small archipelago of several islands in Fujian Province, ROC
Asia > East Asia > Taiwan > Kinmen

Kinmen (金門 Kim-mn̂g in Minnan, Jīnmén in Mandarin, literal meaning "golden gate", also known as Quemoy) is a county comprising a number of outlying islands near the People's Republic of China (PRC) but controlled by the Taiwan-based Republic of China (ROC) government.

A collection of the attractions around Kinmen

All the islands of Kinmen county are within just a few kilometers of Mainland China, with the Xiamen city skyline clearly visible in the distance from many areas. Despite, and because of, its status as the front line in the semi-dormant China-Taiwan conflict, Kinmen is highly tourist-oriented, with the main themes being military history, historic architecture, and its signature gaoliang (kaoliang) grain alcohol.

About a quarter of the county, including inhabited areas, is covered by various units of Kinmen National Park, which is largely concerned with preserving historic architecture and former military sites, as well as natural areas.

Understand edit

Propaganda sign on Dadan Island facing the mainland, including the words "unify China", placed under orders of General Zhao in Aug. 1986, before he was dismissed for the 1987 Lieyu massacre

The main islands in the county are Greater Kinmen and Lesser Kinmen (Lieyu/Liehyu). 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 that aren't open to visitors. The islands are largely rural, made up of a mix of small towns, farmland, and historical sites.

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.

Kinmen and Matsu remain sensitive areas and both 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.

Although administered by the Taiwanese government, Kinmen and Matsu are officially considered to be parts of Fujian province, not of Taiwan, by both the PRC and ROC governments. Unlike the main island of Taiwan, they were never colonized by Japan (except for an 8-year occupation related to World War II), instead being governed by the Qing dynasty, and then the Mainland-based Republic of China, during Taiwan's Japanese period.

Local residents often identify as "Kinmenese" or "Chinese" and not "Taiwanese". Politically, Kinmen is a KMT stronghold, with most residents being firmly opposed to formal Taiwan independence. The DPP has made inroads among the younger generation, but most of these Kinmenese end up permanently settling in Taiwan and never go back to Kinmen.

History edit

In 1949, the Communists won the Chinese civil war, defeating the Nationalists (Kuomintang) who had governed (most of) China from the 1911 revolution until 1949. Since then, there has been a Communist government in most of China (the People's Republic of China or PRC) while the Nationalists held onto Taiwan, which is still officially called the Republic of China or ROC.

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 Taiwan-based ROC. They are symbolically important, and strategically as well, and were often actively fought over from 1949 into the 1970s. The "Artillery Battle of 823" (part of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis) 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 improved greatly in the early 2000s; there is extensive Taiwanese investment in China, and until 2020 (due to both the COVID-19 pandemic and escalating tensions) travel in both directions was much easier than before, with Mainland China becoming biggest source of tourism to Kinmen.

Talk edit

As in Taiwan proper, most residents throughout Kinmen county speak fluent (if accented) Mandarin, even if it's not the language they prefer to speak with their friends and family. Few people speak English, especially outside of tourist areas, but the level of English is perhaps slightly better than in rural Mainland China.

The local language in most of the county is Minnan (aka Hokkien or "Taiwanese"). Due to its different history, the Kinmen variety of Minnan generally lacks the Japanese loan words that are ubiquitous in the varieties in Taiwan proper, and is instead perceived as being most similar to that of the Xiamen suburb of Tong'an in mainland China. However, Minnan speakers from Taiwan, Xiamen, and Kinmen can all generally understand each other.

In the remote outlying Wuqiu islands, the local language is Puxian Min, which is not mutually intelligible with Minnan.

Get in edit

Map of Kinmen

By plane edit

Kinmen Airport
  • 1 Kinmen airport (KNH  IATA). Mandarin Airlines and Uni Air fly to Kinmen from Taipei, Taichung, Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Magong/Penghu several times a day. One-way tickets cost a little over NT$2000. This is the only way to get to Kinmen directly from Taiwan, unless you have your own boat.    

By ferry edit

There are ferries from Xiamen in mainland China to 2   on the main Kinmen island, and the link is 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.

