2017 Xiamen Kinmen Asia East Asia Fujian Island Kinmen Taiwan Taiwan Island Travel travel guide War

Of borders and barracks: My guide to Taiwan’s Kinmen 金門 Island

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I like nothing greater than renting a scooter and exploring the nooks and crannies of Taiwan’s many offshore islands – I’d made it to Lyudao and Lanyu on Taitung, the japanese coast of Taiwan and they turned out to be a few of my all-time favorite locations on the earth. On my journey to Xiamen, I debated exploring extra of China however ended up popping over to Kinmen, which is nearer to China than it’s to Taiwan.

Kinmen 金門 has a markedly totally different vibe from the japanese islands. Its proximity to China signifies that it has spent a lot of its historical past in battle with China, and a variety of the sights to see on the island revolve round this struggle. I ended up visiting a whole lot of previous army bases and tunnels, however one factor I liked was the unique Fujian structure that you could nonetheless see plenty of across the island.

In the event you’re wanting to go to Kinmen, take a look at my little guide on what I feel is value seeing.

Guide to Kinmen 金門

How to get to Kinmen

The route I took to Kinmen known as the Xiaosantong 小三通 or interprets immediately into Small Three Hyperlinks, the place I got here from China as an alternative of Taiwan: I flew into Xiamen by way of Xiamen Airways, and from Wutong Passenger Wharf 五通客运码头, I took a brief ferry journey over to Kinmen that took simply half an hour to Shuitou Business Port 水頭 in Jincheng on the south-west nook. A one-way ticket value me 160 RMB / NTD725 (about S$32) I purchased my tickets on the harbour, and perhaps as a result of it was a weekday, it wasn’t very crowded in any respect.

In case you are flying from mainland Taiwan, there are flights from Taipei and different main hubs to Kinmen’s Shang Yi airport金門尚義機場 (KNH) in Jinhu on the south-eastern aspect of the island – right here’s the schedule. The flight takes about an hour and you have got Three airways to select from: Uni Airways, Mandarin Airways and Far Japanese Air Transport and there are a number of flights a day.

Extra information on how to get to Kinmen right here.

The bizarre mushroom factor

One odd factor I observed when ready across the port was the variety of individuals approaching me to ask me to carry some mushrooms from Xiamen throughout to Kinmen for a small charge. Clearly I’ve taken these Airport notices about not carrying anybody else’s stuff for them to coronary heart so I stated no, however apparently Chinese language mushrooms are massive enterprise in Taiwan.

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Getting round Kinmen

My most popular means: by scooter

As with the opposite Taiwanese islands, one of the simplest ways to see Kinmen is to lease a scooter and go your personal means. My hostel beneficial me to take a look at Guancheng Automotive Rental 冠城租車 whose essential workplace is in Jincheng and I made pre-trip preparations with them by way of Line – they ship a automotive to decide you up and convey you to the workplace to settle your paper work and allow you to decide up your car. On my return journey, I dropped the scooter again at their workplace, and they in turned drove me to the ferry terminal.

This automotive rental place was fairly strict concerning the Worldwide License as nicely, and what I discovered was that my Worldwide Automotive Driving License was not going to get me a traditional scooter – they might solely lease me the electrical scooter as a result of whereas I had a world license, I didn’t have a motorcycle license.

Kinmen Huxia Sunset Scooter Jumpshot

Me and my trusty little blue scooter at sundown

I opted for the smaller of the 2 electrical scooters sizes and it value NT$600 per day. It in all probability turned out to be a blessing in disguise as a result of electrical scooters are simply much less noisy and you don’t have to fear about gasoline, however there’s a velocity cap so very often I used to be the slowest shifting car on a street – I had a max velocity of 30-40km/h going downhill. You possibly can change the battery free of charge however I had to ensure that my battery didn’t run out midway, however I discovered that the scooter can undoubtedly final one full day of exercise simply.

I actually loved scooting round Kinmen, however a notice of warning that in contrast to Lanyu and Lyudao that are a lot smaller, you possibly can find yourself fairly misplaced in case you aren’t cautious in Kinmen, so ensure that to have Google Maps or Maps.me (offline) available.

