Kinmen Island Travel Guide
Updated December 2023, Kinmen Island Travel Guide was originally written in August 2018
Technically part of Taiwan (Republic of China), yet a short ferry ride from the Chinese city of Xiamen and still claimed as a part of the PRC (People’s Republic of China). No matter the politics Kinmen is a great place to visit.
Rent an electric scooter and cruise the sleepy island streets in search of traditional Min-style buildings, delicious food, and historic sites. For more trip-planning info on Taiwan, including Kinmen Island, pick up a copy of Bradt’s Taiwan guidebook.
With tensions heating up between China and Taiwan in recent months, you may want to ask around and check the most current news on Kinmen before heading out to the beautiful little island to avoid getting into a potential geopolitical mess.
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How To Get To Kinmen Island
Ferries connect Kinmen Island with Xiamen in mainland China. Ferries travel between the Wutong Ferry Terminal in Xiamen and the Shuitou Ferry Terminal on Kinmen Island.
Tickets are ¥140 for the Xiamen > Kinmen ferry and NT$600 for the Kinmen > Xiamen ferry. Ferries run at least once per hour in each direction between 8:30 pm and 5:30 pm.
There are also ferries to and from Quanzhou in the Fujian Province as well as from main island of Taiwan.
Flights connect Kinmen Island with Xiamen as well as Taipei, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Chiayi, Magong and Tainan. One way tickets normally cost around NT$2000, with fare sales sometimes bringing them as low as NT$1200.
How To Get Around Kinmen Island
The best way to travel Kinmen Island is by electric scooter. You can rent them from shops just outside the ferry terminal as well as in Jincheng for NT$550 per 24 hours. You will need to leave your driver’s license at the shop and they will take passport copies.
You can also rent bicycles K-Bikes. Bicycles cost NT$10 per 30 minutes or NT$250 per day.
Road signs are written in Chinese characters and in Pinyan, so getting around for those without Chinese language skills is no problem.
There are buses on the island. For routes, times and fares click here.
There are taxis on Kinmen Island, but you’ll need good Taiwanese or Mandarin skills to negotiate prices. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find taxis outside of the Jincheng city center.
What To See & Do On Kinmen Island
The great thing about Kinmen Island is that most sites and museums are free.
Cruise The Streets: Kinmen Island has a very laid-back atmosphere. I enjoyed aimlessly riding around stopping at places that looked interesting and cruising the streets of downtown Jincheng in search of dumplings.
Zhaishan Tunnels: The largest underground tunnel in Kinmen. Kinmen Island has many underground tunnels left from its turbulent history.
During wartime, they were used to transport food and supplies. At 160km in length, Zhaishan is the longest and most touristic of the tunnels with its interesting granite formations and deep blue water.
Shuitou Village: A village in the Jincheng Township known for its houses from the early 20th century designed with traditional Chinese architecture and western design influence. The Deyue mansion is probably the most popular landmark in the village, built in the 1930s.
Shanhou Cultural Village: These Fujian-style homes dating back to the late 19th century are the main attraction. Make sure to explore the nearby neighborhoods as well.
Visit Little Kinmen (Liehyu) Island: This small island is reachable by ferries that depart from the Shuitou ferry terminal opposite the terminal for ferries bound for Xiamen. Tickets are NT$60 each way and the ferry takes 10 minutes.
Eat All The food: The food on Kinmen Island is delicious. Downtown Jincheng has tons of little shops serving up snacks and food.
The dishes are similar to those served up in Fujian Province and in Taiwan but usually cooked in a very traditional manner. Note that in the afternoon during the peak of the heat most restaurants shut down, so you’ll have to really search to find one open.
Climb Taiwu Shan: At 262m above sea level, Mount Taiwu is the highest point on Kinmen Island. A trip to the top and back down should take about 4 hours including stops at the different landmarks on the way up.
Lake Ci: An artificial lake formed by a dike built in the 1970s. Come here to bird watch and visit the scattering of forts, barricades and other structures.
Explore Kinmen’s Plethora Of Temples: There are heaps of temples on Kinmen Island. Many of them are small, but there are some larger ones too.
Where To Sleep
You can easily visit Kinmen Island in one day, but many like to make a weekend trip out of it. There are many B&Bs, guesthouses, and homestays around the island. Guesthouses, B&B, and Homestays that come recommended are:
For solo travelers trying to keep costs down there are a handful of hostels around Kinmen Island.. Hostels that come recommended are:
There are a few places to stay on Little Kinmen Island as well (Liehyu). Recommended places are:
Some of you may opt to do a day trip to Kinmen Island from Xiamen like I did when I visited. Check out Xiamen Accommodations here.
Since Kinmen Island is administered under Taiwan (ROC) the same visa policies apply. Note that if you plan to take the ferry from Xiamen and back you will need a multiple-entry Chinese visa.
Other Important Notes
- Kinmen Island uses Taiwanese Dollars. It’s easiest to exchange Chinese RMB. None of the exchangers at the ferry terminal exchange US dollars.
- There are ATMs just outside the ferry terminal on Kinmen Island and in the airport.