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What To Do During A Long Layover In Xiamen


by May Amos



When you find yourself facing a long layover in Xiamen, China, fret not! This coastal city is brimming with captivating attractions and activities to make the most of your time. From exploring historic sites to savoring delectable local cuisine, Xiamen offers a plethora of experiences to ensure your layover is nothing short of memorable.


As you step out of the airport and into the vibrant streets of Xiamen, you’ll be greeted by a blend of modernity and tradition. The city’s rich history and natural beauty are seamlessly intertwined, creating a tapestry of experiences for visitors. Whether you’re a history buff, a food enthusiast, or a nature lover, Xiamen has something special in store for you.


So, if you’re wondering how to make the most of your time during a long layover in Xiamen, read on to discover the top attractions and activities that will transform your wait into an unforgettable adventure.


Explore Gulangyu Island

One of the must-visit destinations during a long layover in Xiamen is the enchanting Gulangyu Island. Accessible by a short ferry ride from the mainland, this car-free island is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, renowned for its charming architecture, lush greenery, and captivating coastal views.


Upon arriving at Gulangyu Island, you’ll be greeted by a labyrinth of narrow lanes lined with colonial-era buildings, quaint cafes, and boutique shops. The island’s unique blend of Chinese and Western architectural styles reflects its rich history as an international settlement during the 19th and 20th centuries.


As you wander through the island’s picturesque streets, be sure to explore attractions such as the Sunlight Rock, the highest point on the island offering breathtaking panoramic vistas, and the Shuzhuang Garden, a tranquil oasis adorned with traditional Chinese landscaping and stunning seaside panoramas.


For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Gulangyu Piano Museum is a must. Home to a remarkable collection of over 200 pianos from different eras, the museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s musical legacy.


Whether you’re captivated by history, architecture, or natural beauty, Gulangyu Island is a treasure trove of experiences that promises to immerse you in its timeless allure, making it an ideal destination to explore during your layover in Xiamen.


Visit Nanputuo Temple

Located at the foot of Wulaofeng (Mountain of Five Old Men) in Xiamen, Nanputuo Temple is a sacred Buddhist site that beckons visitors with its serene ambiance and profound spiritual significance. This centuries-old temple, nestled amidst lush greenery and overlooking the sea, offers a tranquil retreat from the bustling city.


As you approach the temple, the rhythmic chants of Buddhist sutras and the heady aroma of incense create an atmosphere of serenity and contemplation. The intricate architectural details of the temple, adorned with colorful sculptures and ornate carvings, showcase the rich artistic heritage of Chinese Buddhism.


Upon entering the temple complex, visitors are greeted by a stunning array of prayer halls, pavilions, and meticulously tended gardens. The main hall houses the majestic statues of the Buddha and various bodhisattvas, evoking a sense of reverence and awe.


One of the highlights of a visit to Nanputuo Temple is the opportunity to ascend Wulaofeng, which offers panoramic views of the temple complex, Xiamen University, and the azure expanse of the sea. The ascent to the mountaintop is adorned with lush vegetation and provides a refreshing escape into nature.


Whether you seek spiritual enlightenment, cultural immersion, or simply a peaceful interlude, Nanputuo Temple invites you to partake in its timeless traditions and immerse yourself in the profound spirituality that permeates its hallowed grounds.


Discover Xiamen University

As you explore Xiamen during your layover, a visit to the esteemed Xiamen University is a must for those seeking to immerse themselves in the city’s intellectual and cultural heritage. Nestled amidst lush greenery and overlooking the tranquil waters of Furong Lake, the university’s picturesque campus embodies a harmonious blend of traditional Chinese architecture and modern academic facilities.


Founded in 1921 by the renowned patriotic overseas Chinese leader Tan Kah Kee, Xiamen University boasts a rich legacy of academic excellence and has evolved into a prestigious institution renowned for its comprehensive range of disciplines and vibrant campus life.


Strolling through the university’s sprawling campus, visitors are treated to a visual feast of architectural marvels, including the iconic Furong Lake, the majestic Nanputuo Tower, and the serene Yifu Science Building. The tranquil pathways and lush gardens create an idyllic setting for leisurely exploration and contemplation.


One of the highlights of a visit to Xiamen University is the opportunity to witness the fusion of tradition and innovation at the Tan Kah Kee Memorial Hall, which pays homage to the university’s visionary founder and showcases his contributions to education and philanthropy.


For those intrigued by Chinese history and culture, the university’s collection of historical artifacts and cultural relics at the Overseas Chinese Museum offers a captivating glimpse into the enduring legacy of overseas Chinese communities and their impact on the global landscape.


Whether you’re drawn to academia, architecture, or the serene beauty of the campus, Xiamen University invites you to partake in a journey of discovery and appreciation of the rich cultural and intellectual tapestry that defines this esteemed institution.


Enjoy the Local Cuisine

No visit to Xiamen is complete without indulging in its rich and diverse culinary offerings. Renowned for its delectable seafood, vibrant street food scene, and unique fusion of flavors, Xiamen’s gastronomy reflects the city’s cultural heritage and coastal abundance.


One of the quintessential culinary experiences in Xiamen is savoring a traditional seafood feast at one of the bustling local restaurants or waterfront eateries. Freshly caught fish, succulent prawns, and a myriad of shellfish are expertly prepared and infused with fragrant spices, creating a symphony of flavors that tantalize the taste buds.


For those with a penchant for street food adventures, Xiamen’s night markets beckon with an array of delectable treats. From the iconic oyster omelets and savory fried noodles to the aromatic barbecue skewers and steaming bowls of seafood congee, the city’s vibrant street food scene offers a delightful culinary journey through the bustling night markets.


