The hidden treasures of Fujian

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The Qingjing Mosque in Quanzhou is one of the oldest Arabic-style mosques in China. Lu Huabing / For China Daily


Known for its clean air and cultural diversity, the province is also home to quaint island getaways, historical neighborhoods and a number of lively food markets.

Though it may not have internationally renowned metropolises, Fujian province in southeastern China is filled with cities reputed for their cultural richness and year-round clean air.

According to the China National Tourism Administration, Xiamen, Quanzhou and Fuzhou are the province's most popular cities this year, with Xiamen the most visited city in the region.

Much of Xiamen's appeal lies in Gulangyu Island, a 1.87-square-kilometer romantic retreat a ferry stop away from the city's downtown area. Gulangyu, also known as the "Piano Island", is home to a number of celebrated Chinese pianists and has the country's only piano museum, which houses more than 30 ancient pianos from around the world.

Tourists will also find historic Western consulates and mansions that served as financial institutions when the island was a leased territory in the early 20th century. The diversity of historical buildings has garnered the island its other nickname, the "Museum of Architecture". Cars are forbidden on the island, which allows for a more leisurely walk on the alleys dotted with boutique stores and quaint hotels. At some secluded nooks, it is common to see couples posing for their pre-nuptial photo shoots.

The one drawback is that Gulangyu is nearly always packed with tourists, though there are great spots off the beaten path.

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