This scenic island just off the coast of Xiamen features Victorian architecture, sandy beaches, and (literally) tons of seafood. Gulangyu offers something for everyone from history buffs to nature lovers, and it’s worth at least a day of exploration. Be warned it is extremely popular with foreign guests and Chinese tourists alike, and the crowds can be overwhelming. Go during the weekdays to avoid the holiday rush.
There are numerous tourist sites on Gulangyu, including Sunlight Rock (Rìguāng Yán; 日光岩; the highest point on the Island), the Piano Museum (Gāngqín Bówùguǎn; 钢琴博物馆), and a large statue of Koxinga (Zhèng Chénggōng; 郑成功), – the Ming loyalist who held out against the Manchu armies. These numerous sites charge entrance fees running from ¥15-¥25. Tickets allowing entrance to all the sites are available for ¥108, or you can just look at them from afar and avoid the photo-snapping hordes of Chinese tourists. There are innumerable restaurants, shops, and hotels on the island. Most visitors walk straight from the ferry terminal on Gulangyu, heading past the McDonald’s and KFC, through dozens of tourist shops and huge crowds, to the beach on the other side of the island. For a more relaxing experience, turn right directly after exiting the ferry and circle the island or explore the steep alleyways on the north side of the island. This part of Gulangyu is much more peaceful and quiet, and it features some interesting Victorian ruins and a (presumably) haunted graveyard. The north side of the island has less expensive restaurants, juice shops, and more charm.