How to go from Taipei to Kinmen & What to Do in Kinmen

Kinmen Island is an off-the-beaten-path destination that is nothing like the rest of Taiwan. This unconventional destination is filled with rich war history, traditional culture, untouched nature, and historic architecture. And all of the tourist sites and museums are free!

If you plan to visit this island not many have explored – not even local Taiwanese, plan your trip with this article. I will share the best time to visit, how to get there from Taiwan or mainland China, what to do and eat in Kinmen, and where to stay.

Most importantly, I would like you to see why you should consider visiting Kinmen. My Kinmen trip was one of the most memorable ones in many ways. I want you to have the opportunity to discover this hidden gem island of Taiwan.

Warning: This article is long. Feel free to use the table of content below to go directly to different sections.

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Looking for an off-the-beaten-path in Taiwan? Kinmen Island is an unconventional destination filled with rich history, culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenKaoliang #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia

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>> Pssst! Heading to Taiwan? Read my Taiwan Travel Tips with everything you need to know plan your perfect Taiwan trip. Also, see how you can add six historical places into your Taipei Itinerary, check how Taipei Old Town (Dadaocheng) became the city’s new hot place, and steal my Taipei day trip ideas.

Kinmen Island, Taiwan’s Golden Gate

Kinmen is a small archipelago of islands in Taiwan with fewer than 130,000 residents. Also known as Jinmen (金門) or Quemoy, its Chinese name translates to the Golden Gate.

Interestingly, Taiwan’s Golden Gate is much closer to China than Taiwan’s main island. The islands locate a mere 2 km across from east of the port city of Xiamen in Fujian Province of China whereas it is 280 km from Taiwan across the Taiwan Strait.

Situated off the coast of Mainland China, Kinmen was the strategic location both for Taiwan and China’s military forces. Since 1949, the island had been under tight military control and the frontline battleground for a half-century.

Considering the war history, it is understandable that Kinmen never strikes as a tourist destination for most local Taiwanese living on the main island. The perception is slowly changing, though.

I do think that the dark past of Kinmen makes it a unique destination worth visiting. Since the island was isolated in tight military control for such a long time, this island is frozen in time. The cultural relics (e.g., ancient houses) and the environment (e.g., horseshoe crabs) are all preserved intact. And where else in Taiwan can you see an ox taking a nap in the middle of the road?

Best Time to Visit Kinmen Islands

I did not know much about Kinmen before I started researching for a trip. The main purpose of my visit was to witness blue tears. (I will explain more about this later. See #1.) Kinmen is one of two islands in Taiwan (the other is Matsu) to see this magical phenomenon – but only during a particular time.

The best time to visit Kinmen for blue tears is April through early June. HOWEVER, your chance of seeing it completely depends on the weather. That’s because Kinmen is notoriously prone to fog in spring (end of March through mid-May), which coincides with the blue tears season. Moreover, you may want to be flexible with your schedule because your flight or ferry might be canceled during this low visibility condition.

On the bright side, typhoons rarely hit Kinmen. Your flights to/from Kinmen can still be canceled if Taiwan’s main island gets hit, though. It may be wise to pay attention to the local weather during the typhoon season (July – Sept.). The Kinmen Airport website provides up-to-date info on flight status.

If you care more about the pleasant weather than blue tears, fall is the best time to visit Kinmen: mid-Oct. through mid-Dec. Besides the dry, pleasant 25-degree weather, you will get to enjoy the golden sorghum field. 

How to Get to Kinmen Island

​​Kinmen Islands consist of the main Kinmen island, Little Kinmen, and Dadan Dao. You will likely arrive at the main island first. Then, you can take a ferry to other small ones.

Taipei to Kinmen by Air

From Taiwan, the only way to Kinmen is by air. Unlike other outlying islands, you cannot reach Kinmen by ferry. A round-trip flight costs about NT$2,500 – 4,000 for a 50-min ride each way. (Note: Far Eastern Air Transport no longer services the Kinmen route.)

You can fly from the following airports:

  • Taipei (Songshan Airport): Mandarin Airlines or UNI Air
  • Kaohsiung: UNI Air
  • Taichung: Mandarin Airlines or UNI Air
  • Chiayi: UNI Air
  • Tainan: UNI Air
  • Penghu: UNI Air

Xiamen to Kinmen by Ferry

From Xiamen, China (Wutong Port), you can take a 30-min ferry to Shuitou Commercial Port. The ferry costs RMB$160 from Xiamen to Kinmen, and NT$650 from Kinmen to Xiamen. (You basically pay the fare on the local currency of departure.)

