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Kinmen

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Taiwan : Kinmen
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Kinmen

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Kinmen 金門 (pronounced Jinmen, literal meaning "golden gate", formerly known as Quemoy) is an outlying island located near the People's Republic of China, but is controlled by the Republic of China on Taiwan. It has a large number of traditional Min style buildings and military sites that are open to tourists. Price levels are similar to Taiwan and thus high compared to mainland China, but admission to temples, museums and other sites is free.


Regions[edit]

In addition to Kinmen Island, the area also includes Little Kinmen (Little Jinmen, also known as Lieyu Island, 小金門/烈嶼), a tiny island to the west of Kinmen.

Cities[edit]

KinCheng, meaning Golden City, is the main city in Kinmen, located on the greater Kinmen island. The secondary city is Shanwai. The ShangYi airport is between the two cities. Be aware that there is also a small village in the southwest part of the island called Jinmencheng (金门城), to avoid confusion.

Understand[edit]

Kinmen means "Golden Gate". It is considered as part of Fujian Province by both the PRC and ROC. Its status as a territory controlled by Taiwan is therefore somewhat complex, being part of the ROC on Taiwan, but not of Taiwan province.

Kinmen has traditionally been a gateway from mainland China to Taiwan. It has been the basis of many Chinese emigrants and of Chen Chenggong's resistance to the Qing dynasty and military campaign to Taiwan to oust the Dutch.

China's communist People's Liberation Army attacked the main island in 1949 and was defeated. It was only able to land around half of the troops it had planned for the campaign and severely underestimated their opponents, who were more numerous and fortified than the PLA had thought. The defeat resulted in the PLA putting its plans to attack Taiwan on hold. Since the battle, there have been several exchanges of artillery fire, the biggest of which was in the late 1950s. The ROC heavily fortified the island and used to station up to 200,000 troops there, but this number has been reduced significantly.

The economy of Kinmen is now based mostly on tourism and the famous Kaoliang liquor (高粱酒). Dried meat from Kinmen is also sold in Taiwan's main island.

Talk[edit]

Inhabitants speak the Min dialect of Chinese, but in general they all also speak Mandarin. Be aware that few people speak English, especially outside of tourist areas.

Getting in[edit]

Access is by air from Taiwan or by boat from Xiamen to Shuitou on the main Kinmen island (this link is now open to foreigners). You can take a flight on 3 of Taiwan's 4 domestic carries from the three bigger cities on Taiwan several times a day. One way tickets cost a little over 2000 NT dollars, or as little as around 1200 for promotion fares.

There are ferries to Xiamen in mainland China. Boats are NT$600 from Shuitou to Xiamen and 140 RMB from Xiamen to Shuitou and run once an hour between 0830 and 1730 in each direction. Departure in Xiamen is from Wutong (五通客运码头) in the east of Xiamen. A bus can be taken from the airport to Wutong (6rmb/person in Feb 2015) This terminal is far from the city center, but slightly closer to Xiamen airport and also to Kinmen. You can find the schedule at this here (in Chinese) starting from 8am in the morning until 6:30pm in the afternoon. The schedule can be seasonal and you should double check. Customs procedures are pretty quick and easy, but still allow about 10-15 minutes at the terminal. Understand that visa requirements are the same as for Taiwan, so Chinese nationals will still need a special entry permit. The DongDu (international cruise centre) ferry has stopped recently as of early 2014. That ferry terminal has been moved to Wutong.

There are also ferries from Quanzhou.

If you are arriving by ferry from Xiamen, the ferry terminal does have a tourist information desk that can help find you an inn. There is also a free wifi network around the terminal. There are money exchange counters in the departure hall, however they only will exchange RMB to NT$. They will not exchange US$.

A public bus connects Shuitou ferry terminal to Kincheng town once every 30 minutes, departing opposite the departure hall. There are also buses from the airport to Kincheng and Shanwai.

Getting around[edit]

Kincheng town is small enough to get around by walking, but most of the interesting sites are outside of the town, requiring a bicycle or motorised transportation.

