Although administered by the ROC in Taiwan, Kinmen is officially considered to be part of Fujian province and not part of Taiwan by both the PRC and ROC governments. Administratively, Kinmen is split into six townships, four of which are on Greater Kinmen. Another has Lesser Kinmen plus its neighbouring small islands, and the sixth is a couple of more remote small islands.
JinchengJincheng (also known as Kincheng, meaning Golden City) is the main city in Kinmen, located on the greater Kinmen island. The second city, Shanwai, is also on that island. The ShangYi airport is between the two cities.
JinhuThe largest township in Kinmen, it takes up the entire south eastern part of Kinmen Island.
JinshaThe name means "golden sand", it lies on the north eastern part of Kinmen Island.
JinningThe township takes up the north western part of Kinmen Island.
Wuqiua group of islands comprising two major islands, namely Greater Qiu Islet and Smaller Qiu Islet.
The islands of Kinmen and Matsu are near the Chinese coast — Kinmen is about 10 km (under 6.5 miles) from Xiamen — but held by the ROC. They are symbolically important, and arguably strategically as well, and were often actively fought over from 1949 into the 1970s. The "Artillery Battle of 823" was one of the key battles that kept the PRC from invading Taiwan. It involved artillery bombardment of Kinmen and Matsu, beginning on August 23 (8-23) 1958.
Relations between the two governments have since improved greatly; there is extensive Taiwanese investment in China and travel in both directions is much easier than it used to be. Mainland China is now also the biggest source of tourism to Kinmen. However, Kinmen and Matsu remain sensitive areas and the PRC and the ROC maintain substantial military forces in the area. Travellers should exercise caution, avoid political discussions and avoid photographing military installations or even pieces of infrastructure (bridges, dams, etc.) which might be military targets.
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 on Taiwan's main island.
The local language in most of the country is Minnan (also called Taiwanese). In Wuqiu, the local language is Puxian Min, which is not mutually intelligible with Minnan. However, most residents throughout the county are bilingual in their local language and Mandarin. Few people speak English, especially outside of tourist areas, but the level of English is perhaps slightly better than in Mainland China.
Kinmen airportThree of Taiwan's four domestic carriers fly to Kinmen from the three bigger cities on Taiwan several times a day. One-way tickets cost a little over NT$2000.
By ferryThere are ferries from Xiamen in mainland China to on the main Kinmen island, and this link is now open to foreigners. Boats are NT$750 (as of June 2013) from Shuitou to Xiamen and ¥155 from Xiamen (Wǔ tōng mǎ tóu 五通码头, Oct 2016) to Shuitou and run once an hour between 08:30 and 19:00 in each direction. There is also a ferry from Quanzhou, but it allows only Chinese and Taiwanese passengers. The ferry from Xiamen Wutong terminal to Shuitou runs every 30 min from 08:00 until 17:30.
Since Kinmen is under Taiwanese control, going there from mainland China counts as an exit. Thus, holders of single-entry visas cannot do short trips to from Xiamen to Kinmen and return. So make sure to clarify your visa situation before hopping on a ferry!
If you are arriving by ferry, the ferry terminal has a tourist information desk that can help find you an inn. There are also money exchange counters, but they will only exchange RMB to NT$; they will not exchange other currencies.
There is also an ATM just outside the ferry terminal (cross the road) that accepts Visa and Mastercard. A UnionPay ATM is in the departure area, where you also find a stall to change RMB to NT$.
At the tourist services counters besides Joane Ranch Restaurant, you can rent portable WiFi (NT$250 per day) or get a unlimited data SIM Card (starting from NT$400 for 5 days). Cash only, no cards.
Taxis from the Shuitou wharf to Jincheng city's downtown are NT$250 flat rate, and roughly NT$200 to return to the wharf.
There are a few buses that run around, but they are not frequent and bus stops aren't particularly convenient.
By scooter or bicycleIt is easiest to just rent your own scooter. You can get a 150 cc for about NT$550 per 24 hours. There is a rental shop in the airport. There is also a rental place in downtown Jincheng near the northern entrance to Mofan St (模範街).
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 pinyin (Chinese words in the Latin alphabet), 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.
By busKinmen has a bus service specifically for tourists. Day tickets are NT$200 and include bus rides and guided tours at all destinations (Chinese only). Departure is from the bus station in Kincheng at 08:30 and 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- Just walk around downtown Kincheng, there are temples in every other alleyway, often architecturally interesting and in active use.
8-2-3 Artillery battle museumSmall but excellent museum, it 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 TowerMemorial building with a small military museum and views of surrounding areas.
Zhaishan tunnelsUnderground navy base. Artillery and boats on display. Large tunnels, some being underground piers.
Siwei TunnelOn 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.
Triangle Fortressphone: +886 8 231 3271in 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 Mountainphone: +886 8 235 5697With an underground howitzer base and museum, 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)
phone: +886 8 236 4405A small complex of sea tunnels that was used as a material transport pipeline
Deyue Gun TowerThe tower was built in 1931 by Huang Hui-huang, a wealthy merchant from Shuitou.
Kinmen Military Headquarters of Qing Dynastyphone: +886 8 237 1717It was built as a study house during the Ming Dynasty, it was then transformed into the Kinmen Military Headquarters of Qing Dynasty during the rule of the Kangxi Emperor when Commander of Kinmen relocated his office from Jinmencheng to Jincheng.
