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Gǔlàng Yǔ/China

Introducing Gǔlàng Yǔ

A 10-minute boat trip from Xiàmén, Gǔlàng Yǔ is a relaxing retreat of meandering lanes and shaded backstreets, set in an architectural twilight of colonial villas and crumbling remains. It’s well worth spending a few days exploring the place.

The foreign community was well established on Gǔlàng Yǔ by the 1880s, with a daily English newspaper, churches, hospitals, post and telegraph offices, libraries, hotels and consulates. In 1903 the island was officially designated an International Foreign Settlement, and a municipal council with a police force of Sikhs was established to govern it. Today, memories of the settlement linger in the charming colonial buildings that blanket the island and the sound of classical piano wafting from shuttered windows. Many of China’s most celebrated musicians have come from Gǔlàng Yǔ.

The best way to enjoy the island is to wander along the streets, peeking into courtyards and down alleys to catch a glimpse of colonial mansions seasoned by local life. Most sights and hotels are just a short walk from the ferry terminal.