There are no public ferries to Kinmen from Taiwan or any other islands under the Taiwan government's control. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was possible to take a ferry from Taiwan to Xiamen (in Mainland China), then take the Xiamen-Kinmen ferry to get to Kinmen. This assumes that you have a visa or visa-free entry eligibility for both China and Taiwan.

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 an unlimited data SIM Card (starting from NT$400 for 5 days). Cash only, no cards.

Orientation edit

Greater Kinmen island is "butterfly-shaped" with each of its four administrative townships roughly corresponding to one of the four "wings" of the butterfly. It's the largest of Taiwan's outlying islands, and extremely dense with tourist sites. If you're at all interested in military history or historic Chinese architecture, expect to spend at least a few days looking around. It's probably not practical to see "everything", but if you're determined to try, give yourself at least a week.

The western, northern, and eastern sides of Kinmen all face Mainland China, with only the southern side open the larger Taiwan Strait. The airport is located in the middle of the big island's southern coast, while the main urban center, Jincheng (previously spelled "Kincheng"), is tucked into the curve of the west coast. Smaller towns and villages are scattered all around the island. There's no "ring road" around Greater Kinmen island - getting between sites is done by switching between major roads in the island's interior and smaller loops and spurs around the coastal areas (as well as messily criss-crossed farm roads and tangled village allies).

Lesser Kinmen, also known as Lieyu Township, is just southwest of Greater Kinmen and easily reached from the big island by frequent ferries. It's comparable in size to each of the big island's four townships. Though the major roads are in the island's interior, there's something like a (narrow) ring road circling the island, along which most of the tourist sites are located.

There are many smaller islets scattered around the vicinity of Great and Lesser Kinmen, which are mostly occupied by the military. The two largest, Dadan and Erdan (not to be confused with Dadeng, which is claimed by Kinmen County but controlled by Mainland China), are farther southwest from Lesser Kinmen, and sometimes open to tourists.

The Wuqiu islands, also governed as part of Kinmen County, are far to the north off a different part of China's coast, and though inhabited, are controlled by the military and not accessible to outsiders.

Get around edit

By taxi edit

There are taxis on the island, though you need pretty good Mandarin or Minnan skills to negotiate a rate with the driver. They are also concentrated mostly in the city center, so you can't count on finding one just anywhere. If you can speak Mandarin or Minnan, most of the drivers are quite friendly, so one shouldn't worry about bargaining super hard. Most of them aren't looking to rip you off.

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.

Your own vehicle edit

Roads in Kinmen are all paved, there are good maps at every village and in every hotel, and navigation apps are mostly accurate. Official road signs are written in both Chinese and English, and are fairly well-placed, but the road network is very extensive and haphazardly laid out, so expect to miss some turns and have to reroute or backtrack. As of July 2022, there also seem to be a lot of road closures that mapping apps don't know about. Some of the "roads" on the mapping apps look more like bicycle paths in real life, but there don't seem to be any strict rules about which vehicles can go where, and locals would presume that scooters (at the very least) are allowed to use them. Beware of high winds, which can strike any time of the year.

By scooter edit

It's easiest to just rent your own scooter. Your accommodations may be able to arrange this for you, or you can get a 150 cc for about NT$550 per 24 hours at a rental shop. There's one in the airport. There is also a rental place in downtown Jincheng near the northern entrance to Mofan St (模範街). Just as in Taiwan proper, it's illegal to ride a scooter without a scooter or motorcycle license.

Though locals who know the way and aren't interested in stopping anywhere can ride a scooter from one corner of Greater Jinmen island to the opposite corner in about half an hour, expect your travel times to be much longer. Set aside lots of extra time for missed turns, closed roads, and especially for unplanned stops for interesting scenery and attractions. If you're at all interested in military history or historic Chinese architecture, expect getting from one end of the island to the other to end up taking you most of the day.

By bicycle edit

There are a number of public "K Bike" automated bicycle rental stations (similar to Youbike 1.0 in Taiwan), which are free for the first hour.

Previous visitors said there were bicycles free to borrow for the day 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, but it's uncertain whether this is still the case. These rental stations would keep your passport until you return the bicycle, so you would need to be aware of when each rental station closes.

