Why Visit Kinmen?
Kinmen: A Special Place
It's on an amazing spot of the globe!
It's got a remarkable history!
It's clean, safe and quiet!
It's got lots of trees, flowers, beaches and birds!
It's fantastic for bicycling!
It's got one small mountain to climb!
It's a great place to explore—there are lots of small empty roads leading to interesting and scenic places!
Kinmen is so exceptional that it's been regarded as Taiwan's top potential UNESCO World Heritage Status site. It's well worth at least a 3-day visit!
You can see many villages with historic, distinctive architecture and layout according to feng-shui principles. Seven of them are Kinmen National Park villages with an especially high concentration of traditional architecture, and are especially worth walking around: Shuitou (水頭), Zhushan (珠山), Oucuo (歐厝), Beishan (北山), Nanshan (南山), Qionglin (瓊林) and Shanhou (山后).
There are interesting historical and sociological reasons behind Kinmen's special architecture. To find them out, go to the museum in Shuitou housed in the former elementary school—itself a gem of a building.
At another museum in Shuitou, the Overseas Chinese Culture Exhibition Hall, you can see exhibits showing the cultural impacts of overseas Chinese in architecture, fashion, language and cuisine.
“Kinmen must have one of the highest concentrations of traditional Chinese architecture in the world. Gorgeously atmospheric buildings of various styles are dotted around everywhere. Do treat yourself and stay in one of the renovated houses which have been turned into a B&B!”
~Lynn, American/NZer resident
A closeup photo of a 洋樓 or swallow-tail roof house
There's so much birdsong in Kinmen, there's almost no need to listen to music here! Although the islands have gone through bare, treeless periods, they're now very green. Many trees were planted by soldiers during the military period. The National Park maintains roadside flowers and bushes year-round. The roads are great for bicycling, so you can appreciate all of this nature at a slow pace.
The Shuangli Wetlands Nature Center located near Beishan and Nanshan villages is a good place to find out details and history of Kinmen's various natural habitats.
“Kinmen has ‘it'. Whether you want to cycle around the sights, hike up Taiwu mountain, or walk the beaches, forests, or historic villages, Kinmen's people, climate, flora, and fauna are a treat for the senses and a welcome distraction for the curious and active. A mix of country charm, city convenience, and nature preserve, Kinmen is a place for reflection, relaxation, and recreation. Kinmen – Become Inspired”
~Michael, American resident
Some Nature Highlights
Fascinating Military History
Even if you're not into tanks and guns, you're sure to find something of interest amongst Kinmen's various military legacies. In Qionglin Village, you can walk through the tunnel that locals had to take shelter in on a regular basis during the 1950s and ‘60s; in the museum next door, find out why it was forbidden to own a ball during the very long military period Kinmen locals endured.
There are plenty of tanks and guns on display (as well as photos and interesting information) in the 823 Artillery, Guningtou and Hujingtou Battle Museums.
ALL the beaches used to have metal spikes as anti-landing obstacles to deter invaders. Now, there are just a few remaining for historic purposes.
“I've lived here since 2014, and there's always something new to discover on the off-the-beaten tracks. You can spend a lot of time exploring the former military roads which criss-cross the islands and take you round the coasts.”
~Ken from the UK
Where to find anti-landing obstacles:
Kinmen's clean, white, empty sandy beaches must be one of its best-kept secrets. They're superb for strolling and beachcombing. You might be lucky enough to find some old porcelain that's drifted over from Mainland China…During the summer, swimming is best done at the beach by Houhu Village. There are changing facilities, showers and toilets there, with lifeguards on duty. You might spot the vibrant Blue-tailed Bee Eater bird which nests in sand banks…Then there's the “sea sparkle”, a natural phenomenon at night causing the sea to glow bright blue…
“I could drink in Kinmen's collection of sand and surf forever. Each beach has its own unique flavor and feeling. Waves crashing against the rocky terrain of one, spikes from the war sticking out of the sand on another, a 3-story tower perfect for picnics on yet another...My list goes on, but all the beaches here hold a bit of magic and surprise for me.”
~Megan, American resident
Distinct Local Culture
You can't leave without seeing a wind lion god! Built in the past for protection from wind damage and misfortune, they're unique to Kinmen. Dotted all around the island, you're almost sure to run into one, but they're especially concentrated in the northwest part (Shamei town area) where the wind is the strongest. There's a dedicated guided bus tour (Taiwan Shuttle Bus Tour E) for them, or if you have extra time at the airport, a 3-min walk away is a park with life-size replicas of all of them!
Kinmen people are serious about honoring their ancestors, and in your travels around, you might be lucky enough to pass by a temple ceremony. With firecrackers and traditional live music, you'll know it when you hear it!
There are various annual events sponsored by the government that highlight Kinmen's distinctive culture—check the Events page for dates and details.
I love to get out and about, either on foot or on my scooter. There are so many museums to visit. And they're all free! One of my favorites is the Kinmen Historical Folk Culture Museum. It offers a comprehensive insight into the fascinating social history of this beautiful island. Another gem is at TongAn Pier, Kinmen's first port, from which early Kinmenese left to explore a wider world. But for me, there's so much to explore right here!
~Joe, American resident