​Back to the basics

Updated: May 15, 2019 Print
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Shapowei, a still functional fishing harbor, is the last remains of Xiamen Port's origins. [Photo/IC]

Within walking distance to Xiamen University lies Shapowei (沙坡尾), an ancient harbor area that retains its old look amid the city's rapid development.

Full of country life and folk culture, there's a certain romance to fishing harbors and Shapowei is one of the best in Fujian.

Picturesquely nestled on a narrow beach, this little harbor charms with its inherited fisherman lifestyle fused with post-modern artistic creations, as the local government has brought in a cultural industry to stimulate tourism.


Fishermen in contemporary times live in harmony with post-modern designs. [Photo/IC]

In the western part is Shapowei Art Zone, which was transformed from a deserted plant, and now features creative paintings, pottery exhibitions, and many other art activities.

Young musicians in Xiamen and renowned art troupes from home and abroad stage performances every week in the art zone.

Senior residents swing back and forth in their rocking chairs, teapots at tea houses hiss steam, and vendors shout about their goods at Shapowei. All of the aforementioned scenes can evoke the most primitive sense of belonging deep in each traveler's heart and then they often find that they never want to leave.


Fish boats dock in Shapowei at night. There are always places in each city that carries the traces of its old times and has witnessed its many changes, and Xiamen's Shapowei (meaning "end of a beach") is such a place. [photo/IC]

The atmosphere evokes what Xiamen used to be.

Address: 84 Daxue Road, Siming District, Xiamen


Encircling the island of Xiamen is a 30-kilometer road that loops around it,  offering stunning views of the island's spectacular coastline and connecting some of its best white sand beaches. [Photo/IC]

Cycling is a popular way to tour the island. Rental stalls for tandem bikes for two or three people are conveniently scattered along the major roads. 

This form of low-carbon tourism not only visitors offers a leisurely moment to decide their next stop, but also guarantees an enjoyable traveling experience amid the pleasant sunshine, fresh air, and calm breeze. Visitors should remember to apply enough sunscreen and wear sunglasses if they visit during the hottest times of year.

Tips: A bike normally is available for rent for 15 yuan ($2.40) per hour; tandem bikes are 30 yuan per hour. The price varies among different rental stalls and visitors can bargain with the vendors.


Zengcuoan in Siming district of Xiamen was once a small fishing village dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) [Photo/IC]

Another 'must go' destination for visitors to Xiamen is Zengcuoan (曾厝垵), which was once a small fishing village dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Now, it has built than 1,200 themed inns, shops, and restaurants that pack its narrow alleys winding up and down. It receives over 10 million visitors every year and is also known as a gathering place for some of the brightest artistic minds.

Although the place is not prominent on the map, Zengcuoan draws seas of tourists with its artistic-style architecture, tasty dishes, and assortment of creative products.

At the sunset hour, the fading glow of the sun drops on the quiet beach, as just a few meters away, the alleys of Zengcuoan still bustle with tourists from across the world enjoying their coffee, cakes, and seafood barbecue.


The Zengcuoan area is as busy in the evening as it is during the day. [Photo/IC]

While some tourists choose quick tours because of tight schedules, most prefer to enjoy taking it slow, staying in a local inn for days to try all types of local food, buy handicrafts or just to enjoy the view.

A must-try local snack is called Yusun Jelly (土笋冻), also known as sea worm jelly. Sea worm is a type of worm found in a muddy seabed. Before cooking, the sea worm should be washed thoroughly to remove the guts and sand. 

When the worm is tenderly cooked, the pectin of it mixes with the water and finally turns into a type of jelly. Before serving, people add many seasonings, such as soy sauce, vinegar, chili, mustard, and garlic.


Like many resorts across the world, shop owners in Zengcuoan are known for their pleasant demeanor and warm smile when welcoming tourists. [Photo/IC]

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