The amazing island of Gu Lang Yu in China is totally worth a visit. It’s an island on the coastal side of the Fujian Province attached to the city of Xiamen. All very remarkable – to reach Gu Lang Yu you can take a ferry from Xiamen.
There is decent history on Gu Lang Yu, music and colonial wise. Indeed a few countries all influence the architecture on the streets of Gu Lang Yu. If you make it to Xiamen, most people head to Gu Lang Yu anyway and if you read on you’ll see why it shouldn’t be missed. An unusual part of your trip to Gu Lang Yu is the fact that to get there you have to pass through the island of Xiamen anyway! You can reach Xiamen by bus – I came from Shuyang Town and get a ferry from Xiamen seafront harbour direct to Gu Lang Yu.
How do you get to Gu Lang Yu? – The only option at present (and probably for the future) is by ferry from Xiamen. Get yourself to the waterside harbour at Xiamen and the ferry terminal is hard to miss. Make sure you just find the cheapest ferry to Gu Lang Yu – the cheapest one often doesn’t go direct, it takes you on a tour round the island first before you land.
The slow boat is arguably better as it gives you a great view of the city and the bonus being it’s also cheaper. At the time we went it was 15 RMB for a return trip, but this does vary and I’ve even heard it can be free on one of the decks at an off peak time if you stand up.
What is there for me to see and do on Gu Lang Yu? – Despite being a small island, this is a great island and here are my top sightseeing tips:
1. Make the climb to Sunlight Rock – this is the peak of the island and is totally sensational for the views! It’s an easy walk up and the entrance price of 60 RMB also includes entry to a memorial hall. It is a bit over priced but worth seeing the view!
2. Colonial Style Buildings – Gu Lang Yu features a bizarre varied range of Colonial Style Buildings. For some unknown reason it reminded me of Macau in parts. There are British, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese and Chinese style buildings showing a diverse influence on this island. There is probably not another place in China that is like this (I class Hong Kong and Macau as separate to China).
3. Pretty Cobbled Streets – The pretty, lively cobbled streets are busy but enjoyable to walk down.
Gu Lang Yu is very different to mainland China – just by walking through it you get to appreciate a few of the finer things in life – the amazing architecture. Take your time to walk and admire – this type of street design maybe common in Europe but not in China!
4. The Music Influence – Gu Lang Yu is famous for its music. It has been nicknamed ‘Piano Island’ by locals and the Chinese. Lots of famous pianists come from Gu Lang Yu, which is incredible as its a very small island. When I was there I saw a free music parade and festival.
* There are also museums, colonial residences, a cable car ride, a Protestant church and a waterfront garden as well.
Where should you stay? On Gu Lang Yu, space is limited bu there is a hostel on one of the first main streets after you leave the ferry terminal. It’s easy to find in fact.
In a nutshell that’s actually it – staying the night there could be an option and you could enjoy the bars and restaurants after dark, I visited Gu Lang Yu Island as a day trip only though, and that’s enough time to see everything you want. At least in my opinion. For details of the bus trip to Xiamen, check this post here: Shuyang Town to Xiamen and the amazing Fujian Buildings are covered in 9 different posts, here’s The Chengqi Building.
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