5 Days in Hainan: Itinerary with Top 15 Things to Do

Top Things to Do in Hainan?

Are you going on a trip to China and planning to visit the Hainan region?

Excellent idea!

This large island in southern China is the perfect region to spend a few relaxing days by the sea at the end of a China itinerary.

In order to help you prepare for your trip, I have prepared a guide of the 15 best things to do and see in Hainan, with all the must-see places of interest. And as a bonus, I’ll give you my selection of the best accommodations for a great stay!

So what to do in Hainan? 

Visit Hainan: the 15 must-sees

1. Sanya

Located in the south-east of the island, by the sea, Sanya (三亚) is undoubtedly the most touristic city in Hainan. Crossed by the Sanya River, the city is modern, with a few buildings of improbable architecture.

Here are the things to do and see in the city of Sanya:

  • The Bay of Sanya, its huge sandy beach and its seaside promenade. To be redone at night!
  • See the lover’s bridge : a bridge in the shape of a dragon’s back that crosses the Sanya River. It is nicely lit at night.
  • Take a night cruise, which will allow you to observe the lights of the city from another angle.
  • See Phoenix Island, 3 buildings on which a light show takes place every evening.
  • Go to Luhuitou Park, a hill that overlooks the city and offers a nice view of Phoenix Island and the surrounding area (entrance: 45 yuan)

Sanya is also the perfect place for shopping! Most of the small local clothing stores can be found on Hongqi Street ( google map link ). There are also a few shopping malls in town, including a large underground for much of the length of Jiefang Road.

things to do in Hainan
Sanya Phoenix Island

2. Nanshan Temple

Located about 40 km from Sanya, Nanshan Temple (南山寺) was one of my favorites in Hainan.

Just a quick note before we start: unlike other temples you can visit in China, the site is recent and is 100% tourist-oriented, so don’t expect to visit a place steeped in history.

If the place is worth it, it is above all for the giant 108 m high Guan Yin statue built on the sea. It is already impressive in the photo, but in real life, it is really something!

What is cool is that it is possible to visit the interior: its base houses a temple and you can climb to the first floor. This will give you the chance to really appreciate his size, since you’ll be up to his toes.

In addition to this statue, you will have the opportunity to visit in Nanshan:

  • Nanshan Temple
  • Take a walk on the beach to observe the statue of Guan Yin from another angle (it is the haunt of wedding photographers!)
  • Tianzhu Shrine: the pavilion of Buddha and its Stūpa
  • The Golden and Jade Statue of Guanyin, located in a separate temple, ticket to buy in addition (little interest)
  • The “Longevity Valley”, a short walk in the forest to reach a pavilion.
  • The park and its few ponds, statues, pavilions etc.

How to get to Nanshan Temple?

From Sanya you can get to Nanshan:

  • By Taxi of course (about 150 yuan)
  • By bus: Buses 16, 25 or 55 go to Nanshan Temple

Practical information

  • Visiting time: it takes about 4 hours to visit the entire site, it’s quite large. Especially if like me, you do everything on foot, without taking the little tourist train.
  • Entrance fee: 150 yuan
  • Opening hours: 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
things to do in Hainan
Nanshan Temple

3. Tianya Haijiao

Tianya Haijiao (天涯海角) is the other must-see site (for the Chinese at least!) to visit near Sanya. It is famous for the large rocks with rounded shapes that sit enthroned on the beach and which recall the Seychelles in some ways, with the Chinese symbols painted in addition.

The visit can be grouped with that of the Nanshan temple on a day. If you go to visit the temple of Nanshan in the early morning, you will have time to stop at Tianya Haijiao on the way back, it is on the way to the bus.

  • Entrance fee: 75 yuan

Travel Tips
Visit Tianya Haijiao that if the weather is really good and you have nothing else to do, the place must have been beautiful before it was invaded by mass tourism. Unfortunately, today the setting is no longer very natural and there are really a lot of people.

things to do in Hainan
Tianya Haijiao

4. Dadong Sea

Dadong Sea (Dadong Hai, 大东海) is the closest seaside resort to Sanya.

