen.

They cost 1 yuan in summer and 2 in winter, but you might need to map out your route ahead of time because the stations aren’t in English.

There’s also a hop-on-hop-off sightseeing bus in Xiamen. It goes past each stop every 30-60 minutes (depending on the time of day) and takes in most of the major sites in the city.

It even stops at the airport.


There are lots of taxis in the city and you can hail them for a quick and easy trip almost anywhere.

Just make sure you have your destination written down in Chinese characters, because the driver won’t speak English.

Try to make sure that they use the meter. Otherwise, you’ll have to bargain the fare which could be stressful if you don’t know what a fair price to your destination costs.


xiamen ferry

Catch the ferry to the UNESCO recognized Gulangyu Island. Image supplied by Mike Cairnduff.

Catching the ferry to Gulangyu Island or the Taiwanese-controlled Kinmen Island is super popular among tourists.

Note that the port at the end of Zhongshan Road is only for locals going to Gulangyu. Instead, you’ll need to make your way to the international ferry terminal, which is a good one-hour walk away or you could catch a taxi.

Make sure you grab a spot outside on the ferry for lovely views of the water and the islets around Xiamen.

Traveling outside Xiamen

Xiamen has lots of attractions to keep you busy for days. But if you’re looking for the best day trips from Xiamen, then here are two good choices.



If you have the time, visit this stunning mountainous area. Image by Tshooter on Shutterstock.

It will take you at least six hours to travel from Xiamen to Wuyishan by car. That’s a long trip, so if you’re in a rush, you could fly or catch a high-speed train to shave off some time.

Wuyishan is a resort city that offers some of the most stunning natural scenery in Fujian province. Go mountain climbing, take a raft along Nin-Bend Stream to see the hanging coffins, or explore the ancient dwellings in Xiamei Village.

Whether you enjoy learning about history or exploring the outdoors, Wuyishan has a lot to offer.


quanzhou mosque

Quanzhou’s famous mosque. Image by Jiang Tianmu on Shutterstock.

The city of Quanzhou is less than an hour from Xiamen by bullet train, so it makes for a great day trip (you can buy your train tickets here).

It’s one of the three great cites of Fujian and offers amazing historic monuments, scenic mountain areas, and all the comforts of a mid-sized modern city.

If you’re looking for a break from Xiamen and want to see a city that few foreign travelers ever explore, then Quanzhou is for you.

For more inspiration, check out the page on things to do in Fujian province.

Videos about Xiamen

Get a visual taste of Xiamen before you visit!

Here’s a cool video of a German guy giving an overview of the city he lived in for nine years.

And if you’re a foodie, learn about Xiamen’s most authentic street food places from a local.

Need help with your travel bookings?

Going on a tour in China is a great idea, especially if you can’t speak Mandarin.

You can refer to this list of China travel agencies who can help put a plan together for you.

Or, to book your own flights, tours and hotels, we recommend Trip for amazing choice and value. Trip is one of the leading travel companies in China.

Don’t forget…


It’s easy to forget a thing or two before you head to China.

So, here are some reminders for you:

  • Visa – if you’re only staying for a few days, you may be eligible for visa-free travel.
  • Packing – knowing what to pack can be hard, so use a China packing list.
  • VPN – access your favorite websites and apps on Wi-Fi by downloading the best VPN for China.

Have a wonderful time in Xiamen!

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Page last updated 24 August 2023. Main image credit: chaoqianli_vip on Pixabay. Commercial relationship disclosure: The Helpful Panda has commercial arrangements with organizations that may appear on this page, such as affiliate links. See our terms for more info.

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