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Quanzhou

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Quanzhou (泉州; Quánzhōu) is a coastal city just north of Xiamen in Fujian Province in China.

Districts

Quanzhou urban area consists of four districts:

Quanzhou Prefecture also administers eight counties:

Understand

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.

Get in

By air

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.

By train

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.

By bus

There are frequent buses from Xiamen (¥27-35, 1.5 hours) and Fuzhou (¥46-65, 2.5 hours).

There are also direct overnight buses to/from more distant places such as Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Zhuhai, in the ¥300 range.

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.

Get around

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.

See

Religious structures

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.

Museums

Other sights

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.

Do

Buy

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.

Learn

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 [1] takes foreign students at rates around $500 a month including room and board.

Eat

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.

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.

There are several vegetarian restaurants near Chengtien Temple on Nanjun Road

Drink

Bars

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.

Cafes

Sleep

Quanzhou is not a common tourist city and there are relatively few hotels.


Budget

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.

Mid-range

Splurge

Several hotels exist on the high end, alongside Baiyuan Road and the surroundings, they look like palaces and are easy to spot.

Contact

The area code for Quanzhou is 595.

Get out

Related Information


Wikipedia:Quanzhou



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A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [2].

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