For national Day week, Luis and I decided to spend the week in Xiamen.
Here’s a breakdown of our trip:
I also decided to take as little as possible for our week.
I’m very picky about my luggage. After so many years of traveling for different reasons. I need a bag that is extremely versatile. Last year, before my trip to Boracay I invested in this North Face Router Transit backpack and I absolutely love it! It’s gone through a lot over the past year and a half but so far it’s held up pretty well. My only complaint would be that the handle at the top that I often use to hand carry is slow ripping. But that’s also because when I usually pack for long trips I seriously overload it and that small strap isn’t made to carry the kind of weight I’ve packed into it. But I’ve since superglued it and it seems to be doing ok. I just need to be careful not to carry it by the handle when I’ve overloaded it.
So for my week in Xiamen I decided to go as light as possible:
- Clothes to wear on the trip (t-shirt, jeans and my pair of Adidas) and travel documents
- 3 t-shirts (2 of them are lightweight and quick drying for washing during the trip)
- 1 pair of shorts, one pair of swimming trunks
- socks and underwear for all 5 days
- My pair of A&F Sandals
- 2 chargers (for my phone and iPad)
- Travel towel and travel clothes line
- Light jacket
- My journal
The only things I took that I didn’t need were my swimming trunks (sadly) and the travel clothes line.
I use AirBnB for almost all my travel accommodations. So far I haven’t had a single bad experience and it’s far more reliable than couch surfing or other sofa share sites that I’ve used. I prefer AirBnB. There is always a good selection to choose from and I can always choose the kind of place I want to stay; cheap hostel or luxurious apartment depending on my budget. This trip we decided on a small apartment close to the airport. Sadly we didn’t get the address to the place before we got there and had an absolutely AWFUL time figuring out how to get to the place. Wish we had done that differently but besides that, it was a good place. Also, it’s worth noting that in Xiamen, most of the things to see and do are on the West, South-West part of the island. The airport however, is on the North-East part. Meaning that every day we took an hour bus across the island to where we wanted to go. It’s wasn’t too awful but make sure the place you want to stay is as close to where you want to stay is close to where you’ll be spending most of your time. What I’d suggest is to stay in a place near the airport on your first night and maybe the night before you leave. But during your stay move to a place close to the “action” to cut down on time wasted going to and from where you want to see.
Things to see:
We decided that instead of killing ourselves trying to see and do everything and coming back from the vacation completely exhausted, we would take it easy, see a few things (at most 1 or 2 things a day) and just take the time not stressing or rushing anywhere.
It was the best choice we could have made!
It’s easy to see everything in Xiamen in 5 days. Xiamen University is a fantastic site! It had some gorgeous architecture and we even splurged and spent $1.50 on this cool map of the University-
We also saw Nanputuo Temple. It’s a beautiful, scenic Buddhist Temple founded during the Tang Dynasty. It’s free to enter and you can stay in the main entry area or choose to climb the steps up the mountain to higher and higher plateaus. The main picture at the top of this post I took near the top. Here’s a few more:
Unfortunately the only thing we didn’t get to see was Gulangyu Island which is apparently supposed to be what most tourists go there to see. Just bear in mind, as we found out, you need to buy tickets to go to the island and they only allow a certain number of people a day. If you want to buy tickets online you have to purchase them at least 5 days in advance (which we didn’t do). You can also show up to the ferry port in person and buy tickets but it’s best to get there early because once they’re sold out for the day you can no longer buy tickets. And in our case, tickets can be sold out for the next few consecutive days. So if you’re going to Xiamen during any national holiday then book tickets to the island in advance!
On our last day we went to a “Spa” of sorts called Itao Spa. We were a little skeptical at first and it’s a little expensive, but we thoroughly enjoyed it! First we soaked in a hot herbal bath made by local, naturally grown herbs. Then we had a hot wrap which was supposed to sweat out toxins in the body. Then we had a back massage and Luis tried fire-cupping but I chickened out at the last minute. I wanted to try it but the hot bath and the wrap was really intense and I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for fire-cupping. But Luis said it didn’t hurt and he really enjoyed it. At the end they even treated us to some tea and a noodle dinner for free. The host was really awesome and spoke English well. The staff couldn’t speak very much, but we got by. I promised them I would recommend Itao Spa to my friends. So friends, if you’re in Xiamen, check them out! They don’t have a website, but if you search on apple maps (or google with a VPN) or even Trip Advisor you’ll find their info.
All in all it was a fantastic trip! For a last minute trip planned with almost no expectations, it really was a great week! Highly recommended!