In addition to sandy beaches, charming Fujianese-style villages, impressive villas, quiet country roads and a fascinating history that includes tales of the legendary Chinese military general Koxinga, Jinmen is a great visa exit-stamp alternative to Hong Kong and offers cheaper flights to Taipei.
Just two kilometers off the coast of China's Fujian province lies the small archipelago of islands formerly known to the west as Quemoy and today called Kinmen or Jinmen.
Though just a one-hour ferry ride from Xiamen, the largest of them, Greater Jinmen Island, makes for a refreshing break from the mainland.
Traditional saddle-back houses
The Deyue Tower in Shuitou village
Zhaishan tunnel in Kinmen, Taiwan
Juguang Tower built in 1952 as a memorial to fallen soldiers. Jincheng, Kinmen
Schedule: Xiamen, Kinmen, Shuitou Village, Juguang Tower, Zhaishan Tunnel, Ci Lake, Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Forest, Duty-Free Store, Kinmen Civil Defence Tunnel, Xiamen
Morning: Take ferry from Xiamen to Kinmen, and then take a tour bus to visit ancient Fujianese-style buildings and some Western-style buildings in Shuitou Village. Visit the imposing Juguang Tower and learn the history and development of Kinmen. Then head to Zhaishan Tunnel, which used to be a key military base for Kinmen when Taiwan and the mainland were still at war. Have lunch at a local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit Ci Lake, a huge saltwater lake which is the foremost bird watching area in Kinmen. Stroll along the bank of Ci Lake to overlook the beautiful Little Kinmen Island and Xiamen Island. Transfer to Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Forest, visit Rushan Gulei Military Park and Memorial Hall of Chiang Ching-kuo, the former Taiwanese leader. Visit the duty free shop, and then watch the creation process of Kinmen’s famous “Peanut Candy”. Transfer to the Kinmen Civil Defence Tunnel, which was built by the local government as a bomb shelter during the war between the mainland and Taiwan in the 1970s.