Gulangyu: China's loveliest island
"Two legs good, four wheels bad," might be the unofficial motto of Gulangyu Island, which lies a short way offshore from the city of Xiamen.
With the warm climate, good air quality, abundant beaches and laid-back lifestyle, Xiamen (厦门) is one of the most pleasant places to visit and live in China: but a lot of the credit goes to its tourism magnet, Gulangyu (鼓浪屿).
The island, which is just under two kilometers square, is a five-minute ferry ride from Xiamen’s urbanized city center and is most famous for its beaches, seafood and a refreshing lack of automobiles, which are banned.
Gulangyu is nicknamed "Piano Island." With a population of around 25,000, the subtropical town contains more than 5,000 pianos and a 450-square-meter piano museum, showcasing more than 40 ancient pianos from around the world.
The other main draw of Gulangyu is the large number of colonial houses -- a legacy of having been an international settlement of 14 different countries in the 19th and early 20th century.
Click the above gallery to enjoy Gulangyu’s mellow lifestyle away from noise, traffic jams and pollution.
China Eastern, Juneyao Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Xiamen Airlines and Spring Airlines fly to Xiamen daily from Shanghai.
A taxi from the airport to the pier takes about 20 minutes, followed by a five-minute ferry ride to reach Gulangyu. Ferry fare is RMB 8 per person.
The island contains many cute hotels in beautiful colonial houses, but budget travelers should look to stay in Xiamen rather than on Gulangyu Island.
Visitors can land at Gulangyu for free at the moment, but the local government is planning to charge an entry fee from July 2012. The fee is expected to be between RMB 100-150.