Another way from mainland China is to take a ferry from Quanzhou (Shijing Port). The 60-min ferry costs RMB$140. The return trip from Kinmen to Quanzhou costs NT$650.

If you don’t speak fluent Chinese, I recommend booking a ferry ticket here (Xiamen to Kinmen or Quanzhou to Kinmen).

Note: The ferries from Mainland China to Kinmen have stopped operating since Feb. 2020 due to COVID-19.

How to Get Around Kinmen

How to Go from Taipei to Kinmen & How to Get Around in Kinmen | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Kinmen Scooter Rental

Like all other Taiwan outlying islands, a scooter is the best way to get around Kinmen. You will need an international driver’s license for motorcycles. If you don’t have it, you can opt for a single-rider electric scooter.

>> Book your scooter rental here. You not only get discounts but also enjoy a pick-up/drop-off service from/to the airport or ferry terminal.

Kinmen Car Rental

Kinmen is unlike other Taiwan outlying islands, and far underdeveloped. Google navigation has sent us so many “shady” off-road routes. Even on the main road, it got dangerous and hasty to ride a scooter in the rain. Mind you, there are not many cars/scooters on the road, even during the day, and not enough lighting at night.

If you are not a skillful scooter rider or visiting the island during the rainy season like us, renting a car would be a safer choice. You will need an international driver’s license to rent a car.

>> Book your car rental here. Your car can be delivered to Kinmen Airport.

Bicycle

You can opt for renting a bicycle, although I do not recommend it. Kinmen is larger than you think. And the wind is notoriously strong (and with no buildings to break wind!)

Other than bicycle rental shops in Jincheng, there are also public bicycles available at major attractions. You will need a Taiwan cell phone number and a credit card (or EasyCard) to use this system. The first hour is free; then add NT$10 for each 30-min incremental up to NT$150 a day.

Kinmen Guided Bus Tours

If you’d like to use a guided bus tour, Kinmen offers 6 different themed routes with each serving a half-day tour. Tickets are NT$250 per person. Note that the guide is only given in Mandarin Chinese. Even if you cannot understand Chinese, you can still use as a convenient transport mean. 

>> Reserve your shuttle bus seat here. Choose half-day, 1-day, or 2-day pass.

What to Do in Kinmen Islands

Matsu Blue Tears at the Ghost Bay

I did not get to see Blue Tears, but here is a photo to show you the magic. | Photo by Yang Yuxian, courtesy of Matsu Lianjiang County Government

#1. Chase Blue Tears in Kinmen

Blue tears are a natural phenomenon of marine algae glowing fluorescent blue in the pitch dark. This mystic sparkling blue light usually blooms along the Kinmen shores between April and May. Some scientists argue that it is a sign of ocean pollution, while others disagree.

Note that you have to be super lucky to see blue tears. Literally, the universe has to work in favor of you as it only appears under particular conditions. The best time to observe is three days before and after the first day of the month in the lunar calendar, with clear days and strong south wind. (Yeah, go figure!)

Long story short, the Big O and I failed to see blue tears. It rained heavily for three days on the island, except the day we left. My poor husband had to scooter me around Kinmen’s empty beaches every night in the pitch dark – in a foggy, rainy, windy weather. I almost shed tears of my own to have missed blue tears. 

The best places you can hunt for blue tears are: Cihu, Chenggong Beach, Houhu Seashore Park, Guang’ao Embankment, and Liaolo South Stone Weir Park. If you go chasing blue tears, may the force be with you!

#2. Learn about the Fascinating Military History

Kinmen was the frontline battlefield to defend against Communist China since the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, a.k.a. KMT) took over the island in 1949. Since the first battle known as the Guningtou Battle, the island had become the last battleground between P.R.C. (People’s Republic of China = China) and R.O.C. (Republic of China = Taiwan). Kinmen suffered from constant military clashes lasted for nearly a half-century, even long after the Cold War between two countries was settled.

