Before traveling to Hainan I didn’t know much about this Chinese island. When thinking of Hainan I would think of the beaches, the tropical climate and the abundance of fruit available on the island. What I discover while preparing for my trip, is that Hainan also offers mountains and jungle. During my trip to Hainan I saw the variety of the island and discovered that there is a lot to do in Hainan. Today, I will answer the question ‘What to do in Hainan’?
What to do in Hainan?
Like I said, there are a lot more things you can do in Hainan other than laying on the beach and sipping on your cocktail. In this article I will tell you about 8 awesome things you can do when visiting Hainan.
1. Haikou Mangrove Forest
The Haikou Mangrove Forest can be found in the harbor of Dongzhai in Haikou and is one of the most beautiful and unique places on the island. The mangroves are enormous and cover about 4000 km² and can be found along 6 rivers. The way the trees are growing in the water and because of the location of the forest, it is a great place for birds and other animals to live. While walking through the park I saw a variety of birds and butterflies; they make the park even prettier and more enjoyable.
2. Wugong Temple
The Wugong Temple is named after 5 exiled officials who were once sent to Hainan. During the Tang & Song dynasties Hainan was considered a bad and unpleasant place, and therefore it was a real punishment when you were sent to Hainan. Although the officials didn’t live in the temple, it is the most important place on the island for people to honor them.
It might sound a little strange that they got a temple even though they were banned from the mainland, but when they arrived to Hainan they were actually able to have a fairly normal life. During their time on Hainan, they made an effort to improve the island and life on the island. The inhabitants of Hainan were very pleased with this and therefor they honored the officials by giving them a temple.
3. Enjoying sunshine & water sports on Boundary Island
Something you can’t skip when visiting Haian is spending some time on one of the beaches the island has to offer. Although China has more places with beaches (like Dalian), the best Chinese beaches can be found in Hainan. The beaches on Boundary Island are those kind of beaches. Boundary Island is a great place to relax and enjoy the sun. You can relax all day if you wish, but if you’re looking for something more active, you don’t need to leave the island.
Rent a water scooter and feel the wind go through your hair while flying over the water, or if you’d like to have a bird’s eye view, hop on a boat and have the wind pick you up.
I had the chance to go parasailing and it was a great experience! Hanging above the water, feeling the sun on my skin and enjoying the beautiful view. These are not the only things you can do; you can go sailing or discover the underwater world during a dive.
4. Explore the jungle Yanoda Tropical Rain Forest Park
‘Ya-No-Da” (which means both ‘welcome’ and ‘1, 2, 3’) is the first thing you will hear when entering the Yanoda Tropical Rain Forest Park. Try and get lost in this large park and try to get away from the other visitors (mainly during high season) who are visiting the park. At a lot of tourist attractions in China you will have to get on a little bus which will take you around. This is also the case in Yanoda.
You can get off the bus at different places and continue to explore the park. Make sure to go to the different viewing points to get a view over the jungle. Just like Boundary Island you can do some cool stuff here. You can stay the night in the park and go camping or go zip-lining and fly over the jungle.
5. Historical Qilou Street
To a lot of people, the historical Qilou Street is one of the highlights of Hainan. You can find Qilou Street in Haikou and it is one of the oldest streets in the city. The Sipai building for example is about 600 years old and it is the oldest building on the street. The houses are a mix of European and Asian architecture and if you look closely you can even spot some Arabic and Indian elements.
Wander through the old streets and go back in time. A time of merchants, civil servants and other important people. Explore the little shops, looking for a special souvenir or go to a cafe where you can enjoy a local dessert with mango & coconut.
6. Be astonished by the height of Guan Yin Budhha in Nanshan Temple Park
Number 6 on the ‘What to do in Hainan’ list is the Nanshan Temple Park. This Buddhist park is located about 35 kilometers away from Sanya and can be visited as a day trip. Not only because of its size (it is 40.000m² large), but also because of all the places and temples to see. The most important and impressive part of the park is Guan Yin Buddha. A statue of 108 meters tall (higher than the Statue of Liberty in New York) with 3 faces. One of the faces looks out over land, protecting China. The other faces are looking out over the water and are protecting the rest of the world. The way the pier has been built is particularly good for feng shui, therefor, planes are not allowed to fly to close to this area. Cause if they would, the fengshui would be disrupted.
Other than visiting Guan Yin you should definitely have a meal at one of the vegetarian restaurants in the park and explore some of the temples. For the best view on Guan Yin, head over to the little beach that’s, when facing her, on her right.
7. A 360° view in the Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Park
Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Park is a very popular place for Chinese tourists to visit (don’t say we didn’t warn you). Why? The famous and popular movie “非誠勿擾” (Fēichéng Wùrǎ0 / If You Are The One) was shot in this park. The park has become very popular after the release of the movie, especially with wedding couples. They love to come here and have their wedding photos taken.
It’s fun to watch people have their wedding photos taken, but don’t waste too much time on this as the park has a lot more to offer. Like a rope bridge that will take you from one mountain top to another giving you an amazing view over Yalong Bay. After crossing the bridge, I’d recommend you take a golf cart which will take you to the best place of the park. A 360° platform from which you will have a stunning view over the park and bays on the edges of the island.
8. Barbecue at the Night Market in Haikou
For us, one of the most important parts of traveling is to get to know the local kitchen. In Hainan there are a lot of places to eat great Hainanese food, but one of the best places to enjoy a great meal is the Night Market in Haikou (海甸五西路 – 人民大道). Every night, starting at about 8 pm, the night market will open and vendors will open their stalls. A great place to indulge in the food that the vendors are selling. Stroll along the stalls, pick fresh oysters or shrimps, have an eggplant and order a drink. Find a table to sit at and before long your food will be ready.
You will find a lot of locals at the market, so it’s a great place for those who like to mingle in with locals! Oh, and make sure to order ‘fried ice’ before heading home. It’s a dessert made with fresh fruit and it’s delicious!
Experience Hainan with us
During my trip to Hainan there was a film crew joining us (I traveled in a small group), the videos have been made and can be watched now, so if you’d like to see Hainan for yourself, make sure to head over to Youku.
Rather watch the video we made ourselves? Check it out; we’ve embedded it for you!
What would you do in Hainan if you had the chance to visit this beautiful island?