Taiwu Martyrs' Shrine
Culture and architecture
Kinmen cultural villagephone: +886 8 235 5347Also referred to as Shanhou Culture Village (山后民俗文化村), it's a great little place to poke around, with Kinmens 2 best antique stores being located within the walls. Its is only NT$50 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 1800s.
Jinshui Primary SchoolIn Shuitou, with a small emigration and overseas Chinese museum. Line A tourist bus and bus 7/7A/7B
Shuitou Deyue TowerWith the 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
Gulongtou Zhenwei ResidenceA historical building and a good example of the architecture of the time.
Mashan Broadcasting and Observation Stationphone: +886 8 233 0086A historical broadcasting station and observation tower in Jinsha Township. The station used to send out propaganda message to the People's Liberation Army soldiers on Mainland China to surrender and join the Republic of China Armed Forces.
Mofan StreetThe street gets its name from the uniform hybrid architecture of Chinese and Western styles which means Model Street. The 75-m-long street features buildings with brick exteriors and arched door fronts modeled after the Japanese, Fujian and Western architecture. There are 16 buildings at each side connected by a common arcade.
Xu Jiang Xiao Wo Stone Inscriptionphone: +886 8 232 5643A large stone inscription which dates back to the Ming Dynasty.
Chiou Lianggong's Mother Chastity Archphone: +886 8 231 8823A stone arch erected in 1812 by Qiu Liang-gong to honour his mother, who had raised him after his father's early death.
Chen Jing-lan Western HouseIt was built in 1917 by a local businessperson who built up his success in Singapore. During World War II, the house was used as a military hospital. It is the largest 'Western-style' house in Kinmen.
Maoshan PagodaJust to the west of Shuitou, it 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.
Wentai PagodaErected for the observation of the stars to make feng shui predictions, the tower was erected in 1387.
Zhu Zi CiAn ancestral temple of the Zhu family.
Koxinga Shrinephone: +886 8 232 5057A shrine on the western portion of the island dedicated to the military figure Koxinga.
Dai Tian Fuphone: +886 8 232 5842
- The Forest Recreation Area is a must see when visiting Kinmen. Located along Section3, Huandao East Road, this is a multi-purpose area for barbecues, a child playground, botanical gardens, and more.
- 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.
Kinmen National Parkphone: +886 8 231 3100Kinmen National Park includes five areas, which are Taiwu Mountain, Kuningtou, Gugang, Mashan Hill and Lieyu. The park covers an area of 35.29 km² or around a quarter of Kinmen County area.
Gugang Lakephone: +886 8 231 3100The lake features the Gugang Pavilion which was built in 1964 by Zhuang Wu-nan from Tamsui, Taipei. The pavilion is 16 meters in height.
Jiangong IsletThe island has a statue of Koxinga which was built in 1968 to commemorate the Ming Dynasty hero who led the resistance against Manchurian invaders. The islet also has a viewing platform offers a view of the surrounding area.
Jincheng Seaside Park
Yu Da Wei Xian Sheng Memorial Museumphone: +886 8 233 0599A war memorial museum in Zhongzheng Park.
Guning War History MuseumOn 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.
Military Brothel Exhibition Hallphone: +886 8 233 7839A small but interesting museum detailing Kinmen's dark and relatively recent past with brothels on the island. Free, open everyday. No.126 Qionglinli Xiaojing, Jinhu Town, in the middle of island. Ask the tourist office at the Jincheng bus station for buses that stop there.
Hujingtou Battle Museumphone: +886 8 236 4403The museum displays the battle history, an observation post, and a broadcasting station.
It is claimed that a single shell casing can make approximately 60 blades; this is doubtful. Also doubtful is the claim that current blades are made from shell casings, since shelling stopped in the late 1970s.
Finishing quality for cleavers has dropped a lot since the mid-1990s. Even for Maestro Wu's Knife's top selling special-designed cleavers, the words "Made in Kinmen" are barely visible and/or badly engraved. Salespersons were taught to toe the line that "its 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.
While Kinmen lacks the high price fancy fare of more populated locales, cheap delicious snack shops are everywhere in the downtown area of Kincheng. Taiwanese favorites such as fried chicken cutlets, fried oyster balls and chow mein can be found without much trouble. Prices average around NT$50 per item which is quite reasonable considering the quality.
White Lionaddress: jinchengnice Canadian/Taiwanese owned pub beside temple
Da Jhai Men Homestayphone: +886 82-320008Actually a rather tumbledown hotel, not a homestay, the management is nevertheless very friendly and the location convenient. Double room NT$1200 regular days and NT$1500 weekends and holidays. Location No. 84 Jhushan Village, Jincheng Township, Kinmen.
- Visit Kinmen Guest House is a traditional Kinmen old house restored by Kinmen National Park 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$1400-2400. Please find us on web for further information.
IN99phone: +886 82 324851nice new business hotel in Jincheng
Political issues, especially Taiwan independence, are best avoided. Although most residents of the island are strongly opposed to Taiwanese independence, that does not mean they support the People's Republic of China government in Beijing; they are proud citizens of the Taiwan-based Republic of China.
There are two choices; the main island of Taiwan is easily reached by plane, and Xiamen in mainland China is accessible by ferry. To go to Xiamen, holders of most passports need to already have a Chinese visa; there is no office to issue them on Kinmen.