Although the war and the martial law period were officially over in 1992, the evidence of strict military control remains all over the island today. You can easily spot anti-communist military forces and arms throughout the small island, including anti-landing barricades and landmines on beaches, military tunnels used as a shelter, military outposts, and artillery on coastal hilltops, massive broadcasting towers to blast anti-communism propaganda across the Taiwan Strait.

*Admission is free in all of the following locations, so as other museums and sites in Kinmen.

What to do in Kinmen Island: Zhaishan Tunnel | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Zhaishan Tunnel

Zhaishan Tunnel (翟山坑道) is one of the shelters built to conceal naval vessels in the 1960s. Now you can go inside to look around the military facility. In mid-October, the underground tunnel turns into a concert venue for Kinmen Tunnel Music Festival.

Location: Open Google Map

Hours: 8 am – 5 pm (Closed on Lunar New Year’s Day)

>> Explore Kinmen’s most famous sites with this Jincheng day tour. Stops include my favorite places, such as Shuitou village and Jianggongyu Islet, as well as Zhaishan Tunnel and Juguang Fort.

What to do in Kinmen Island: Guningtou Battle Museum| Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Guningtou Battle Museum

The Guningtou Battle Museum (古寧頭戰史館) was built in 1979 to commemorate the historic battle on Dec. 24, 1949. The Guningtou battle marks the first significant victory of KMT. The exhibit displays weapons used, documents and photos, and a short video (Chinese only). It is worth making a pit stop to take a quick look at the exhibit and see the monuments and military bunkers outside.

Location: Open Google Map

Hours: 8:30 am – 5 pm (Closed on Lunar New Year’s Day)

What to do in Kinmen Island: Beishan “bullet-holed house” | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Beishan Old Western Style House

Beishan Old Western Style House (北山古洋樓) is best known as the bullet-holed house. This former military command post was first occupied by the Chinese communist army. This famous house has walls riddled with bullet holes and a collapsed roof, which showcase the severity of the Guningtou Battle.

Interestingly, the bullet-holed house is now converted to a tourist lodging. Given the number of death on the location, I am not sure if I want to stay here. (It is eerily quiet and dark at night.) But if you’re interested, check it out.

Location: Open Google Map

Hours: 8:30 am – 5 pm (Closed on Lunar New Year’s Day)

What to do in Kinmen Island: Beishan Broadcasting Wall | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Beishan Broadcasting Wall

Taiwan military used to broadcast propaganda against the Chinese communist army from the loudspeakers in a cement tower (北山斷崖). Now the speaker plays an old recording (still very loud!).

Location: Open Google Map

823 Artillery Battle Museum

Since the Guningtou Battle, KMT prevailed and successfully seized control of Kinmen until their last battle on Taiwanese soil known as the August 23 Artillery Battle. 823 Artillery Battle Museum (八二三戰史館) commemorates this historic day and pays tribute to 587 officers who lost their lives in this battle.

Location: Open Google Map

Hours: 8 am – 5 pm

Shishan (Mt. Lion) Howitzer Front

Shishan Howitzer Front (獅山砲陣地) is the military tunnel on Mt. Lion. The Howitzer is the weapon that contributed to the success of the 823 Artillery Battle in 1958. Along with the Howitzer, the tunnel displays relevant exhibits, a war-preparedness room, an ammunition room, arsenal, artillery fort, etc. A Howitzer gun drill demonstration takes place every day, except Thursday.

Location: Open Google Map

Hours: 8 am – 5:30 pm

What to do in Kinmen Island: Mashan Observation and Broadcasting Post | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Me posing to be a propaganda broadcaster

Mashan Broadcasting and Observation Station

Mashan Broadcasting and Observation Station (馬山觀測站) is the closest point to mainland China from Kinmen. It is only 2,100m away from Xiamen’s Jiaoyu Islet, with the distance narrowing to 1,800m at low tide. For that reason, it was strategically the most important place to monitor naval operations in the Strait. Taiwan had blasted propaganda broadcast from here since 1954.

 

What to do in Kinmen Island: Mashan Observation and Broadcasting Post | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

It was raining when I was there. But I could still see mainland China with naked eyes.

 

Location: Open Google Map

Hours: 8 am – 5 pm (Closed on Lunar New Year’s Day)

#3. Appreciate Stunning Ancient Architecture

The long martial law and military control period helped preserve Kinmen’s ancient architecture and clan villages from modern development. As a result, Kinmen is home to the finest traditional Fujian houses in existence today.