Different transport choices

Lease a automotive: When you rented a automotive, a ballpark determine for a sedan automotive rental can be about NT$1,500+/day (S$70), which may prevent cash for those who have been in a gaggle of Four. Guancheng additionally presents automotive rental providers.

Rent a taxi: If you’d like to rent a taxi for sightseeing, it might in all probability value you about NT$Three,000 for a full day.

Vacationer Bus: There’s a vacationer bus service or 好行路線 with Four totally different strains overlaying the key points of interest throughout Kinmen – Strains A&B cowl the west aspect whereas C&D cowl the east aspect – in addition to a fifth line E particularly for searching down the quite a few wind god statues throughout the island. The vacationer bus follows a hard and fast schedule the place it stops at every attraction for a hard and fast time period, so it’s a fairly fuss-free method to see all the key sights in 2-Three days however you’ve little or no flexibility of your personal to wander or skip spots. There are Three tickets – half day (NT$250/S$12), full day (NT$400/S$18), 2-day (NT$700/S$32).

Public Buses: There’s a small public bus system that value simply NT$12 (S$zero.50) per experience, however these buses aren’t probably the most frequent (each hour or so) and solely run from 6am to 5pm, so that you may run into points within the night if you’d like to have dinner in a unique spot or try to catch the sundown someplace.

Free bicycles: The native council is encouraging biking and providing free bike leases on Kinmen, and the overall panorama is fairly flat so biking is doable in case you are intrepid sufficient.

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Kinmen is a butterfly-shaped island – it has a slender centre portion like somebody pinched it within the center. The primary hub of exercise occurs in Jincheng 金城 within the south-western aspect, I often drove to this city for dinner because it was the primary ‘city centre’ and there was extra exercise occurring right here as compared. When you don’t have your personal transport, Jincheng might be the perfect place for you to keep.

Kinmen Beishan Old Western House Facade Fujian

Beishan Previous Western Fashion Home from the surface maintains its very conventional exterior

I stayed within the Jinning 金寧 district within the northwestern nook of Kinmen, in a bit of village referred to as Beishan 北山 in a heritage constructing turned hostel referred to as the Beishan Previous Western Type Home 北山古洋樓 [booking.com affiliate link] for NT$ 600 (S$27) per night time.

This hostel is a bit out of the best way and a lot quieter in contrast to Jincheng – my plan was to decide up my scooter and journey right here, however I ended up taking the general public bus right here, from Shuitou to Jincheng interchange (Bus #7), and then Jincheng to Beishan (Bus #10). Every bus journey value me simply 12 NTD (S$zero.50) and it was fairly clean and straightforward to discover.

Kinmen Beishan Old Western House Facade War

The again aspect of the home nonetheless exhibits the marks of struggle

The hostel is inbuilt a historic conventional Fujian-style home that also bears the bullet holes from the wars, and can also be a protected heritage constructing within the Kinmen Nationwide Park space. It’d look a bit shabby on the surface, however the inside is a unique story – I spent my evenings chitchatting with the proprietor, a pleasant native man who lived in mainland Taiwan and moved again to his house to construct this hostel as a result of there aren’t actually some other backpacker type hostels in Kinmen. He’s travelled quite a bit as nicely, and he  is aware of what backpackers like – the amenities just like the showers and bogs are top-notch and higher than some motels I’ve stayed in.

Kinmen Beishan Old Western House Courtyard

The courtyard – there’s a standard room and visitor rooms on the correct, extra rooms and the bogs on the left, and behind me is that broken-down little bit of the home that’s cordoned off to visitors

There are nice communal areas as properly, and in all probability my solely grievance is that the bunk mattresses are extra like mattress padding than precise mattress so it may be robust when you like softer beds (like me). I extremely advocate unbiased travellers to verify this place out.

Verify them out on reserving.com [affiliate link] for more information.

Kinmen Beishan Old Western House Dorm Room

My Eight-bed dorm room – my mattress on the underside left

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Issues to do on Kinmen

I spent Three days zipping across the island on my scooter to see what I might discover. A lot of the extra fascinating sights to see on Kinmen have to do with its warfare historical past and Fujian heritage, however there are some fairly pure sights value testing as nicely.

