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Discover Kinmen's Beauty: Cycling Adventure Through Historic Strongholds on the West Coast

Posted by:  Anusha Lee
Published date: September 9, 2023
In the heart of Kinmen, aka Quemoy, Jincheng and Jinning Township beckon with an enchanting blend of nature and history. Here, you'll discover pristine beaches, whimsical boulders with goofy smiles, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets, and the tallest Wind Lion God, a symbol of Kinmen's culture.
Sunrise at Oucuo Beach
This region carries the indelible marks of the mid-20th century Chinese Civil War and the Taiwan Strait Crises. Explore the Zhaishan Tunnel and Guningtou Battle Museum, where echoes of wartime sacrifices resonate. And we'll unveil the fascinating story behind the Zhaishan Tunnel's name.
Zhaishan Tunnel
While there's a world of wonders to uncover in western Kinmen, this is just a glimpse of my journey. It's time to craft your own Kinmen story. Let's explore it together. Many photos are provided by my friend Chang Jian Fang 張建舫.

Table of Contents:

Kinmen West Loop: Jincheng Township - From Goofy Rocks to Small Islet: Jiangong Islet

Jincheng is the most important and populous township in Kinmen. The history of Jincheng Township can be traced back to the 1600s. One of the most popular tourist attractions, The Qing Military Headquarters in Kinmen 清金門鎮總兵署, was built in 1680 by the Ming Dynasty.
Model of The Qing Military Headquarters in Kinmen
While Jincheng is full of history, the coast around Jincheng is equally impressive.

Beaches and Coastal Scenery: See the Sunrise with the Goofy Boulder and Oucuo Beach

If you've never seen a massive boulder with a goofy smile, you will find it near the Zhaishan Tunnel.
This place is also great to see sunrise.
Moreover, so many beautiful rock formations are on the sand beaches, making this place a perfect spot for seeing the sunrise.
A bunker above the rock
Take this picturesque stroll along the pristine shoreline to the idyllic Oucuo Beach 歐厝. Afterward, you can venture into the captivating world of Oucuo Village, where a treasure trove of old houses awaits exploration.
I found bird and crab tracks at Oucuo Beach.
You will find a M18 Hellcat tank left at Oucuo Beach.

The Influencer of Western-Style Buildings in Kinmen: Shun Tian Yang Lou (Ou Yang Zhong Yuan) 順天洋樓

There's a beautiful western-style residence built by the businessman Ou Yang Zhong Yuan 歐陽鐘遠 in Oucuo Village in 1918.
This old house turned into a B&B for a while.
During that time, this was called Oucuo Building 歐厝大樓. Later, it's called Shun Tian Yang Lou. It is said this is the first Western-style building that initiated the trend of this architectural style in Kinmen.
Shun Tian Yang Lou or Oucuo Building

Military Facility: Zhaishan Tunnel (Jhaishan Tunnels) 翟山坑道 and Seasight Trail 觀海步道

There are many tunnels in Kinmen, and the Zhaishan Tunnel might be the most famous one among them. The whole tunnel was dug by hand and finished in the 1960s without modern machinery.
There is a small trail near Zhaishan Tunnel.
This tunnel has transformed from a military facility to a tourist attraction. It was discharged in 1986, and the Kinmen National Park took over from Kinmen Defense Command in 1997 and made it open to the public in July 1998.
Inside the Zhaishan Tunnel
Besides the tunnel, the trail and landscape near the tunnel are great. More details about the Zhaishan Tunnel will be provided later.
kinmen-northwest-coast (2)
Coast near Zhaishan Tunnel

Gugang Tower Gugang Lake Scenic Area (Gugang Tower and Gugang Lake) 古崗樓

If you want to take a break from cycling, Gugang Tower is one of the best places to chill. Being a part of Kinmen National Park, Gugang Tower is also a popular spot for birding.

Kinmen City (Jinmencheng) North Gate 金門城北門

Cycling along Zhushui Road 珠水路 toward the north, you will first pass Kinmen City East Gate. Continuing your ride, you will see a 7-11 convenience store. Turn right here, and you will see Kinmen City North Gate.
Kinmen City North Gate
The South Gate is the entrance to Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc. in Old Jincheng.
The front door of Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc. is the South Gate.
If you have time, don't forget to visit the residence of the father of Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor: Ye Hua Cheng Residence 葉華成, aka Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor History Museum, near the south gate.
Mt. Ye made licquor at home and later become the famous Kinmen Kaolian Liquor.

