KinCheng, meaning Golden City, is the main city in Kinmen, located on the greater Kinmen island. The secondary city is Shanwai. The ShangYi airport is between the two cities.
Kinmen means "Golden Gate"
Access is by air from Taiwan or by boat from Xiamen to Shuitou on the main Kinmen island (this link is now open to foreigners). You can take a flight on 3 of Taiwan's 4 domestic carries from the three bigger cities on Taiwan several times a day. One way tickets cost a little over 2000 NT dollars. Boats are NT$700 from Shuitou to Xiamen and CNY 180 from Xiamen to Shuitou and run once an hour between 0830 and 1730 in each direction. The journey takes about an hour.
There are taxis on the island, though you need pretty good Mandarin or Taiwanese skills to negotiate a flat rate with the driver. Otherwise there are a few buses that run around, but they are not frequent and bus stops aren't particularly convenient. It is easiest to just rent your own scooter. You can get a 150CC for about 550 NT dollars per 24 hours. Roads are all paved and there are good maps at every village and in every hotel. Road signs are written in both Chinese Characters and English / Hanyu Pinyin, so it is hard to get lost.
The late President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, left a calligraphy inscription in Kinmen, urging the ROC troops to fight on and to one day re-take the Mainland from the Communist bandits.
Wind Lion Gods
The Wind Lion Gods of Kinmen are unique statues all over the island, you can either see the originals in the villages (this can take some patience and hunting skills) or just go to the new Wind Lion God Park near the ShangYi Airport.
- The 8-2-3 Artillery battle museum is small but excellent, and even has a large amount of English signage to help explain the exhibits. There is also a Virtual War room where you can experience war for 3 minutes.
- The Kinmen cultural village is a great little plae to poke around, with Kinmens 2 best antique stores being located within the walls. Its is only 50 NT dollars to get in and a beautiful and well maintained example of Fujian style traditional Chinese houses with swallow tail roofs and was built towards the end of the 1800's.
If you can find all 63 "official" wind lion god statues, the ones that are represented in the park, and present proof to the park office, they will give you a special gift.
- Remember to pick up some cleavers from Kinmen. They are famous for making excellent quality cleavers. The steel is obtained from the hundred of thousands of bomb shells that the Communist forces fired at Kinmen, in a failed attempt to take the island away from the Nationalist troops. The most authenthic knives, and the best place for a factory tour is Maestro Wu's Knives.
KinMen is the home of Taiwan's distinctive "Kaoliang" liquor, a tequila-like hard liquor popular all over Taiwan. The factory is located right in the middle of the island, not far from the airport and is hard to miss with it's distinctive smell and two two-story liquor bottles guarding the front gates.
Though formal hostilities with the PRC ended by the early 1980s, Kinmen is still very much a front line area. Visitors are strongly advised not to wander off paved roads when exploring the island due to the possibility of running across old unmarked minefields. It is also advisible to avoid traveling to certain sensitive areas after dark, such as coastal areas or areas near military installations. Visitors should also obey all orders given by military personnel and avoid entering or photographing sensitive areas.