Hainan - A Tropical Holiday Paradise
The tropical island of Hainan mesmerises countless travellers with its long, white sandy beaches and its tropical vegetation. Besides the spectacular nature, the island fascinates with unique temples, historical tombs, the End of the Earth and an impressive cultural park.
Geography - China's second biggest island
Hainan (capital: Haikou) is a province in the People's Republic of China which consists of different islands and island groups. The main island is the island of the same name. It lies in the South China Sea and is China's second largest island after Taiwan with an area of 34,380 km². The Qiongzhou Strait separates the tropical island from the Chinese mainland. The tropical monsoon climate causes temperatures to be relatively constant throughout the year. There are hot and dry summers, humid autumn months and pleasantly warm winters.
Nature - Tropical rainforest and white sandy beaches
A majority of Hainan's area is covered in tropical rainforest. The humid forests in the interior of the island accommodate mountain peaks, a variety of plants and trees as well as a unique fauna on an area of 1,500 km². Members of the fauna are countless species of birds and monkeys, frogs, toads, geckos and butterflies. Altogether about 60 percent of the island are covered in forests. The coast, on the other hand, is characterised by beautiful white sandy beaches, which are partly lined by coconut palms. The waters around the island of Hainan are regularly crossed by marine turtles and whale sharks.
Natural sights - Dream beaches and nature reserves
The tropical island of Hainan offers long white sandy beaches and hot springs. Yalong Bucht near Sanya City, the bathing resort of Dadonghai with its coconut palms and the hot spring of Guantang are particularly popular. Wanquan River, especially near Qionghai, is another wonderful tourist destination. The Volcano Crater Park near Haikou, the Dongjiao Coconut Forest near Wenchang, the Dongzhaigang Mangrove Nature Reserve as well as the Nanwan Monkey Islet (a reserve for rhesus macaques) are all worth visiting. The latter is the country's greatest breeding facility for rhesus monkeys, in which you can see the animals in the wild. Another natural sight is the island's southern tip (Tianya Haijiao), which is called the "End of the Earth" by the locals. Steep rocks with inscriptions such as "The Edge of the Sky" and "The Pillar in the Southern Sky" attract numerous visitors to this place.
Culture - The traditions of the Li
The name "Hainan" consists of the word "hai" meaning "sea" and the word "nan" meaning "south" or "southern". Originally, this was the name of the island but it was assigned to the whole island group when it became an independent province in 1988. In the course of history, many nations immigrated to the island, which is why it is characterised by great cultural variety now. Besides the Han Chinese, the island is populated by the Hui, Miao and Li people. The latter constitute 16 percent of the local population and are therefore the greatest ethnic minority on the island. They are also the oldest culture on Hainan. Many people live together peacefully in small remote villages with a mix of ancestor worship, animism, magic and superstition. The Li are proud of their traditions and customs, which consist of tattoos, earrings, elaborate woven goods and folksy clothes, for example.
Cultural sights - Temples and tombs
There are several temples, monuments and tombs on Hainan, which fascinate travellers. The cities of Haikou and Sanya as well as the provinces of the same names attract most tourists. The former accommodates impressive sights such as the Temple of Five Lords. It was built in honour of five officials of the Tang and Song dynasties who were exiled to the island for about 11 years because they dared to contradict the Emperor. Near Haikou you see the Tomb of Hai Rui. The official was a significant character at the time of the Ming Dynasty, who fell out of favour with the Emperor and was arrested. His tomb (built in 1589) is now a national cultural monument and the destination of many pilgrims. Near Sanya City in the south, you find the cultural travel destination of Nanshan, one of the island's main attractions. Visitors can dive into the culture of the Li and Miao here and marvel at temples as well as at a gigantic Buddha statue.
Experience - Chicken Wenchang and Hawaii shirts
Hainan's cuisine in strongly influenced by the sea. Seafood such as crabs and prawns as well as fish can be ordered in every restaurant. Of course, you eat them with traditional Chinese sides like rice or noodles. Dishes containing chicken are also common in the region. Chicken Wenchang is one of the most popular dishes on the island. It is made by cooking the chicken, slicing it and serving it with Hainan Chicken rice and different dips. Other local dishes are Jiaji duck and the Hele crab. Typical handicraft products from the island are chinaware, silk paintings, seals, calligraphy tools, kites and sweets. So, there is a wide range of souvenirs. Holidaymakers who want to go on a long shopping tour should visit the great shopping centres in Haikou and Sanya City, which invite you to go on a spending spree. Maybe you want to buy a Hawaiian shirt. The island of Hainan is also referred to as the "Chinese Hawaii", not only because of its similar landscape but also because of the many Chinese tourists who wear the Hawaiian garment. Many local visitors buy a colourful Hawaiian shirt during their holidays on Hainan, some even get matching trousers to create the perfect holiday atmosphere.
Activities - A water sports and spa oasis
Hainan offers a great variety of leisure activities, especially to water sports fans. You can go swimming, surfing and diving at Sanya's beaches. The hinterland is a playground for hikers. They can enjoy the island's tropical landscape and watch local animals such as butterflies and birds on many trails. In addition, there are several hot mineral healing springs, which promise relaxation.
If you want to go on a trip to Hainan, you need a tourist visa for the People's Republic of China. Travellers should also boost vaccinations against tetanus, hepatitis A and diphtheria. Sun screen and insect repellent should be part of everyone's equipment. The latter is of particular importance because there is a heightened risk of malaria on the island. You reach Hainan by plane via the airports in Haikou and Sanya or by ferry from the Chinese mainland. In addition, a train, which is carried over the water by a train ferry, has been running from Guangzhou (Guangdong Province) to the island since 2004.
Hainan is an attractive travel destination, especially for beach holidaymakers. Long, white sandy beaches surrounded by coconut palms and tropical vegetation create the perfect holiday atmosphere. Culture enthusiasts get their money's worth by visiting the numerous temples or the Nanshan Cultural Park.