By bus[edit]

Kinmen has a bus service specifically for tourists. Day tickets are NTD 200 and include bus rides and guided tours at all destinations (Chinese only). Departure is from the bus station in Kincheng at 8:30and 13:30.

  • Line A (morning): to Juguang Tower (莒光樓) and several sites in Shuitou, including traditional architecture, houses by returnees from Southeast Asia (including a Peranakan house) and the Zhaishan tunnels (翟山坑道) an underground navy installation.
  • Line B (afternoon): to Guning, north of Kincheng, to several museums and sites related to military history and the battle of 1949 in particular, and a wildlife museum.
  • Lines C and D start from Shanwai in the east of the island.

Public buses also go to all parts of the island, including the major sites, the ferry terminal and the airport (red 1 line, 紅一). Buses 7/7A/7B run from the Shuitou Pier, to Shuitou, and finally to Kincheng. Buses 9/10/11 go to the northwest part of the island, particularly the Shuangli Wetland Area and Guningtou Battle Museum. Bus fares are NTD 12 or NTD 24 for long distances (such as from Kincheng to the eastern half of Kinmen). For Little Kinmen, the fare is NTD 10. Understand that buses can be rather infrequent and many do not run late. Also, the bus drivers will skip a station if there is no one waiting there, so press the "get off" button when you want to get off. Kincheng has a major bus station with buses to many parts of the island and also has a very useful tourist office.

By taxi[edit]

There are taxis on the island, though you need pretty good Mandarin or Taiwanese skills to negotiate a flat rate with the driver. They are also concentrated mostly in the city center, so you can't count on finding one just anywhere.

By scooter or bicycle[edit]

You can rent a scooter or bicycle in various rental shops, including in Kincheng near the bus station and in the airport. You can get a 150CC for about 550 NT dollars per 24 hours. Roads are all paved and there are good maps at every village and in every hotel. Road signs are written in both Chinese Characters and English/Hanyu Pinyin, so it is hard to get lost. Bicycles are free to borrow for the day and can be picked up at various key locations, such as Zhaishan Tunnel, Jinshui Primary School (金水國小) in Shuitou, the Shuangli Wetlands Area close to Guningtou Battle Museum, Siwei Tunnel on Little Jinmen, as well as various other locations. They are a spectacular way to see the sights around the island. Rental stations will keep your passport until you return the bicycle. Be aware of when each rental station closes. Little Jinmen is particularly great for bike riding as there is a bike path ringing the perimeter of the island, connecting most of the important sights.

See[edit][add listing]

The late President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, left a calligraphy inscription in Kinmen, urging the ROC troops to fight on and to one day re-take the Mainland from the Communist bandits.

Wind Lion Gods[edit]

The Wind Lion Gods of Kinmen are unique statues all over the island, you can either see the originals in the villages (this can take some patience and hunting skills) or just go to the new Wind Lion God Park near the ShangYi Airport.

Military history[edit]

  • The 8-2-3 Artillery battle museum is small but excellent, and even has a large amount of English signage to help explain the exhibits. There is also a Virtual War room where you can experience war for 3 minutes.
  • Juguang Tower (莒光樓) is a memorial building with a small military museum and views of surrounding areas, located in the south of Kincheng on Huandao West Road (環島西路一段). Line A tourist bus
  • Zhaishan tunnels (翟山坑道), an underground navy base at the southern tip of the western part of Kinmen. Line A tourist bus
  • Siwei Tunnel (四維坑道) on Little Kinmen is even longer and quieter than Zhaishan Tunnel. It's located just to the left of the ferry terminal as you get off.
  • Guning War History Museum (古寧頭戰史館) on the 1949 battle, including many paintings, tanks, jeeps. The villages next to it (Nanshan and Beishan, 南山/北山) have a few buildings still riddled with bullet holes from the battle. Line B tourist bus and bus 9, 10, and 11.
  • Triangle Fortress (三角堡) in Guning west of Zi lake (滋湖) to the north of Kincheng, overlooking the passage to Kincheng town between Kinmen and small Kinmen island, with a group of M41 tanks. Line B tourist bus and bus 9
  • Lion Mountain, with an underground howitzer base and museum (獅山炮陳地), in Shanhou in the northeast of Kinmen, near Shanhou Culture Village. Bus 31 from Shamei (沙美, bus 5 or 5A from Kincheng to Shamei)

