Quanzhou urban area consists of four districts:
- Fengze District (丰泽区; Fēngzéqū)
- Licheng District (鲤城区; Lǐchéngqū)
- Luojiang District (洛江区; Luòjiāngqū)
- Quangang District (泉港区; Quángǎngqū)
Quanzhou Prefecture also administers eight counties:
- Anxi County (安溪县; Ānxīxiàn)
- Dehua County (德化县; Déhuàxiàn)
- Hui'an County (惠安县; Huì'ānxiàn) - home to the walled city of Chongwu
- Jinjiang (晋江; Jìnjiāng)
- Jinmen County (金门县; Jīnménxiàn)
- Nan'an (南安; Nán'ān)
- Shishi (石狮; Shíshī)
- Yongchun County (永春县; Yǒngchūnxiàn)
The city was once the eastern terminus of the Maritime Silk Road and home to a large (100,000 by some estimates!) international community, mostly Arabs but also including Persians, Indians and others. The English word "satin" comes from "Zaiton", the Arabic name for Quanzhou, the port from which that fabric first reached the West.
Marco Polo sailed home from Quanzhou. He described it as the world's busiest port, with Alexandria second. At about that time, Kublai Khan's fleet for the invasion of Japan sailed from Quanzhou. It was wiped out by a storm, the kami kaze or "spirit wind". This is the origin of the name for kamikaze plots, it was hoped they would save Japan in a similar way.
After the emperor cut off foreign expeditions, destroyed the records and let the great ships rot in the 1420s, Quanzhou declined considerably. Today, it is less well-known than the provincial capital Fuzhou or Special Economic Zone Xiamen, and certainly gets fewer tourists than either. However, it definitely has its own attractions, notably interesting architecture and good shopping.
Like most Chinese cities, Quanzhou has some of the standard ugly 8-storey concrete apartment blocks. However, there are far fewer of those than elsewhere and whole districts are much prettier. The city government has policies that require new buildings to follow certain architectural conventions. Downtown, there are many new 4 to 6 floor buildings with the traditional Chinese tile roofs with points on the corners. Near the old mosque there are new buildings with Islamic themes in the architecture. The rebuilding of the Zhongshan Road shopping area got a UNESCO award for heritage preservation, and Quanzhou got an international award in a contest for most livable cities in 2003, neighboring Xiamen had won the previous year.
Quanzhou, or rather Jinjiang across the river, has an airport with flights to various mainland cities. Nearby Xiamen has a more important airport with good domestic connections, including flights to Hong Kong and Macau and quite a few international flights.
A high-speed rail line is, as of mid-2009, quite visibly under construction, due to enter service around the end of the year. When done, that will link Quanzhou at least to Xiamen and Fuzhou, cutting travel times roughly in half. Likely it will also go much further in both directions; see High-speed rail in China for details.
There are two main bus stations, a fairly large one in a new building toward the east of town and one that is much more central and looks more run down. The latter is the "new bus station". A small bus station next to the Overseas Chinese Hotel has busses to Fuzhou.
Taxis start at ¥7 and you can go almost anywhere in town for under ¥20.
Be warned about local traffic! If you think traffic in typical Chinese cities is chaotic, you haven't seen Quanzhou. According to many travel blogs in China, Quanzhou traffic is so bad even Chinese are complaining about motorbikes riding on footpaths, cars stopped in the middle of traffic, expensive taxis, and so on.
The town has an assortment of religious buildings, some quite old. It has been called a museum of world religions. There are Taoist, Buddhist, and Confucian temples, as anywhere in China, plus Christian churches and one mosque. There are also Hindu and Zoroastrian temples.
- Qingjing Mosque Tumen Street The only surviving mosque of the many that used to exist. It is over 1,000 years old, and was rebuilt in 2009 so the dome is now restored after a 200-year absence. Well worth a visit.
- Taoist temple just east of the mosque Large and impressive
- Confucian Temple A couple of blocks west of the Taoist Temple, just off Tumen Street This is the main Confucian temple in town.
- Chongfu Temple Chongfu Road Northeast of the city center, near where Dong Road turns into Donghu Road A beautiful if small active Buddhist Temple.
- Old Saint On the peak of Qingyuanshan just outside town An enormous statue of Lao Tse, the founder of Taoism, which attracts people from all over China.
