Our unforgettable tour will allow you to engage with the unique South Min culture and explore a whole new side of China!
The province of Fujian, known historically as “Min”, is located on China’s balmy southeastern coast and is almost entirely mountainous. With its warm climate and rolling hills, it’s the ideal landscape for growing tea and subtropical fruits.
The term “South Min” is often used to refer to an area in the south of Fujian province, which played a key role in the history of the province and exhibits a culture that is largely distinct from traditional Chinese culture.
It is known throughout China as the homeland of the Hoklo and the Hakka people. These ethnic minorities have their own unique cultures and speak their own dialects, although most people regard them as languages in their own right, since they are barley intelligible to most Mandarin Chinese speakers!
Alongside their unique dialects, they are famed for living in an unusual type of dwelling known as a “Tulou” or “Earthen Structure”. Hidden within the lofty mountains of Fujian province, these peculiar structures blend seamlessly with their natural surroundings and entering one is like discovering a whole new world; a microcosm of culture and history.
These ancient dwellings are a far cry from the glitz and glamour of South Min’s major city: Xiamen. Historically, this vibrant city was known as Amoy and was opened up to foreign investment as early as 1981, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in southern China.
During this tour, we will:
- Experience life in the Tulou of southern Fujian province;
- Marvel at the breathtakingly beautiful scenery of the rolling mountains and verdant forests in southern Fujian;
- Sample a variety of local teas as part of a traditional Fujian tea ceremony;
- Witness the effect of Fujian province’s colonial history on the island of Gulangyu (optional);
- Feel intoxicated by the modern city of Xiamen (optional);
- Discover the history of the Hakka and Hoklo people;
- Try a wide variety of local dishes and subtropical fruits.
On our 7-day tour, we’ll take you on a journey from the Tulou of the countryside to the skyscrapers of Xiamen; through Fujian province old and new!
We offer a 5-day tour exploring the Tulou in the mountainous region of southern Fujian province, plus an optional 2-day tour of Xiamen as a potential add-on.
Duration: 5 days and 5 nights (plus an extra, optional 2 day tour in Xiamen as specified above)
Dates: 11th of Apr - 17th of Apr 2018 / 20th of Sep - 26th of Sep 2018
I. Explore the Unique Local Architecture -- Tulou
Fujian province is celebrated for its myriad of local architectural styles, with the four most common being: Tulou, traditional Han-style buildings, qilou, and colonial buildings. Each style offers a window into a period of Fujian province’s history and a tour of its architecture is the ideal way to experience this passage of history personally!
This venerable history begins with the Tulou and traditional Han-style buildings, which date back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. While the Han-style buildings were common throughout most of China at this time, the Tulou were unique to Fujian province and were designed to protect their inhabitants from bandits, who roved the countryside and terrified the local people. These colossal structures, typically circular or rectangular in shape, appear more like fortresses than homes and housed multiple families.
They were constructed by the Hakka and Hoklo people, and each Tulou was usually inhabited by members of one clan only. Nowadays more than 3,700 Tulou remain and a selection of them were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. (Read more about Fujian Tulou).
I. Explore the Unique Local Architecture -- Qilou
As we move further through history, we see the advent of the qilou and colonial-style buildings in Fujian province. Qilou appeared sometime around the late 19th century and can be found in many regions throughout southern China, such as Guangdong province, Macau, and Hong Kong. The style originated from the bustling city of Guangzhou, which was a commercial port used frequently for foreign trade. The foreign influence on this style of architecture is palpable, as it resembles a perfect intermingling of traditional Chinese and Western styles of architecture.
The earliest qilou were masterminded by wealthy businessmen to serve as stylish shops, so you’ll find many of them in the old business sector of Xiamen. While the qilou in Xiamen exhibit more colonial-style features, the ones found in the nearby city of Zhangzhou were built in a far more traditionally Chinese style, since Zhangzhou was not subjected to as much Western influence.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the island of Gulangyu, which is just a short drive away from Xiamen, was exposed to considerable Western influence and is home to a plethora of colonial buildings. These buildings were constructed by the numerous Western traders who settled on the island from 1850 right through to 1900 following the events of the First Opium War. In many ways, the peaceful atmosphere and colonial architecture of Gulangyu Island will remind you more of a European enclave than a typical Chinese city.
II. Witness the Breathtaking Natural Scenery
Thanks to its mountainous terrain, subtropical climate, and fertile soil, Fujian province is blanketed in tea fields and is one of the most prominent regions for tea production in China. Alongside the lush tea bushes that wind their way up the various mountains, Fujian province is also renowned for its beautiful rice terraces, which have been carved directly into the hills and mountains of the countryside.