On the menu, a huge sandy beach with lots of restaurants, the possibility of doing nautical activities, and lots of tourists. In addition to the Chinese, a lot of Russians spend their holidays in Dadong sea.

things to do in Hainan
Dadong Sea

5. Yalong Bay

Yalong Bay (亚龙湾) is the most exclusive place in Hainan Province. It is here that the most expensive luxury hotels are located , some of which are among the best hotels in the world. Endless swimming pools, huge and superbly maintained parks , direct access to the beach and of course deckchairs and parasols included.

A real little paradise for lovers of sunbathing and quiet holidays in an upscale setting.

The best hotel to stay in Yalong Bay for me is the Park Hyatt Sanya Sunny Bay resort. For what? Well quite simply because it is a little out of the way compared to the others, in a more natural and super calm setting. This is the best hotel in the area. (See even Hainan province).

things to do in Hainan
Sanya Park Hyatt Yalong Bay

6. Wuzhizhu Island

Wuzhizhu Island (蜈支洲岛) is ultra popular with Chinese tourists, with thousands landing on the island every day to enjoy the dozens of activities on offer. You will understand, you really should not expect a desert island, it is rather the Disneyland of water activities!

You can do more than fifteen activities there , ranging from parasailing to divingsnorkelingtowed buoy or a short jetski session. As you can imagine, the day can quickly become quite expensive.

On the other hand, if you want to try everything, you can get a day pass that will allow you to do all the activities for just under 1500 yuan (about 200 euros). I find that to be quite reasonable, considering the price of each of these activities.

The departure of the ferry to go to the island of Wuzhizhu is at the entrance of Houhai ( Google Map link ).

If you want to go to Wuzhizhu Island during your trip to Hainan, I recommend you to stay at Houhai Village. The best hotel in the village (the most recent and modern) is the “Happy Together” guesthouse. Plus, it’s really quiet. To book it, click here.

things to do in Hainan
Wuzhizhu island

7. Haitang Bay

Like Yalong Bay, Haitang Bay is a huge sandy beach bordered by luxury hotels. Since it’s a bit further from Sanya, it’s a bit cheaper, and there are a bit fewer people.

You will find 5-star hotels with rooms around 100 euros per night or even less. At this price, it’s perfect to end your trip to China on a slightly more relaxed note!

I especially recommend the hotel “The Mangrove”, for me the most beautiful of the surroundings. Reservations are made by clicking here.

things to do in Hainan
Haitang Bay

8. Nanwan Monkey Island

Nanwan Monkey Island (南湾猴岛) is a park where, as its name suggests, you will be able to see monkeys in semi-freedom.

I tell you right away, it’s not really worth it for the park itself. It’s really small and the monkeys are not treated very well.

During your visit, you can attend 2 shows:

  • An acrobatic show with the monkeys riding their bikes and doing some tricks
  • A little comedy scene

By attending the 2 shows, the visit will take you about 1 hour.

But what is most worth it in history is taking the small cable car that crosses the sea. From up there, you will have a very nice view of a floating fishing village.

Whether you go or return, you will have the choice between taking the cable car or the ferry, it’s up to you.

On the way there are sometimes more than 2 hours in line at the cable car, and generally far fewer people at the ferry. It may therefore be worth taking the boat one way and the cable car on the way back.

things to do in Hainan
Nanwan Monkey Island

9. Xincun and the Floating Village

Xincun is the small town located just in front of Nanwan Monkey island. This is where the ticket office is located as well as the departure of the cable car.

Even if you are not going to Nanwan, I advise you to go for a walk to the Xincun market which is located on the port. It’s not touristic at all, you will really discover the way of life of the locals. As well as certainly some bizarre species of fish and shellfish :D.

It will also be an opportunity to taste some delicious fruits. I especially advise you to taste Mangosteen (Shan Zhu 山竹), my favorite fruit. It really tastes like candy.

In addition to the market, Xincun is also home to the floating fishing village that you see from the cable car to Nanwan Monkey Island.

things to do in Hainan
Xincun fishing village

10.Mont Wuzhi

For a change from the sea, you can take a walk around Mount Wuzhi (Wuzhi Shan – 五指山) , the highest point on Hainan Island (1840m). Its name means “the five-fingered mountain”.

What to do near Mount Wuzhi?