Jincheng 金城

That is the central space of Kinmen and Jincheng city is the busiest space and the place you’re almost certainly to discover some life within the evenings. I spent most evenings getting dinner on this space.

Jincheng Strolling Tour

In accordance to my hostel proprietor, this strolling tour referred to as the Lovely Houpu Strolling Tour (Houpu is the one identify of Jincheng) is the one exercise that occurs at night time in Kinmen as a result of there isn’t a lot nightlife right here. Head to the Kinmen Army HeadQuarters of Qing Dynasty to join this tour that takes you on a little bit of a stroll round Jincheng to see some well-known previous buildings and give some perception into the historical past of Kinmen and its structure. This constructing is fairly fascinating in itself – it’s house to a very previous and large tree and whereas has had many makes use of, and now presently is a little bit of a museum and the county administrative workplace.

Particulars: The tour begins each night at 7.30pm and is free/tips-based, you simply have to present up . The tour is carried out solely in Chinese language, so in the event you don’t converse English, perhaps simply take a look at the route listed and probe for your self.

Kinmen Night Tour Guide

On the tour

Juguang Tower 莒光樓

The primary attraction I visited in Kinmen is that this tower simply south of Jincheng. It appears a bit like a temple perched on prime of a mini fort due to the classical type. This three-storey tower has a mini exhibition inside (and some fairly superior roof deco) that pays tribute to Lai Sheng Ming, a struggle hero from the battles for Dadan and Erdan, 2 smaller islands shut by. There’s a reasonably good view of the west coast from up there.

Open 8am – 10pm

Kinmen Juguang Tower

Getting into the tower

Kinmen Juguang Tower View

View from the highest – that’s Jincheng to the fitting

Kinmen Juguang Tower Phone Box

Additionally look out for this lovely phonebox that has the Kinmen identify in Chinese language characters! I ended up shopping for a memento container that appeared like this

Shuitou Village 水頭

Shuitou Village is fairly shut to the port and it’s fairly straightforward to spot thanks to the enormous bottle of Kaoliang Liquor proper on the junction. It’s a quiet little village with over 700 years of historical past, house to a number of the richest abroad Chinese language who despatched cash house to construct a few of these fascinating previous structure that’s a mixture of Chinese language and Western inspirations.

Kinmen Shuitou Road Gaoliang Deyue

The street to Shuitou village is to the suitable of the enormous bottle

I ended at Jinshui Elementary Faculty 金水國小 which was the most important faculty constructing in Kinmen. It has since been become a museum of types and has numerous exhibition panels in its many little rooms explaining the historical past of Kinmen and its individuals.

Open 8am – 5pm

Kinmen Shuitou Jinshui Elementary

Constructed thanks to donations from rich abroad Chinese language who made their fortune overseas and despatched the cash house

Proper behind the varsity is Deyue Tower 得月樓, 11+m excessive and constructed again in 1931. It’s truly a gun tower Four-storeys up for army defence towards pirates and is one among Kinmen’s tallest buildings. I didn’t go up the tower, however apparently the steps are moveable picket steps so within the occasion they have been attacked, they might climb the tower and pull up the steps so their enemies couldn’t comply with!

Open 830am – 530pm

Kinmen Shuitou Deyue Tower

Deyue tower on the left is related to the home by a tunnel

Subsequent to Deyue Tower is one other home referred to as the Abroad Chinese language Tradition Museum, and has extra reveals detailing the life and occasions of the abroad Chinese language again within the day. It was fairly cool seeing how some Singaporean and Southeast Asian tradition was transmitted again by these abroad Chinese language individuals. Western fashion homes particularly have been influenced by the Colonialists of the time and turned a logo of wealth within the Chinese language group.

Open 8am – 5pm

Kinmen Shuitou Overseas Chinese Cultural Hall Me

Are you able to see the Peranakan influenced tiles within the background?

Kinmen Kaoliang Manufacturing unit & Museum

One well-known product from Kinmen is Kaoliang or Gaoliang alcohol. This clear alcohol often is available in anyplace from 38-58% proof and is fairly rattling robust. I popped into 2 locations to take a look at some Kaoliang for myself – it principally jogs my memory of vodka and enjoyable reality – Kaoliang is seemingly one in every of Taiwan’s prime exports proper now and most of it’s produced right here in Kinmen.

