Escape the winter in Hainan

Escape the winter in Hainan
Jan 09, 2009 By eChinacities.com

In Hainan, China's only tropical province, summers are cool and winters are warm. This natural and plentiful tourism resource is perhaps the finest in the country and is undoubtedly the best place to be right now. Every spring, Hainan draws thousands of holidaymakers, both domestic and foreign; so, what better way to see in the New Year than a trip to Hainan?  

 

Sun, sea, sand, and, errr… coconut trees are what bring crowds to this gorgeous tropical island. Hainan's coastline consists mainly of beautiful beaches and stretches for over 1500 kilometres. There is a diverse sea life, with over one thousand species of fish and more than 200 kinds of aquatic plants. This, along with beautiful coral and sea anemones make Hainan an ideal destination for scuba diving.

As you listen to the waves lap calmly on the silver sand and as you watch the stunning scenery, there will be no doubt in your mind as to why Sanya's Yalong bay has been designated as a site of national natural beauty. Perhaps the best example is Boao, where you can find gorgeous islands, crystal-clear water, breathtaking scenery and ancient historical sites all in one spot. Here, the crystal-clear water of the Wanquan River, a symbol of Hainan, flows down from Mt. Wuzhi into the city of Boao where it is embraced by the endless ocean. Best of all, perhaps, with a temperate climate, in Hainan you can both avoid the cold in the winter and will not get too hot during the summer. 

 

The sun, sea, and sand of Hainan make for an unforgettable holiday experience. The wind whistling through the coconut trees, the unmistakable timbre of the ocean – where better to return to nature and let your spirits soar than this tropical paradise? For anyone who wants to be cut off from the world, for anyone who is searching for their very own Garden of Eden, this tropical paradise is for you.
 
“There are so many foreigners here,” muttered Mr Liu as he took a walk in Dadonghai, “not only are half the people staying in my hotel from other countries, the amount of foreign sunbathers  sometimes makes me forget if I am home or abroad!” 

 

On December 14, Sanya Phoenix International Airport was host to its 5 millionth passenger. Mr Zhou, vice president of the airport, said that they had taken half a million foreign passengers already this year, a year-on-year increase of over 35%. Of these, 150,000 were Russians, an increase of 70% on last year and 140,000 South Koreans, an increase of 150% on last year.

 

 



Getting There

By Air
Sanya Phoenix International Airport is just 20 kilometres from the city and has connections with 23 domestic cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Wuhan, Qingdao, and Shenzhen. In addition, there are flights to 9 international locations including Singapore, Macao, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Seoul, Osaka and Tokyo. 

By Bus
A convenient highway connects the airport directly to the city and costs 40 yuan by taxi and 10 yuan by bus. For 10 yuan, direct buses from the airport can also be taken to Yalong Bay and Dadonghai. 

By Taxi
Taxis to Sanya will cost about 20 yuan, and to Dadonghai, about 40 yuan. Although a taxi to the airport will cost about 50 yuan, the airport bus costs just 10 yuan and takes about half an hour. To Yalong Bay, a taxi will cost approximately 100 yuan. The phone number for Sanya Phoenix International Airport is 0898-88289390. 

Local Products

The brightly coloured tiger-spot cowrie shells, nightlight shells, the “horse hoof” shells that make perfect ashtrays, and the Cape Horn shells are among some of the unique shell crafts available in Hainan. These can all be purchased at the Sanya Sea Shell Museum and at Market Street on Liberation Road. Alternatively, try haggling for the cheapest price with the child pedlars at Tianya Haijiao – for 10 yuan you can stuff your suitcase full!

All kinds of dried sea products can be found at Honggang Market at Sanya Port including dried fish, dried squid, sea cucumber, dried sea snake, shark fin, and abalone. Don’t miss out on the delicate meat of the dried squid – it is among the finest in China.
A guide to prices: Dried squid is about 20-60 yuan per ounce; sea cucumber is about 30-50 yuan per ounce; and abalone will be over 100 yuan per ounce.

Made in both Sanya and the county of Lingshui, the white mother of pearls are the most sought-after pearls in the province. The largest of these exquisite Hainan pearls is 15.5mm in diameter and 19mm long. It is no surprise that these glittering pearl necklaces, earrings, pendants are among the most treasured souvenirs in Hainan.

Buy all manner of tropical fruits at the Hongqi Street farmer's market and Shengli Road’s Honggang Market including star fruit, papaya, mango and jackfruit.

A guide to the prices (per 500gms): mango: 8-10 yuan; dragon fruit: 1-2 yuan, jackfruit: 2-3 yuan; coconut: 2-3 yuan; star fruit: 2-3 yuan, banana: 6 yuan, guava: 2-3 yuan, watermelon: 1.5 yuan. 

 Considering that the natural crystals of Hainan are among some of the finest on earth, it is no surprise that the coffin at the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall is made from crystal from this province. Using advanced imported equipment, Hainan's crystal processing is used to make all sorts of things: necklaces, bracelets, earrings, pendants, to name a few. As well as decorative use, these crystals have healing properties and are loved by holiday makers, both foreign and domestic.


 

 

Leisure activities


Scuba Diving: The waters of Sanya are known throughout the world as some of the best for scuba diving - it is so clear that you can see the down for between 8 and 16 meters, with some places as much as 25 meters! With an oxygen tank, a wetsuit, goggles, flippers, and after a bit of simple training and some guidance, you can open a new window into an underwater paradise. 

 Underwater Walking: Whoever you are and whatever your confidence in the water, with a diving suit, a pressurised mask, and with a little instruction, anybody can enjoy the mystifying solace of underwater walking. Just like walking on dry land, there are no obstacles to breathing and you can see clearly all around you.

Submarine rides: China's only sightseeing submarine gives you both the mysterious thrill of underwater travel and unique access to a boundless underwater world.

Surfing: Struggle with the waves, show off your talents, and express your confidence. The vast sea around Sanya, often raging with powerful waves, is perfect for surfing. Fasten your swimsuit, jump on a surfboard, and charge headlong into nature. 

Parasailing: After launching yourself from the vast sea into the infinite sky, become a part of nature as you sail through the clouds – forget your every worry and let your heart soar.

Hot springs: China's number one spring, in Sanya's Dongdamen, is Nantian. With a temperature of 57.6 degrees centigrade, soaking in the spring can adjust your body’s metabolism, relieve stress, heal joints and cure rheumatism. As drinking water, the salts of Sanya's hot springs also have medicinal properties.

Nightclubs: Sanya's nightspots, dotted around the city, boast a huge variety of after-dark entertainment. All its venues offer excellent service and an exciting atmosphere. You can be sure that a night on the tiles in Sanya will take away the weariness of travel and leave you rejuvenated and ready take on whatever else Sanya may have in store over the coming days. 

 Night barbeque: As you take a midnight stroll through an area bustling with people, make stops to sample all types of food, taste a large variety of beers, and roast some of Hainan's delicious seafood. Smelling the aromas and eating only the freshest food is one of the best ways to truly enjoy the wonder of Sanya's nightlife. 

 Tianya Haijiao


Along the coast, 26 km outside of Sanya city, you reach the foot of Maling Mountain and stretching before you is Tianya Haijiao. The name of this magnificent area means something like “the end of the sky and the corner of the sea”. In ancient times, when there was no means of transport and just a few people around, this desolate area was a destination for exiles of the feudal government. A famous official of the Song dynasty Hu Quan’ai once said, “Everywhere is a thousand miles from Tianya Haijiao; the wild grass cuts through your soul like a melancholic fire”. Tang minister Li Deyu once used the poetic phrase “exiled a thousand miles away to Tianya Haijiao, thousands have come but not one has gone back” to describe the feeling of the exiles in Tianya Haijiao. Since this place captures the sorrow of man and the tragedy of the exiled official, it has become one of China's better known and most enigmatic ancient sites. Tickets cost 65 yuan.

Nanshan Temple
 
Probably the best known holy place in Hainan, Nanshan Temple is situated 40 kilometres south of Sanya city and occupies 400 mu (66 acres) just to the south of cloud-covered Nanshan Mountain. Twelve centuries ago, the renowned Tang Dynasty monk Master Jianzhen attempted his fifth visit to Japan with his 15 disciples. After encountering heavy winds, the group were forced to abandon their mission and head for the nearest refuge - Nanshan Bay. They threw anchor at Ningyuan River and stayed at Yacheng for over a year. During this time they built a temple and taught Buddhist scripture. On their sixth attempt, the crew were successful on their mission to Japan. As a result, Nanshan was named an auspicious place and a temple was built on this sacred spot. The famous mountain, the famous temple and the famous monk make this one of Hainan’s main holy places. Also, the temple is home to one of the world’s tallest Buddha statues which stands at 108 metres high. Don’t forget to experience the austere life of a monk by eating in the park’s very own vegetarian buffet, just 30 yuan per person.

Ticket prices: 150 yuan. For just 20 yuan per head, electric buggies will take you between the sites.
Nanshan Dongtian Natural Park 

Located 40 kilometres west of Sanya, this tourism hotspot occupies a total area of 22.5 square kilometres to the south west of Nanshan Mountain. This area is known for its rich historical significance. For example, the cliffs, which rise steeply from the rough sea, once formed an excellent natural defence for the ancient city of Yazhou. Eight hundred years after it first became a tourist destination during the Song Dynasty, Nanshan Dongtian Natural Park remains one of Nanshan’s most important historical ancient sites. Tickets cost 68 yuan.


Yalong Bay National Holiday Park 

Yalong Bay is located 20 kilometres southeast of China's tropical coastal city – Sanya. The 66-square-kilometer bay boasts beautiful natural scenery - undulating green hills and calm sea; crystal-clear water and silver sand. Also, Yalong Bay has a fairly typical tropical climate, with an average year-round temperature of 25.5 degrees. The silver sand stretches for 8 kilometres - about three times the length of America's Miami Beach and the water is so clear that you can see down for over ten meters. With a protected reef, the area boasts spectacular underwater life making the area not only beautiful on land, but an underwater paradise. The commonly-used phrase “If you are going to the seaside, make sure its Yalong” adequately sums up the beauty of this gorgeous bay. Tickets to Yalong Central Square cost 58 yuan. 

Western Island 

Western Island is part of the Yalong Bay national reserve. The beautiful island occupies a total of 2.8 square kilometres and is home to over three thousand residents - most of whom rely on fishing as their trade. Eight kilometres from Sanya, you can take a boat either from the city, which takes 25 minutes, or from Pearl Culture Harbour, which will take just 15 minutes. Because of its distance from the city, the water is less polluted, the views are more stunning, the air is cleaner, the sand is softer and the water is clearer. All sorts of well-preserved coral live around the island and make the perfect home for multitudes of colourful tropical fish. The return boat fare is 100 yuan per head and includes tickets to the resort.

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