Mingyi Old Street 明遺老街, the Oldest Old Street in Taiwan

Mingyi Street is the oldest street in Kinmen, dating back to the Ming Dynasty with 600+ years of history, and might also be the oldest in Taiwan. Without selling the same street foods or vendors, I'll say Mingyi Old Street is the humblest yet the most characteristic of all the old streets I've ever seen in Taiwan.
A real humble old street, Mingyi Old Street
This old street is short, only 135 meters (443 feet) long, but you can get a glimpse of life in the past.
You will also find a Yang-luo (western-style old house), Hung Tian-you Yang Lou 黃天佑番仔樓, here. Now it's become a B&B.
Hung Tian-you Western-Style House at Mingyi Old Street
Continue toward the north and pass the famous Deyue Towner 得月樓. You will find a vast amount of information about Deyue Tower.
Deyue Towner

Jiangong Islet 建功嶼 and the Oystermen Sculptures 牡蠣人

Oystermen is the work of a Finnish architect, Marco Casagrande, made in August 2013. Those four steel men, 3 meters tall, were inspired by Kinmen's oyster farming culture.
Oystermen Sculptures
If you want to get a closer look at Oystermen and visit Jiangong Islet, please check the Jiangong Islet Tide Chart to ensure it's safe to pass.
Jiangong Islet and Oystermen during high and low tides. You can see Kinmen Bridge in the back.
Even if you miss the low tide to walk to Jiangong Islet, looking at Jiangong Islet, Oystermen Sculptures, and the new Kinmen Bridge is a great delight.

Juguang Tower 莒光樓 and The Qing Military Headquarters in Kinmen 清金門鎮總兵署

You can't miss Jiangong Islet's neighbor, Jincheng Township's downtown, which is not far away. You will find many historical sites like Juguang Tower,
Juguang Tower
and the Qing Military Headquarters in Kinmen.
The Qing Military Headquarters in Kinmen
I found this image explaining the ancient Chinese tortures horrifying.
If you don't have claustrophobia, taking the free guided tour to experience the Jincheng Civil Defense Tunnel 金城民防坑道 is also a great option. It's right on the second floor of Jincheng Bus Station.
A free guided tour to see Jincheng Civil Defense Tunnel.

Kinmen West Loop: Jinning Township and the Newly Opened Kinmen Bridge

Jinning Township's most poignant moments are woven into the history of the Battle of Guningtou in 1949, like the later one, the 823 Artillery Battle (Second Taiwan Strait Crisis) in 1958.

Guningtou Battle Museum 古寧頭戰史館

I visited Guningtou Battle Museum in 2009, and the thing that shocked me was the number of shells from Communist China during that period.
Guningtou Battle Museum
Those shells later became the materials of the famous Kinmen Bombshell Steel Knives.
20091007-10 Kinmen 131
The amount of shelling from Communist China during that time.
Kinmen knives
A Shop making Kinmen Bombshell Steel Knives in Jincheng Township.

Beishan Broadcasting Wall 北山播音牆

The Beishan Broadcasting Wall, just 2km from Ximen City in China, was constructed in 1967 for wartime propaganda and music transmission.
Beishan Broadcasting Wall
The renowned Taiwanese singer Teresa Deng utilized her captivating voice to convey messages and songs to Mainland China, with the wall's sound reaching up to 25 km (15 miles) away.
Aside from its military history, Beishan Beach boasts stunning beauty.
kinmen-northwest-coast (3)

Beishan Old Western-style House 北山古洋樓

In 1928, the Beishan Old Western-style House emerged through the vision of three entrepreneurial brothers who had prospered in Southeast Asia. Their ambitions soared in 1937 when they added a second floor to the structure.
I visited Beishan Old House in 2009.
However, destiny had other plans. The house's strategic location and elevated position led it to become a key command center during the Communist China era, bearing the scars of shelling that remain visible to this day.
This old house survived the shelling.
My initial encounter with this historic gem was in 2009. Little did I know that this place had since evolved into a welcoming hostel, inviting countless individuals to not only appreciate its historical significance but also to become a part of its ever-evolving story.

