Gu Lang Yu – piano island in China

Another of my incredible China adventures in recent times involved a visit to this crazy island known as Gu Lang Yu! Basically it’s an island off the coast of the Fujian Province and is reached by ferry from the city of Xiamen, itself another interesting Chinese city which I have yet to write about separately! [I:]

There is decent history on Gu Lang Yu, music and colonial wise. Indeed a few countries all influence the architecture on the streets of Gu Lang Yu. If you make it to Xiamen, most people head to Gu Lang Yu anyway and if you read on you’ll see why it shouldn’t be missed. An unusual part of your trip to Gu Lang Yu is the fact that to get there you have to pass through the island of Xiamen anyway! You can reach Xiamen by bus – I came from Shuyang Town and get a ferry from Xiamen seafront harbour direct to Gu Lang Yu.

Getting there? – The only real option is to take the ferry – it leaves from the port of Xiamen – get yourself to the harbour and you can’t miss it. There is a ferry that goes straight to Gu Lang Yu – i.e. directly across, the other option takes a detour and gives you a decent view of the city and the island.

I would recommend getting the slower, cheaper boat simply for the view – you can relax and enjoy the views of the harbour and if the weather is good, the city looks stunning. The ferry was 15 RMB return at the time we went almost a year ago, but there are cheaper and even free off peak times so look out for that!

What is there for me to see and do on Gu Lang Yu? – Despite being a small island, this is a great island and here are my top sightseeing tips:

1. Make the climb to Sunlight Rock – this is the peak of the island and is totally sensational for the views! It’s an easy walk up and the entrance price of 60 RMB also includes entry to a memorial hall. It is a bit over priced but worth seeing the view!

2. The Colonial Style Architecture – Gu Lang Yu is unique for China – it includes building designs from the UK, Netherlands, Japan, Spain, China and a host more countries. This range of architecture makes it pretty to look at. [I:]

3. The little cobbled streets – narrow, busy and with plenty of cafes and restaurants to keep you amused. It doesn’t even feel like you’re in China!

You will notice how Gu Lang Yu differs from mainland China particularly in the street layout, style and architecture. Enjoy your walk round it and take it all in – it’s a novelty in China!

4. Musical Island – often nicknamed Piano Island, Gu Lang Yu has lots of musical influences, in fact it’s famous for its music – lots of Chinese musicians hail from here. Many of them are famous.

* There are also museums, colonial residences, a cable car ride, a Protestant church and a waterfront garden as well.

Where to stay on Gu Lang Yu? – There’s a hostel on Gu Lang Yu which is difficult to miss, it’s on one of the main streets when you arrive by ferry and is prominent. It’s a Hostelling International – it’s probably the cheapest option on the island.

So there you have it – a very brief but essential guide to the island of Gu Lang Yu in Fujian Province in China. Whether you choose it as just a day trip, or an overnight stop, you will enjoy it. It’s just that little bit different to the China we are used to!

To read more articles like Gu Lang Yu Island head to Jonny Blair’s resourceful website Travelling Northern Irishman for continual travel tales and tips.