This month, a lovely five day weekend saw me in sunny Sanya, Hainan. Known as China’s Hawaii, I was eager to visit this place and see what it had to offer—which was quite a lot! Read on to see how I spent my time, hanging out in Hainan.
Hainan is China’s Southernmost province and it’s biggest island. Over 2,000 years ago, the Han Chinese first settled on the island. The largest of the 39 ethnic groups include the H’mong and Li people. They were primarily fishers and lived out modest lives, eating tropical fruit, seafood, and whatever the fertile land offered them. In recent years—after seeing WWII action and accommodating famous Chinese exiles—the Chinese have seen the economic and recreational potential the island offers. In 1988 Hainan was separated from Guangdong Province and established as its own Chinese Province and Special Economic Zone. The government also seeks to make Hainan an international tourism island by 2020. Since then funds have been pumped into infrastructure projects and pleasure activities all around the island. Southern Sanya is typically the first choice for most vacationers, while Northern Haikou comes in at a close second.
Not knowing a whole lot about the island at the time I booked my ticket, I opted to fly into Haikou. A little later, as I did more research, I decided to take the train straight into Sanya, spend the bulk of my time there, and take the train back to Haikou the day before I was scheduled to return home. Flying into Haikou was delicious: as I looked out of the plane window I was mesmerized by the palm trees that dotted the landscape. Transport was super easy: upon arrival, I simply collected my suitcase, asked for directions to the train station, and walked down the escalator (connected to the airport) to Meilan Train Station. There, I showed the ticket master the ticket I wanted. I also went ahead and bought the return ticket. About 20 minutes later, I was on my way to Sanya. Looking back, I’m glad I was able to take the train ride instead of flying straight into Sanya: the views were a feast for the eyes and pure relaxation. After arriving in Sanya an hour and-a-half later, I got a taxi and took the 15 minute ride to my accommodations.
Fortunately for me, my parents were gracious enough to hook me up at a great hotel. Well, what can I say about this place? The room is probably every young person’s dream. Like a fab studio apartment, this lovely space had super modern amenities, like recessed lighting, warm amber-hued wooden floors, a mini sectional, and much more. My favorite feature, of course, was the creamy white bath tub which sat on the 12th-floor balcony, overlooking the sea.
Each morning, I enjoyed a hearty Chinese and Western-style breakfast. The options included fresh, tropical fruit, soups and salads, piping hot coffee, and much more. The night before I left, I discovered the VIP breakfast hall, which I had access to. While it had some lovely perks (air conditioned rooms, softer chairs, less people, and salmon on the buffet), I was still glad I got to experience both restaurants. Each night was also a culinary adventure. I ate everything from Italian Pizza, fish and chips, to street-side sushi.
The hotel staff was also very friendly and accommodating. Most of the time there was someone on staff who spoke English. They helped me find the bus stop and places around the island that I wanted to visit. I loved the shuttle bus that took guests to and from the hotel to the semi-private beach. There I soaked up the sun and enjoyed the waves with Russian and Chinese holiday makers who flooded the island.
Everyone was so happy to be holidaying on the lovely island. One day, I decided to walk back from the beach. I had paid careful attention while on the beach shuttle to find my way back to the hotel. It was a treat just to stroll along the coastline, inhaling the sweet aroma of the exotic flowers and feeling the sweet sunshine on my skin.
When Monday morning came, I was sorry to have to say goodbye. Up until this trip, I had only visited Shanghai and Beijing (and my own city, of course). Just as everyone says, China has so much more to offer than skyscrapers and cosmopolitan cities. I will definitely be returning to Sanya in the future. There is no true paradise on earth, but vacationing in Sanya makes me feel one step closer to Utopia.