Travel Destinations: Hainan Province, China
For centuries, Chinese officials believed that exile to Hainan Island was a fate worse than death; it was a region were savage barbarians lived, the ‘gate to hell’. It has 2,000 years for the Chinese to see Hainan for what it is – one of the most beautiful places in the country, as well as in Asia.
The smallest province in China, Hainan is a paradise, where you will even see the Chinese relaxing and having a good time. This is a coconut and oil place, full of sunshine and golden sands. However, for those who like other things besides the beach, Hainan offers some wonderful trails to hike and some good cultural attractions to keep you busy.
The name translates as ‘Mouth of the Sea’ and is the capital of the province. You will find this a city on the rise, especially with the amount of construction going on. You will want to stay here for a few days to explore the sights and to get a tan.
The best way to experience the city is on foot. Explore the Old Quarter and then take a stroll through Haikou Park where you will find dancers, people practicing kung fu/gong fu, joggers, tai chi artists and many other people all here. You can then go on to visit the Five Officials Memorial Temple and the Xiuying Battery before heading off for some sun and sea at the beach.
Famous for its chicken dish (served in rice and peanuts), it is also the homes of the Soong sisters, Meiling and Qingling, who became the wives of Chiang Kai-shek and Sun Yatsen. Today, it is home to the Dongjiao Yelin coconut plantation which makes it look incredibly beautiful.
There isn’t much to do here, expect to relax on the soft golden sands, take a dip in the ocean, stroll around the streets and sample the traditional meals from the nearby villages.
LINGSHUI & MONKEY ISLAND:
Lingshui is one of the oldest settlements on the island; it has been a trading port since as early as the Han Dynasty. Although the old buildings will captivate your senses for a little while, it is Monkey Island which draws visitors here.
Monkey Island is home to Guangxi monkeys where a research centre has been established to study and investigate. The monkeys are tame and will want you to feed them peanuts, but make sure you have a good grip on your camera.
Sanya is the tourist mecca on the island; 40km of soft sandy beaches, a sea made for surfing and little cafes and restaurants to relax in as you watch the world go by. Yalong Bay is by far the best beach here, and you can also pay a visit to Ximao Zhou, a small island just off the coast.
Hainan Island is a beautiful destination; if you are searching for a more laid-back destination in busy China, then this is the place for you.