Little Jinmen is particularly great for bike riding as there is a bike path more or less ringing the perimeter of the island (with sections closed as of July 2022), connecting most of the important sights. Greater Jinmen is rather large, and inexperienced cyclists may find the distances to be very intimidating, especially in the extreme heat of the summer or during windy weather (which can happen any time of the year), so plan accordingly.

By boat edit

Ferries are the only public transportation connecting Greater Kinmen and Lesser Kinmen (Lieyu) islands, at least until the long-delayed Kinmen Bridge is completed.

The ferry leaves every half hour from Shuitou Pier on Greater Jinmen during the day, and takes about 10-15 minutes to cross. As of July 2022, the fare as NT$60 per person plus NT$100 per scooter, each way. Note that scooter space is more limited than passenger space, so bringing a scooter may make you more likely to miss one boat and have to wait for the next one. Tickets can be purchased with cash in the office, but most people use their EasyCard (the same card used on the Taipei Metro and many public transit systems in Taiwan). iPass cards are also accepted, but unlike the EasyCard, you can't add value to them at the ticket office. The boarding process is a bit of a mess - if you're told to park your scooter to the side and wait, get off and stand in line in front of the EasyCard reader machines to avoid losing your place.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was possible to book a public boat from Lesser Kinmen to the Dadan and Erdan islets to the southwest, but as of July 2022 these seem to still be suspended. Due to landings on the islets being sensitive to tidal and weather conditions, we're told that it was necessary to book the boats a week in advance, with cancellations still common in prior to departure.

By bus edit

Kinmen 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.

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 NT$12 or NT$24 for long distances (such as from Kincheng to the eastern half of Kinmen). For Little Kinmen, the fare is NT$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.

See 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. They began as simple stones placed at the northeast corners of settlements to ward off evil coming in with the winter seasonal winds. Over time, they developed into brightly-decorated, and slightly humorous, individual lion statues. One of the later trends is to wrap them in red cloth shawls to give them protection from the cold winds.
  • "Republic of China" patriotism nostalgia. All around the island are monuments and giant red inscriptions (in Chinese) containing patriotic slogans, mostly from past decades all oriented around pride in the Nationalists' "Republic of China" as the rightful government of all China, rather than in any separate country of "Taiwan". These may be hard to appreciate if you don't read Chinese though.

Military history sites and museums edit

Aug.23 Artillery Battle Museum.
  • 1 8-2-3 Artillery battle museum. Small but excellent museum, with a large amount of English signage to help explain the exhibits. A short loop telling the story of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1958, in which the Nationalists in Kinmen and Communists on the mainland shelled each other with artillery almost non-stop for months, a decade after the end of the Chinese Civil War. There is also a Virtual War room where you can experience war for 3 minutes. Outdoors there are historic military vehicles on display, including tanks, a fighter plane, and an amphibious landing vehicle. Free.    
  • 2 Juguang Tower (莒光樓) (south of Kincheng on Huandao West Road (環島西路一段); Line A tourist bus). Memorial building with a small military museum and views of surrounding areas, near downtown Jincheng.    
Zhaishan Tunnel.
  • 3 Zhaishan tunnels (翟山坑道) (at the southern tip of the western part of Kinmen; Line A tourist bus). Historic underground navy pier, where boats could offload supplies out of reach of Mainland artillery. Artillery guns and boats on display outside. Free.    
  • 4 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.    
  • 5 Triangle Fortress (三角堡), +886 8 231 3271. 08:30-17:00. in Guning west of Zi lake (滋湖) to the north of Jincheng, overlooking the passage to Jincheng town between Kinmen and small Kinmen island, with a group of M41 tanks on display outside. The adjacent beach is a good place to see views of the Xiamen skyline, as well as the rows of steel spikes that the Nationalists lined the coast with to prevent an amphibious invasion. Line B tourist bus and bus 9. Free.
  • 6 Lion Mountain (獅山炮陳地), +886 8 235 5697. With 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)
  • 7 [dead link] Jiugong tunnel (九宮坑道) (on the neighboring Lieyu island, also part of the Republic of China), +886 8 236 4405. 08:00-17:00. A small complex of sea tunnels that was used as a material transport pipeline.    
  • 8 Deyue Gun Tower (得月樓). 08:30-27:00. The tower was built in 1931 by Huang Hui-huang, a wealthy merchant from Shuitou.    
  • 9 Kinmen Military Headquarters of Qing Dynasty (清金門鎮總兵署), +886 8 237 1717. 09:00-22:00. It 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.    
  • 10 Taiwu Martyrs' Shrine (太武忠烈祠).
  • 11 Yu Da Wei Xian Sheng Memorial Museum (俞大維先生紀念館), +886 8 233 0599. A small museum in Zhongzheng Park, next to the 8-2-3 Artillery Battle Museum, commemorating the life of the general who is credited with winning the 8-2-3 artillery war. Free.    
  • 12 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.    
  • 13 Military Brothel Exhibition Hall (特約茶室展示館), +886 8 233 7839. 08:30-17:00. A small museum detailing Kinmen's history of legalized brothels set up by the government for soldiers, many of whom were stranded on the island for the rest of their lives after retreating from Mainland China. Glosses over the darker aspects of the story, and is told largely from the point of view of the men, but still has some interesting information. Many, but not all, signs are in English as well as Chinese. 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.
  • 14 Hujingtou Battle Museum (湖井頭戰史館), +886 8 236 4403. 08:30-17:00. The museum displays the battle history, an observation post, and a broadcasting station.    

