Gulangyu Islet is the equivalent of urban Shangrila. It is an isolated kaleidoscope near the city and home to a mix of wonders.
It features the following interesting places:
- Xiamen Aquarium
- Gulangyu Piano Museum
- Gulangyu Organ Museum
- Gulangyu Wax Museum
- Xiamen Philharmonic
- Longtou Commercial Street
- Hundred-year-old villa hotels
- Sanyi Cathedral
It is a music fan's rabbit hole as well as a weekend getaway for busy professionals.
How to Get to Gulangyu Islet
Gulangyu Islet is in Siming District of Xiamen City. The only way to get on the islet is by boat.
There are five piers & seven routes open to tourists to get on the islet:
- Xiamen International Ferry Center ( City )
- Songyu Pier ( Suburb )
- Sanqiutian Pier ( Islet )
- Neicuoao ( Islet )
- Xiamen Ferry Pier ( City )
IN XMIFC ( City ) - Sanqiutian ( Islet )
XMIFC ( City ) - Neicuo'ao ( Islet )
Songyu ( Suburb) - Neicuo'ao ( Islet )
OUT Sanqiutian ( Islet ) - XMIFC ( City )
Sanqiutian ( Islet ) - XMFP ( City )
Neicuo'ao ( Islet ) - XMIFC ( City )
Neicuo'ao ( Islet ) - Songyu ( Suburb)
I recommend the XMIFC - Sanqiutian & Sanqiutian - XMFP for first timers because all piers are in the city and more convenient to travel from/to.
- You can get to the XMIFC by taking bus no.842/958 from Xiamen Railway Station or Airport-Ferry shuffle bus/ bus no.84 from the Gaoqi Airport;
- Boat Schedules - Because it is a tourist islet, you don't need to bother remembering the boat schedules. Boats leave piers practically every 20 mins during the whole day throughout the year.
- But keep in mind that only Sanqiutian ( Islet ) - XMFP ( City ) route is available to get out of the islet after 5:50pm(winter)/6:50pm(summer).
- Boat fares:
- Since XMIFC is the main entrance to Gulangyu, it offers two kinds of boats, the normal kind charges for 35rmb( approx. 5usd ) and luxury charges for 50rmb (approx. 7usd ). The travelling routes are the same, the only difference is the boat. All boats are two-decked for better views in the course, normal boat offers plastic seats with open floor while the luxury boat offers sofa seats with closed floors;
- Only normal boat departs from Songyu, it charges for 30rmb (approx. 4.50usd );
- All tickets are for round trip;
- Tickets are available at each ticket office at the pier, but you can also book online if you have a verified Alipay account at xmferry.com 1-15 days before your intended day of visit.
Once on Gulangyu Islet
On Gulangyu, no motorized vehicles are allow except electric sightseeing cars travelling along the coast of this islet. So you can safely explore all the wonders distributed within the alleys.
As said above, you will be landing on Gulangyu at either Sanqiutian or Neicuo'ao pier. These two piers are almost across the islet, so you will have different experience exploring this wonderland.
If you land at Sanqiutian pier, you will immediately be surrounded by tourists and shops on the commercial street. While Neicuo'ao pier locates across the islet at the more indigenous and secluded area, where you can choose either the coast path to enjoy at your own pace or plunge into the inland to look for a family-owned shop for a soft drink.
Things to see
Combined ticket is sold for 100rmb on the islet including:
- Moonlit Garden, a Ming Dynasty style landscape garden. Tickets are sold for 15rmb separately;
- Shuzhuang Park, residence of a former well-known landlord and where Piano Museum locates at. Tickets are sold for 30rmb separately;
- International Lettering Museum, exhibits international and domestic lettering artifacts. Tickets are sold for 10rmb separately;
- Sunlit Rock, where national hero Zheng Chenggong stationed his troops and now the highest point on the islet with height of 92.7meters( 310 ft ). Tickets are sold for 60rmb separately;
- Organ Museum, exhibits more than 30 western and Chinese organs. Tickets are sold for 20rmb separately.
The combined ticket is of great value considering the Sunlit Rock & Shuzhuang Park are two "must go" places on Gulangyu.
- If this is a family trip, your little one(s) would definitely enjoy the Xiamen Aquarium. It exhibits colorful undersea corals reefs and all kinds of rare fishes. Tickets are sold for 100rmb;
- If this is a trip for leisure, you don't want to miss the music bars on Zhonghua Rd and old villas down south, one night's stay would cost you from 600-1000rmb( approx. 90-150usd )
- If you are religious, you can visit the Sanyi Cathedral which locates right in the center of the islet.
Other places you might be interested in:
- Ruins of consulates
- Penholder ( Bijia ) Mountain
- Sunlit Rock Temple
- Gangzaihou Beach, the sand is coarse and hurts your feet;
- Seafood, the seafood on the islet costs you 50% more than you would spend in Xiamen;
There are a lot to discover on Gulangyu Islet, hope you will enjoy yourself.