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Hainan, the unexpected tropical getaway in China

Sun, sand, salty air and breeze. Welcome to Hainan, China, the tropical island you probably never heard of. Sure, it may not have the exotic vibe of Southeast Asia, but if you’re looking to see a different side of China and soak yourself in glorious sun rays, Hainan is your answer. 

Ready for your very own tropical getaway in China? Check out these cool, or shall we say hot spots.

Yalong Bay, Sanya

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Image Credit: Wikimedia

White sand and clear waters make this the prettiest beach in China. Trust the 5-star hotels and resorts to know how to pick their spots. If you want a little piece of Hawaii in your Chinese holiday, this is the place to go. Prices are not cheap in this area as it’s rather exclusive. The best way to experience Yalong Bay is to stay in a hotel that has its own private beach and to avoid the high domestic travel seasons for a little more peace. 

Nanshan Temple, Sanya Nanshanlarge-min.jpg

Image Credit: Wikimedia


The Nansha Temple is a stunning sight because it’s not often that you find a majestic Guan Yin set with the sparkling blue sea and greenery as its backdrop. The sprawling complex is also very well maintained and contains several replicas from the Tang dynasty. This is a must-see if you’re in Sanya to the breathtaking natural beauty that surrounds the temple. Do bring your shades and a hat as it can get really hot. 

Tropical Paradise Forest, Sanya 

What’s a tropical getaway without a panoramic view of the greenery?

Get out of the sunbed and the sea for a bit and make your way up to the Tropical Paradise Forest Park for some incredible views over Sanya. There’s even a resort with a pool that is seemingly perched on a cliff, so if Sanya’s international beach resorts don’t quite cut it for you, you know you’d get a better view from up here.

There are a number of scenic spots to visit, and even a zip line if you’re up for adding some adrenaline to your day.

Riyuewan

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Image Credit: Surfline

This is the place to get your surf on. Riyuewan, otherwise known as Sun and Moon Bay, is just 1.5 hours away from the high-end vibe of Sanya and is known as the best surf spot in China. Yes, you probably never thought that China could be a surfing spot, and that’s why this place is still a hidden gem. There are surf schools that you can sign up with, and Riyuewan is known to be a comfortable surfing spot for beginners too. 

Dongjiao Coconut Plantation, Haikou 

If you do pass the capital city of Hainan, Haikou, do visit the Dongjian Coconut Plantation that will challenge your sense of place. You may wonder if you’re really indeed in China as you wander about the green plantation with 500,000 trees. There are also a number of seafood restaurants with fresh catches of the day. 

Haikou Old Town

On first impressions, Haikou may seem like yet another developing Chinese city, though with a more laidback atmosphere.  Make your way into the Old Town to catch a glimpse of the past, where remnants of French presence can be seen in its buildings, some simply decaying, and others charming. There are also cafes, handicraft markets, and it’s generally a pretty place for some street photography. 

Banqiao Road Seafood Market

Seafood doesn’t come any fresher than this. If you’re squeamish about seafood and smells and noise and want your fish served as a fillet with ambient music, then this may not be your place. But, if you’re into selecting your own catch of the day and deciding how you want it to be prepared, you’ll have a tasty field day at this seafood market. An important piece of advice: don’t go alone. You may have already found out that Chinese food is best enjoyed as a group, and when it comes to feasting at a seafood market, you want to make sure that you try a diverse menu.

Hainense Cuisine

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Image Credit: Wikimedia

When in Hainan, fill your bellies with Hainanese food that is lighter, milder, and just a tasty as mainland Chinese dishes. In fact, it could remind you a little of Southeast Asian food, and who would complain about having fresh seafood at the table?   

The Hainanese Chicken Rice, which is one of Singapore’s national dishes and has its variations in Thailand and Malaysia, is absolutely delicious thanks to the rice that’s cooked with a heavenly blend of spices and chicken stock. It's a must try if your in the area!

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About the author

Tilda is a happy sufferer of chronic wanderlust. When she isn't spending a disproportionate amount of time Googling about places and cultures, she's writing, dancing, and navigating a massive career change. She shares stories and photography on Wanderful People, and shares her coffee with no one.

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