Culture and architecture edit

One of Kinmen's calling cards is its high density of preserved, and often beautifully-restored, historic houses and community temples. These historic buildings (古厝) are a mix of traditional Fujianese styles (with notable differences from Taiwan, such as "saddle"-shaped roofs) and 100-year-old Western-inspired architecture (洋樓) imported by Chinese emigrants returning from European colonies in Southeast Asia. You can find them everywhere, including in downtown Jincheng, but the outer villages (聚落) are much more striking, with large concentrations of restored (or sometimes ruined) old houses and family shrines in the village centers. If you travel around the main island off of the main artery roads, you're sure to run into some of these villages. Many of the old houses are still occupied by families, while others are abandoned, a handful are small museums, and many more have been converted into tourist accomodations (民宿).

  • 15 Kinmen cultural village (金門民俗文化村), +886 8 235 5347. 08:00-17:00. Also 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. It is only NT$50 to get in and a beautiful and well maintained example of South Fujian style traditional Chinese houses with swallow tail roofs and was built towards the end of the 1800s.    
  • 16 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.    
  • 17 Shuitou Deyue Tower (水頭得月樓). With 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
  • 18 Gulongtou Zhenwei Residence (古龍頭振威第). A historical building and a good example of the architecture of the time.    
  • 19 Mashan Broadcasting and Observation Station (馬山觀測站), +886 8 233 0086. 08:30-17:00. A 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.    
  • 20 Mofan Street (模範街). The 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.    
  • 21 Xu Jiang Xiao Wo Stone Inscription (虛江嘯臥碣群), +886 8 232 5643. 24 hr. A large stone inscription which dates back to the Ming Dynasty.    
  • 22 Chiou Lianggong's Mother Chastity Arch (邱良功母節孝坊), +886 8 231 8823. 24 hr. A stone arch erected in 1812 by Qiu Liang-gong to honour his mother, who had raised him after his father's early death.    
  • 23 Chen Jing-lan Western House (陳景蘭洋樓). 08:30-17:30. It 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.    

Temples edit

Dai Tian Fu, a temple near the eastern gate of Kincheng
A temple in Jincheg

Temples can be found everywhere on Kinmen and Little Kinmen, many of which are very tiny and quaint. They tend to be similar to the ones found in Taiwan, but often with even more spectacular swallowtail roof decorations. Besides the conventional temples dedicated to various Daoist/Buddhist/Chinese folk deities, many of the larger historic "houses" in the outer villages are actually family ancestral shrines.

  • 24 Maoshan Pagoda (茅山塔). Just 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.    
  • 25 Wentai Pagoda (文臺寶塔). Erected for the observation of the stars to make feng shui predictions in 1387. The current tower is a restoration.    
  • 26 Zhu Zi Ci (朱子祠). 09:00-17:00. An ancestral temple of the Zhu family.  
  • 27 Koxinga Shrine (延平郡王祠), +886 8 232 5057. A shrine on the western portion of the island dedicated to the military figure Koxinga.    
  • 28 Dai Tian Fu (代天府), +886 8 232 5842.

