China is too attractive and big and many its areas are widely advertised and visited but Hainan doesn’t deserve to be forgotten. Today we are going to Sanya city on southern coast of Hainan and one of biggest and most popular of this island. Sanya is perfect spot to spend your summer vacation in China.
Explore city: Sanya is a not big and relatively new city. It has a bit more than half million residents. Most of landscape is dominated by modern skyscrapers, hotels, shopping malls and large pedestrian areas which were built in last 10-15 years. You can pass through modern and wide avenues which are passing by tall buildings and palm trees and experience how developed and modern south Chinese city looks like. There are also many side streets which are tight and older. These streets are tight and rich with trees. In these streets there are many souvenir shops what may be interesting for you. As always in Asia you can try your bargaining skills and buy something interesting such as silk traditional shirt, southern Chinese hat or jade bracelet. You will notice many locals there who are walking, riding bikes or selling. Also you can try to find outdoor market. Except ordinary fruits, vegetables and products you will see many tropical fruits and sea products too. There are sold many different fishes, small and large squids, octopuses, shrimps, pieces of sharks and marlin fishes.
Go to the beach: It can be one of main reasons why you are here. There is largest beach in the city so called Sanya Bay beach . It is long and popular sand beach. Beach stretches for about 25km. Beach is overcrowded so prepare for large number of people both on the beach and in the sea. Take an opportunity to swim in warm and clean South China Sea. If you try to walk along whole beach you will feel like it is never ending. Behind beach and during all of its length there are many bars, restaurants and hotels. If you are afraid of swimming in the sea you can enter one of many outdoor swimming pools belonging to the hotels. While having a rest from swimming and sunbath you can sit in one of many bars and have some refreshing juice or cocktail.
If you want a more calm and less commercialized spot you should visit Yalong Bay Beach. You can reach it easily by speed train from Sanya in less than 2h for only 12eur. It is large beach outside Sanya city. Yalong Beach is also long but almost empty beach with little tourists. It is located in natural scenery and behind beach there are many bushes and palms. If you want to spend a day in tranquil and peaceful place surrounded by sea, rainforest and mountains it is perfect place for you. Enjoy the azure blue sea and white sand at the bottom.
Scuba diving: There is very popular spot for that for optimal price on Wuzhizhou island. It is small island located from Sanya several kilometers. Wuzhizhou can be reached by boat from spot nearby Sanya for 25eur. For 70eur you can rent diving equipment for a whole day. You will have own instructor that will guide how to use all the equipment and will give you safety instructions. While diving you will see many tropical colorful fishes, starfishes and even octopuses. During WWII island was occupied by Japanese forces and there were a lot of clashes over the island. Under the sea pieces of destroyed ships or submarines and downed aircrafts as well as old bombs may be found still. So while diving maybe you will see something like that.
Yanoda Rainforest: Is located by 30minutes ride from Sanya. It is amazing opportunity to meet tropical nature of China. Rainforest is located on one of the hills of the island. Natural landscape is really stunning thanks to combination of rocks and trees rich with green trunks. During hiking through this rainforest you will see a lot of trees that are older than 1000 years.
Turtle 911: Is a non-profit organization located on one of smaller isles next to Hainan. You can easily reach it by boat tour. Aim of this organization is to protect sea turtles that are endangered species since are often hunted for decoration, food or are illegally sold. Except feeding and breeding them there is hospital for them too. You can spend a day here helping workers in feeding turtles and some other activities. Especially nice will be helping baby turtles to swim for the first time in the sea. There are long term volunteering programs at this facility so if you are interested ask staff there.
Crocodile and Tiger center: Is a special center in Sanya determined to protect tigers and crocodiles. Located in a special park these animals live in natural surrounding. You can pay a visit there and see few almost extinct Chinese tiger a subspecies of Asian tiger. There are only few of them remained. Also you will see a large crocodile center an only one in China. You can watch crocodiles and even feed them with the meat that will be given to you.
Luobi cave: It is interesting cave located 15km from Sanya. It is cave that contains oldest cultural relics of Hainan which date from period of Yuan ( 13– 14 century) dynasty. There are many Chinese carving and inscriptions on its walls and floors. There are many inkstones on the floor that were used by Taoist monks who decorated this cave. Legend says that immortal who came from heaven and lived in this cave on earth. There is one legend which says that if water drops from caves stalactities on your head you will become talented writer, so give a try.
Nanshan Temple: It is largest Buddhist temple at Hainan. It was built in 1988 as commemoration of two thousand years of Buddhism in China. It has very interesting temple halls with very old figures and scripts that date from Tang dynasty( 7th-10th centuries). Large courtyards have a lot of grass areas and a pond. On the sea is standing 108m tall white statue of Guanyin( Buddhist and Taoist goddess of compassion, guardian of women, children, love and sailors). It is one of largest statues in the world and largest statue of Guanyin in the world. There are 3 faces on statue one looking at China which symbolizes that she protects whole China and other two towards sea which symbolize her protection of whole world. Many people come here to pray and get blessings. You can burn incense as well and enjoy this outstanding statue.
When you get hungry: You are on right place. In past I wrote here about Chinese cuisine so generally you can find almost anything from Chinese cuisine here in Sanya. However there are some special dishes related to sea cuisine such as fried shrimps, grilled squids and octopuses, cooked or roasted fish. Very popular dish is Hele crab a famous Hainanese dish composed of crab meat combined with steamed ginger and garlic mixed in vinegar. If you do not like seafood but want something Hainanese there is a solution for you too. You can order Wenchang chicken it is special type of small chicken that is cooked whole together with head and than cut into pieces. Than you can put its pieces into mixture of soy sauce, garlic and ginger. It is amazing. Average meal for two is between 8 and 15eur so it is really inexpensive.
Night: As usually on holiday areas nightlife is very rich. In Sanya there are many inexpensive bars and clubs where you can enjoy beer, speaking with locals or partying until morning. Most famous Chinese beer-Qingdao costs only 1.4eur. As you know from my previous writing Chinese people are friendly and keen to learn new stories from foreigners. Also there are special beach parties at Sanya. On sand people gather to sing and dance or play guitar next to fire. You can join one of such groups you will be welcome definitely. Except beach partying you will see millions of stars above beach and sea.
Dawn: Go very early at so called Sunrise Cliff located on southeastern edge of Sanya. You can see from there big part of island, Sanya city and South China Sea. Wait for sunrise. It will be unforgettable experience for you when you see sun coming out from sea.