You may visit 6 traditional villages: Shuitou, Shantou Folk Culture, Qionglin, Zhushan, Bishan, and Oucuo villages. Read below for more details and photos of the three towns I liked the most.

What to do in Kinmen Island: Shuitou Village | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Shuitou Village was the most prosperous town in Kinmen. It boasts gorgeous Fujian-style ancient architecture and western-style mansions.

Shuitou Village

Shuitou Village (水頭聚落) is a settlement of the Huang clan in the southwest of Jincheng Township. It was the most prosperous village as it was close to Shuitou Pier, a transportation hub between Kinmen and Xiamen. 

The most exquisite Fujian-style and western-style buildings are well-preserved in this village, including:

What to do in Kinmen Island: Shuitou Village | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

The Eighteen Roof Ridges: A set of 9 houses in a row, each with two courtyards, is named after its swallowtail roof, indicating the owner’s high social status.

What to do in Kinmen Island: Shuitou Village | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Deyue Tower is on the list of Taiwan’s Top 100 Historical Buildings.

Jinshui Elementary School: The former school-turned-museum explains why Kinmen has many western-style houses and highlights women’s lives back then.

Overseas Chinese Culture Exhibition Hall: The beautiful historic house exhibits the history of overseas Chinese.

I highly recommend visiting this village. I stayed overnight at one of the most unique and beautiful Fujian houses in Kinmen, ate the best oyster omelet in all of Taiwan (see Kinmen Food below), and enjoyed architecture in this town very much.

Location: Open Google Map

What to do in Kinmen Island: Shanhou Village | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

The most iconic historic village in Kinmen, Shanhou Folk Culture Village features traditional Minan-style houses and shrines.

Shanhou Folk Culture Village

Shanhou Folk Culture Village (山后民俗文化村) is the most iconic, well-preserved historic village in Kinmen. The village features traditional Minan-style houses built between 1876 and 1900.

The 3 symmetrical rows of houses were built into the hillside to face the sea.

Location: Open Google Map

What to do in Kinmen Island: Qiongling Village | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Qiongling Village is known for its well-preserved Tsai family ancestral shrines.

Qionglin Village

Qionglin Village (瓊林聚落) is known for its well-preserved Tsai family ancestral shrines, arches, and traditional Fujian-style houses.

What to do in Kinmen Island: Qiongling Village | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

One of my favorite things in this village is a small Wind Lion God on the wall.

What to do in Kinmen Island: Qiongling Village | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

A local artist Wu Ding-Xin collaborated with community members to create this beautiful tiled kapok tree on the wall. The tiles were traditionally fired in a kiln and attached to a residence behind the Temple of Protection.

Location: Open Google Map

>> Visit Kinmen’s Jinhu highlights with this day tour, including Qionglin Village and kiln.

#4. Relive the Golden Age of Kinmen at Chen Jinglan’s Western-Style House

What to do in Kinmen Island: Chen Jinglan Western-style house | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Kinmen saw an economic boom in the late 1800s and early 1900s – before the military clashes between PRC (China) and ROC (Taiwan). Many local businessmen made a fortune in Southeast Asia and Japan, then returned to their hometown to build more than 100 Western-style colonial mansions.

During the war, some of these houses served as a military post and wartime hospitals. Today, many of these historic residences have been converted into bed & breakfast, cafes, and museums.

What to do in Kinmen Island: Chen Jinglan Western-style house | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Chen Jinglan’s Western-Style House

In particular, Chen Jinglan’s Western-style house is exemplary. It was built as the residence of Chen Jing-Lan, a successful businessman who made his fortune in Singapore. The all-white exterior house with blue window frames on hilltops overlooks Chenggong Beach. The impressive mansion features western influence, such as decorative carvings, symmetric archways, Greek sculptures, and a well-groomed garden. Since 1949, the Chen Jing-Lan residence served as a military post, military hospital, school, and military recreation hall. You can see the historical changes of the place through the exhibit.

Location: Open Google Map

Hours: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm (Closed on Lunar New Year’s Day)

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Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. What to do, see, eat, and shop in Kinmen while staying at an amazing Fujian-style historic house. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

#5. Bask in Distinct Beach Scenes

Although Houhu Seashore Park boasts a white sandy beach open for swimming in summer, most Kinmen seasides do not feature typical island beach scenes. Considering the island’s war history and military enforcements along the shore, you can easily guess why the beach was never a safe place to swim for locals for the longest time.

