Attraction of the week

The heart of Guangzhou's former European concession—France and England both set up shop on this sandy river island in 1859 toward the end of the Opium Wars—Shamian Island...


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The Shuzhuang Garden (Shūzhuāng Huāyuán, 菽庄花园) is located on the quaint island of Gulangyu, just a short ferry ride across the Lujiang Channel from Xiamen. The garden, which was once the private residence of a Taiwanese businessman, was originally constructed to recreate the feel of a garden residence found in Taiwan. The grounds are filled with snaking paths that cross koi ponds, wind through rock sculptures and possess hidden sculptures of all 12 zodiac animals (can you find them all?). The garden is also home..

The Huli Shan Fortress (Húlǐ Shān Pàotái, 胡里山炮台) is a concrete defensive outpost on the south side of Xiamen, just across the water from the historically contentious Jinmen Islands. Xiamen was one of the treaty ports established by the Treaty of Nanking that ended the First Opium War in 1842. Though the British troops that shelled and captured the city in 1841 left the city proper and set up diplomatic shop on the small island of Gulangyu—an early foreign concession that today is a quaint pedestrian-only tourist..

Like most temples of its kind in China, Nanputuo Temple (Nánpǔtuó Sì, 南普陀寺) has seen its share of violence and destruction. The original constructions were built more than a millennium ago, then destroyed and later rebuilt in the Tang Dynasty, only to repeat the process in the Ming Dynasty and yet again during the Cultural Revolution. Later renovations in the early 1980's left the temple as it is today. The temple consists of four separate halls of worship, monk's quarters and some of the best maintained..

Underwater World Xiamen (Xiàmén Hǎidǐ Shìjiè, 厦门海底世界) is one of Mainland China's more impressive aquariums. It's home to more than 10,000 aquatic critters and creatures from around the world. The collection includes a large selection of fish, dolphins, penguins, eels, lobsters, sharks, starfish, seals, sturgeons and even a few piranhas shipped in from the Amazon. There is an underwater glass viewing tunnel which enables you to check out the sharks and other marine life up close. This is the highlight of..

Gulangyu (Gǔlàngyǔ, 鼓浪屿), literally "Drum Wave Islet," is located several hundred meters off Xiamen's southwestern tip and was the city's pre-World War II foreign concession. Christian missionaries and foreign diplomats established homes, schools and consulates on the islet in the 1920's. The study of piano proved more popular with the locals than the study of religion and in the following decades, Gulangyu churned out some of China's most skilled musicians. The history of this period is well documented in the Piano..

While many Chinese universities aren’t particularly attractive, Xiamen University (Xiàmén Dàxué, 厦门大学), founded in 1921 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Tan Kah Kee, stands out. The large, manicured green campus has a small lake and several ponds and is backed by rolling hills looking out to sea. Also worth checking out on a visit to the campus, more than 2,000 m (2,190 yd) of student artwork is displayed at the Furong Tunnel. Having made his fortune in a number of industries in Singapore,..

Students at Xiamen University certainly found a way to make the trek down this more than 1,000 m (1,094 yd) tunnel from the university's main campus to their outlying dorms more interesting. The white walls of the Xiamen University Furong Tunnel (Xià Dà Fúróng Suìdào, 厦大芙蓉隧道) are dotted with murals and paintings depicting cultural icons, historical events, political messages and personal monuments to friendships and classmates. This alternative art gallery of sorts is worth a look during an..

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