Culture and architecture[edit]

  • The Kinmen cultural village is a great little place to poke around, with Kinmens 2 best antique stores being located within the walls. Its is only 50 NT dollars to get in and a beautiful and well maintained example of Fujian style traditional Chinese houses with swallow tail roofs and was built towards the end of the 1800's.
  • Jinshui Primary School (金水國小) in Shuitou, with a small emigration and overseas Chinese museum. Line A tourist bus and bus 7/7A/7B
  • Shuitou Deyue Tower (水頭得月樓) and surrounding buildings, in Shuitou, previously the highest building in Kinmen, old buildings built by rich overseas Chinese merchants, including a Peranakan family, resulting in a complex of buildings with a mix of local and Western architecture. Line A tourist bus and bus 7/7A/7B
  • Shanhou Culture Village (山后民俗文化村) a hamlet built by a rich overseas Chinese, includes a little wedding exhibition and a guest house. Bus 31 from Shamei (沙美, bus 5 or 5A from Kincheng to Shamei), near Lion Mountain (see military history sites)
  • Mashan Pagoda, just to the west of Shuitou, is not particularly impressive structure compared to many pagodas in China/Taiwan, but the views of the surrounding area are quite impressive and it's a very quiet place with very few tourists.
  • Temples can be found everywhere on Kinmen and Little Kinmen, many of which are very tiny and quaint.

Nature[edit]

  • During the winter, flocks of migratory birds come to Kinmen and Little Kinmen to nest. They can be seen and heard at the many lakes and ponds on the islands. The Shuangli Wetlands Area is a good place for information and birdwatching. It's in Nanshan village, very close to Beishan and Guningtou Battle Museum and not too far from Zi Lake (Ci Lake). Buses 9/10/11 go there.
  • Strolling along any of the beaches is quite peaceful and there are two bonus attractions to be seen: crumbling military fortifications and views of Xiamen, especially from the western shore of Little Kinmen or the northwestern shore of Kinmen.

Do[edit][add listing]

If you can find all 63 "official" wind lion god statues, the ones that are represented in the park, and present proof to the park office, they will give you a special gift.

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Kinmen is known for three specialties: booze, knives, and candy. What a winning combination!
  • Remember to pick up some cleavers from Kinmen. They are famous for making excellent quality cleavers. The steel is obtained from the hundred of thousands of bomb shells that the Communist forces fired at Kinmen, in a failed attempt to take the island away from the Nationalist troops. The most authenthic knives, and the best place for a factory tour is Maestro Wu's Knives.
    • It is claimed that a single shell casing can make approximately 60 pieces of blades. This is doubtful. Also doubtful is that there were so many shells that landed from Communist forces that will last the good Maestro the 35yrs that shelling stopped (in the late 1970s).
    • Finishing quality for its cleavers have dropped a lot since the mid 90s. Even for Maestro Wu's Knife's top selling special-designed cleavers, the words "Made in Kinmen" are barely visible and/or badly engraved. Salepersons were taught to toe the line that "it's because the steel's quality is so good that the engraving machine cannot carve the words properly". This is a bad sales tactic and a sorry excuse for a once famous knife brand that was built on quality.
  • Peanut candy (gong tang, 貢糖) is another popular souvenir and comes in different flavors, some using ingredients other than peanuts like pumpkin seeds or cashews.
  • Kaoliang liquor (高粱酒) is a strong sorghum-based alcohol very similar to Chinese baijiu (白酒) that makes its home in Kinmen and comes in alcohol concentrations of 38% and 58%. Bottles can be found in many souvenir and convenience stores, include at the several 7-11s in Kincheng. Also like baijiu, it comes in various qualities and prices.
  • There are a bunch of 7-11 convenience stores in Kincheng, great for stocking up on supplies before exploring the islands.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There are two main categories of accommodation in Kinmen. Hotels that are mostly located in Kincheng town and traditional houses outside of the town. Both usually charge 1400 or more, but discounted prices as low as 1000 can be found in the winter months, especially when booked online. The tourist offices in the ferry terminal and airport can help you to arrange staying in a traditional house. Little Kinmen has very hotels, so it's not a good idea to overnight there.


