The Hawaii of China: Hainan
What first comes to mind when you think of China…? The Great Wall, The Yangtze River, and perhaps super-modern megacities which have only recently hit the world stage. One image that probably doesn’t come to mind, or at least right away, includes beautiful beaches, palm trees, and baby-blue water. Welcome to Sanya, the Hawaii of China!
After working in busy cities and taxiing around countless industrial zones, there is nothing more enjoyable than taking a week to enjoy this little-known, very affordable Chinese getaway. Hainan is an island province in southern China, which is historically referred to as the Tail of the Dragon and the Gateway to Hell. But don’t let the old nicknames fool you, the prosperity of Eastern Chinese cities has started hitting the shores of this little province.
At 100-600rmb per night, depending on your taste, Sanya’s Da Dong Hai [三亚, 大东海] is a inexpensive locale with great beaches. And don’t be surprised if local vendors greet you in Russian; Sanya welcomed 331,000 visitors in the first quarter of 2010 alone! That’s quite amazing considering about 40,000 came in the entire year of 2005. Although Russian language won’t be required, speaking Mandarin will carry you a looong way.
My advice: Come now! With the busy summer season coming to a close, this is definitely the time to enjoy empty beaches, tropical dishes, and romantic sunsets. Explore this tiny enclave of Chinese beach culture before the big crowds come back in the winter.