Many Kinmen beaches still have rusty anti-landing barricades that remind of Saving Private Ryan’s Omaha Beach scene. It took 7 scorching summers and winters for Taiwanese special forces to remove underwater naval barricades and landmines along the beaches in the military outpost of Kinmen.

If you must choose one, I recommend checking out Oucuo Beach. There is still a half-buried tank in the sand that only comes up to surface at low tide

Location: Open Google Map for Oucuo Beach

What to do in Kinmen Island: Enjoy the sunset at Ci Lake | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

#6. Enjoy Beautiful Sunset at Ci Lake

Ci Lake (慈湖) is one of Kinmen’s most popular spots to enjoy a gorgeous sunset view. Due to the construction of the Ci Causeway by the military, an artificial inland salt lake was created; the area used to be a military post with the anti-landing obstacles on the beach. The observation deck was added later.

Here, you can see the sunset with the city view of Xiamen on the background. In December, you may witness the migration of cormorants in the surrounding areas, as well as thousands of ducks and geese.

Location: Open Google Map

>> Jinning township’s essential sites – such as Guningtou Battle Museum, the “bullet-hole” house, and Ci Lake – are a bit further away from downtown. For an efficient itinerary, take this day tour.

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Looking for an off-the-beaten-path in Taiwan? Kinmen Island is an unconventional destination filled with rich history, culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia

#7. ‘Gram Four Oystermen Sculpture on Jiangong Islet

Jiangongyu Islet is home to beautiful modern sculpture and memorial of the Ming Dynasty General Zheng Cheonggong. The islet is only accessible at low tide through a 500-meter slab stone path.

The giant oystermen sculptures along the path were designed by Finnish architect Marco Casagrande in 2013 as part of a Kinmen County Sculpture Festival. The figures pay tribute to the island’s traditional occupation. Oystermen are made of sand-blasted stainless steel and stand 6 meters tall. During the high tide, the Oystermen appear to be wading on water. At low tide, you can see oyster shells on the bottom of their legs.

Check daily low-tide hours here

Location: Open Google Map

>> The mudflats of Kinmen abound in oysters and clams. Experience the daily lives of a Kinmen fisher.

What to do in Kinmen Island: Scavenger hunt wind lions | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

#8. Go Scavenger Hunt for the Wind Lion Gods

The Wind Lion God was built for protection from wind damage and misfortune in the past. When you go around the island, you are sure to run into one. (My favorite was the small one stuck on the corner of the wall in Qionglin Village.)

If you are convinced to see all of them, there is a dedicated guided bus tour (Taiwan Shuttle Bus Tour E). Or, you can swing by a park with 64 life-size replicas, which is a 3-min walk away from the airport before you leave.

Location: Open Google Map

#9. See “Living Fossil” Horseshoe Crab

What to do in Kinmen Island: See “living fossil” horseshoe crab | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

I have never seen anything like this, have you?

Kinmen is home to a very special sea creature called horseshoe crab. It has been living on the earth for 450 million years, earning its nickname “living fossil.” The Taiwan government is putting efforts to research, preserve the ecological environment and the endangered wild horseshoe crab species. At Kinmen Aquarium Educational Center, you will have the rare opportunity to see horseshoe crabs.

Location: Open Google Map

#10. Admire Local Heritage in Jincheng Downtown

What to do in Kinmen Island: Experience rich culture in Jincheng downtown | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Chastity Arch of Qiu Liang Gong’s Mother (邱良功母節孝坊) is another landmark in the old part of Jincheng. The memorial was built in the late 1700s to commemorate General Qiu’s mother. This widow brought up her child to be a respected military leader during the Qing Dynasty. The largest chastity arch in Taiwan is surrounded by the day market and food stalls.

Location: Open Google Map

Juguang Tower (莒光樓) is a famous landmark in Jincheng downtown. The heritage building was built in 1953 to honor fallen soldiers of the Guningtou Battle. Interestingly, the tower blends two different architectural styles with classical Chinese structure on top of a modern basement. Check out exhibits inside the building, then go up to the 3rd-floor balcony for a city view.