First I ended up on the Kinmen Kaoliang Manufacturing unit, and whereas you are able to do a brief guided tour across the manufacturing unit twice a day, I didn’t know that so I ended up simply heading to the store and making an attempt somewhat little bit of the 58% Kaoliang – wooh child that was robust stuff.

Open 8am-12pm, 130pm-530pm. The manufacturing unit permits 100 pax to enter their premises twice a day at 9am and 2pm (50 minutes and free! Extra right here)

Kinmen Gaoliang Factory

I really like the doorway, it’s so grand!

Kinmen Gaoliang Factory Sample

Appears innocuous however is fairly lethal.

Simply across the nook from the manufacturing unit is a really conventional Fujian construction which additionally turned out to be the Kaoliang museum. It’s free for you to wander round in – it exhibits the extra conventional approach that Kaoliang is brewed, and there’s a video documentary on the brewing course of as properly.

Kinmen Gaoliang Museum Entrance

Love the normal Fujian constructing

Kinmen Gaoliang Museum Statue

Proper outdoors the museum is that this statue of Kaoliang

Zhaishan Tunnels 翟山坑道

I visited the Zhaishan Tunnels very shut to closing time so sadly I didn’t have a number of time to spend there. These underground tunnels that headed out to sea have been blasted out of granite within the 60s and meant to shield army boats.

If you enter lately, you’re greeted with classical music that reverberates across the tunnels as you stroll in – there’s an annual symphonic music pageant referred to as the Kinmen Tunnel Music Pageant that takes place proper inside these tunnels.

Open 8am – 5pm

Kinmen Zhaishan Tunnels Water

the canal that leads out to the ocean – sadly I didn’t have time to comply with that pathway

Different spots I stumbled throughout en route to these two locations that you could take a look at in case you have sufficient time:

Kinmen Gugang Tower

Gugang Tower is by a lake and the place I met this good native gardener who gave me recommendations on the place to go and even a can of dessert

Kinmen Wentai Tower

Wentai Tower en route from Shuitou to Zhaishan

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Jinning 金寧

Jinning is the district that I stayed in and notable as the world the place the primary preventing passed off on Kinmen. A few of it’s protected beneath the Kinmen Nationwide Park.

Guningtou Warfare Museum 古寧頭戰史館

Guningtou is most well-known for its warfare museum that was constructed to commemorate the fateful battle again in 1949 between the Communists and Kuomintang Nationalists. This was one of many websites of the battle and you possibly can study extra about it from the varied reveals within the museum.

Don’t simply keep inside the constructing – take a stroll alongside the tunnels to the exterior elements of the museum and get a better take a look at the encompassing space.

Open 830am – 5pm

Kinmen Guningtou Battle Museum Entrance

The doorway to the museum the place you’ll additionally see a number of tanks standing guard

Kinmen Guningtou Battle Museum Map

A map depicting the battle – as you’ll be able to see most of it happened in Jinning

Kinmen Guningtou Battle Museum Tunnel

A few of the lengthy tunnels that lead to the surface areas the place you possibly can see the seashore

Cihu 滋湖

There’s a stunning lake referred to as Cihu or Ci Lake, a man-made lake that was created within the 70s. On a superb day you possibly can see Lieyu and even Xiamen from right here, however more often than not it’s nice for birdwatching with over 200 species.

Kinmen Cihu Lake

All is calm within the afternoon, it’ll make an awesome sundown spot as it’s west dealing with

You possibly can discover the Triangle Fort 三角堡, a Three-sided army base that faces Xiamen. It’s a reasonably small construction you can enter and see what it’s like to peer out of tiny holes, and proper now you’ll additionally see the tanks and limitations that have been erected on the seashore to forestall intruders, in addition to the bridge that they’re constructing to attain neighbouring Lieyu Island.

Kinmen Triangle Fort Beach Tanks

You possibly can see tanks and the bridge that may ultimately hyperlink to Lieyu

Kinmen Triangle Fort Bridge Low Tide

At low tide you get a greater take a look at the protecting bollards guarding the seashore from enemy boat landings. Additionally you possibly can see the place they’re nonetheless constructing.