Don’t miss the opportunity to sample Xiamen’s iconic culinary creations, such as the renowned ‘Bak Kut Teh’ (pork rib soup) and the delectable ‘Shacha noodles,’ a local specialty featuring a savory and aromatic sauce that elevates the humble noodle dish to new heights of gastronomic delight.


For those seeking a more refined dining experience, Xiamen’s historic Shapowei area boasts an eclectic mix of trendy cafes, stylish bistros, and chic restaurants, offering a fusion of international cuisines and innovative culinary concepts amidst a backdrop of charming historic architecture.


Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast, an adventurous foodie, or simply seeking to savor the authentic flavors of Xiamen, the city’s vibrant culinary landscape promises a tantalizing journey of gastronomic discovery and delight.


Relax at the Beach

For travelers seeking a tranquil escape and a refreshing interlude during their layover in Xiamen, the city’s pristine beaches offer an idyllic retreat amidst breathtaking coastal scenery and azure waters. With its inviting shores and serene ambiance, Xiamen’s beaches are perfect for unwinding and soaking in the natural beauty of the coastal landscape.


Xiamen’s renowned Baicheng Beach, also known as “White City Beach,” beckons visitors with its soft, powdery sands and gentle waves. Whether you’re looking to bask in the sun, take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, or engage in water sports such as kayaking and paddleboarding, Baicheng Beach offers a serene haven for relaxation and recreation.


For those in search of a more secluded coastal sanctuary, the tranquil shores of Huangcuo Beach provide a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Surrounded by lush vegetation and offering panoramic views of the sea, this hidden gem invites visitors to unwind and rejuvenate amidst the soothing sounds of lapping waves and the gentle sea breeze.


Additionally, the picturesque Xiamen Wanshi Botanical Garden Beach offers a unique blend of coastal beauty and lush botanical surroundings, providing a serene setting for nature enthusiasts and beachgoers alike. The beach’s proximity to the botanical garden allows visitors to seamlessly transition from sun-kissed relaxation to immersive exploration of diverse plant species and tranquil landscapes.


Whether you’re seeking a peaceful sunbathing spot, a scenic backdrop for leisurely walks, or a tranquil setting to simply unwind and savor the coastal serenity, Xiamen’s pristine beaches offer a rejuvenating escape for travelers looking to make the most of their layover in this coastal paradise.


Shop at Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street

For those eager to immerse themselves in the vibrant pulse of Xiamen’s retail and cultural scene, a visit to the iconic Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street is a must-do during a layover in the city. This bustling thoroughfare, renowned for its eclectic mix of shops, boutiques, and traditional storefronts, offers a captivating blend of shopping, dining, and cultural experiences.


As you step onto the pedestrian street, you’ll be enveloped in a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds, with vibrant storefronts showcasing a diverse array of merchandise, from trendy fashion boutiques and artisanal craft shops to traditional tea houses and local delicacies. The street’s lively ambiance and rich historical charm create an immersive shopping experience that reflects the city’s dynamic cultural heritage.


For fashion enthusiasts and souvenir hunters, Zhongshan Road presents a treasure trove of unique finds, including stylish clothing, accessories, and handicrafts that showcase the creativity and craftsmanship of local artisans. Visitors can peruse an array of traditional Chinese souvenirs, exquisite silk products, and intricately designed trinkets, making it the perfect place to find memorable keepsakes of your time in Xiamen.


In addition to its shopping allure, Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street is a culinary paradise, offering an enticing array of local snacks and delicacies that beckon food enthusiasts to indulge in the city’s gastronomic delights. From aromatic teas and traditional pastries to savory street food and innovative culinary creations, the street’s diverse culinary offerings cater to every palate.


Moreover, the street’s cultural attractions, including historic buildings, traditional architecture, and vibrant street performances, provide a captivating backdrop for an immersive exploration of Xiamen’s rich cultural tapestry. Visitors can revel in the street’s lively atmosphere, soak in the local customs, and witness the harmonious coexistence of tradition and modernity.


Whether you’re seeking unique souvenirs, delectable local treats, or a vibrant cultural experience, Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street invites you to partake in a captivating journey through the heart of Xiamen’s bustling retail and cultural landscape.



As your layover in Xiamen draws to a close, you’ll depart with a tapestry of unforgettable experiences that have transformed a brief interlude into a captivating adventure. From the timeless allure of Gulangyu Island to the serene tranquility of Nanputuo Temple, and the vibrant pulse of Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street, Xiamen has woven together a rich mosaic of cultural, historical, and natural treasures to captivate and inspire visitors.


Amidst the city’s lush botanical gardens, pristine beaches, and historic landmarks, you’ve savored the essence of Xiamen’s coastal charm and cultural vibrancy. The tantalizing flavors of the local cuisine, the architectural marvels of Xiamen University, and the immersive shopping experiences have left an indelible imprint, inviting you to return and delve deeper into the city’s multifaceted allure.


As you bid farewell to Xiamen, the memories of your layover will linger as a testament to the city’s ability to transform a brief stay into an enriching journey of discovery. The seamless blend of tradition and modernity, the warmth of the local hospitality, and the captivating beauty of the coastal landscape have left an enduring impression, beckoning you to return and continue unraveling the myriad wonders of this enchanting city.


So, as you depart with a heart full of cherished moments and a spirit reinvigorated by the city’s allure, remember that Xiamen’s embrace extends far beyond its shores, inviting you to embark on future adventures that promise to unveil new layers of its timeless charm and captivating allure.