Nature edit

Though less famous for nature, Kinmen still has a fair bit of it. The two most proud features are its county bird, the fan-headed Eurasian Hoopoe (rare in Taiwan), which most birdwatchers will be able to find while there, and the Eurasian River Otter, which is also absent from Taiwan proper. You'll have to get really lucky to see a wild otter, but they and the hoopoes are all over the county's tourist souvenirs.

  • The Forest Recreation Area, located along Section3, Huandao East Road, 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 and 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.
  • 29 Gugang Lake (古崗湖), +886 8 231 3100. The lake features the Gugang Pavilion which was built in 1964 by Zhuang Wu-nan from Tamsui, Taipei. The pavilion is 16 meters in height.    
  • 30 Jiangong Islet (建功嶼). The 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.    
  • 31 Jincheng Seaside Park (金城海濱休閒公園).    

Do edit

  • Beaches and water sports. In the hot summer months, tourists and locals flock to the Kinmen's beaches, either to play or to dig for clams. One of the major destinations is Oucuo Beach (歐厝沙灘) in the southwest, a huge, wide-open beach of soft, warm-brown sand. There are lots of areas for kids to play in the sand or shallow pools of water, at least during low tide. At low tide you can also see the rusted-out remains of a scrapped battle tank half buried in the sand a ways to the west of the main beach access. Swim at your own risk. Much of Kinmen's coastline is restricted, with no water activities allowed, so check before getting in the water at other sites. Some water sports may be available from tourism operators, such as standup paddleboard (SUP) or windsurfing. There are also swimming competitions in the ocean during the summer.
  • Birdwatching: Birders from Taiwan come to Kinmen to see bird species that are rare in Taiwan proper but common in Mainland China. Besides the county mascot Eurasian Hoopoe, other specialties include Blue-tailed Bee-eaters in the summer, Great Cormorants in the winter, and Pied and White-throated Kingfishers year-round. For beginners, a fun thing to note is that Kinmen's myna birds (visible everywhere) are all indigenous Crested Mynas, while in Taiwan this species has been almost entirely replaced with introduced Javan Myna's and Common Mynas.
  • 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 (as of July 2022, there are now over 100 of then on the official map, and we didn't check whether there's still a prize.

Buy edit

Chinese style cleaver

Cleavers are Kinmen's best-known tourist product. They are famous for making excellent quality cleavers; the steel is said to be obtained from the hundreds of thousands of shells that the Communist forces fired at Kinmen, in a failed attempt to take the island away from the Nationalist troops. The most authentic 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 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.

Eat edit

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.

Drink edit

Kaoliang liquor

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. This is one of the upmarket brands of the widespread Chinese liquor bai jiu; see Chinese cuisine#Alcoholic for background.

  • White Lion, jincheng. 18:00-24:00. A nice Canadian/Taiwanese owned pub beside temple.

Sleep edit

Prices for stays in Kinmen start from about $600 per person per night in the summer high season. Most of the accomodations are minsu (民宿), something in between a B&B and a small, independent hotel (often misleadingly labeled "homestays"). Many of the mid-range and upper-range ones are located inside beautifully-restored historic houses in Kinmen's outer villages.

  • Da Jhai Men Homestay, +886 82-320008. Actually 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.
  • IN99 (near Jincheng bus station, new building), +886 82 324851. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. nice new business hotel in Jincheng NT$1800.

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 advisable 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.

Respect edit

Most Kinmenese identify as "Kinmense" or "Chinese" rather than "Taiwanese". As such, in Kinmen, labelling the locals "Taiwanese" could sometimes cause offense (though as always, there are also many locals who don't mind or who call themselves that). While you are in Kinmen, try not to refer to the Republic of China as a whole as "Taiwan". To be safe, call the country "Republic of China", and use "Taiwan" only to refer to the island of Taiwan. Likewise, call the local dialect "Kinmenese", "Min Nan", or "Quemoy" rather than "Taiwanese".

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.

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There are two choices; Taiwan is easily reached by plane, and Xiamen in mainland China is accessible by ferry (as of February 2023, may only be taken by Kinmen residents). To go to Xiamen, holders of most passports need to already have a Chinese visa; there is no office to issue them on Kinmen.

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