The province of Fujian, known historically as "Min", is located on China’s balmy southeastern coast and is almost entirely mountainous. With its warm climate and rolling hills, it’s the ideal landscape for growing tea and subtropical fruits.
The term "South Min" is often used to refer to an area in the south of Fujian province, which played a key role in the history of the province and exhibits a culture that is largely distinct from traditional Chinese culture.
It is known throughout China as the homeland of the Hoklo and the Hakka people. These ethnic minorities have their own unique cultures and speak their own dialects, although most people regard them as languages in their own right, since they are barley intelligible to most Mandarin Chinese speakers!
Alongside their unique dialects, they are famed for living in an unusual type of dwelling known as a "Tulou" or "Earthen Structure". Hidden within the lofty mountains of Fujian province, these peculiar structures blend seamlessly with their natural surroundings and entering one is like discovering a whole new world; a microcosm of culture and history.
These ancient dwellings are a far cry from the glitz and glamour of South Min’s major city: Xiamen. Historically, this vibrant city was known as Amoy and was opened up to foreign investment as early as 1981, making it one of the most cosmopolitan cities in southern China.
Join us as we travel through Fujian province, sample the delectable Min cuisine, take part in leisurely tea ceremonies, and uncover the mystery behind the ancient Tulou.
Duration: 5 days and 4 nights or 7 days and 6 nights if you opt for the 2 day add-on.
Dates: 11th of April – 17th of April and 20th of September – 26th of September.
Cost pp: £680 for the 5 day tour or £880 for the 7 day tour.
What's Included: 5 nights of accommodation; all entrance fees to the attractions; all meals during the 3 days spent in the mountainous region of Fujian and 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners in Xiamen; all transportation costs during designated tour times; the services of an English speaking guide; a pdf file with information about the Tulou; and help with any further travel in China following the tour.
Note: The 7 day tour includes all of the above plus an extra 2 day tour in Xiamen, including the services of an English speaking guide and transportation costs during designated tour times; two extra nights of accommodation in Xiamen; and one extra dinner in Xiamen.
We will all gather together at the hotel in Xiamen.
If you are planning on flying into Xiamen, the hotel is within walking distance of the airport and can be easily found. We will provide you with instructions on how to get from the airport to the hotel.
If you are planning on coming to Xiamen by train, you can either make your own way to the hotel or we will happily pick you up from the railway station and escort you to the hotel. Please note this service needs to be booked in advance.
In the morning, we will head out to visit the most famous group of Tulou in Fujian province – the "Four Dishes and One Soup" Tulou in the village of Tianluokeng. This group of Tulou consists of three circular Tulou and one square-shaped Tulou which, from above, resemble the common layout of a traditional Chinese family dinner. Its unique appearance has earned it the nickname "Four Dishes and One Soup".
In order to fully appreciate this magnificent collection of Tulou, we will start our tour of the village at the top of a nearby mountain, which will offer us a breath-taking panoramic view of the village and surrounding countryside. From there, we will hike down the mountain and enter the village.
While Tianluokeng is arguably the most famous Tulou village in Fujian province, most visitors tend to view it from a distance and do not make the descent to enter the village itself. Unlike them, we will grasp the opportunity to experience what life is like in an authentic Tulou village.
In order to truly embrace the local culture, we will sample some of the locally grown tea in a traditional Fujian-style tea ceremony. Before you get the wrong idea, this isn’t a luxury experience! You’ll get to enjoy drinking tea in the same way that the locals do, looking out at the lofty mountains while listening to the folk tales of the Hakka people.
The first stop of the day will be in the sleepy village of Xiabanliao, which receives markedly few tourists compared to other Tulou villages. The main highlight of Xiabanliao is the renowned Yuchang Lou, which is the tallest Tulou in existence and which exhibits beautiful pillars made from the wood of plum trees.
From there, we will travel to the picturesque village of Hongkeng, which is home to over 100 different Tulou of varying shapes and sizes! It is the ideal place to admire the diverse styles of Tulou, from the traditional circular Tulou to the highly unusual Phoenix-style Tulou.
The entire morning will be spent in blissful tranquillity as we wander through the peaceful streets of Yunshuiyao.
Nestled within the mountainous countryside, this village boasts a history that dates back hundreds of years and is inextricably linked to the venerable Jian clan. Many of the houses within the village date back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) and were constructed modestly out of clay. By far the most famous of these quaint buildings is the large Ancestral Hall masterminded by the Jian clan to honour their ancestors.
A bubbling brook cuts through the centre of Yunshuiyao and is flanked on either side by banyan trees, many of which are over a hundred years old. One of them is the largest banyan tree in the entirety of Fujian province and boasts branches that are over 30 metres in length!
While the day will primarily be spent at your leisure, we will make a point of visiting two magnificent Tulou that are located near to Yunshuiyao. The incredible feature of Heigui Lou is that the entire compound was built on marshland. Let’s just hope it doesn’t sink any time soon!
In the morning, we will explore several streets in Zhangzhou that were built during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties. These streets still retain many of their original features and are lined with time-honoured shops that have been dedicated to their family businesses throughout countless generations.
In the late afternoon, we will return to Xiamen for our final evening of the tour.
We’ll start the day by visiting the Siming District. This is the economic centre of Xiamen and it is here that we’ll find a typical type of South Min-style building known as a Qilou. This unusual style of architecture is a hybrid of traditional Chinese and colonial Western features.
After exploring the main city, we’ll venture out to a small fishing village known as Zengcuo An. Historically, all of the locals in Zengcuo An used to be fishermen and it is the ideal place to connect with the fishing culture of southern Fujian province. Much like the Siming District in Xiamen, all of the houses in Zengcuo An have been altered to incorporate some colonial features, but still retain many traditional Chinese qualities.
In Zengcuo An, we’ll have the opportunity to try several authentic signature dishes from the renowned Min-style Cuisine of Fujian province, as well as being able to sample a few of the locally grown subtropical fruits. After a delightful meal, we will walk down to the seaside, where you can either take a leisurely stroll along the wooden plank road that flanks the beach or simply sunbathe on the soft, white sand.
As a coastal city in southern China, Xiamen is partially made up of gorgeous satellite islands that provide the perfect retreat for those looking to soak up the sun on a quiet beach.
In the morning, we will take the ferry to the island of Gulangyu. After we’ve visited the buildings of major historic interest on the island, you will have the chance to explore the island at your leisure and enjoy some of the local attractions by yourself.
Please Note: You can choose to stick to this tour entirely, or you can just incorporate it as part of your wider plans to travel across China. We can provide you with information and help you with any other travel plans you may have if you need us to. We also provide a hotel booking service and a flight or train booking service for all of our members’ traveling in China outside of the 7 designated days of the tour. We will also provide a consultancy service for you, which will help you to plan your journey across China and give you useful tips on traveling in China.