Anqi Wind Lion God 安岐風獅爺: The Tallest One in Kinmen

Standing tall at 378 cm (12.4 feet), the Anchi Wind Lion God of Anchi Village dates back to around 1700, as recounted by local elders. In an era marked by extensive logging and the onslaught of the relentless northeast monsoon winds, the villagers believed they needed a mighty protector against these forces of nature.
The towering Anqi Wind Lion God
Legend has it that this formidable wind lion god valiantly thwarted pirates on two occasions and safeguarded the village, earning itself a plaque of honor.
Despite enduring damage during the Battle of Guningtou, the Anchi Wind Lion God was resurrected in 1950 and underwent a meticulous restoration in 2008, ensuring its continued watchful presence.
Other Wind Lion Gods: Sihu Wind Lion God (left) and Xiashu Wind Lion God in front of a private residence.

Ci Lake 慈湖 Sunset and Birding

Cihu Lake was strategically crafted by the military in 1969. Today, it has transformed into a beloved destination offering breathtaking views of Xiamen's dazzling skyscrapers and enchanting sunsets.
As November approaches, a magnificent spectacle unfolds when migrating birds return. Throughout the winter, the observation deck becomes a prime spot for witnessing this natural wonder at dusk.
Ci Lake is also a great place to see the stunning sunset in Kinmen.

Kinmen Bridge 金門大橋: A Modern Marvel Over Deep Waters

Opened on October 30, 2022, the Kinmen Bridge is Taiwan's inaugural deep-water cross-sea bridge, connecting Kinmen and Lieyu. Spanning 5.41 kilometers, it revolutionized travel between these islands.
Kinmen Bridge. Photo by Chang Jian Fang.
Previously, the only option for commuting between Lieyu and Kinmen was the ferry, but now, this bridge provides a far more convenient and efficient journey for both locals and visitors.
What makes Kinmen Bridge truly unique are its five towers, shaped like the "ear of sorghum," a design chosen through a popular vote in Kinmen County. This bridge project, aptly titled "Message from the Heart of Sorghum Ear - Reviving the Glory," not only serves as a vital connection but also pays homage to the rich heritage and depth of Kinmen's sorghum liquor culture.

About Zhaishan (Jhaishan) Tunnel, Including the Real Name

There are so many different versions of Zhaishan Tunnel history that I was confused. After digging deeper, I found a Facebook Group about Kinmen's Military history 金門戰地史績學會 and a post with images from the then military records. So, I think this is the correct version of Zhaishan Tunnel.
The shape of Zhaishan Tunnel

The Real Name of Zhaishan Tunnel: New DaMaoshan Tunnel

According to declassified records from the National History Archive, Zhaishan Tunnel originally had the name New DaMaoShan Tunnel 新大帽山坑道, literally meaning New Big Hat Mountain Tunnel.
Its construction dates back to the 1950s as part of the Ministry of National Defense's Jin Jing Project (Golden Whale Project 金鯨案). It was built by soldiers without modern machinery, working 24/7, and completed in 1966.
So, where did the name Zhaishan come from? In fact, there was indeed a small mountain called Zhaishan near Gugang. This small hill is located between the Niaozuiwei 鳥嘴尾 coast of Gugang and the Damao Mountain. The locals spoke a dialect and called this Zhaishan. The dialect of Zhai sounded like thieves in Mandarin.
The military found the word thieves inappropriate and renamed it to Zhaishan 翟山. Later, Zhaishan was changed to Tiebishan 鐵壁山 (meaning iron wall mountain) and the nearby Qingshanwei 赤山尾 (meaning red mountain tail, now located at the Chishan landfill), was renamed Tongqiangshan 銅牆山 (meaning copper wall mountain). Both name changes reflected the military's efforts to safeguard the waters southwest of Liaoluo Bay 料羅灣.

Kinmen Tunnel Music Festival

However, it was abandoned in 1986. In 1997, it was revitalized and opened for visitors by the Kinmen National Park Management Office.
In 2009, due to its natural acoustic properties, Zhaishan was chosen as the ideal location for the Kinmen Tunnel Music Festival, thanks to its granite structure resembling a natural soundbox and its scenic beauty.
You can check out details about Kinmen Tunnel Music Festival's website for details.
If you want to know more about Kinmen's history, click my Kinmen East Loop post for details.

