Mobile phones
Getting around


10.8: Shanghai -> Xiamen
11.8: Xiamen
12.8: Xiamen -> Bangkok - Hua Hin

Planning and overall impression

This was a brief trip to Xiamen (Fujian, China), coming from Shanghai and continuing to Thailand. Xiamen is quite a touristy place on an island on the coast of southern China. The city itself is cute and its historic core has been restored and "cutified". The surroundings of Xiamen are also nice; for instance there are beaches on the east coast of the island and boat trips are offered to the sea surrounding Xiamen, where there are a number of bays and smaller islands and islets. Xiamen is a tourist hotspot mainly for Chinese tourists.


Costs are moderate from a western visitor perspective, because Xiamen caters mostly to Chinese tourists, whose spending power is still lower than that in European countries.


There is a huge variety of dishes, although I sticked mainly to the food I'm familar with. The local cuisine is targeted mainly to Chinese tourists.


There are countless hotels in Xiamen, easily bookable via the international booking portals.The standard is good. My hotel however didn't accept international credit cards.

Money  / Exchange rate (August 2018)

1 Euro = 7.80 CNY
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

Mobile phones and prepaid cards

I used a Chinese SIM card which I had bought in Beijing two weeks before. To get this SIM card a Beijing friend of mine had to show her Chinese ID card. In fact, I believe she got the SIM card on her name and then gave it to me. Somehow it's a bit complicated for a foreigner to get a SIM card in Beijing.

Internet access

Free Internet access in the hotel room, although I mainly relied on the Internet access provided by my mobile phone.


Hot and humid weather with peak temperatures above 30°C, but not so hot that you can't walk on the street. Surprisingly no rain.

Health / Vaccinations

No vaccinations are needed.

VISA / Entry requirements

A Chinese visa has to be obtained in advance by nationals of most western countries.


Xiamen is a very safe place.

Recommended things

Things to avoid

Getting around

I relied on taxis and buses, and also walked a lot. It can be a bit difficult to catch a taxi.

10.8: Shanghai -> Xiamen
Hotel Hanting Express Xiamen Hexiang West Road Branch, Xiamen. 369 CNY the first night, 429 CNY the second night. Small, but good room. Soft comfortable bed, controllable A/C, free Internet, basic furniture (table + chair), LCD TV on the wall. No cupboard for the clothes, only a clothes hanger on the wall. When I arrive they want the full payment, but don't accept non-Chinese credit cards. In the end I pay cash for one night, but the next day they declare me as no-show and cancel my booking.com booking.
Weather: peak temperature of 33°C in Shanghai, sunny, blue sky with some cloud cover. More fresh in the evening.

I reach Pudong airport at 6:45pm, then check-in. Initial security check when you get into the airport (bags get scanned), followed by the "real" security check when you walk to the gate. Around 7:30pm I have some dinner in a small restaurant in the airport, then at 8pm I check out the terminal. Nice and clean, lots of outlets selling branded stuff. Until 9:50pm I go through the pictures I took over the past days and sort them out. Then I walk to the gate 203, one level lower.

It's about time, because boarding has started and I'm one of the last to get on the plane. The plane (B737-800) of Shanghai Airlines is practically completely full. We start rolling at 22:15 and take off around 22:30pm, with a short delay.

We land at 11:53pm. Things proceed smoothly and by 12:27am I'm in a taxi to the hotel. We arrive around 12:45am, after losing some time due to the incorrect location of the hotel provided by the booking.com app (65 CNY trip cost, which would have been less if we didn't make the detours).

11.8: Xiamen
Hotel Hanting Express Xiamen
Weather: sunny, blue sky the whole day (after an overcast early morning). No rain after 10am. Hot, but not so hot that you can't walk on the street. Some fresh breeze. Cooler in the evening.

In the morning I leave the hotel at 10:20am. Takes a while to find an ATM. The area around the hotel is interesting and reminds me sort of Malaysia. Maybe what is in Malaysia is based on the the southern Chinese heritage.

I take some cash with which I pay the second night of the hotel. Then I ask for a way to get to the ferry to Gulangyu island. The hotel staff tells me to take bus 858, outside in front of the bank. This is what I do (1 CNY only; the buses must be subsidised). But then the bus goes the wrong way and after a while I get out. I have to walk a bit back to find again a bus stop. All the time using the Baidu Ditu maps app (since Google Maps doesn't work in China).

 After some waiting I'm back in a bus which according to the Baidu Ditu app should bring me to the ferry terminal. Well no, the bus gets close, but doesn't turn to the right where it should and instead continues straight.

But it is interesting, because it brings me into the centre of Xiamen, where all shops and restaurants are. Kind of interesting place, I walk around a bit. Since it's already 11:40am and I have had no breakfast, I look for some food. Somehow I cannot find what I'm looking for. It's all a bit weird stuff, over-engineered complex food with lots of ingredients, not the simple stomach-filling stuff I would like to eat.

In the end I settle for some food in a KFC restaurant. But even there, when I ask for some rice (together with the chicken), they tell me they have no plain rice. Only some complex rice dish. 

After lunch I get out and have some look at the shops. Really interesting, lots of traditional southern Chinese items. Clean buildings, which have been recently built or renovated in colonial style. Seems the plan is to make Xiamen a sort of a tourist Disneyworld.

At 12:50pm I'm finally at the ferry terminal. Surprise, surprise all tickets to Gulangyu are sold out. Too many people, they won't let more to the island. The lady suggests that I go tomorrow, but tomorrow I'm leaving for Thailand.

Then I just buy a ticket for a boat tour for 136 CNY, which later I get refunded, because I can't do the trip without a passport. I have left it in the hotel, thinking I wouldn't need it.