- Quanzhou Museum
- Puppet Museum From the mosque, walk West (away from the Taoist temple) along Tumen Street, take the first right, go a short distance and take the first right again (if you reach a park on your right, you have gone too far), the museum is a short way along on your left (if you reach the French restaurant, you have gone too far) Free* <see name="" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="">Quanzhou is famous for puppets and the museum is excellent. They sometimes do shows, which are excellent, but not on a regular schedule. You need to be lucky to catch one, or to have a group of 20 or so people and make arrangements.
- Fujian-Taiwan Kinship Museum
- Maritime Museum Excelleng museum. Quanzhou was, up to the 15th century, one of China's greatest trading cities and a major base for her powerful fleets.
- Koxinga 鄭成功; Zhèng Chénggōng An enormous equestrian statue that appears to be guarding the town, up on a hill. He was a local boy whose family were seafarers, merchants trading with Japan, and pirates. On land, he became a general, resisting the then-new Qing (Manchu) dynasty. His base on [[Xiamen]]'s [[Gulang Yu]] is one of the tourist sites there. He is best known for driving the Dutch out of [[Taiwan]] in the 1660s, the first major wave of Chinese immigration to Taiwan was his soldiers settling down and bringing their families. He is one of the few people seen
as a hero by the current governments on both sides of the straits, beating the foreign devils makes you a good guy in everyone's books.
- Qingyuan Mountain Climbing this mountain is a nice way to get away from the city, and some of its heat and noise. Mountain climbing in Qingyuanshan is a different experience from hiking in other places, the paths up the mountain (large hill, really) are clearly marked, and paved in most places, with steps up the steeper parts. There are lots of places to buy drinks or snacks along the way, and temples, pavilions, and even some carnival-style games are there to distract you from your trek, if you like. Nonetheless, its a beautiful, strenuous climb, with dense tree canopies above and cicadas all around, with openings along the way with clear vistas of the city below. Wear good shoes and clothes you can sweat in.
There is large area of antique and curio shops on the north side of the mosque. They sell mainly to locals. Quality, variety and price are all better than most tourist areas. You do have to bargain fiercely, though.
White pottery from the village of Dehua outside Quanzhou has been a export item for centuries, known in Europe as "Blanc de Chine". Other ceramics are also made in the area. There are kilns going back a millennium or more.
Anxi outside Quanzhou produces one of China's most famous teas, Tieguanyin Oolong. Guan Yin is Goddess of Mercy; "tie" means iron. Tieguanyin tea is available in countless shops throughout Quanzhou, in most you can sit and try a variety of grades of tea to decide which you want. Prices for a jin (half kilo) of tea in a typical shop start at about ¥40 and there are some very nice teas under ¥200. However, tea in Chinese culture is priced like wine in the West, the really rare and excellent varieties fetch staggering prices. It is not uncommon to see teas at ¥600-2,000 a jin. These shops also sell the miniature tea sets that are most commonly used in this area, making and drinking tea this way is somewhat labor-intensive (each cup is smaller than a shot glass and a 'pot' is about as big as a coffee cup) but an enjoyable social experience. Making and serving tea in this way is not really a tea 'ceremony' in the sense of a Japanese tea ceremony, but it is still a ritualized and celebrated process.
North of the mosque, across the arched bridge over the small creek (Baguagou), is a traditional courtyard house that has been converted into a teahouse. This is a good place to get an introduction to the local tea service, your server can show you how to prepare the tea. Most tea shops will also be happy to give you an impromptu lesson in brewing tea.
The original Shaolin temple, one of China's greatest centers of kung fu, is in Henan, but during one of China's many wars a lot of the monks fled South and founded Southern Shaolin with temples in Quanzhou, at the foot of Qingyuanshan, and in nearby Putian. Both of these were burned down during other conflicts, but are being rebuilt. The Quanzhou temple  takes foreign students at rates around $500 a month including room and board.
Restaurants are common along Zhongshan Middle Road (中山中路), and there are a large number of popular restaurants in the area surrounding Mazu Temple. However, they are very basic restaurants, and those searching something fancier should look at the restaurants attached to fancier hotels, there is several alongside Daxi Road, between Baiyuan Road and Zhongshan Road. At night, there is a series of food stalls in the park to the North of Guandi Temple. They serve mostly kebabs and informal hot-pot, as well as several local treats.
- Blue Sea Yiquan Road A block west of the long-distance bus station, on the north side of the street Expect to pay ¥20-30 for a mealA chain of Chinese fast food. While there are some English signs, none is really needed, just pick which food looks good.
