Visiting Xiamen

Xiamen is a city in a south-east province, Fujian, of China, where I spent the better part of the past half year studying Chinese.

I studied at Xiamen University. The main campus is in Siming district, which is in the city itself, but I studied at the campus in Xiang’an district, in a rural area, which was still under construction when I left. In my next post I’ll write about my lessons there.

During my stay in Xiamen I visited several landmarks, but the ones that stood out the most to me were the Tulou outside of the city.

Tulou are ancient buildings throughout Fujian province, made from earth, which is where the name tulou comes from. The characters for it are 土楼, meaning Earth and Building respectively. I have visited several and the most well known ones I saw were the ones in the Tianluokeng cluster. You can see them in my picture. When you look up images of tulou online these are the ones that you’ll find the most.

Tianluokeng Tulou cluster in Fujian, China

Tianluokeng Tulou cluster, seen from the top. One square Tulou surrounded by four round Tulou.


To go there I rented a taxi/tour guide with a group of friends. It took about 3 hours to go there from Xiang’an campus and we stayed in that area for another 4-5 hours. Besides that cluster we also visited another tulou which we saw up close and went inside and a village temple. I would strongly recommend to get a car to go there if you can or get a tour guide with one of those little tour busses. The places are far from where you buy the tickets and from each other, if you would go walking then you would be there all day.

But if old buildings aren’t your thing, there are many more places to go. I’ve been told that Siming campus of Xiamen University is the most beautiful campus of China. Nearby that campus are Nanputuo Temple and the Botanical Gardens, which are also definitely worth checking out. There is also Gulangyu, an island with many western building and several more attractions, and Zhongshan Road, a shopping road where you can wander and shop all day if you want to.