Hainan, the 'Hawaii of China'

Hainan province is located at the southernmost tip of China, Haikou is the capital city. Hainan is an attractive vacation destination in China, with year-round warm weather, beautiful beaches, and stunning tropical scenery to attract tourists who want to escape the busy city life.

“Hainan” literally means “south of the sea”, it is in the south of Guangdong province and across the Gulf of Tonkin from Vietnam. Hainan province consists of Hainan Island, Xisha, Zhongsha, and Nansha Islands. It is the largest province in China in terms of ocean area and the smallest in terms of land area. Hainan province is the only province located entirely in the tropics. It is at the same latitude as Hawaii in the United States and is also famous for its tropical beaches, so Hainan province is known as the “Hawaii of China”.

Hainan Province has implemented visa-free entry tourism policies for 59 countries, including South Korea, Japan, Russia, the United States, Malaysia, and Singapore, in May 2018. So, Hainan Province was known as the southern gate of China because of its liberal tourism policies.

Haikou is the capital of Hainan Province, also known as “Coconut City”, which is located in the northernmost part of Hainan Island, so you can start your trip to Hainan from Haikou and go all the way south to Sanya. Surrounded by the sea on three sides and with a long coastline, Haikou offers first-class bathing beaches and seaside resorts.

Haikou is also an important major transportation hub. After finishing your visit to Haikou, you can take the high-speed train to Sanya to continue this fantastic tropical journey.

Sanya is undoubtedly the essence of a trip to Hainan. Sanya is the only city in China where you can enjoy both the tropical rainforest and the ocean scenery, surrounded by mountains, the beach, and the sea. Sanya’s year-round warm climate, clear water, white and soft beaches, shady shores, and fresh air makes it a haven for visitors. In recent years, travel to Sanya during cold winter has become the new trend for domestic tourists.

Useful Information

Area: 35,400 km² land area; 2,000,000 sea area
Average annual temperature: 22~26 degrees
Geography:  the southernmost tip of China
Population: 10.2 million hab. (2021)
Elevation: 0 – 1 867 m
Ethnic minorities: Li, Miao, Hui
Economy: Tourism, rice, sugar cane, sweet potatoes, peanuts, bananas and pineapples.
Language: Standard Chinese, Hainanese, Yue, Hakka, Hlai, Miao, Tsat.

How to get to Hainan

The airplane is the most convenient way to get to Hainan. There are airports in Haikou and Sanya. 

Haikou Meilan International Airport is 25 kilometers southeast of the Haikou city center. Haikou Meilan International Airport is the largest airport in Hainan, operating 235 routes, including nine international routes.

Sanya Phoenix International Airport is about 15 km northwest of Sanya city center. Sanya Phoenix International Airport is the southernmost international airport in China, operating 161 routes, including 27 international routes, including Korea, Thailand, Russia, and other countries.

What to eat in Hainan?

Hainan is known for its tropical fruits and seafood because of its unique tropical climate and rich marine resources. In addition, Hainan has many famous cuisines. Most of Hainan cuisine is seafood-based, and the influence of Cantonese and Min cuisine is very significant to it. In addition, Qiong cuisine also incorporates some local cooking methods of the Li, Miao, and other ethnic minorities.

1. Wenchang Chicken
Wenchang chicken is a specialty of Wenchang City and is also one of the most famous dishes of Hainan. Wenchang chicken is a local chicken breed in Hainan Province, Wenchang chicken is not only popular in Hainan Province but also widely spread in Singapore and Malaysia. The authentic way to cook Wenchang chicken is to steam the whole chicken in water, and cut it into pieces and serve it with Hainan chicken sauce after it has cooled. The chicken sauce is sweet and sour, the ingredients include ginger, garlic, scallions, a little salt, soy sauce, and a drizzle of lime juice.

2. Coconut Rice
‘Coconut Rice’, also known as ‘coconut boat’, is a traditional Hainan food, which mixes high-quality glutinous rice, natural coconut meat, and coconut juice steamed. Coconut meat and glutinous rice are closely combined, and the rice is crystal and white as a pearl. With a strong coconut aroma, Coconut rice tastes sweet and refreshing.

3. Qing Bu Liang
Qing Bu Liang (or Ching Bo Leung) is a classic sweet soup popular in Hainanese cuisine. The ingredients of Qing Teng Liang usually include mung beans, taro, Chinese yam, lotus seeds, gravy, pearl barley, and red dates with cold coconut water, or sweet syrup base. Qing Bu Liang is a cool refreshing summer essential you don’t want to miss on a visit to Hainan.

4. Hainan Chicken Rice
Hainan Chicken Rice, which originated in the Wenchang City of Hainan Province, is a household name in Hainan and is also famous in Singapore and Malaysia. The rice is steamed in chicken oil and chicken soup and served with pieces of Wenchang chicken. There is a transparent layer of gelatin between the chicken skin and the chicken meat, the chicken is smooth and tender, and the chicken rice is delicious with a unique flavor.

5. Hainan Rice Noodles
Hainan Rice Noodles is one of the most characteristic snacks in Hainan. The main ingredients are rice noodles made of rice and sweet potato flour, fried with marinated pork. Add in dozens of special condiments, the amazing tastes whetting the appetite of locals and visitors.

Hainan Weather

Hainan Province is warm all year round, with no distinct seasons, and summers are long and hot, while other seasons are warm.

There are two climates in Hainan Province, a subtropical climate in the north near Haikou and a tropical climate in the south near Sanya. The average annual temperature ranges between 22°C (72°F) and 28°C (82°F).

The best time to visit Hainan is from mid-November to late April. Even in winter, the weather is still sunny and warm, while the rest of China is in the cold and biting winter months. So, many people are attracted to Hainan to escape the cold.

However, it is best to avoid the Chinese New Year, which leads to a higher travel cost.

May to October is the rainy season in Hainan, especially in August and September, and there may be typhoons from September to November.

It is important to protect yourself from the Sunburn Whenever you travel to Hainan. Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sun hat are always necessary. Visitors can wear summer clothes such as T-shirts all year round. Also, a pair of flip-flops would be handy for visiting the beach.

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