- Xiaolongbao 381 Zhongshan Road Slightly south of Yiquan Road Very different from Shanghai-style Xiaolongbao, with a chewy dough, minced-beef stuffing, and a sweet chili sauce. It is generally ordered alongside a clear soup.
- French Restaurant next to the Puppet Museum Beer ¥25, pasta dishes ¥40+, steak (with soup, salad & dessert) ¥100+Good, but pricey.
Going East on Fengzi Street, a few blocks past the Xinhuadu department store and the main Bank of China branch (best place to change money) are quite a few restaurants.
- Tomato Kitchen Fengije High but not outrageous pricesOffers good Italian food and luxurious decor. Some staff have reasonable English.
- Amazon Barbeque Turn right just beyond Tomato Kitchen, maybe 80 meters down on the left Their all-you-can-eat buffet (¥38 at lunch, more at dinner time, less in the evening) used to be good but has gone downhill of late; they seem to be cutting costs by not offering the big lumps of BBQ beef and lamb they used to have. However, they brew their own beer which is excellent and ¥8 a pint. Avoid the green beer; it has some Chinese herb that tastes about like lawn clippings. The other beers — yellow (a wheat beer), red, and black — are good.
- Thai/Vietnamese Place Fengzi Street Moderate pricesExcellent.
There are several vegetarian restaurants near Chengtien Temple on Nanjun Road
- Pu Ti Nanjun Road Half a block north of East Street (Dong Jie)
- Wumingzi lit.: No Name Between Pu Ti and Dico's (a fried chicken fast food restaurant) Decent, buffet style place.
- Vegetarian Restaurant Across Nanjun Road from the Carp City Hotel (Lichung Dajiudian). Good and quite fancy.
Zhuangyuan Street (Bar Street) is to the east of Zhongshan Road north of the center of town. The street is parallel and slightly south of East Street. It has many bars.
- Mixing Tunnel Bar Frequented by expats.
- Blenz Coffee Nanjun Road Good.
Quanzhou is not a common tourist city and there are relatively few hotels.
Inconveniently located on Wenling Road or Chongfu Road are several cheap business hotels, for ¥50-100. There is a hotel in the main bus station (turn right as you come out, look for the London/Moscow/Beijing/... row of clocks in the reception area) and several more along the (fairly long) street between it and the more central bus station. But there are also other budget options in town.
- Baiyun Hotel Baiyun Binguan 157 Zhongshan South Road Slightly north of Mazu Temple +86 595 22397807 Expect to pay around ¥60 after bargainingA convenient hotel for cheap travelers. Rooms are relatively large and clean, but fixtures are old so have a careful look at the room first, and ask for a different room if needed.
- Carp City Hotel 鲤城大酒店; Licheng Dajiudian Nanjun Middle Rd south of Dong St Reception 22279888, room reservations 22279111, restaurant reservations 22272777 From ¥370 (low season from ¥240) A three star hotel in a fairly central location.
Several hotels exist on the high end, alongside Baiyuan Road and the surroundings, they look like palaces and are easy to spot.
- Overseas Chinese Hotel Across the street from the Culture Park and backing on the Confucius Temple After bargaining, expect to pay ¥300 for a single
- Quanzhou Hotel Two blocks west along the street just north of the Overseas Chinese Hotel Fancy. Excellent but expensive weekend brunch.
- Howard Johnson's Out in the Eastern suburbs as of early 2009, just starting construction.
The area code for Quanzhou is 595.
- There is a train leaving 17:04 to Wuhan daily (arriving 16:31 next day) passing Mount Wuyi at 05:49.
- The new Fuzhou - Xiamen High Speed train stops at Quanzhou which means Quanzhou is connected to Shanghai by train via Fuzhou.
- Bus to Fuzhou leaves from the bus station at the southern end of the main tourist street (not the main bus station) and takes about 3 hours (¥60-70). There are also Fuzhou busses from the small station next to the Overseas Chinese Hotel.
- Several times a week, there is an early-morning bus to Mount Wuyi and Jingdezhen. This bus is small dirty sleepers, arrives at many of its destinations very late at night, and drops passengers off by the side of the highway rather than the bus station. So book with care.
- There are two long-distance bus stations in Quanzhou, so make sure to book the correct one.
- Chongwu is an old walled town near Quanzhou. There are good beaches near it.
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