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Magical Island Of Gulang Yu

Gu Lang Yu is a superb magical island off the coast of Xiamen in the Fujian Province of China. To reach it you take a ferry from Xiamen. It’s a very different type of island and definitely worth a visit!

Gu Lang Yu has fascinating history, splendid views, colonial architecture and quirky restaurants, cafes and shops. It is very touristy and very busy but it is definitely worth checking out. It might be a cliche, but try your best not to miss it when you’re in Xiamen (although remember your journey is your own so you don’t have to listen to me!!). The oddest part of this bit of travelling is actually that Xiamen the city is on an island itself. Having arrived in Xiamen by bus (from Shuyang Town) we then walked around, had our lunch and headed on a ferry to another Chinese Island, this one is Gu Lang Yu!

How do you get to Gu Lang Yu? – The only option at present (and probably for the future) is by ferry from Xiamen. Get yourself to the waterside harbour at Xiamen and the ferry terminal is hard to miss. Make sure you just find the cheapest ferry to Gu Lang Yu – the cheapest one often doesn’t go direct, it takes you on a tour round the island first before you land.

I would recommend getting the slower, cheaper boat simply for the view – you can relax and enjoy the views of the harbour and if the weather is good, the city looks stunning. The ferry was 15 RMB return at the time we went almost a year ago, but there are cheaper and even free off peak times so look out for that!

What is there for me to see and do on Gu Lang Yu? – Despite being a small island, this is a great island and here are my top sightseeing tips:

1. Climb to Sunlight Rock – Climbing to the highest point of the island of Gulang Yu is recommended. Sunlight Rock is the English translation and the views are exquisite and the exercise of the climb up is also good for you. To get there basically follow signs for Sunlight Rock climb when you are on the island and you will find it, through the flurry of cobbled streets. Entrance to walk up there is a fee of 60 RMB which also includes a small memorial hall. It’s a rip off and it’s over-priced, especially for China, BUT I’d say do it as the view is spectacular as you can see.

2. All the Colonial Buildings – these buildings all over the streets of Gu Lang Yu have influences from all over the world. The architecture can be seen bearing similarities to Britain, Japan, Holland, Italy and Spain! It’s a real special thing to see and rare to get this in China.

3. Pretty Cobbled Streets – The pretty, lively cobbled streets are busy but enjoyable to walk down.

Just by walking round Gu Lang Yu you will appreciate the finer things in life – such as how pretty and wonderful the street architecture and layout is. Although this type of thing may be common in Europe, it’s almost unheard of in parts of China. Walk slowly and take it all in!

4. Music – there is a heavy music influence on Gu Lang Yu and it’s famous for it. Famous pianists have hailed from this small island and there are regular music events and festivals worth watching.

* Aside from this there are museums, a cable car option, even a Protestant Church and some colonial dwelling places to see.

Where to stay on Gu Lang Yu? – There’s a hostel on Gu Lang Yu which is difficult to miss, it’s on one of the main streets when you arrive by ferry and is prominent. It’s a Hostelling International – it’s probably the cheapest option on the island.

So there you have it – a very brief but essential guide to the island of Gu Lang Yu in Fujian Province in China. Whether you choose it as just a day trip, or an overnight stop, you will enjoy it. It’s just that little bit different to the China we are used to!

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