Location: Open Google Map 

Kinmen Military Headquarters of the Qing Dynasty (清金門鎮總兵署) is a designated historical monument that housed several government entities. The historic building built four centuries ago currently hosts exhibits to tell stories about renowned Kinmen residents from the Qing Dynasty and cultures back in the days.

This site offers a tourist information office. And the Kinmen government conducts FREE walking tours starting from here at 7:30 pm every day. There is no need for reservation; however, note that the guide only speaks Chinese. For more details, click here.

Location: Open Google Map

#11. Stroll Down the Historic Mofan Street

What to do in Kinmen Island: Explore Mofan Street | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Do you notice two rows of Taiwanese and Chinese flags facing each other?

The name of Mofan Street (模範街) comes from the Chinese word, “exemplary street.” This historic street showcases fine examples of the 1920s architecture trend from Southeast Asia, which blends Western colonial style and Chinese Fujian architecture.

Mofan Street is lined with souvenir shops and cafes. While enjoying the distinctive architectural beauty, snack on the local eatery and buy souvenirs (see the next thing to do in Kinmen).

Kinmen Food: deep fried sesame balls. In Kinmen, the locals still cook their food in traditional way. | #rockoyster #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #kinmenfood #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

We saw a long line at this snack stall (photo above) and could not pass it despite the heavy rain.

Location: Open Google Map

Hours: Most stores open 10 am – 6 pm

#12. Buy Unique Souvenirs from Kinmen

What to Buy in Kinmen Island: Steel knives made of mortar shells | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Steel Knives

The most distinctive souvenir you can buy from Kinmen is a knife. What makes Kinmen knives so unique?  These hand-crafted knives are made from recovered artillery shells by knife artisans with special casting and forging techniques. And they are known for its sharpness and durability.

During the military clashes, thousands of mortar shells ended up on the island. When life gives you artillery shells, make knives out of them!

Fun fact: One bombshell can make up to 60 steel knives. 

What to Buy in Kinmen Island: Kinmen Kaoliang | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #kinmenkaoliang #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Kinmen Kaoliang showcases a variety of bottle designs and special editions.

Kaoliang Liquor (Sorghum Wine)

Kinmen’s Kaoliang liquor is a special gift for anyone who appreciates fine alcoholic beverages. It is available in glass bottles or porcelain jars of different designs.

Kinmen’s climate is ideal for growing drought-tolerant sorghum. The Taiwanese government and military officers made conscious efforts to grow sorghum on the island for an economic boost.

The local harvest is used to make the Chinese sorghum spirit called Kaoliang Liquor (高粱酒). The clear distilled liquor is made of fermented sorghum, usually containing 38-58 percent alcohol.

The 58-percent Kimen’s Kaoliang became a huge hit. Supposedly, it does not give hangovers despite its high alcohol content. Plus, its aroma is fragrant like orchids.

What to Buy in Kinmen Island: Kinmen Kaoliang | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #kinmenkaoliang #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Some Kaoliang liquor is aged for five to ten years to obtain a smoother and richer flavor. Just like a whisky, a bottle of aged Kaoliang can get pricey. Interestingly, the special edition (like the one in the photo above) is considered a collector’s item, and the price can skyrocket.

Make sure to stop by Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Factory to see the collections and buy one. It is a great stopover on the way to the airport.

Location: Open Google Map

What to Buy in Kinmen Island: Kinmen Pottery and Ceramics | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Pottery and Ceramics

Fine earth-fired ceramics are one of the most popular specialty items. If you are interested, you can visit Kinmen Official Kiln to take a look at the gorgeous ceramics in their showroom. You can also participate in a DIY workshop.

Location: Open Google Map

What to Buy in Kinmen Island: Kinmen Peanut Candy | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Peanut Candy

Gong Tang (貢糖) is made of Kinmen’s agricultural specialty, peanuts. The climate, soil, and water conditions of the island are suitable for growing peanuts. The local peanuts contain high oil with rich flavor, making it ideal for crispy peanut candy. Try at 天之桂貢糖.

What to Buy in Kinmen Island: Kinmen Beef Jerky | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Beef Jerky

What goes well with Kaoliang Liquor? Beef jerky!

The local Taiwanese love flavorful and tender beef jerky from Kinmen. I have to tell you, though, that I was not too crazy about it. That is because I am not a huge fan of Chinese spices added to it. I prefer beef jerky from the States. But you might like it, who knows?