  • Hiking of course!
  • Du rafting dans le Grand Canyon de Wuzhi Shan
  • You get an idea of ​​the peaceful life of the inhabitants of the center of the island, very different from what you have seen on the coast.

To get to Mount Wuzhi, the easiest way is to take the bus from Sanya to the town of Wuzhi Shan. Count 2h-2h30 of journey.

things to do in Hainan
Mont Wuzhi

11. Dongshan Mountain

Dongshan Mountain ( “Dongshan Mountain” in English – 东山) is located near the city of Wanning. Nicknamed “Hainan’s Number 1 Mountain”, it is one of the island’s few historic sites.

Throughout the visit, you will be able to see:

  • Large rocks with Chinese inscriptions related to the history and legend of the place
  • Ancient small temples dating back to the Tang Dynasty, including the Chaoyin Temple.
  • A source famous for its legend and some statues
  • Enjoy the view once you reach the summit lookout!

The visit is done on foot, it is not very big. You can also opt for the chairlift to climb to the top (184m, it’s actually more of a hill than a mountain), but that greatly shortens the visit.

  • Entrance fee: 60 yuan
  • Visiting time: about 1h30
things to do in Hainan
Dongshan Mountain

12. Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark

The “Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark” (雷琼海口火山群世界地质公园in Chinese), which we will simply call the haikou volcanic park in this guide, is the major tourist site in northern Hainan.

Located 15 km from downtown Haikou, this park is best known for its main caldera called Ma’anling. It is more than 220 m high and 90 m deep. You have to climb quite a few steps to get there, you have been warned!

There are also more than 40 ancient volcanic craters in the park dating from the Quaternary period.

  • Entrance fee: 60 yuan
things to do in Hainan
haikou volcanic park

13. Haikou

Haikou (海口) is the capital of the Hainan region. Located at the northern end of the island, the city is much less touristy than Sanya. This will give you the opportunity to experience local life.

Here are the things to do and see in Haikou:

  • Take a walk in Qilou Old Street, the most beautiful view of the city with its mix of European and Asian colonial architecture. It’s the perfect place to do some shopping or eat in one of the many restaurants.
  • Visit Hai Rui’s tomb, a small garden with pavilions and sculptures
  • Aller à Wugong Temple
  • Stroll along the beach of Xixiu Beach, the city beach
  • Enjoy the large beach of Holiday Beach, Haikou’s most famous beach. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, you can do water sports here.

Some other places to see around Haikou:

  • Take a boat trip to Dongzhai Port Nature Reserve
  • Go to Dongjiao Coconut Plantation, near Wenchang City
  • Visit the Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden, the first zoo dedicated to tropical animals in China.
things to do in Hainan
Haikou, capitale d’Hainan

14. Drink Fresh Coconut Juice

I can’t tell you about the things to do in Hainan without mentioning the coconuts : they are everywhere!

If you like it, you will have plenty of time to drink fresh coconut juice from coconuts all over the island.

things to do in Hainan

15. Discover the Gastronomy of Hainan

If you are traveling to Hainan province, you might as well take the opportunity to taste some local dishes! As Hainan is an island, you can imagine, it is paradise for fish and seafood lovers.

In addition to this, here are the 4 most typical local dishes:

Wenchang Chicken

“Wenchang Chicken” originated in Wenchang, a city in northeast Hainan.

This dish, made with free-range chicken, is special because of its cooking method. Traditionally, the whole chicken is cooked in almost boiling water, which allows the meat to be really very tender. It is then cut into pieces and you can dip it in a sauce made with local spices.

It is the most famous dish of the region. It has also spread throughout Southeast Asia with the migration of peasants from Hainan at the beginning of the 20th century. You will therefore find it under different names, sometimes simply  Hainan Chicken Rice” in MalaysiaSingapore or Thailand.

Hele Crab

“Hele Crab” is , as its name suggests, made with crab from the village of Hele, in the Wanning region. The particularity of the place is to be located at the mouth of the river, the crabs are therefore raised in a mixture of fresh and salt water.

The crab is then steamed and seasoned with ginger, garlic and vinegar.

Jiaji Duck

“Jiaji Duck” is made with a special breed of duck raised in Jiaji Village, which is now part of Qionghai City. It is located by the Wanquan River.

