Welcome to Kinmen
Well-restored villages dating from the Ming and Qing dynasties can still be found in Kinmen today. Kinmen has the best collection of old dwellings in one small area in all Taiwan. In seven of the villages, much of the original feng-shui-beholden layout and clan structure can still be found; elsewhere, newer constructions stand unobtrusively among old yet well-maintained houses.
Also, the pollution-free islands have open fields, sandy beaches, thick forests, and artificial lakes that attract many migratory birds. Cyclists and twitchers will find paradise here.
Kinmen’s traditional dwellings feature the long, elegant swallowtail roof that you usually find only on temples elsewhere. The reason for this is that Kinmen was once a very wealthy place and swallowtail roofs symbolise high social position. Many of the houses also have high gable fronts, which are usually painted with traditional symbols. To enjoy these beautiful clusters of architecture, spend a night in one of the renovated old dwellings, or simply go village-hopping by bike.
With its lovely lakes, forests and bird sanctuaries, Kinmen truly is, as locals say, 'a garden built upon a fortress'. So much so that the island attracts visitors with no interest in military history.
Kinmen is a fairly well-developed place. Roads double as runways (just in case!) so they are wide and well-maintained. Parks are everywhere, and in general the atmosphere is relaxed. But don't forget that Kinmen remains a military outpost – restricted areas still exist.