Xiamen City Guide — The Garden Island
Consistently ranked highly as a “suitable city for living”, as well as being named China’s “most romantic leisure city,” Xiamen offers an incredible environment to live in, accessible only by one of the four bridges from mainland China.
Located in the south eastern province of Fujian and famous for its tree-lined beaches and fresh sea air, it’s easy to see why many locals want to escape the smoggy larger cities to visit Xiamen. Xiamen is a port city with long-standing history that includes being occupied by Japan for the duration of the Second World War.
Xiamen offers history, culture, and great weather in a relatively small city environment, (as far as Chinese population standards go) making it the perfect place to get to know China better.
Why Should Someone Teach English in Xiamen?
Xiamen’s climate is a huge draw for most foreigners in the city. With temperatures in the winter averaging 17°C (62°F) and in the summer 32°C (89°F), it’s easy to see why people like to live here. There can be typhoons during the late summer and early autumn, which can cause disruption, however on the whole, the weather is very favourable. If you don’t like cold conditions or snow, Xiamen is the place for you as the last recorded snowfall was in 1893!
Xiamen has a great selection of sights to see, which draw in tourists from all over the world, as well as domestic tourism too, although the Chinese have a very different way of experiencing beaches compared to their foreign counter parts.
Gulangyu is the most famous attraction in Xiamen. It is a small islet a 5 minute ferry ride from Xiamen, famous for its Victorian style architecture, a consequence of China’s loss in the first Opium War in 1842. Gulangyu boasts China’s only piano museum and the island itself is “musical” in the sense that the name “gulang” means drum waves, from the sound of the waves hitting the reefs around the island. “Yu” in Chinese means “islet.” Gulangyu also offers many different kinds of souvenirs to purchase and send home, or indulge in many of the treats on offer such as sucking the seeds of a passion fruit out with a straw…
Xiamen has economic and trade relations with 162 countries and many hundreds of projects which involve foreign investment. This means that there is a lot of business in Xiamen, business needing English as a common language and therefore many students of all ages looking for teachers.
A place at Xiamen University is highly sought after by young Chinese students, as there are also many foreign students studying there too. This results in a large expat community, enjoying activities together with their Chinese colleagues.
Xiamen offers so much in the way of food. Seafood is high on the list, not surprising considering it’s a port. Street food is popular here too, with influence from the near neighbor of Taiwan. Items such as shou zhua bing (literally “grasping cake”), a very light pastry filled with egg, bacon, chicken, beef anything of your choice really, for just 10RMB £1/US$1.60)
There’s also plenty of western style restaurants for those days where you just don’t want a Chinese meal.
What Does it Cost to Live in Xiamen?
Xiamen offers a wide choice of accommodation, food and day-to-day pricing options. Street food is the cheapest, however eating in a Western-style restaurant is more expensive. Spend a day at the beach and pay nothing, or spend 380RMB (£38/US$61) and lounge in luxury at a hot springs resort for a day.
There are plenty of shopping malls in Xiamen with the SM Mall housing cheaper clothing brands such as H&M, you can spend time browsing in stores such as Gucci and Burberry in the Paragon Center or spend your RMB in some of the night markets along Siming and Dinghai Road.
Whatever your budget or needs, Xiamen offers it all.
One Liter of Water
One Liter of Milk
Gym membership (per month)
Getting to Xiamen:
Arriving in Xiamen is easy. There’s the fantastic Gaoqi international airport which services the city and whilst a transfer is usually required in Hong Kong, Beijing or Guangzhou , these airports are all easy to navigate even for the most inexperienced traveler.
Feeling more adventurous? Try an overnight bus from Hong Kong, a fast (8 hour) train or even an overnight train from Shanghai.
There’s even the opportunity to get the ferry to Taiwan from Xiamen; foreigners do not need a visa to visit (although you will need a multiple-entry Chinese visa to get back again!), whereas our Chinese counterparts would need a visa to visit Taiwan. Best not to discuss this in too much detail with your Chinese colleagues however.
Is Xiamen A Good Fit For You?
Xiamen is a really easy city to settle down in for your first experience in China. It has a great balance of expat culture, as well as still being able to experience China to its fullest. The climate is very favourable for those wishing to escape a chilly winter or unpredictable summer at home.
Originally published at newlifeesl.com on July 8, 2015.