The best way to experience Gulangyu's charm is to explore its meandering streets early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the masses. Veer off the commercial and congested tourist trail, and explore the little lanes that weave all over the island, stumbling across particularly distinctive old mansions or the weathered graves of missionaries and merchants. These quiet back alleys are fascinating to wander in, with the atmosphere of a Mediterranean city punctuated by touches of calligraphy or the click of mah-jongg tiles to remind you where you really are. And, unlike everywhere else in the country, Gulangyu does not permit cars, so you won't take your life in your hands when crossing the street.

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