As it is a different breed, and also because of its diet (mainly based on rice, and other cereals, or even coconut!), the taste is quite different from the duck that we are used to. to eat.

Traditionally, it is served with a sauce of vinegar, ginger and sesame oil.

Dongshan Lamb (Eastern goat)

“Dongshan Mutton” is another dish originating from the city of Wanning, which could definitely earn the title of food capital of Hainan.

When eating it, the first thing you’ll notice is that it doesn’t have that characteristic mutton taste, and that’s normal, it’s actually goat meat! It’s super tender and really delicious.

Dongshan Lamb exists in several versions: stewed , roasted or even braised with coconut milk.

things to do in Hainan
Wenchang Chicken, recognizable by the very yellow color of the chicken skin

How to get to Hainan?

Do you want to go to Hainan? You have 3 choices:

By plane

The easiest way to go to Hainan is of course to go there by plane. There are 2 airports on the island, in Sanya and Haikou.

And Ferry

If you are close to the Qiongzhou Strait, you can take the ferry that connects Hai’an Port to Haikou.

There are also other ferry lines, from the city of Beihai for example.

By train

Not many people know, but it is also possible to get to Hainan directly by train.

And yes, and the most surprising thing is that your train will take the ferry to arrive on the island.

How to get around in Hainan?

To get around Hainan, nothing could be simpler: there are 2 high-speed train lines that allow you to go around the island very quickly.

  • The Eastern Line, which runs from Sanya to Haikou via the East Coast
  • the West line, which makes the same route through the West.

The majority of Hainan’s tourist attractions are in the southeast area of ​​the island, around Sanya.

For short trips, you can take the bus or taxi.

When to go to Hainan?

In Hainan Province, the temperature is mild throughout the year. Even in winter, it is not uncommon to have days when the thermometer reads over 20 degrees.

  • The best time to visit Hainan is from November to the end of April. It is also high tourist season, with a peak in the months of January and February.
  • In summer, it is the season of rains and typhoons: it is very hot and extremely humid. It’s the low tourist season, there are fewer people, the hotels are much cheaper.

Ideally, try to visit Hainan in November, it really is the best month to enjoy the island. There are not too many people yet and the weather is nice.

Accommodation in Hainan

Now that you know what to do and visit in Sanya, here is where to stay in Sanya to be close to the activities. 

  • Wyndham Sanya Bay: Located just 200 metres from the seaside, Wyndham Sanya Bay offers various facilities including an outdoor swimming pool, a gym and a constant temperature swimming pool. Free WiFi and free parking space are accessible. Sanya Railway Station lays approximately 30 minutes’ drive away. It takes about 12 minutes by car to Phoenix International Airport. Luhuitou Park can be reached in around 45 minutes’ car journey.
  • 1 Hotel Haitang Bay, Sanya: Located in Haitang Bay, 1 Hotel Haitang Bay, Sanya has a restaurant, outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre and bar. 300 metres from Haitang Bay Beach and 39 km from Luhuitou Park, the property provides a shared lounge and a garden. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, room service and currency exchange for guests. Atlantis water park and Wuzhizhou Island are nearby.
  • Sanya Backpacker International Youth Hostel: If you prefer the international experience and want to meet people, this is a very good hostel. The staff was really welcoming, super-pleasant and I met a lot of great people there. If you are looking for a hostel near the beach, with local and foreign restaurants nearby, as well as transport, this is the right hostel.

5 Days Hainan Itinerary

Here is our recommended itinerary for a 5 day Hainan trip:

Day 1: Haikou
Qilou Old Street, Hainan University South Gate Night Market

Day 2: Haikou–Wenchang
Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark, Wenchang chicken

Day 3: Wenchang–Sanya
Gaolong Bay, Stone Park,
Fengguoshan Waterfall (in Diaoluo Mountain National Park)

Day 4-5: Sanya
Yalong Bay International Rose Valley, Nanshan Cultural Tourism Zone

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Steve Batides

I am passionate about travel, writing and music. I like writing books, landing in an unknown country, brassens, beer, cats, jazz and shells. I put a point of honor to seek for you the best information to sublimate your travels. A question about a destination, a visit, a good plan? I'll answer in the comments.

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