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With a sense of real history, Xiamen has developed on the trade of merchants from around the world, attracted by the location at the mouth of the Juilong (Dragon) River. Traders in previous centuries included those working in a less than legal fashion, commonly known as pirates, but all contributed to the success of a city which today is one of the more important commercial centres. Whilst it is actually built on an island, Xiamen is linked to the mainland by a bridge. Just a ten minute ferry ride away and you´ll be on another island, Gulang Yu. There is a remarkable collection of colonial buildings, mainly mansions built by traders from near and far. Today the city has the status of a Special Economic Zone, which offers the visitor great opportunities in shopping whilst the local beach areas, the offshore islands and some nineteen public parks and botanical gardens make Xiamen a great city to explore and enjoy.
Xiamen offers the tourist a balance of cultural and historical, natural and man-made tourist attractions. The city has miles of coastline and nice beaches to choose from. The city do not only offers historical sites like Buddhist Temple and Huli Shan Fort but also amazing gardens like Wanshi or why not visit the Underwater Sea World and look at the beautiful creatures?
Xiamen has a good mix of restaurants, with a high number of Italian pasta and pizza restaurants. However, not surprisingly, the Chinese cuisine is more abundant than any other in the city, and the range covers most of Chinas provinces, from Shanghai to Mongolia. With the Straits of Formosa and the South China Sea close by, it’s not surprising that many of the local delicacies are based on seafood. Fujian restaurants often specialise in crab dishes and other local dishes include: ginger duck, jellyfish salad, seasoned oysters and Xiamen fried noodles.
In the business district around Hubin Bei Lu Rd and the lakeside road of Yuandang Lu, there has been an upsurge of coffee shops and cafes, catering mainly for guests at the nearby hotels, business people and office workers; so if you want to take a break from touring the city, have a coffee around here!
Xiamen has more of the foreign style bars seen outside China than many of the cities in the country, apart from Shanghai and Beijing. Like the cafes, the bar scene has grown in the area around the big hotels on Jian Ye Lu and Huan Bei Lu Rd. As with all Chinese cities, there have been huge changes in the night entertainment scene. There are, in fact, far more music clubs in the western style nowadays as well as the ubiquitous karaoke clubs.
Xiamen is a great place for shopping, having been a foreign trading city for centuries. Today, the choice ranges from western designer shops to the smallest back street market. All are conveniently located on or around Zhongshan Road, which runs from the Zhongshan Park to the harbour area and the Ferry Wharf. The typical items you´ll find here include art and crafts, spices and olive oils, so make sure to save some time to purchase them!
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