Summers in Xiamen are relatively mild, ranging from 23 to 34 degrees Celsius. However, with climate change affecting weather patterns around the world, summer has been known to hit the high 36-38 degrees Celsius during the height of summer in August. Now's the time to start stocking up on cotton and linen clothing; floppy hats, sunglasses, a bottle of water and umbrellas are obvious summer must-haves on this tropical island. However, for those relatively new to Xiamen, there is a wealth of other options out there to help you stay cool and get through the sweltering summer season.
Beaches and pools
If all you want to do is to curl up with a good book and soak up the summer sun, you have a choice of either the beach or the pool.
1) Baicheng Beach
The most convenient beach by bus or bike is Baicheng Beach, which is just south of Xiamen University (厦大). You could pack a picnic there or just spend a leisurely morning at the beach. No bathing facilities though so it's best to bring bottles of water for a wash down. Instead of walking, you can also rent tandem and triplet bicycles rent out for 20 to 30 RMB per hour.
Baicheng Beach View In Map
Add Huandao Nanlu, Enming District, Xiamen
Getting there: take bus no. 122 or 857 to Xiada Baicheng stop
2) Haiwan Park Aquatic Centre
Haiwan Park, which has its own bus stop boasts an aquatic center, which houses a 25-meter-long indoor swimming pool, with a 50-meter long outdoor swimming and a children's pool along with jet sprays and other spa services within. A single day entry pass is 70 RMB but you get a discounted rate if you arrive early in the morning. Seasonal passes are also available.
Haiwan Park Aquatic Centre View In Map
Add: 111 Hubin Xilu, Enming District, Xiamen
Tel: 0592 220 9000/2682333
Opening hours: 07:00 – 23:00
3) Smart Hero Club
For 5-star spa treatments and an amazing poolside reminiscent of your Bali holiday, Smart Hero Club offers an infinity pool and comfortable garden chairs at the pool-side. Refreshments such as cakes, sandwiches, Chinese and English tea, freshly squeezed fruit juices, freshly ground Italian coffees, beers, soft drinks and ice-cream are also available. You can choose to pay 80 RMB for a single day access to the pool or take up the 40 day (550 RMB), 80 day (1,000 RMB) or 4 month (2,280 RMB) club memberships for access to the gym, tennis and pool facilities.
Smart Hero Club View In Map
Add: 625 Xianyue Lu, Enming District, Xiamen (next to the newest SM Shopping mall)
Opening hours: 09:00 – 21:00
Island escapes, parks and museums
If you are an early riser, check out the various green spaces found in the city and on the quaint islet of Gulangyu:
1) Gulangyu Islet
In a bid to make it to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list by 2012, Gulangyu Islet is Xiamen's crown jewel. Less than two square kilometres in size, this is a charming island with shady banyan trees, cobblestone paths and old consulate buildings.
It's best to start early by taking the first ferry from Xiamen Lundu Ferry Terminal (轮渡码头) at 5.45 am, turn right at the dock when you walk off the ferry and head for Sunlight Rock (日光岩), the highest point of the island. Since no cars are allowed on the islet, visitors can either walk around or hop onto an electric buggy for a round-the-island trip for 50 RMB. You can clearly see the buggies when you turn left after disembarking the ferry.
You can spend the whole day exploring this charming island and find refuge in the little cafes offering coffee, cold beers, milk tea and fresh fruit juices. Popular ones include Naya Café (along the path towards the Catholic and Trinity churches) while Baby Cat, Miss Zhao and Nana Café are along Longtou Lu. Dairy Queen, KFC and McDonald's are also available.
Ferries run to and from Xiamen island every ten to twenty minutes and the last ferry back to Xiamen island is at midnight. A round trip ticket costs 8 RMB per person. As the local government plans to charge an estimated entry fee between 100 – 150 RMB per person from July 2012 onwards to control the hordes of tourists visiting the islet on weekends, you may want to take the chance this summer to visit Gulangyu soon.
2) Zhongshan Park
Built in 1927, Zhongshan Park (中山公园) is one of the oldest parks in Xiamen built in memory of Sun Yat-sen, the pioneer of the Chinese democratic revolution. Covering an area of 13.8 hectares, the park has three gates in the south, north and east directions. Enjoy the cool shade as you walk through this typical Chinese garden landscape of rivers, pavilions, bridges and willow trees. Get a glimpse of Chinese culture as many senior citizens do taichi, play cards or majiang (mah-jong) with friends.
Groups of Chinese women perform a repertoire of traditional Chinese dance and modern line dances. You are welcomed to join in the fun – just enquire with a friendly face or ask the principal dancer. Led by retired professional dancers, most of these dance teachers charge a nominal fee of 10 RMB per month.
When mid-day comes around, head on to the Xiamen Municipal Children's Public Library. On the fifth floor is the Apple Tree Children's Library, founded by overseas Chinese living in the United States in collaboration with the public libraries in China and the United States. Children and young adults will be able to find a good selection of English books for their summer reading.
3) Xiamen Science and Technology Museum
Stuck with kids at home? When the heat's too intense for a trip outdoors, take them to the Xiamen Culture and Art Center (厦门文化艺术中心), where children and school students can get interactive with science and technology while getting a head start in local Fujian culture.
Spanning an area of 12,000 sq m, the Xiamen Science and Technology Museum (厦门科技馆) is one of the most comprehensive museums found within the region. Students learn about marine life, robotics and digital science as they venture through five exhibition areas. A 4D theatre will also keep them occupied. All in all, your young explorers will spend a good two to three hours there.
Behind Xiamen Science and Technology Museum is the Xiamen Museum, which has a Fujian-Taiwan Folk Custom and Cultural Exhibition covering an area of over 2,000 square metres.On display are figurines showing the traditional customs and lifestyles of Fujian and Taiwan people throughout the year.
Xiamen Culture and Art CenterView In Map
Add: No.95, Tiyu Road, Siming District, Xiamen
Tel: 0592-5147555, 5148666
Opening hours: 09:00-17:00 (Closed on Mondays)
Average price per person: 30 RMB for entry into the main exhibition halls at the Xiamen Science and Technology Museum (including Children's Science Paradise); 20 RMB for the 4D Theatre.
Cool from the inside: local fruit and veg
Stay hydrated with local Chinese fruits like pear, yumberry (杨梅 yángméi), peaches and loquat (枇杷 pí pa) sold in the market and supermarket. Enjoy delicious stir-fries with seasonal vegetables like Chinese water spinach (空心菜 kōngxīncài), sweet potato leaves (地瓜叶 dìguāyè), spinach (菠菜 bōcài), long beans and squash like gourds and pumpkin. Boil a light, clear broth with radish and winter melon.
A popular dessert, well known for its cooling properties, is mung bean or "Green Bean" (绿豆 lǜdòu) soup. You can easily find this dessert in a beverage form on sale at the breakfast carts that dot busy corner streets. Just ask for lǜdòu (绿豆) and you'll get a sealed cup and a drinking straw for 1 RMB. Alternatively, you can try this simple recipe at home. Click here for the recipe.
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Keywords: How to survive summer Xiamen Xiamen summers keeping cool Xiamen beat the heat Xiamen
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