Gulangyu is a car-free island off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian province in southern China, about 2 square kilometres (0.77 sq mi) in area. It is home to about 20,000 people and is a domestic tourist destination.
Visitors can reach it by ferry from Xiamen Island in about 5 minutes. Gulangyu Island is renowned for its beaches and winding lanes and its varied architecture. The island is on China's list of National Scenic Spots and also ranks at the top of the list of the ten most-scenic areas in the province.Administratively, the island presently forms Gulangyu Subdistrict of Xiamen's Siming District.
Attractions on Gulangyu Island
As a place of residence for Westerners during Xiamen's colonial past, Gulangyu is famous for its architecture and for hosting China's only piano museum, giving it the nickname of "Piano Island" or "The Town of Pianos" or "The Island of Music". There are over 200 pianos on this island.
The Chinese name also has musical roots, as gu lang means drum waves so-called because of the sound generated by the ocean waves hitting the reefs. Yu means "islet". In addition, there is a museum dedicated to Koxinga, Haidi Shijie Marine World, a subtropical garden containing plants introduced by overseas Chinese, as well as Xiamen Museum, formerly the Eight Diagrams Tower.
The island of Gulangyu is a pedestrian-only destination, where the only vehicles on the islands are several fire trucks and electric tourist buggies. The narrow streets on the island, together with the architecture of various styles around the world, give the island a unique appearance. The site is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.
A discount card can be bought on the island which gives entry to The Statue of Koxinga, the Piano Museum, Sunlight Rock (including cable car ride), the Aviary, the Organ Museum and the International Calligraphic Carving Art Gallery for 80 RMB.
Statue Of Koxinga (Haoyue Garden), (5 minutes walk south east of the ferry terimal). Zheng Chenggong, or Koxinga as he is generally known in the West, is a Chinese hero revered both in Taiwan and on the mainland,because he drove the Dutch out of Taiwan in the 1660s. He was the son of a Japanese mother and a merchant and pirate from the Quanzhou area. There's an enormous statue of him on horseback on a hilltop in Quanzhou. As the Manchu conquerers of the Qing dynasty moved South, the father surrendered and became a Qing official, but the son fought on. At one point, his armies got as far as menacing Nanjing. His headquarters were at the South end of Gulang Yu; a watchtower and some other fortifications remain. Eventually, he found himself defeated on the mainland, so he went off and took over Taiwan. This was the first major Chinese incursion into Taiwan and was followed by a surge of immigration, mainly from the Xiamen and Quanzhou areas. Modern Taiwanese is essentially the Minnan dialect of those cities.
Shuzhuang Garden:Named after the original owner Lin Erjia (aka ShuZhuang), a wealthy Taiwanese businessman. Highlights include the 44 bridge, the Piano Museum (see below) and the rockery with hidden sculptures of all 12 zodiac animals. There is also a small private art museum to the right of the main entrance.
The Piano Museum (Shuzhuang Garden): A museum of piano through the ages, including rare specimens from the 1800s. The entry fee to Shuzhuang Garden (normally 30 RMB) includes entrance to the museum. Guided tours several times a day include performances on a few of the instruments.
Sunlight Rock:This is the highest point on the island with great views as far as Xiamen. Entry included into Buddhist temple, the Aviary and a cable car ride to the aviary on Yingxiong Hill. Warning: climbing to the top involves a lot of stairs, so probably not good for young children or the elderly.
The Aviary:Over 1000 birds from over 100 countries. Many peacocks, including a rare Albino, several types of cranes, lots of ducks/geese, and other large birds (e.g. emus). Watch for falling excrement. Aviary performances take place several times per day.
International Calligraphic Carving Art Gallery:A small gallery of carved calligraphy from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean artists. Admission normally 10 RMB. Entrance near the main gate of Shuzhuang Garden.
Underwater World (from the ferry terminal, walk to the right and look for the big blue building). Admission is a steep 90 RMB for adults, 50 RMB for children/seniors, but you can just stand outside and take photos of the Jules Verne-esque octopus statue.
Gulangyu Organ Museum: Organ Museum is in the Trigram House (Bagualou) northwestern Gulangyu, which is currently the only and the largest organ museum in the world. Matched with the piano museum in southeastern Shuzhuang Garden, it attracts a lot of music lovers around the world who cherish the feelings of pilgrims to this unmatchable beautiful music island. There are uncountable styles of organ collected in this museum.
Bright Moon Garden: Bright Moon Garden (Haoyueyuan) is on the Covering Rock (Fudingyan) in the eastern coastal Gulangyu, covers an area of 30,000 square meters, spreading along the shore of Lujiang. It is a garden of sandy beach, rocks, trees and pavilions. Founded in 1985, its name "Haoyue Yuan" is from two poet lines of "the volume of King II of Yanping'. In the park stands a giant bronze sculpture consisted of statues of Zheng Chenggong and his military which are totally 13.7 meters long and 4.7 meters high, made by 18 tons of copper.