So I'm back in the city. I walk to a shopping centre, where I find some nice shoes (but they don't have my size). Over the course of the afternoon I slowly walk to the Nanputuo temple. The pavement in the centre of Xiamen is all broken up (you have to walk on sand). Everywhere there are roadworks, construction works ongoing. Perhaps I should come back in 2-3 years when hopefully these works have been completed.

I reach the museum of the overseas Chinese at 3:36pm. Sort of interesting place, with several exhibits. I'm there until 4pm, then continue walking and reach the Nanputuo temple by 4:26pm.

Lots of people today on this Saturday afternoon. The temple is not as nice and scenic as the Chinese temple in Danang, but there is a path with which you can walk up to a hill at 185m of altitude. There, there is a nice view of Xiamen and the sea.

I'm on the hills until 6:15pm, then I walk down and leave the temple complex. The question is now how to get back into town and later to the hotel.

There are no taxis and the buses seem to be stuck in traffic jams. I walk back a bit, then walk into the cat street, sort of a night market with statues of cats, shops and restaurants. I continue walking in the maze of streets and alleys and reach the Conrad towers and the Emall by 7:10pm. Quite interesting place, lots of life and people.

After I'm done with this place, I key in the hotel in Baidu Ditu and notice that apparently it's not so far away. So I just walk there and with some stops along the way I reach the location identified by Baidu Ditu. But it's the wrong place, because apparently there are two Hanting hotels in Xiamen.

I open the booking.com app and look for the address of the hotel. Surprise, the hotel cancelled my reservation and because they cancelled it, booking.com no longer shows the address and the telephone number of the hotel. How to get back?

Luckily I took a business card of the hotel with me this morning. I try getting back by bus (no suitable bus stops), then I try calling a taxi with the Kuaidi app. But no taxi comes.

After some waiting then I decide to simply walk back the 3.8km to the hotel. Once I arrive, it's another 1.3km because I entered the wrong destination in the Maps app. Finally around 10pm I'm back in the hotel. All in all I must have walked around 12km in the heat today.

12.8: Xiamen -> Bangkok - Hua Hin
Hotel The Herbs, Hua Hin. Large room with attached bathroom, adjustable A/C, flat screen TV, bed is a bit hard. Not so mauch furniture. The room is on a busy road (noisy traffic). Good shower.
Weather: sunny, blue sky, hot (but not too hot) in Xiamen. Overcast in the late afternoon in Bangkok.

For once I sleep long until 9:30am, then get up and pack my stuff. At 11am I check out. Some discussion with the hotel reception staff, because I would like them to call a taxi for me. Not so many taxis in Xiamen or too many tourists right now. In the end the guy walks out with me and after some time manages to stop a taxi.

 So I get into this taxi and tell the driver to first bring me to a beach on the eastern coast of Xiamen island. It's a big long sandy beach with yellowish sand. The sand is ok, but not too clean. The beach is empty - no people lying on the beach, roasting in the sand. It's very un-Chinese to get a tan.

Forther north I see a fun fair with roller coasters and other games. The seawater is not too inspiring.

After a few minutes on the beach I tell the driver to bring me to the airport (total for the taxi trip: 80 CNY). While in the taxi I have a chat with this taxi driver. He'd like to know how China is compared to Germany. And he asks about security, whether Germany is a safe place or if also there there are too many guns like in the USA.

We arrive at the airport (terminal 3) at 12:10pm. The airport looks a bit old, could benefit from some renovation. Old check-in counters. But otherwise there are few people today and I can check in relatively quickly. Then I proceed through passport control and security. I have some food (Chinese dumplings) and a fresh orange juice in a small restaurant (50 CNY for the dumplings and 55 CNY for the juice).

Then I walk to the gate. There are AC power sockets in the seat rows at the gate.

At 1:25pm we queue up for the boarding. Then I takes some time until the plane starts rolling and finally takes off. We have a delay of about 10 minutes. The plane (a B737/800) is a modern one. It is quite full and most travellers are Asians. Next to me a family of Chinese who live in Germany (son speaking German with the sister).

On the flight (flight time is around three hours) they serve some peanuts, water and then a real meal (rice with fish and vegetables, fruits and cake). Quite good service, given that the flight is not too long.

We land in Bangkok a bit after 4pm. Then it takes some time, but not too much to go through passport control and retrieve the luggage.

The terminal looks dull and old. For a moment I wonder if we are in the old Don Muang airport.

There are several ATMs already in the luggage retrieval area. But there is sky-high fee of 220 Baht per withdrawal. 1 Euro = 38 Baht.

I get a SIM card from DTAC (3GB for 5 days, no airtime) for 199 Baht. Then I take the luggage and walk outside, looking for some other ATMs. But also the other one I try out charges this 220 Baht fee. So I just withdraw the money.

Then I ask about a bus to Hua Hin. You have to get to one level lower. I'm there a bit after 5pm and at the counter I buy a ticket for Hua Hin (269 Baht + 60 Baht surcharge because my suitcase weighs more than 20 Kg).

My bus is scheduled to leave at 5:30pm. I'd like to buy some drinks or snacks, but there is no convenience store nearby where I could buy them. Overall this terminal is a bit poor.

At 5:20pm I show up again at the counter and at 5:30pm we walk to the bus. The bus is a 24-seater (8 rows of tree seats). Together with me there are just another three passengers.

So a bit after 5:30pm the bus leaves for Hua Hin. The roads in Thailand are a bit crappy - not so smooth, at least if compared with the ones in China. In China the infrastructure is in a very good shape, but Thailand seems to lag behind.

Continues with the Thailand 2018 travelogue

Copyright 2019 Alfred Molon