Sanya is often called “China’s Hawaii” because of its 20km long beaches, the tropical city across the coastline and sunshine all year around. The perfect temperatures never fail below 25 Celsius degrees. Sanya’s beaches are delightful and the water in Yalong Bay and Dadonghai is clean enough for pleasant swim. While tourists come in every season, the peak season starts from 1 October to the end of winter.
How to get there
Sanya has an airport with flights to most major Chinese cities (Guangzhou, Shanghai, Taipei and Hong Kong). In order to spend less, take a bullet train to Haikou and fly out of the provincial capital’s larger airport. The Meilan high-speed rail station is in the same building complex with Haikou’s international airport. To get into Sanya city, take bus no 8 from the airport, which goes to Jiefang road and #1 market.
If you are traveling with a bus you can take the 3.5 hour from Haikou East Bus Station (it will cost around ¥80). Buses between Haikou and Sanya depart about every 30 minutes;
Sanya also can be reached directly by train from Beijing (which is very long travel, about 35 hours), Shanghai (36 hours) and Guangzhou (15 hours). The whole train is loaded on to a ferry for the journey from mainland China to the Island, then continues its journey around the west coast as far as Sanya. High-speed train connects all major cities and towns on the eastern coast. It takes 1.5 to 2 hours from Haikou, travels up to 250 km/h. The new train station in Sanya is far from downtown, approximately as far as the airport.
Nearby places to see
Dadong Sea has Sanya’s best balance between development and natural beauty. The town behind Dadong Bay is more expensive than Sanya, but has better restaurants and a gorgeous beach. The shopping, however, is not as good as Sanya city’s. The ocean has algae blooms that vary the water from thick green to tropically clear.
Sea Turtles 911 is the only non-profit organization promoting sea turtle conservation in China. While on Hainan Island visitors are welcome to volunteer with the sea turtles and the organization’s educational programs. Recommended donation.
Nanwan Monkey Island is actually a penninsula, and as the name says is home to about 1800 endangered Macaque monkeys. Be careful, these monkeys are roaming the place freely and they won’t hesitate to jump on humans to play with them or attack for sweet drinks or food. There are also some circus-style comedy shows featuring monkeys doing stunts.
Luhuitou Park (pronounced Loo Hway Toe Park) or Deer Looks Back Park, is located on top of the mountain in Sanya. On top of one of the tallest mountains in Sanya stands a statue of a deer looking back, flanked by a Li boy and a Li Girl. The legend goes that the boy was hunting the deer until the deer approaches a cliff, looks back, and magically turns into a beautiful girl and they fall in love. At night you will see green lasers shooting out from near the statue that is visible from all over Sanya.
Things to do
Enjoy spa treatments at one of the many award winning venues in Sanya. You should know in advance that spa treatments here are very expensive. Some visitors book treatments before hotel checkin if they arrive on an early flight before their room becomes available or after the check out to give them a relaxing way to kill time before heading back home.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental is highly recommended for those who want to try TCM in a luxury resort setting. Here you can get Chinese doctor consultation, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, scrubs, wraps and massages. And yes, it will cost a lot.
Mandara Spa is a beautiful spa, designed by the famous Bensley Design Studios and you will feel like you’ve stepped into a Thai fairy tale.
If you aren’t that much into massages and spas, Sanya offers world class golf courses, suitable for beginners and several demanding golf courses for more experienced players. International tournaments are regularly hosted in Sanya golfing venues.
Sanya is also a popular destination for bikers who explore the island this way. Bring your own bike because the bike rental service is not available everywhere on the island.
You can also try water sports in Yalong Bay, Dadong Bay, Haitang Bay and Sanya Bay all have a collection of jet skiing, parasailing, paragliding, snorkeling, scuba diving, glass-bottomed boat, and beach ATV enterprises.
Accommodation and food
In Sanya city and Dadonghai there are plenty of small, clean and fairly priced inns and hotels. Hainan is famous for Wenchang chicken or Haianese Chicken Rice. Hainan is famous throughout China for its coconuts and they are worth trying, especially the red coconuts. Once the sun sets Sanya city’s streets are filled with small barbecue or noodle stands, and other snack vendors. There is a well-known seafood supermarket called The No. 1 Agricultural Products Market where you can buy live seafood and then take it around the corner to a crowded street where all the restaurants will cook the seafood for you for a low price per dish.