III. Stay in a Tulou Hotel
If you want to gain an authentic insight into the culture of Fujian province, just visiting the local attractions and villages simply isn’t enough!
Our tour offers you the opportunity to get an up-close and personal look at the lifestyle of the Hoklo and Hakka people and their unique culture; an experience that we guarantee you’ll never forget. During our tour, we will be staying in a Tulou that has been partly converted into a hotel. Together, we can discover what daily life is like for the local people.
IV. Discover the Exotic Local Fruits
The bountiful countryside of Fujian province is brimming with many exotic types of fruit that you may have never even heard of before! Take your taste-buds on an adventure and try a few of the locally grown fruits during your trip.
V. Sample the Local Food
The cuisine of Fujian province is known as Min Cuisine and is famed as one of the Eight Great Culinary Traditions of Chinese Cuisine. It renowned for its delicious seafood dishes and bears a noticeable similarity to the cuisine of Taiwan. The sumptuous signature dishes of Min Cuisine are beautifully complemented by the locally grown types of Chinese tea.
VI. Taste the Various Local Teas
If you love Chinese tea, then Fujian is the province for you! A wide array of top quality Chinese teas are grown and refined in Fujian province by the Hakka and Hoklo people.
In the remote villages, they make tea not only from traditional tea leaves, but also from different fruits and wild flowers. These unique types of tea have a light fragrance but a strong, sweet, and robust flavour that is sure to tantalise your taste-buds. According to traditional Chinese medicine, each type of tea is believed to have different medicinal properties depending on its ingredients, but you won’t need a spoonful of sugar to make this delightful medicine go down!
Day 1 Meet up in Xiamen
We will meet you at the hotel in Xiamen.
If you are planning on flying into Xiamen, the hotel is within walking distance of the airport and can be easily found. We will provide you with instructions on how to get from the airport to the hotel.
If you are planning on coming to Xiamen by train, you can either make your own way to the hotel or we will happily pick you up from the railway station and escort you to the hotel. Please note this service needs to be booked in advance.
Accommodation: 4-star hotel near Xiamen airport
Day 2 Visit the Group of Tulou in Tianluokeng
In the morning, we will head out to visit the most famous group of Tulou in Fujian province – the “Four Dishes and One Soup” Tulou in the village of Tianluokeng. This group of Tulou consists of three circular Tulou and one square-shaped Tulou which, from above, resemble the common layout of a traditional Chinese family dinner. Its unique appearance has earned it the nickname “Four Dishes and One Soup”.
In order to fully appreciate this magnificent collection of Tulou, we will start our tour of the village at the top of a nearby mountain, which will offer us a breath-taking panoramic view of the village and surrounding countryside. From there, we will hike down the mountain and enter the village.
While Tianluokeng is arguably the most famous Tulou village in Fujian province, most visitors tend to view it from a distance and do not make the descent to enter the village itself. Unlike them, we will grasp the opportunity to experience what life is like in an authentic Tulou village.
In order to truly embrace the local culture, we will sample some of the locally grown tea in a traditional Fujian-style tea ceremony. Before you get the wrong idea, this isn’t a luxury experience! You’ll get to enjoy drinking tea in the same way that the locals do, looking out at the lofty mountains while listening to the folk tales of the Hakka people. Read more about Tianluokeng.
Accommodation: Tulou Hotel in Tianluokeng
Day 3 Travel to the villages of Xiabanliao, Hongkeng, and Taxia
The first stop of the day will be in the sleepy village of Xiabanliao, which receives markedly few tourists compared to other Tulou villages. The main highlight of Xiabanliao is the renowned Yuchang Lou, which is the tallest Tulou in existence and which exhibits beautiful pillars made from the wood of plum trees. Read more about Xiabanliao.
From there, we will travel to the picturesque village of Hongkeng, which is home to over 100 different Tulou of varying shapes and sizes! It is the ideal place to admire the diverse styles of Tulou, from the traditional circular Tulou to the highly unusual Phoenix-style Tulou. Read more about Hongkeng.
Saving the best till last, our final destination will be the village of Taxia, which is famed for the seamless way in which the Tulou blend in with their natural surroundings. Read more about Taxia.
Accommodation: Tulou Hotel in Taxia Village
Day 4 Explore the village of Yunshuiyao, then stop off in Zhangzhou
The entire morning will be spent in blissful tranquillity as we wander through the peaceful streets of Yunshuiyao.
Nestled within the mountainous countryside, this village boasts a history that dates back hundreds of years and is inextricably linked to the venerable Jian clan. Many of the houses within the village date back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and were constructed modestly out of clay. By far the most famous of these quaint buildings is the large Ancestral Hall masterminded by the Jian clan to honour their ancestors.
