Fuzhou may be the best-known least-known Chinese city out there. Fujianese culture has found its way around the world, yet beyond China most of world wouldn't know Fuzhou from Wenzhou, Dezhou or any number of other average zhou second-tier Chinese metropolises, despite the fact that countless Fujianese have departed over the years from the port of Fuzhou and settled in new lands around the world, bringing their traditions, language and cuisine with them. Today, around 2.5 million "overseas Chinese" claim Fujianese ancestry.
Fuzhou, which first gained fame abroad back in the 13th century days of Marco Polo and 15th century Ming Dynasty explorer Zheng He as China's nautical gateway to the world is today a rapidly modernizing city whose gleaming new high rises testify to its recent prosperity. Much of Fuzhou's growth has been fueled by Taiwanese investment, often supplied by cross-strait residents with Fujianese roots.
Behind its up-to-date surface, a few intriguing remnants of old Fuzhou remain, though barely enough to sustain a solid day of touring. The 1,000-year-old White Pagoda (Bai Ta) is balanced by the equally ancient black granite Black Pagoda (Wu Ta), and Chinese history buffs will appreciate the Fuzhou Provincial Museum and Lin Zexu Memorial Hall, dedicated to the Qing Dynasty official who took a stand against British opium importation, helping to kick off the disastrous (for the Chinese) First Opium War.
Fuzhou is also an excellent point of departure for the rugged beauty of Wuyi Shan and Taimu Shan in the Fujian Province interior; closer at hand, Gu Shan (Drum Mountain) is one the city's top attractions, with regular minibuses departing from downtown Fuzhou's Wuyi Square for Gu Shan's wooded slopes, dramatic views and 1,000-year old temple, Yongquan Si.