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Hainan in China (+all claims hatched).svg
Quick Facts
Capital Haikou
Government Chinese Province
Currency Chinese Renminbi (¥) (CNY)
Area 35,400 km2
Population 8,900,000(2012 est)
Language Official: Mandarin
Spoken Regional: Hainanese variant of Minnan, Danzhou dialect, Hlai
Religion n/a
Electricity 220V/50Hz (US/European plug for 2-pin, Australian plug for 3-pin)
Time Zone UTC +8

Hainan (海南) is an island province at the southernmost part of China, just across the Gulf of Tonkin from Vietnam. "Hainan" literally means "South of the Ocean."


At one point, Hainan was considered a backward place serving as a place of exile for failed officials.

Hainan is China's smallest province, and also the largest island under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China. Hainan is also the only island province administered by the PRC.

Hainan's climate is tropical, characterised by hot and humid summers, with mild, pleasant winters. Temperatures usually range from 24-35°C in the summer, and 19-25°C in the winter.

Today, it is undergoing heavy tourist-oriented development with various international hotel chains establishing resorts, especially in the Sanya area. These days, many wealthy Chinese from the northern provinces own second homes in Hainan, where they move to in the winter to escape the bitter cold that characterises much of northern China. It has been popular with Russian tourists for decades. Now it is being promoted as "China's Hawaii". The entire island has been declared a Special Economic Zone.


  • The hilly center of the island is home to various ethnic minorities, with many involved in the tourist industry.
  • Much of the coast has beaches.


  • Haikou (海口) - in the North, the capital
  • Baoting (保亭) - toward the South, in the hills
  • Bo'ao (博鳌) - on the East coast
  • Lingshui (陵水) - on the East coast, natural heaven, place the Hainan incident occured
  • Qionghai (琼海) - in the East
  • Sanya (三亚) - in the South, main tourist destination
  • Wenchang (文昌) - in the north-east coast of Hainan Island
  • Wuzhishan (五指山) - in the central highlands

Other destinations[edit]

  • Xiangshui or Perfume Bay - new resort area near Sanya
  • Yalong Bay - resort area near Sanya

Get in[edit]

Haikou and Sanya have airports with regular flights to various Chinese cities. There are also some flights from Southeast Asia. There is high-speed train serves Haikou's Meilan Airport. See Get around section below.

Trains run daily from Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai. The trains are loaded onto ferries to cross the sea with passengers remain in the train cars. The trains stop at both Haikou and Sanya, as well as Dongfang, a smaller station between Haikou and Sanya.

You can also reach Hainan by boat. Buses take the ferry.

Get around[edit]

Haikou at the North end and Sanya at the South end are connected by three highways — East coast, West coast and through the hilly center. More-or-less any significant place on the island is on, or at least close to, one of these highways. As anywhere in China, there are buses to almost anywhere.

Two railways connect Haikou and Sanya. One is the old western ring railway, and the other one is the new high-speed eastern ring railway. Another high-speed western ring railway is under construction. High-speed trains run between Haikou and Sanya at up to 250 km/h, takes one hour and a half between the two cities.

As the smallest province in China with relatively flat landscape, Hainan is an ideal destination for long journey cycling trip. On the East Coast it has a 300km long national road (G223) connecting Haikou, Wenchang, Qionghai, Lingshui and Sanya. The route, which is packed with most famous beach resorts and tourist attractions, is the easiest ride and most popular among amateur cyclists. The Middle route crossing Wuzhishan (Five-Finger Hill) takes some more toil to go. While it is possible to ride along the West coast, this area is the least developed and more preparation may be needed.


