As I have mentioned earlier in my previous post about my visit to Fujian, Quanzhou was once the centre of trade in China during the Tang, Song and Yuan dynasty and there are even accounts of it being one of the world’s largest seaports at that time. Gamers who play Koei’s ‘Uncharted Waters’ would be familiar with the city which was also known as Zaiton in ancient English. Today, the city is known as a centre of industry and is well connected to the larger city of Xiamen by high speed rail and highways.
Given the historical importance of the city, there has been numerous developments and one of them is the construction of new skyscrapers and government administrative buildings in the eastern side of the city closer to the harbour. The city, being of a smaller scale than Xiamen, is also easy to walk around.
One major place of interest is the new Wanda Plaza 萬達廣場 which is developed by the Dalian Wanda Group that has made news in purchasing AMC Theatres based in the US. The new mall is beautifully lit up at night like its sister property in Xiamen. The mall houses several international fashion brands as well as restaurants.
Another focal development in the city is the new city hall that is being developed in an entirely new area facing the harbour. There is a waterfront promenade already completed and other new development will include office towers and luxury hotels. The new city hall definitely looks impressive and it was amazing to see how the city has developed. Considering that a few decades ago, people were escaping this city to strange shores to seek out a living but today it has a well developed infrastructure that many cities in South East Asia would envy.
Besides visiting the sights in Quanzhou during our stay there, we had some seafood dinner close to the ‘old’ city centre around the Quanzhou Hotel. Being a seaside port city, there are a variety of live seafood restaurants and some of the best dishes in the city involves shellfish like cockles and clams as well as prawns. This visit to Quanzhou also allowed me to try out a candy called ‘Ji Hong Gao’ 桔紅糕 which is chewy in texture. It is a cheap traditional snack that is also a specialty of this area.
After dinner, the old city centre is a very nice place for a stroll with the stores and restaurants opening until late at night. Unlike the new developments with vast boulevards, the old part of the city is very compact and filled with some nice old buildings. It is also bustling and lit up with lights at night that makes it a lively point of interest.
With this visit, I would say that Quanzhou is one city that is moving fast to modernize itself! In addition to its range of historical points of interest, tourists visiting the city might want to head towards the new part of city since that could be an attraction in its own right.