  • Visit Kinmen Guest House is a traditional Kinmen old house restored by Kinmen National Park. Located in Shanhou Village, the north east side, Visit Kinmen Guest House provides a place where travelers can stay with a relaxed atmosphere after exploring the beautiful scenery of Kinmen. The guest house has three double rooms for two people and one family room with twin bed that is good for group of four people, rates from NT$1400 to 2400. Please find us on web for further information.
  • IN99, (on the intersection of Minsheng and Zhongxing Road (民生路, 中興路), near to Kincheng bus station, new building), (082)324851. checkin: 1400; checkout: 1200. nice new business hotel in Jincheng NT$1800.  edit
  • Backpackers Inn (小背包精緻民宿), 金門縣金寧鄉環島西路二段80巷11號, 082-323233, [1]. checkin: 1100; checkout: 1500. Bed and Breakfast. Shuttle service is available. NT$1600. (118.3187973,24.4427511) edit
  • Qin Inn (水頭一家親), No.64 Qianshuitou (Check pictures of inn on Trip Advisor before going), 0972 310891. checkout: 10:30. Traditional and charming guesthouse in lovely Shuitou Village. Breakfast is 8:30-9:30 and is just porridge. If you book ahead of time, don't forget your hotel voucher. 1000-2000, depends on season.  edit
  • KINBA Guest House (金八古厝民宿), No. 85 Nanshan, Jinning township (located at west-north Kinmen island), +886 82322008, [2]. checkin: 15:00; checkout: 11:00. traditional min style house and located at Nanshan village , we are looking forward to everyone come to visit us , b&b guesthouse , ferry and airport shuttle are available Price :1600 - 1800.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

Small eateries line the main streets of Kincheng. Kinmen is famous for a sticky peanut candy that can be found in various shops along the side streets.

Vegetarian
  • There is a small vegan restaurant opposite the primary school (中正國小) on Minquan Road (民權路), near the intersection with Zhupu West Road/ Zhupu North Road (珠浦西路/ 珠浦北路).
  • Another vegetarian restaurant is on the second floor on a side street to the left of Minsheng Road (民生路) a bit further up from In99 as you come from the bus station, just north of the brown high-rise building. NTD 70 for a meal or depending on quantity for the buffet.

Most villages have very limited dining options, so it's best to head into Jincheng for meals, especially for dinner. Check here for a comprehensive list of special dishes on the island. Little Kinmen also has very few restaurants, so it's a good idea to pack a lunch before going there.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Kinmen is the home of Taiwan's distinctive "Kaoliang" liquor, a tequila-like hard liquor popular all over Taiwan. The factory is located right in the middle of the island, not far from the airport and is hard to miss with its distinctive smell and two two-story liquor bottles guarding the front gates.

  • white lion irish pub, Jincheng Town,Juguang rd.alley 110,no.7 (in the heart of jincheng besides the Chen family temple), 082312062. 1900-2400 Tuesday-Sunday closed Monday. nice irish canadian/taiwanese owned pub. 20 different imported beers, fresh fries(with skin) and poutine!  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Though formal hostilities with the PRC ended by the early 1980s, Kinmen is still very much a front line area. Visitors are strongly advised not to wander off paved roads when exploring the island due to the possibility of running across old unmarked minefields. It is also advisible to avoid traveling to certain sensitive areas after dark, such as coastal areas or areas near military installations. Visitors should also obey all orders given by military personnel and avoid entering or photographing sensitive areas.

Get out[edit]

  • Little Kinmen makes for an excellent day trip. Ferries leave from the Shuitou Port in a tiny terminal opposite from the Kinmen-Xiamen terminal. Tickets cost 60 NTD one way and the trip lasts about 10 minutes.



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