One of the top tourist attractions of Kulangsu Island is the world’s largest and most impressive collection of pianos, all of which reside in a sprawling series of red-roofed houses that pay heritage to the island’s European-Chinese fusion classical music tradition. When you think about the difficulty of transporting so many grand pianos from all over the world to Xiamen, and compound it with the difficulty of then getting them all onto Kulangsu Island by ferry, it all seems virtually implausible. But it’s true.
There are two separate buildings full of magnificent pianos, some in shapes and sizes you’ve probably never seen before, from miniature children’s models to ultra-long grand pianos with intricate, colorful inlaid-wood artwork and built-in candelabras. On most days, a pianist in one of the rooms periodically plays “Gulangyu Zhi Bo” (鼓浪屿之波), the island’s unofficial theme song, on one historic piano, adding to the atmosphere.
The Piano Museum sits above the beautiful Shu Zhuang Garden (Shu Zhuang Hua Yuan 菽庄花园); one museum ticket admits you to both sites. Don’t miss the extra pianos on display through the series of large plate-glass windows by the steps as you descend from the museum to the garden. Once you’ve descended, you’ll traverse Shu Zhuang Garden’s lily ponds and boulder sculptures and traverse a series of walkways with photogenic views over waves crashing on rocks, a palm-lined beach below, and rolling hills above. Whatever else you do on the island, and however much time you have, don’t miss any of this canonical Kulangsu experience.
Address: 7 Gangzaihou Road, Gulangyu Island, Siming District, Xiamen City, China