What to Buy in Kinmen Island: miniature wind lions | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Miniature Wind Lion Gods

While I don’t necessarily need protection from the Wind Lion Gods, I bought a set of miniature stone figures for fun. They come in a wide variety of designs, materials, and the price range. When you visit Mofan Street, find the ones you like.

Kinmen Food

Don’t skip Kinmen food just because you can find most of them in other parts of Taiwan. The local cuisine has southern Fujian roots while infusing a unique local touch; locals still maintain traditional cooking, making the food worthwhile to try. Taste and compare how they are different from the main island Taiwan.

Kinmen Food: Guangdong Congee and Shaobing Youtiao for breakfast | Kinmen Travel Guide: Taiwan’s one-of-a-kind island filled with war history, rich culture, and ancient architecture. | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #kinmenfood #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

My B&B served traditional Kinmen breakfast, composed of Guangdong congee, shaobing, youtiao, and mantou.

Guangdong Congee

Guangdong Congee (廣東粥) is the breakfast of champions in Kinmen. (Many B&Bs provide this as breakfast.) Don’t forget to dip Shaobing Youtiao (小餅油條) in congee to eat.

Oyster Omelet

With a large tidal range and high concentration of organic compounds at the bottom sediment, Kinmen is an ideal place for oyster farming.

I had the best oyster omelet ever in this little-hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Shuitou village.

Enjoy a variety of oyster dishes filled with a generous portion of rock oysters.

Oyster Vermicelli

Also, try oyster vermicelli. You can never go wrong with oyster dishes in Kinmen. And Kinmen vermicelli is one of the local specialties.

Kinmen Food: Kaoliang Marinated Raw Crab In Kinmen, the locals still cook their food in traditional way. | #rockoyster #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #kinmenfood #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Kaoliang Marinated Raw Crabs

One of my favorite Korean delicacies is marinated raw crabs. When I found something similar on the menu at a Kinmen restaurant, I had to give it a try. Kaoliang-infused crabs were delicious and not fishy at all thanks to Kaoliang liquor.

Kinmen Food: sandworms. In Kinmen, the locals still cook their food in traditional way. | #rockoyster #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #kinmenfood #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

Yep! This is the sandworm dish I tried. The local delicacy is not my cup of tea.

Sandworms

I am not an adventurous eater. However, I had to take a bite – literally one bite – of the local specialty sandworms from Kinmen’s mudflats. It was not my favorite at all, though. Do you have the guts to eat worms?

Kinmen Hotels

Where to stay in Kinmen: Staying at this amazing Fujian-style historic house built 200 years ago! | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

The artistic calligraphy and painted decor underneath it in this room are the originals from 200 years ago!

Grace B&B

I wanted to stay at a Fujian ancient home in Kinmen. I booked Grace B&B [compare rates: Booking, Agoda] in Shuitou Village, and got awed by every little detail of this historic home. During the property tour, I was surprised to learn how well the original structure and decors were kept well for over 200 years.

Where to stay in Kinmen: Staying at this amazing Fujian-style historic house built 200 years ago! | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

I admit that the bed was not the most comfortable one. However, with its historical value and overall experience, I highly recommend staying a night at Grace B&B.

Our host Kevin spoke good English and was very helpful. He also manages Grace Homestay 54 and Grace Homestay in Shuitou Village. If they are all booked, consider other similar Qing-style B&Bs in the area: Da Fu Di B&B, Patio Moonlight, Feng Mao Lin Zhi, and Zhu Shan Homestay.

Where to stay in Kinmen: Stay at a modern stylish B&B in Jincheng downtown | #KinmenIsland #KinmenTaiwan #traveltaiwan #travelasia #金門

810 Kinmen

I also stayed at 810 Kinmen [compare rates: Booking, Agoda] in the Jincheng city center. It is a modern, stylish bed & breakfast. The property is owned by a friendly retiree couple who lives on the first floor. Guest suites with a private bathroom are upstairs. This property is an excellent option for couples and budget travelers who like to stay near the city center but want to avoid hostels.

Taiwan Islands to Go Next

>> Penghu: Taiwan’s Underrated Hidden Gem Island

>> Xiaoliuqiu Island: Swim with Sea Turtles

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