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Jinhu 金湖

Should you fly into Kinmen, you’ll find yourself on the airport situated in Jinhu.

Qionglin Tunnels 琼林坑道

Qionglin is situated proper within the middle of Kinmen and is understood for having many shrines, but in addition these well-known towers that you could enter from the Village Workplace. There used to be 12 totally different exits although this time you possibly can go in 2 instructions – one aspect leads you throughout the street, whereas the opposite brings you somewhat distance behind the workplace constructing to the Qionglin Wind God statue.

Open 830am – 5pm

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Exit

The primary entrance is within the constructing within the middle throughout the road, and leads to one of many exits on the left.

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Entrance

That is what it appears like contained in the constructing as you head down the steps into the tunnel

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Selfie

Selfie alongside the slender tunnel. Not for the claustrophobic!

Kinmen Qionglin Tunnel Wind God

The opposite exit leads you to just a little park and the wind god statue

Army Brothel Exhibition Corridor 特約茶室展示館

Close to the Lanhu Reservoir is that this quite small and unassuming museum which particulars a much less typically seen aspect of warfare relating to the prostitutes and army brothels that have been arrange in the course of the struggle. I assumed it was fairly fascinating even when it was small, seeing the rooms that have been used and the portraits of the women on the wall. Right here’s a enjoyable reality – the Chinese language identify of this place interprets into ‘special teahouse’.

Open 830am – 5pm

Kinmen Military Brothel Building

It appears fairly unassuming from outdoors, nothing seedy

Kinmen Military Brothel Room

A typical room is fairly barebones – this was one of many greater rooms so in all probability for the extra extremely ranked

Someplace in Dongchun

I don’t know what this place is strictly however it’s someplace I got here throughout whereas cruising by means of some backlanes on my scooter. A random army bunker proper subsequent to the coast, I prefer it as a result of it was utterly abandoned (I used to be not going into any of these rooms alone) and I might sit back and benefit from the sea view for a bit.

Kinmen Jinhu Dongchun Military Bunker

Random bunker by the ocean

Kinmen Jinhu Dongchun Room

I discover abandoned spots like these a tad creepy and would by no means enter one alone

Kinmen Jinhu Dongchun Coast

chilled out on the close by pavilion and loved the cloudy day

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Jinsha 金沙

A few of the extra spectacular army bases in Kinmen could be discovered right here in Jinsha.

Shishan / Mount Lion Howitzer Base 獅山炮陳地

Shishan or Mount Lion makes for an fascinating go to not solely due to the vary of artillery just like the howitzer weapons you can see up shut, however due to the day by day demonstration the place a basic barks instructions at a gunnery crew who present guests how they load up and hearth one among cannons. Wander across the tunnels and get a way of what life should have been like for troopers again within the day.

Open 9am – 530pm

Kinmen Mt Lion Howitzer Entrance

Shishan has a very spectacular emblem of a lion consuming a warhead

Kinmen Mt Lion Howitzer Military Drill Lineup

The army drill echoes proper by means of the tunnels. I used to be a bit shocked at first when an entire bunch of personnel got here marching up alongside behind me whereas I used to be strolling alongside the tunnel

Kinmen Mt Lion Howitzer Gun

A seaward dealing with gun that they load up and ‘fire’

Mashan Broadcasting and Statement Station 馬山觀測站

One of many extra uncommon points of this preventing between China and Taiwan was the psychological warfare – every nation arrange big speaker dealing with one another and principally shouted at one another by broadcasting propaganda messages to one another. Mashan’s declare to fame is that well-known Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng as soon as broadcast a message from this station.

Kinmen Mashan Entrance

Entrance to the tunnels

Kinmen Mashan Broadcast Room

We’re right here within the broadcast room the place each morning, propaganda bulletins can be broadcast throughout the water

Kinmen Mashan Broadcast Room Teresa Teng

Right here’s Teresa Teng’s lifesize cutout!

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Have you ever been to Kinmen? What was your favorite factor to do there?

Love Taiwan’s offshore islands? Take a look at Taitung’s Inexperienced Island aka Lyudao or Orchid Island aka Lanyu on the east coast for some lovely scenic island life.