Located on the South China Sea just off the Mainland, Hainan Island is the second largest island and smallest province in China. Hainan is China's third 'Duty-Free-Zone' after Hong Kong and Macau and the most famous hometown for many overseas Chinese. Hainan is a beautiful unspoilt island with tropical virgin forests, rare species of plants, plenty of tropical fruits, abundant aquatic resources, a vast expanse of sea, fine sandy beaches and unique local customs. The capital of Hainan is Haikou city.
THE LI PEOPLE
Before there were written words, there were woven patterns on Hainan Island. Travel to the southern part of the Chinese island, where the area's indigenous Li people live, and you can see why art came before language: Silky clouds tangle in the green foliage of volcanic mountaintops, presumably inspiring locals to weave brocades as stunning as the horizons. Considered China's oldest cotton textile art, the designs represent episodes from the Li's daily lives. To save this disappearing art form, an islander named Li Guo Kai has formed a company called Hainan Splendid Zhibei Industry Company Ltd. to employ and educate local women in Li methods of spinning and weaving exquisite brocade. Find the cloths in specialty shops around the island or arrange a visit to a Li village through Boao Inn Bed & Breakfast, and bring the language of the clouds home with you.
Belonging to marine tropical monsoon, the annual mean temperature is 23.8, and the annual mean rainfall is 1,639 millimeters. Hainan is an ideal place to be away from the cold winter with an average temperature of 25oC to 29oC in July and August.CLIMATE
Hainan first enters written Chinese history in 110 BC, when the Han Dynasty established a military garrison there. The Han people started their movement around that time together with the military and officials to Hainan Island from Mainland China. Among them, there are offspring of those who were banished to Hainan for political reasons. The Li & Mao people are the original inhabitants of Hainan. They are believed to be the descendants of the ancient Yue tribes of China, who settled on the island more than 3,000 years ago.
Under the Song Dynasty, Hainan came under the control of Guangxi Province, and for the first time large numbers of Han Chinese arrived, settling mostly in the north. Under the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1206 -1368) it became an independent province, but was placed under the control of the Guangdong Province during the Ming Dynasty in 1370. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, large numbers of Han from Fujian and Guangdong began migrating to Hainan, pushing the Li into the highlands in the southern half of the island.
A money exchange service is available in most of the hotels and all banks. Please be advised most banks will refuse to accept any foreign currency if it’s been slightly torn, marked, written on, or defaced. Any notes with sticky tape will also be refused for exchange. The Chinese currency is knows as Renminbi (RMB). Renminbi is available in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 5, 2 and 1 notes. ATMs are easy to locate right across the Island if you need to withdraw local currency. MasterCard, Amex, Visa, Barclaycard and Diner’s Club are widely accepted.
Banks: 09:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday 09:00 to 15:00
Offices: 09:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday
Post Offices: 09:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday
Department Stores and Shops: 10:00 to 22:00, daily, some closed on Sundays
Museums: 09:00 to 18:00, Monday to Friday, some open on weekends
Mandarin is the official language, a dialect of the Min Nan or Cantonese is spoken by the local Han Chinese. English is not widely spoken except among the younger generation and the hotel staff. Ethnic groups such as the Li, Miao and Zhuang have their own dialects but many speak Standard Mandarin as a second language.
Haikou International Airport – Haikou international airport is located 25 Km from Haikou and is the newest and largest airport on the island. Haikou is a truly international airport, with 110 different routes serving over 60 destinations around the world, including direct flights to Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. A taxi from the Airport will cost around 50 CNY ($9 Australian) and usually takes around 30 minutes. The easiest access to Sanya is the newly built bullet train. The train station is located about 1.5 km from the Airport and will cost around 10 CNY in a taxi. The train trip from North to South takes around 70 minutes and costs around 70 CNY.
Sanya Phoenix International Airport - Sanya Phoenix International Airport, was opened in 1994 and is located around 11km northwest of downtown Sanya, and only 3km from the world famous Sanya Bay, the home of some of Hainan’s most famous beach resorts. Flights to and from Hong Kong depart 4 times a day and take around one and a half hours, making access between the vibrant bustle of China’s most exciting city and the pristine beaches of Sanya incredibly easy. A taxi from the Airport into Sanya city will cost around 20 CNY ($3 Australian) and takes around 15 - 20 minutes. For easy access to all major resorts the HNA bus services all major hotels and leaves just in front of the airport costing a very reasonable 15 CNY ($2.50 Australian). The main train station is around 1.5km from the Airport and will cost around 10 CNY in a taxi.