How to Go to Zhaishan Tunnel by Bus

  1. Taiwan Tourist Shuttle: A Route - Shuitou Zaishan: this is a loop route from Jincheng Station, to Juguang Tower, Beishan Old Western-style House, Guningtou Battle Mueusm, etc. Bus fare: NT$250.
  2. Kinmen bus 6 and 6A: please note that some buses don't stop at Zhaishan Tunnel. When you check the timetable, look for [61]6, [611]6, [613]6, and [62]6A and get off at Zhaishan Tunnel. Bus fare: NT$12.
Taiwan Tourist Shuttle: A Route - Shuitou Zaishan:

Maps, How to Go to, Get Around in Kinmen and Where to Stay

How to Go to Kinmen

There is no ferry service from Taiwan to Kinmen. There are two airlines, Uni Air 立榮航空 and Mandarin Airlines 華信航空, running flights to Kinmen from Shongshan Airport (Taipei), Taichung, Tainan, and Kaohsiung.
Biking along Kinmen's coastline reveals breathtaking sea vistas, with pristine beaches and rugged cliffs creating a dramatic contrast. With its golden sands and clear waters, Jinsha Beach is a popular spot for cyclists to take a break and soak in the coastal beauty.
kinmen-east-vessle-shaped-fortress-20221119 Photo by Chang Jian Fang 張建舫
Some homestays (B&B) offer free bikes for their customers. Or renting a scooter if you have a license is also a good option. Please note that some trails are not for scooters.
If your B&B doesn't have free bikes, you can use QBike, and here's the map of the bike stations.

Map of My Favorite Spots

Here is the map of the spots I enjoyed when visiting Kinmen in September 2023. The following content is not written in geological order, but you can follow Google Maps to find them.

To Bike or Not to Bike?

If you don't bike often and are unsure about cycling around in Kinmen, I found a Facebook post by a hostel in Kinmen for your reference.
According to the post, the distance for cycling around Kinmen Island is around 110 km (68.35 miles) and 20 km (about 12.43 miles) for Lieyu (Little Kinmen). The area of Kinmen and Little Kinmen is around 150 ㎢, which is ten times the size of Green Island 綠島, 22 times of Xiaoliuqiu 小琉球, and larger than the total area of Penghu Islands 澎湖群島.
The distance to cycle around each township is around 30-40 km, plus the millages to each spot scattering around at each township. The total length to cycle to each location and back to the hotel can reach 50 km (31 miles) per day.
Scooter rental is an alternative if cycling is too much for you.

Other Ways to Get Around in Kinmen

You can choose regular public buses or guided bus tours. The bus fare for regular public buses is NT$12 per person one way.
The guided tours are NT$250 per person, lasting around one morning or afternoon. There are several routes taking tourists to the most popular attractions.
Kinmen east coast
Jincheng Bus Station is the main transport hub.
You can combine different transportation to explore Kinmen fully. Please check the Kinmen government's website for all the details about the buses, scooter rental, taxis, etc.

Where to Stay

When I first visited Kinmen in 2009, I stayed at Yang Lou 洋樓, which was a unique experience. You can also stay at the traditional homestays or the Western-style old house.
Many old houses have been transformed into homestays (B&B).
One more crucial tip is staying well-hydrated during your bike or scooter journeys. Putting sunscreen and wearing a hat also help prevent sunburns.

Free Guide: How to Apply for Hiking Permits in Taiwan

Do you plan to hike high mountains but don't know how to apply for hiking permits? Look no further! Download this complimentary guide with instructions to help you navigate the application process seamlessly.

Customized Hikes from HolaTaipei

If you are lookig for customized hiking trips with an English or Spanish-speaking guide and save time on traffic, my friend Cris from HolaTaipei's guided hikes might be for you.

Related Posts:

On Taiwan Hikes

Kinmen East Loop
Matsu Islands: Nangan
Matsu Islands: Beigan
Matsu Islands: Dongju

English Posts

Wind Lions of Kinmen
The Wind Lion Gods of Kinmen
Architectural Treasure House
The World Heritage Value of Kinmen's Architecture and History
Foreigners in Taiwan Kinmen Travel Guide
Have you had the chance to explore the beauty of Kinmen Islands? Share your favorite Kinmen spots or let me in on your upcoming plans! Drop your thoughts in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
The extraordinary details of old houses in Kinmen
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