The local Han Chinese speak Hainanese (海南话/琼文语). It is a variant of Minnan (闽南语). Like the Chaoshan(潮汕)/Teochew variant of Minnan spoken in Eastern Guangdong, it also shares historical linguistic roots with mainstream Minnan. However, unlike Chaoshan(潮汕)/Teochew variant of Minnan, it differs much more significantly from the mainstream Minnan (闽南话) and has almost no mutual intelligibility with it. Hainanese is considered difficult to learn even by mainstream Minnan (闽南话) speakers from Southern Fujian and Taiwan as it employs many unusual consonants which have no equivalent in any other Chinese "dialects" or Western languages, and has an odd tone structure. Nevertheless, learn a little of the language if you can, as locals are very proud of their language, and even knowing a few basic greetings will get you acquainted with the locals much more easily. They realise that Hainanese is difficult even for native speakers of other Chinese "dialects", and much more so for foreigners, so they'll politely correct any pronunciation errors you make. Hainanese also has dialectal variations between different parts of the island, though the Wenchang dialect is considered to be the prestige dialect, and is generally used in news reports and understood throughout the island.

The Li people, who are the largest non-Han minority on the island, speak a language that is distantly related to Thai and Lao. There is also a Miao community on Hainan, which continues to speak the Miao language.

As anywhere in China, Mandarin is the lingua franca; nearly everyone can speak it with the exception of some of the elderly. Due to the proximity with Guangdong, some locals have a functional command of Cantonese as well.

As elsewhere in China, English is not widespread but some people speak it quite well. Staff at the main hotels and beach resorts will usually have a functional command of English. Hainan is a traditional destination for Russians escaping their winters, so many shop keepers and restaurant staff know some Russian, and much signage is in (bad!) Russian. However, trying to engage anyone in a conversation more often than not will prove fruitless.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Sea Turtles 911, [1]. The only non-profit organization promoting sea turtle conservation in China, Sea Turtles 911's primary facility is a floating sea turtle hospital in Lingshui near Nanwan Monkey Island, as well as programs in Sanya and Haikou. While on Hainan Island visitors are welcome to volunteer with the sea turtles and the organization's educational programs. Recommended donation. Go to for more information.  edit
  • Sanya Beach - the best and most touristic beach area in all of China
  • South Mountain, or Nanshan Tourism Area 南山 - a large Shaolin Buddhist temple complex along the southernmost point of the island. Many backpackers consider this as a tourist trap: The temple was recently built and entrance fees are high.
  • Gusong Village in Wenchang - an ancient, unique, beautiful, non-commercial traditional Hainanese village
  • South Bay Monkey Island (also known as Nanwan Monkey Islet), Lingshui South Bay, [2]. Lingshui South Bay Monkey Island (also known as Nanwan Monkey Islet) Be wary of the monkeys that steal bags.  edit
  • Crocodile Farms in Sanya. Under construction - will be available to tourists in the future  edit
  • Volcano Park and lava rock villages, about 15km south of Haikou city, next to Shishan Town. The Volcano Park has an entrance fee of about 60 RMB. Lava rock villages are generally free, but if visiting Rongtang Protected Village pay the local elders 5 RMB.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Wenchang Chicken - although many people have heard of "Hainanese chicken rice", only the method of preparing the chicken originates from Hainan, from a dish known as Wenchang chicken, which is also considered to be the signature dish of Hainan throughout China. The method of cooking the rice was actually developed by overseas Hainanese after they migrated to what is today Singapore and Malaysia.
  • Seafood - very good, very fresh and at reasonable prices
  • Try Betel Nuts turning you a little befuddled

Drink[edit][add listing]

The Singapore-based firm Asia Pacific Breweries [3] have a brewery on Hainan and their Anchor beer is common all over the island. As anywhere is China, a range of both Chinese and imported beers are widely available as well. Hainan also has a number of locally-brewed pineapple-based beers, odd but worth a try.

See the drink section of the China article for information on other booze; Hainan is much like any other province for this.

The island is covered with coconut trees. So drinking fresh coconut milk is a must!

Stay safe[edit]

Be very careful with water sports on Hainan. Government regulation of activities such as parasailing, diving, and boating on Hainan is lax, so staff often provide little or no training to customers, and the equipment can be shoddy. Without adequate safety precautions, these activities can be dangerous, and even fatal.

Get out[edit]

Zhanjiang is the nearest mainland city. For some routes through the region, see Overland Kunming to Hong Kong.

There are regular boats from Haikou to Hai'an and Beihai on the Chinese mainland. As well as cruises to Hong Kong and Halong Bay, Vietnam

There are also regular weekly flights to Taipei, Hong Kong and Singapore.Create category

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!