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Sanya, Bild: HelloRF Zcool / shutterstock

Sanya – the bathing paradise on the South China Sea

Sanya is a city on the extreme southern tip of Hainan Island in China. Just a hundred years ago, it was considered by the Chinese to be the “end of the world” and was notorious for its bad karma. Today, however, the place, which lies at the same latitude as the American archipelago, is often referred to as the “Hawaii of China”. Sanya is the second largest city in Hainan with around 700,000 inhabitants. In recent years, it has continuously developed into an extremely popular travel destination for local and foreign tourists due to the beautiful nature and the year-round warm and sunny weather.

Getting to Sanya

Sanya has an international airport and has connections with Chinese, Russian and other Asian airports. The flight time to and from Hong Kong , for example, is only about an hour. Since 2004, it has been possible to travel from the Chinese mainland by train. The journey from Guangzhou to Hainan takes around 12 hours, with the train having to be dismantled into several parts for the ferry crossing. Passengers simply remain seated on the train during the cruise.

The beaches of Sanya

The coast of Sanya is divided into three different beach sections. About 10 minutes by car from the center of the city in an easterly direction is the 8 km long, beautiful Yalong Bay with its 4 and 5 star hotels of international and Chinese chains. The accommodations are all in the luxury category and meet Western standards with their spacious and well-kept gardens.

The original city beach of Sanya is called Dadonghai and is undoubtedly the liveliest section. Over the last few decades, many shops, restaurants, diving schools and boat rental companies have settled here, so that all the conditions for a varied holiday are in place. On the beach section west of the city center, there are accommodations in all categories. Luxury hotels can be found here as well as youth hostels and small guesthouses. In addition to swimming and sunbathing, various water sports are often offered near the large beach resorts. Canoeing or jet skiing are just as much a part of it as paragliding – if you are looking for fun and action, you will find it here. Luckily, Sanya’s extremely clean and family-friendly beaches also have quiet stretches for tourists looking for relaxation.

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Sights in and around Sanya

Statue of Goddess Guanyin
Statue of the goddess Guanyin, Image: Kiwisoul / shutterstock

Since Sanya was only a kind of “penal colony” for civil servants some time ago, you will look in vain for ancient cultural monuments and ancient temples in the area. The most important sights are all from the recent past. The Nanshan Temple, for example, was only built in 1988, but is now one of the must-sees during a stay in Sanya. It is located in the middle of the 40,000 m² Buddhist cultural park “Nanshan Cultural Excursion Zone”. The 108 m high bronze statue of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy, stands on a small, artificial island and is visible from afar.

There are also numerous other Buddhist sanctuaries to discover on the extensive area and visitors enjoy the harmony and the wonderful tranquility in the complex during walks. The popular Luhuitou Park is a beautifully landscaped garden that sits on a hillside and offers fantastic views of the city, beaches, and Phoenix Island. At the small stalls you can stock up on souvenirs, refreshments or snacks and enjoy the statue of the “looking back deer”, which, according to legend, is said to be a lucky charm for lovers.

Phoenix Island is a new, ultra-modern district that was created a few years ago on an artificial island and is also called “Oriental Dubai” because of its impressive skyscrapers. During a holiday in Sanya, it is worthwhile to take excursions into the interior of Hainan and see the small towns and villages on the 35,000 km² island. If you don’t want to book an organized trip, you can get around here easily and cheaply by public buses.

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Haitang Bay, Sanya
Haitang Bay, Image: DreamArchitect / shutterstock

Holidaymakers who like hiking should definitely take part in a guided trekking tour through Yanoda National Park. The paths lead past waterfalls, through gorges and over suspension bridges, so that you can experience untouched nature and magnificent orchid gardens along the way. When strolling through the city of Sanya itself, it is worthwhile to simply watch the lively hustle and bustle and let it work its magic on you. The various squares, such as the Sanya Pearl Square with its many seats, are best suited for this.

Food & Drink in Sanya

For the many domestic and foreign holiday guests, there is a large selection of restaurants and food stalls in Sanya with a wide variety of specialties from China and all over the world. Due to its proximity to the sea, fish and seafood are often on menus in this part of the country. A special local specialty is “Dongshan Lamb”, goat meat cooked in coconut milk. In general, coconut meat and milk are often used in the kitchens in the south of Hainan, and the dishes are generally milder and sweeter than in other regions of China. The food is often steamed and not fried with hot sauces, as is sometimes common elsewhere. Beer and the internationally renowned soft drinks are usually served with meals. Otherwise, green tea, which is drunk by locals throughout the day, usually quenches thirst.

Sanya on the South China Sea is a perfect destination for a tropical beach holiday due to its climatic conditions, fantastic beaches and fantastic nature.