Joined to the mainland by a 5km-long causeway, XIAMEN, an island city formerly known to the West as Amoy, is more focused, clean and prosperous than the provincial capital, Fuzhou. It also offers more to see: the old streets and buildings, shopping arcades and a bustling seafront all contrast with the city centre’s twenty-first-century skyscrapers. A ten-minute ferry ride to the southwest of town, little Gulangyu island was once the preserve of colonial Europeans and Japanese, whose mansions still line the island’s traffic-free streets – staying here is highly recommended, though weekends and holidays sees the whole city overcrowded.

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