You will find it very easy getting around Hainan, and on top of that incredibly cheap. Taxi’s are the easiest way to get around and are easily found right across the Island with prices a very reasonable 5 CNY (A$0.80c) for the first 2 km then 2 CYN (A$20c) for every additional km. The majority of drivers do not speak English however most hotels are more than happy to book or arrange all Taxis required. A high-speed railway between Haikou and Sanya is nearing the completion and is set to open on the 1st of November; a major undertaking by the Chinese government the train project itself cost around 20 billion CYN. This unique construction runs on a rail system situated roughly 10 metres above the ground and is yet another landmark of Chinese engineering. The new ‘Bullet Train’ or ‘Sky Train’ as it has been named, is set to change the way that people travel around Hainan. Under the proposed plan the train will take around 90mins from Haikou to Sanya, roughly half the time of the current journey by car and over 2 hours faster than the current railway. It will make 15 stops along the way, stopping at all major travel destinations across the island. Despite this revolutionary piece of technology the price is still a very reasonable at 88 CYN (14 AUD) from Haikou to Sanya.
The first word in Hainanese cuisine has to be fresh, nothing less than completely fresh is ever accepted, and it is this demand for the best that has made Hainanese cuisine world famous. With a diverse range of dishes right across the Island you are bound to find something to set you're your imagination and taste buds running wild. From world-renowned favourites such as Hainan (Wenchang) Chicken and Dongshan Lamb, to some of the world’s finest seafood Hainan has something to offer everyone.
Fresh seafood is something that must not be missed on any trip to Hainan, featuring some of the most unique and tantalising flavours found anywhere in the world, all at market prices, seafood is the staple diet of this Island paradise. From the bustling marketplaces of Haikou’s Banqiao Road to the pristine isolated beaches of Sanya bay, beautiful fresh seafood is easily found right across Hainan and is not to be missed. With fresh Lobster, Prawns, Oysters and Abalone staples across the region indulge in some of the world’s most prestigious produce at market prices.
One of the most enticing aspects of dining in Hainan is the price, with 4-6 people able to enjoy a full degustation menu for less than $80 total, it is comparable to anywhere in the world in terms of both quality and price. A good tip for any travellers is that restaurants located by the seaside are generally cheaper and have a more authentic flavour than the large hotel or resort restaurants, so be sure to walk around and indulge in the seaside treats available.
One of the best places to sample the unique amazing flavours of the Island is Jinlong Road in Haikou, featuring over 100 various restaurants this enticing pedestrian street offers some of Hainan’s most famous and prestigious restaurants. In the Southern part of the island one of the best seaside streets to sample the local flavours is at Dadonghai in Sanya, where the pristine surrounds of white sand beaches and coconut trees make for the perfect setting to any dining experience.
Established by the Chinese Central Government is set to make Hainan one of Asia’s premier shopping destinations. With the continued backing of the government, Hainan is poised to become a shopping paradise within the next few years, with boutiques and ‘duty free zones’ popping up all across the Island Hainan. With a proposed 5 billion CYN duty free shopping centre to be built in the next two years, shopping is truly set to take off all across Hainan.
Haikou is the main commercial centre of Hainan, with an amazing variety of modern and traditional outlets across the city. Not to be outdone Sanya is also home to some of China’s most unique shopping experiences, including the famous ‘1st Market’. Set in the centre of town the 1st Market is known as the be all and end all of market shopping in Sanya. Open seven days and as late as 4am this market is everything you can imagine and more, including fresh fruit, vegetables, furniture, DVD’s and even electrical goods, there isn’t much that you can’t find throughout this giant market place.
Also not to be missed is Sanya’s pedestrian shopping mall located only a few minutes from the 1st Market place; this shopping street comprises everything you could ever want in a shopping experience. Comprised of both market stalls and luxury boutiques this pedestrian shopping street is the definitive destination for shopping in downtown Sanya.
Those searching for traditional treasures will also not be disappointed with small local market places located right across the Island featuring a wide range of local handicrafts and traditional artworks. Finally Hainan is famous for its pearls, with the saltwater pearls being a particular speciality of the Island. Pearls can be found right across the island, however for quality assurance the larger jewellery stores are recommended as the best locations for pearls.