A bubbling brook cuts through the centre of Yunshuiyao and is flanked on either side by banyan trees, many of which are over a hundred years old. One of them is the largest banyan tree in the entirety of Fujian province and boasts branches that are over 30 metres in length! Read more about Yunshuiyao.
While the day will primarily be spent at your leisure, we will make a point of visiting two magnificent Tulou that are located near to Yunshuiyao. The incredible feature of Heigui Lou is that the entire compound was built on marshland. Let’s just hope it doesn’t sink any time soon!
In the late afternoon, we will make our way to the vibrant city of Zhangzhou.
Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Zhangzhou
Day 5 Discover the ancient architecture of Zhangzhou, then return to Xiamen
In the morning, we will explore several streets in Zhangzhou that were built during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. These streets still retain many of their original features and are lined with time-honoured shops that have been dedicated to their family businesses throughout countless generations. Read more about Zhangzhou.
In the late afternoon, we will return to Xiamen for our final evening of the tour.
Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Xiamen
Day 6 Explore the city of Xiamen and the village of Zengcuo An
We’ll start the day by visiting the Siming District. This is the economic centre of Xiamen and it is here that we’ll find a typical type of South Min-style building known as a Qilou. This unusual style of architecture is a hybrid of traditional Chinese and colonial Western features. Read more about Xiamen.
After exploring the main city, we’ll venture out to a small fishing village known as Zengcuo An. Historically, all of the locals in Zengcuo An used to be fishermen and it is the ideal place to connect with the fishing culture of southern Fujian province. Much like the Siming District in Xiamen, all of the houses in Zengcuo An have been altered to incorporate some colonial features, but still retain many traditional Chinese qualities.
In Zengcuo An, we’ll have the opportunity to try several authentic signature dishes from the renowned Min-style Cuisine of Fujian province, as well as being able to sample a few of the locally grown subtropical fruits. After a delightful meal, we will walk down to the seaside, where you can either take a leisurely stroll along the wooden plank road that flanks the beach or simply sunbathe on the soft, white sand. Read more about Zengcuo An.
Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Xiamen
Day 7 Take the ferry to Gulangyu Island
As a coastal city in southern China, Xiamen is partially made up of gorgeous satellite islands that provide the perfect retreat for those looking to soak up the sun on a quiet beach.
In the morning, we will take the ferry to the island of Gulangyu. After we’ve visited the buildings of major historic interest on the island, you will have the chance to explore the island at your leisure and enjoy some of the local attractions by yourself. Read more about Gulangyu Island.
Accommodation: 4-star hotel in Xiamen
Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 7 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.
Cost pp for the 5-Day Tour: £680 (including: 5 nights of accommodation; all entrance fees to the attractions; all meals during the 3 days spent in the mountainous region of Fujian and 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners in Xiamen; all transportation costs during designated tour times; the services of an English speaking guide; a pdf file with information about the Tulou; help with any further travel in China following the tour). Single sup: £960
Cost pp for the 7-Day Tour: £880 (all of the above plus: an extra 2 day tour in Xiamen, including the services of an English speaking guide and transportation costs during designated tour times; two extra nights of accommodation in Xiamen; one extra dinner in Xiamen) Single supp: £1,160
Please Note: the cost is based on the subscription of no less than 4 participants; the maximum number of participants being 10.
Accommodation: We will stay in a Tulou hotel in the mountainous regions of Fujian for 2 nights of the tour, a 3-Star hotel in Zhangzhou for 1 night, and a 4-Star hotel in Xiamen for 1 night of the tour (plus an extra 2 nights in a 4-star hotel should you decide to expand your tour of Xiamen).
Please Note: There are no en-suite bathrooms in the Tulou hotels because of their design. All rooms will have a shared toilet and bathroom.
Food: We will provide 3 meals per day, consisting of local Chinese food, when staying in the mountainous region of Fujian. Breakfast and dinner will be provided in Xiamen. Our guide will be on hand to help you order lunch in Xiamen.
Transportation: Mini coach
How can I sign up to this tour?
Step 1 ⇒ Book online and pay the £100 deposit. When paying the deposit, don’t forget to let us know whether you’d prefer to take the tour in April or in September. If you have an exclusive discount code, please enter it into the Enquiry box.
Step 2 ⇒ We will send you the invoice confirming you have been booked on the tour. Once you receive the invoice, you have 30 days to pay off the full balance. Meanwhile, we will advise you on how to apply for your visa.
Step 3 ⇒ We will send you our exclusive tour e-book, which contains a detailed itinerary of the tour and in-depth information on the areas we’ll be visiting.
Step 4 ⇒ Prepare yourself for an unforgettable adventure!