Xiamen’s bustle and grit are no match for, say, Beijing or Hong Kong, but this is still a city of more than 3 million, and sometimes even the most committed urbanites could use a change of pace. For that, steal away to Hongshan Park, smack dab in the center of the city. This pristinely manicured, 400-year-old oasis hardly shows its age, due to a recent makeover. The park makes for a lovely stroll at all hours, but the most magical time is at sunset, where you can savor a pot of expertly brewed tea in a secluded tea house tucked high within the park. Amble along stone pathways fringed with dripping willows and pruned pine and palm trees, until you reach the modest Hongshan temple, marked by a laughing stone Buddha. Further along you’ll come upon the tea house. Angle for a wooden table on the back terrace for bang-on city and sea vistas. Take your pick of local teas such as the robust Big Red Robe 大红袍 from Wuyi Mountain, or the soothing Goddess of Mercy oolong from Anxi county, China’s tea capital. You might also want to linger past sunset for dinner, as the tea house serves a comforting cook-it-yourself Chinese hot pot, with grass-fed Mongolian lamb to dunk in burbling broth. You’ll notice many of your fellow diners have brought fresh seafood from nearby Bashi Market to cook at their table. If you’re not cool with hot pot, consider the casual, buffet-style vegetarian restaurant on the fourth floor. You’ll need to purchase a voucher from the counter, exchange it for a place setting, then fill your plate with an impressive variety of specialties—don’t miss the steamed walnut buns 核桃包 laced with brown sugar.
Hongshan Temple Park is a short taxi ride from the Conrad. Follow the main path winding through the park until you reach the temple and tea house. (If you lose your way, simply ask any passerby pao cha? 泡茶 and you’ll be pointed in the right direction.)
HONGSHAN TEMPLE PARK 鸿山寺: Siming Nanlu, Siming district
HONGSHAN TEA GARDEN 茶歇园在嘉心寨景点: Jiaxin Cottage, Siming Nanlu, Siming district 思明区思明南路425号鸿山公园项; +86-1516-004-1616; open 8:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m.
PUTI VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT 菩提斋鸿山寺菩提食管: Siming Nanlu, Siming district; 思明区思明南路303号; +86-0592-553-1548; open 11:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.–8:30 p.m.