Kinmen is an island off the Strait of Taiwan, located just 250 kilometers (150 miles) from the Republic of China. This quiet, little county actually has a very colorful history. Having been one of the key locations during the war, Kinmen (then known as Quemoy) was constantly faced with the threat of being seized and put under military rule.
Nowadays, Kinmen is a peaceful and fascinating place. Although it is best known for its knives, candy, and liquor, Kinmen is also slowly increasing in popularity as a tourist destination. Here are just a few of the best things to check out while in Kinmen.
1. Wind Lion Gods
The Wind Lion Gods are large images of beast-like creatures that are scattered all over the island. As a reaction to the turbulent periods of conflict in Kinmen over the years, locals placed these spiritual images along rivers and along the city borders. These talismanic sculptures have since gained popularity among tourists for their fascinating designs.
Some actually make an attempt to find all of the original statues scattered around the island, making for a fun sightseeing adventure across the city. Of course, if you would simply like to see the statues without having to scour the entire island for them, you can simply take a visit to the Wind Lion God Park. Situated near the airport, the Wind Lion God Park contains replicas of the existing statues, coming to about 63 replica statues in the park, in total.
2. Shuitou Village
Located at the Jincheng Township in Kinmen, Shuitou Village is famed for the fascinating houses that line its streets. These houses were built as early as the 20th century and featured elements of traditional Chinese architecture, as well as Western design sensibilities. Many of these were commissioned by wealthy emigrants in the same period.
Perhaps the most notable landmark in Shuitou Village is the Deyue Mansion. The Deyue Mansion was built by the Huang clan, who were some of the first settlers in the particular area, in the early 1930s. The mansion is popular for its elaborate and intriguing features, such as a four-story tower, which was once meant to be used as a turret.
Address: 893 Jincheng Township, Kinmen County
Opening Hours: Open 24 hours daily
Contact: +886 8 231 3100
3. Jhaishan Tunnels
In Kinmen, one will find plenty of underground tunnels scattered across the island. During periods of war, these tunnels were used to covertly bring in food, supplies, and other materials through naval vessels. Stretching for 160 kilometers (101 miles) in total, the Jhaishan (or Zaishan) Tunnel is the largest of these underground tunnels in Kinmen.
In spite of its somewhat turbulent history, the tunnel is now a popular tourist destination. Its awe-inspiring granite formations and deep, blue waters give the tunnel air of mystery. Music is also played to set the mood, as you make your way through the tunnel. The Jhaishan Tunnels are not only a testament to the hard work and technical expertise of the locals who built them but also a fascinating relic of those periods in their history and a lasting reminder of the consequences of war.
Address: Jincheng Township, Kinmen County, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily
Contact: +886 8 231 3241
4. Kinmen Folk Culture Village
Facing the sea, the Kinmen Folk Culture Village is a group of 18 buildings enclosed by walls and arranged in an organized manner. Built in the late 19th century, the village was constructed by an affluent businessman, who had returned after amassing his wealth in Japan. Centuries later, in the late 1990s, the village was converted to a tourist destination, the first of its kind in Kinmen. The old Fujian style houses in this village are the main attraction at the Kinmen Folk Culture Village. One can also explore the neighboring areas, as the Kinmen Folk Culture Village is situated within the national park.
Kinmen Folk Culture Village
Address: No. 61, Shanhou, Jinsha Township, Kinmen County, Taiwan
Opening Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed on public holidays.
Contact: +886 8 231 3100
5. Mount Taiwu
Measuring at a staggering 262 meters (860 feet) above sea level at its peak, Mount Taiwu is easily the highest point in Kinmen. Hikers are up for quite a challenge, as the paths at Mount Taiwu are quite narrow and full of twists and turns. The climb will also take about four hours, in total.
Although one can travel by passenger vehicles to the foot of the mountain, to get to the summit of Mount Taiwu, one must finish on foot. Along the way, one will also see many different landmarks, including a stone inscription with words from Chang Kai Shek, a statue, the Haiin temple, and the Tai Wu Lake. Halfway up the mountain, one will also find a soldiers’ cemetery dedicated to the fallen ROC soldiers of the Second World War and a shrine.
Address: Jinhu Township, Kinmen County, Taiwan
Duration: around 4 hours required
6. Houpu 16 Art Zone
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Houpu 16 Art Zone is an area in the center of Jincheng Town filled with restaurants, cafés, art shops and some historical sites. One of the more notable sites here is the ancestral hall of the Chen Clan, which was the biggest clan in Kinmen. Another popular attraction at the Houpu 16 Art Zone is the White Lion Café Pub, which is located right beside the Chen Clan Ancestral Hall. You are also sure to enjoy checking out the boutique shops that line Juguang Road.
Houpu 16 Art Zone
Address: No.112 Juguang Road, 890 Jincheng Town, Kinmen County, Taiwan
7. Lake Ci
Formed in the 1970s after nationalists decided to build a dike in the mouth of a once open harbor, Lake Ci (also called Ci Hu) is an artificial body of water that was meant to serve as a means of generating livelihood for local fisher folk. Nowadays, Lake Ci is a popular tourist destination in Kinmen. Interesting structures, such as forts and barricades, can still be seen in this area, especially along the dike.
However, bird watching is arguably the main attraction at Lake Ci. With around 200 different species of birds that can be spotted here, Lake Ci is a bird watcher’s paradise. The views of the sunset from this area are also quite a sight to behold.
Address: Section 3, Cihu Road, Jinning Town, Kinmen County, Taiwan
Travel back in time and discover something new
With its many historical sites, a visit to Kinmen would be like taking a leap through time. The perfectly preserved houses, forts, and underground tunnels provide a fascinating look into the history of the island and its people.