If you’re Malaysian, you’re probably giggling at the mention of the word ‘Jinjiang’ because of our ‘Jinjang Joe’ references. For the uninitiated, guys who try too hard to be fashionable but end up as fashion misfits are often referred to as ‘Jinjang Joes’. But no, this is not the Jinjang near Kepong. This place is J-I-N-J-I-A-N-G. And it’s in China.
China has so much to offer. And this time we take you to the beautiful port city of Quanzhou, which is famously known as a city that is rich in culture and history that date back centuries, which you’ll discover as you read on.
Getting around Quanzhou is also very easy thanks to its state-of-the-art transportation network, which includes rail services and highways. What’s more interesting is that you’ll fly into the Quanzhou Jinjiang International Airport.
Ok, now that we’ve got the giggling is out of the way, let’s get down to the important stuff, what you really want to know – cool things to do in Quanzhou.
1. Practise Your Shaolin Moves at the Quanzhou Shaolin Temple
Located at the east of the Qingyuan Mountain, this is the birthplace of nanpai, also known as South Shaolin Martial Arts, which is said to have spread to Taiwan, Hong Kong and other parts of East Asia during the Ming and Qing dynasties. You’ll actually be able to see monks practising their awesome moves and if you ask nicely, they might even teach you a move or two to impress your friends with back home. Hai-yaaaaaaaaaa!
2. Walk Across the Anping Bridge, Once the World’s Longest Bridge
The construction of Anping Bridge began in 1138 with stone blocks and took 13 years to complete. The 2,070-metre bridge (if you’re wondering how long that actually is, it’s a little over two kilometres!) also has four square and two round pagodas along the way where you can stop and pose for your perfect Instagram shots. If you’re a history buff, this is your chance to take a walk along this ancient bridge which was, up until 1905, the world’s longest bridge! Cool or what?
3. Climb China’s Tallest Stone Twin Towers
East West Tower is made up of two stone pagodas that date back 1,300 years. Located within the Kaiyuan Temple compound, the towers are still the tallest twin stone towers in China today. They’re especially known for their stunning architecture, which dates back to the Song dynasty and shows off the skilled stone carving craftsmanship of that time. And over the years the towers have survived massive winds, torrential rains and even earthquakes! The tower on the east of the temple is known as the Zhenguo Tower and stands at 45.06 metres while the tower on the west is known as the Ren Shou Tower and is at 48.27 metres. Go up one, or both, and check out the view of the temple grounds and the city down below.
Opening hours: 8am to 5.30pm (daily)
4. Be a Beach Bum at Half Moon Bay
Located on the north bank of Chongwu Bay, Half Moon Bay is a picturesque beach where you can build castles on the golden sand and frolic in the clear waters. Or you can just be a total beach bum and tan by the beach as the gentle sea breeze caresses you. In case you’re wondering, the beach gets its name because of its crescent moon shape. This is such a beautiful beach that Nat Geo named it as one of the Best Coasts in China. Now, that’s surely a good reason to visit this beach, no?
5. Learn the Local Culture with the Hui’an People
The Hui’an people have an interesting custom where newlyweds are not allowed to stay together for the first five days after their wedding! Did your jaw just drop? 😀 Wait, it gets more interesting…the couple are not allowed to live together until the bride has her firstborn! But just like the younger generation in most countries, this practice is not observed anymore by the Hui’an people. *collective sigh of relief*
The Hui’an people are part of the Han community that is native to Quanzhou. Their cultural practices, some of which are still practised today, dates back more than 2,000 years ago to the ancient Minyue people. The women of Hui’an, also called Hui’an maidens, are perhaps best known for their highly colourful and vibrant traditional outfits.
6. Channel Your Inner Seafarer at the Quanzhou Maritime Museum
As a port city, it’s only natural for Quanzhou to have a maritime museum. This museum was opened in 1959 and is the only museum in the country dedicated to Chinese overseas exploration. For culture vultures, you’ll absolutely enjoy the interesting exhibits, especially the religious stone sculptures and gravestones related to Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Manichaeism – a testament to the city’s multi-religious history. And for you seafaring enthusiasts, you’ll be delighted at the many shipwrecks and models of ancient vessels! This is your chance to pretend to be Marco Polo (yes, Marco Polo stopped by here during his expedition) and pose with your fleet! The best part: admission is FREE!
Opening hours: 9am to 6pm (5.30pm in winter) (daily)
7. Take in the Beautiful Views at Quanzhou Water Rock Temple
The Quanzhou Water Rock Temple, also known as Qingshui Yan Temple, was established in 1083 by a Buddhist monk named Chen Puzu. The temple is a three-storeyed pavilion that almost seems to wrap itself around the side of the mountain. Pretty incredible if you consider that it was built way back in 1083! When Chen Puzu died in 1101, the local people carved his figure on the temple grounds in his honour, which is still there today. Buddhism and Taoism are still actively practised here so please remember to be respectful at all times. Perched at the foot of Penglai Mountain, you can be assured of stunning views overlooking the lush mountain range when you visit the Water Rock Temple.
Climbing higher up the mountain you’ll come across the Banling Pavilion and the Hujie Palace as well as stone carvings in an assortment of shapes and sizes, and of course, even more spectacular views of the mountains. The wonderful chanting from the monks coupled with the breathtaking scenery will sure make a visit here a highly unforgettable one.
Opening hours: 6am to 5.30pm
Admission fee: CNY15
8. Check out Unique Arabic and Chinese Architecture at Qingjing Mosque
Calling all architecture buffs! This is one place for you to definitely check out. During the Song dynasty, Quanzhou was an important trading port and it attracted many Arab traders. Built by the Arab Muslim community of Quanzhou in 1009, the mosque is said to be a replica of a mosque in Damascus. This 2,500-square-metre mosque is made of diabase and white granite with lotuses carved on the domes and Arabic inscriptions on the stone walls that trace back to the Song and Yuan dynasties. This infusion of Arabic and Chinese elements within the mosque is a reflection of the friendship between China and the Arab nations.
Opening hours: 8am to 5.30pm
Admission fee: CNY3
GETTING THERE: AirAsia flies from Kuala Lumpur to Quanzhou. Book your tickets now at airasia.com