Hainan

Top things to do

Top ChoiceHainan in Haikou

A Bo Po Salt Roasted Chicken

Ā bo pó (阿卜婆) means ‘grandma’ in Hainanese, though we’d also translate it as ‘best chicken ever'. Indeed made by a 70-something grandma, the chicken here is buried in sea salt and baked for four hours, then...

Top ChoiceSeafood in Bo'ao

Sea Story

Bo'ao’s most famous restaurant is surprisingly un-flashy, cobbled together from driftwood and with a courtyard full of weathered old fishing junks. The kitchen turns out excellent local and Southeast Asian dishes...

Seafood in Haikou

Banqiao Seafood Market

For a fresh seafood dinner with lots of noise, smoke and toasting, head to the hectare of tables at the Banqiao Seafood Market, known island-wide. First bargain for the raw ingredients from the market – local...

Hainan in Haikou

Haikou Qilou Snack Street

This marvellous colonial arcade is the repository of many of the street vendors swept off the street in the clean-up campaign and is easily the best place to sample local Hainanese dishes. On weekends and busy...

Historic Site in Haikou

Mei She Village

Photogenic Mei She was built out of the rough grey volcanic stone so prevalent in this part of Hainan. Wander the quiet back alleys and gawp at the castle-like, five-storey gun tower in the town centre. It was...

Market in Sanya

No.1 Farmers Market

Sanya’s most popular market is ostensibly a place to bargain for and buy locally grown produce, but its real appeal lies on the fringes, where food vendors set up shop. Stop for barbecued seafood, grilled corn...

Area in Haikou

Haikou Old Town

The pedestrianised streets around Zhongshan Lu are a looking glass into Haikou’s French colonial past, with cobblestone blocks of porticoed row houses – some restored, some charmingly decayed. Though still a work...

Mountain in Baoting

Seven Fairy Mountain

Seven Fairy Mountain, named for its dramatic seven pinnacles, is found inside Mt Qixian Hot Springs National Forest Park. It’s a three-hour return trip to the top of the first pinnacle along a stepped path...

Historic Site in Bo'ao

Cai Family Former Residence

This sprawling, and pleasantly decaying, mansion was built in 1934 by several brothers who made their fortune in the Indonesian rubber industry. The building was abandoned in 1937 after the Japanese invaded...

Beach in Sanya

Houhai Beach

A crescent-shaped sandy beach about 30km northeast of Dadonghai, Houhai Bay, which is in Tenghai village (滕海村, Ténghǎi Cūn), is the place for those looking to get away from the crowds. Be prepared though: the...

Gardens in Xinglong

Xinglong Tropical Garden

What sounds like another of Hainan’s many tourist traps is actually a surprising retreat: a huge area of lightly tended tropical gardens with a network of paths. Derelict hotels and cafes hidden in the rainforest...

Beach in Sanya

Yalong Bay

Yalong Bay is the most picture-perfect of Sanya’s beaches, though jet skis and banana boats do buzz through (there are roped-off swimming areas in the shallows). This is resort central, with all the attendant...

Volcano in Haikou

Haikou Volcanic Cluster Geopark

While this geopark encompasses about 108 sq km of rural countryside, the main attraction here is a corny tourist park surrounding a (genuinely cool) extinct volcano cone. Make haste past the snack stands and gift...

Cafe in Haikou

Square Out Space Cafe

With calming blue and white interiors, and ample windows that let in what breeze there is in Haikou, this charming cafe and art space is a cooling and quiet place to hang out. As well as staging its own musical...

Buddhist Monastery in Bo'ao

Bo'ao Temple

The highlight of this modern Buddhist temple complex, 3km west of the town centre, is the enormous statue of the many-armed and many-headed Guanyin, the towering pagoda, and the views over the delta. After...

Beach in Sanya

Sanya Bay

The long sandy strip off the city centre at Sanya Bay is where you’ll find crowds of mostly mainland Chinese tourists kicking back. In little covered areas locals play music, sing, write characters in the sand...

Temple in Haikou

Five Officials Memorial Temple

Hainan wasn't always a desirable holiday destination. In earlier times it was considered a remote part of the Chinese empire and used as a place of banishment for disgraced court officials. This Ming temple is...

Noodles in Sanya

Wàngjiǎo Měishí Diàn

Right in the heart of the action around the No.1 Farmers Market, this colourful place has all the Hainanese classics: bàoluōfěn noodles (抱罗粉; ¥12, choose from meat or seafood) and Wenchang chicken (文昌鸡, Wénchāng...

Museum in Haikou

Hainan Museum

This modern colossus of a building should be your first stop when you arrive in Hainan. The displays on ethnic minorities, as well as Hainan’s 20th-century history, which included fierce resistance against the...

Beach in Sanya

Dadonghai Bay

Dadonghai Bay sports a wider beach than Sanya and has a shaded boardwalk running along most of its length. The setting, in a deep blue bay with rocky headlands, is simply gorgeous, but it does get busy here. At...