Gulangyu has a population around 15,000. Cars and motorcycles are banned from the island. There are a lot of ex-colonial buildings and many shops geared towards tourists.
This island is extremely popular with Chinese tourists, who arrive in droves, usually in large tour groups. Although the island is quite scenic, the noisy crowds can at times diminish its attractiveness. Nonetheless, the island makes for a pleasant short stay and offers an experience quite unique in China.
Take the five-minute ferry ride across the harbour.
The island is small enough to walk around, but there are golfcart-type battery-powered taxis.
University of Design set almost in the middle of the island has some of the most beautiful and granite sculptures. Well worth seeing is a very old Buddhist temple not far away.
Zheng Chenggong, or Koxinga as he is generally known in the West, is a Chinese hero revered both in Taiwan and on the mainland, because he drove the Dutch out of Taiwan in the 1660s. He was the son of a Japanese mother and a merchant and pirate from the Quanzhou area. There's an enormous statue of him on horseback on a hilltop in Quanzhou. As the Manchu conquerers of the Qing dynasty moved South, the father surrendered and became a Qing official, but the son fought on. At one point, his armies got as far as menacing Nanjing. His headquarters were at the South end of Gulang Yu; a watchtower and some other fortifications remain. Eventually, he found himself defeated on the mainland, so he went off and took over Taiwan. This was the first major Chinese incursion into Taiwan and was followed by a surge of immigration, mainly from the Xiamen and Quanzhou areas. Modern Taiwanese is essentially the Minnan dialect of those cities.
The South end of the island also has some lovely gardens with a lot of various types of eucalyptus.
Visit the Red Dragon shop which sells wonderful pure clear crystal and about 2000 other types of crystal. To be found five minutes walk on the left hand side of the main road leading from the ferry terminal. Delightful owner employs four or five chatty, helpful and witty assistants. Worth half a days leisurely browse!
The food on the island is not especially good, since it caters to tourists who rarely come back a second time. However, if you enjoy seafood, you may be pleasantly surprised, as Gulang Yu's local cuisine tends to emphasize seafood. The streets are lined with restaurants and food stalls that sell a variety of such dishes. Prices are more expensive than in Xiamen.
- "Shirley Valentine" on the far side of the island serves fresh fish and noodles. Recommended are the mussels with noodles and green tea. A seat under an umbrella on the sea shore is a must.
There are numerous places to stay on Gulangyu. Near the ferry wharf there are several places within a stone's throw of each other. When you get off the ferry, walk straight. Immediately on your left, you will see a stone stairway leading to the top of a small hill. Around the corner you will find an international youth hostel, Naya Home Hotel , and Bayview Inn.
This page was last edited at 03:44, on 23 August 2008 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Jim Nicholson, David Straub, Ann and Simone Bravo, Wikitravel user(s) Pashley and Jonboy and Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel.