When thinking of China, it’s hard to see past Beijing and Shanghai.
However, today, the island of Hainan, the country’s southernmost province and its only tropical region, is turning into a destination on many travellers’ radar since it has all ingredients for a perfect getaway.
Whether it’s breath-taking beaches on your mind, fun-filled festivals and theme parks or simply looking to pamper yourself in top-notch resorts, Hainan guarantees to leave an unforgettable imprint in your memory.
Here's what the Hainan Provincial Tourism Development Commission recommends:
Postcard-Perfect Islands And Beaches To Explore
outlines a paradise. First of all, it isn’t man-made, and the amazing stretch of coral reef and tropical fishes below the turquoise water make it a bliss for divers.
What’s more, at the heart of the island, over 2,000 species of plants are waiting to be discovered. It's no surprise why Tianya Haijiao
has been an inspiration for many Chinese poets.
It’s a serene strip of soft sand dotted by a group of magnificient stones against the azure sky and ocean, luring you to soak in the atmosphere and lose track of time. Perhaps, venture into poems too.
If catching sunset is your kind of beach getaway, make your way to Daxiao Dongtian
. However, before the dusk-hour arrives, scout the verdant hills, caves and rock formations.
gives away the sense of being in Dubai, thanks to the futuristic Phoenix Island Resort which has transformed the skyline with style and splendour, particularly at night. In fact, the island is only accessible by the resort guests.
, on the Nanwan peninsula, is the only nature reserve for macaque monkeys in the world, with over 2,500 of them between 21 species. The huge variety of fruits and grottoes offer them a whale of a time, which is a joy to watch.
Also, don’t miss the longest over-water cable car in the country, which spans 2,138 metres.
Well-known resorts and hotels -- each trying to outdo each other in comfort and class -- overlooking the waves at the less-crowded Yalong Bay
Once the soothing soundtrack of the ocean coaxes you out of your bed, stroll along the white sand beach, dip into the blue water or simply rest your sights on the scenery with a glass of cocktail in hand. Ahh, it sounds so blissful!
No visit to Hainan is complete without a day trip to the Nanshan Culture Tourism Zone
It was built to commemorate 2,000 years of Buddhism in China and features three theme parks - Buddhism Culture Park (shares the knowledge of Buddha), Blessing and Longevity Park (embodies the essence of Chinese culture) and Hainan Custom Culture Park (showcases tropical scenery and the customs of ethnic minorities).
The main attraction is the 108-metre tall Kwan-yin Statue
at the end of the pier, backed by the soft sky and calm, melodious ocean.
Once you look past Hainan’s present charm, you will be amazed to find a past that is equally impressive.
The Wugong Temple
at Haikou is a must-visit, as it dates back to the 16th
century and is billed as the first building in the province.
The striking red building with an ancient garden and wonderful sculptures is a memorial shrine dedicated to five officials who were exiled here during the Tang dynasty.
Yazhou Ancient Town
is a region that has a history of over 2,000 years. Wander around, visualise its glory days through the remains of the buildings and cultural relics, and pay a visit to the Confucius Temple
This temple is perfectly preserved in dedication to the Confucian scholarship.
Opportunities For Adventure Are Endless At Natural Parks
For those of you who are thirsty for adventure, you’re in good hands too!
Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park
has become a permanent fixture on social media since becoming a popular backdrop template for wedding photos.
Romance aside, there’s also a 200-metre long suspension bridge, gorgeous orchid valley, mystical dragon sculpture and a panoramic platform that opens up stunning views of the park and surrounding bays.
Hailed as the Disney World of Rainforests and featuring China’s longest zipline that soars above the ceiling of green, Yanoda Rainforest Park
is a veritable feast for adventure seekers.
Flex your muscles and surge pass series of hurdles to discover a hidden waterfall to reward all your hard work. Fixated on the forest? Camp overnight then.
is perched on a hill that boasts unobstructed views of the sea criss-crossed by speedboats, rolling mountains and the city of Sanya.
The real deal, however, is a thought-provoking statue of a deer looking back, derived from a famous love story that locals are happy to narrate to you. Half of the time, you might lose yourself staring at the beautiful scenery.
If you feel like stepping into the pages of National Geographic, Hainan Tropical Wildlife Zoo
, located 27km south of Haikou, is the place to be.
It would be a fantastic day trip for families with kids as they can feed the giraffes, ride on camels, play with tiger cubs and even greet “Tigon” - a cross between a male tiger and female lion - and a “Liger” - a cross between a male lion and female tiger.
If visiting volcanoes is your kind of adventure, Leiqiong Global Geopark
at the heart of Furnace Mountain will fill you up with anticipation.
It’s widely shrouded in a thick forest and it last exploded 8,000 years ago. The latter point will help earn your parents’ approval.
Climbing up the steps is not for the faint-hearted but once you’re at the rim of its crater, you’ll know it’s worth every effort! Photos do a much better job at showing how spectacular the jungle-clad crater and views of Haikou City are.
Authentic Hainanese Flavours At Its Best
Well, you might have guessed Hainan Chicken Rice
already, since they are ubiquitous in Malaysia. So when you’re at the home of the pioneers, you’ve got to dig in the finest version.
The highlight of the dish, Wenchang Chicken, a free-range bird on a high protein diet, is prepared in a traditional way to preserve its tenderness and juiciness.
is another Hainanese staple. The handful of rice noodles is topped with meat sauce, roasted peanuts, beef slices, herbs and at times, fruits, to create a melee of flavour and texture in every mouthful.
Seafood looms large on the menu of most beachside restaurants. Hainan Hot Pot
and Hainan lobsters
are the top picks among locals and tourists but feel free to order other ocean dwellers too.
Think you should be part of the 'Fear Factor' series? Prove your point with a bowl of Turtle and Snake Soup
, which is known for its medicinal values.
Other famous delicacies to devour include Jiaji Duck, Dongshan Mutton
and Hele Crab
There’s no dull moment for food lovers, even after the sun greets goodbye, thanks to numerous night markets and street stalls.
Head to the famous Haikou Night Market
to rub shoulders with locals, take in more of the local vibe and of course, enjoy drool-inducing food to your heart’s content.
You’re more likely to boot with barbecued seafood and skewered meats, thus the best way to wrap up is fried ice
Look Beyond Natural Parks
If you find nature-oriented parks not wowing you much, fret not, there are various other parks to keep you going.
Sanya Romance Park
is an expansive theme park that wears many hats - a water park, theatre, zoo and a cultural hub. Something you can’t afford to miss is the “Legend of Romance” live performance, staged in a 4,700-seater indoor theatre.
This visually-appealing show highlights Sanya’s historic past to its present charm with a jaw-dropping combination of drama, dance, fight scenes and aerial acrobatics, elevated by special effects and modern technology.
Travel back in time at Binglanggu Hainan Li & Miao Cultural Heritage Park
. For more than 400 years, the Li and Miao ethnic minority called this place home.
The food, museum, craft demonstrations and traditional dances are steeped in history and culture of the local tribe. If a park to you is something that reminds you of a vivid funfair, then spend some time at Baishamen Park
On the Ferris Wheel ride, you’ll be fascinated by the spectacular views of the city and the South China Sea.
Historical Streets To Amble Around
The city of Haikou has been a crossroad for many cultures, and the influences are apparent in Qilou Street
The stretch of buildings shows off a fusion of European and classical Chinese style with slight traces of Indian and Arabic architectures too.
Saunter the streets, flood up your camera with Instagram-worthy photos and sip traditional Hainanese coffee at one of the convivial cafes.
Yacheng Old Street
is a complete contrast to Qilou Street. It is Yazhou Ancient Town’s old commercial street, lined by time-worn Cantonese-style shophouses.
Yet, there are many small businesses and street stalls giving much-needed life to the area, and it’s a popular subject among photographers too.
Festivals With No Shortage Of Colours And Culture
Besides the “Hawaii of China”, Hainan has another nickname - the Coconut Island, for its mass production of coconuts.
As such, each year in late March or early April, the islanders celebrate the Coconut Festival
. Go to Haikou to be astounded by the coconut lanterns, chow down delicious coconut-based treats and desserts, then witness dragon boat races and martial art competitions.
Tianya Haijiao Joy Festival
is held between the period of early September to early October. As the moon gradually rises to the canvas-like sky, thousands of lamps are light up at the same time, forming a charming spectrum of colours.
Cheerful locals dancing to folk songs and flamboyant fireworks add to the uplifting atmosphere. Justifying the festival’s slogan - "The bright full moon rises from the sea; let’s cherish the present moment no matter where we are from."
One of the unique festivals you could possibly think of is the Nashan Longevity Festival
because Hainan’s oldest men and women are the focal points of the celebration.
Awards are given to the oldest living Hainanese people and seminars are held on longevity, followed by communal games for all ages.
Not Your Average Golf Courses
If you love golf, be prepared to extend your stay in Hainan as this province is decked up with some of the best golf courses in the world.
Mission Hills Golf Club
has set a fresh appeal with its design as the ten fields sit on a bed of solid lava rock formation. The wild black volcanic lines add a rare allure to the green and rugged landscape.
At the Mystic Springs Golf Club
, it’s impossible to fully focus on your golf time because your senses are automatically drawn to the flower orchards, tropical gardens and the view of Wuzhizhou Island.
Hainan Meilan Golf Club
blurs the line between a lovely lake and a golf course as its criss-crossed by cute bridges and rippling lakes. So, if you and your partner love golf, this place can never go wrong.
Can’t decide between a day at the beach or a golf session, then head to The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula
, as it sits right next to a beach that commands a view of the South China Sea.
Imagine being revived by the ocean’s chilling breeze after putting up a Tiger Woods performance.
World-class Resorts That Take Luxury To A Whole New Level
The well-known resorts at Hainan pose a test to visitors. Because once you’ve stepped in, you’ll be heavy-hearted to leave.
With several awards up their sleeves, Banyan Tree Sanya Resort & Spa
captures the natural essence of the surroundings and up the romance factor in its all-pool villa resort.
Impeccable service, awe-inspiring scenery and heart-robbing luxury are what one can expect at Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay
Double up your pleasure with an outdoor spa treatment while eyeing the tropical gardens and the idyllic beach.
The lagoon rooms at The Ritz Carlton Sanya
along Yalong Bay promise to linger in your mind forever.
Each comes with an individual spa, lounges and located only a few steps away from the massive lagoon pools, to send you in a state of complete bliss. If such settings call for a cocktail, drop by the Sands Bar.
The Sanya Edition Hotel is a new player in luxury-defining hotel scene yet has been garnering a strong following.
It has mastered a fresh perceptive on how wealth and well-being can work together in harmony. In addition, the hotel has its own private ocean for a more exclusive experience.
Other big names include Mandarin Oriental Sanya
and St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort
The World’s Largest Mineral Springs Resort
Many travellers from around the world come over to Mission Hills Resort
for a genuine taste of luxury, also for its mixture of 168 hot and cold mineral spring pools, earning it the “World’s Largest Mineral Springs Resort” award by Guinness World Records.
You’ll be transported to different countries such as Rome, Africa and Turkey through hydro-form pools.
Impressed already? Hold on, there’s Movie Town
right next to it, which makes you feel like stepping onto an old-time film set.
Put on period costumes to be on par with the entire setting and have professional photos taken for your next profile picture.
The World’s Largest Duty-free Shopping Centre
This is definitely music to the ears of shopaholics because you have an additional reason to not leave empty-handed.
The Haitang Bay International Shopping Centre
is not only filled with a widespread of reputed, international brands but also a sight to behold with its modern facade and interior.
Convenience At Every Angle
We Malaysians never want to be far away from our beloved country. Thankfully, Hainan is only less than four hours away via flight.
Sited on the latitude same as Hawaii, it enjoys tropical climate all year round, hence we don’t need to worry about weather adaptability and splurge money on seasonal clothing.
Besides that, the streets of Hainan will dispel the notion you have about China’s heavy traffic. At the heart of cities, there are presences of traffics during peak hours and holiday season yet overall it’s uncomplicated and way less congested than the better-known cities.
Train rides are not only comfortable but bear a scenic appeal as well, while passing by the calm countryside and rich greenery.
What are you waiting for? Book your flight ticket to Hainan now! For more information, head on over to the Hainan Tourism website