Haikou is the capital of the southern Chinese province of Hainan (located in the north of the island of the same name with the province). It is a large coastal city located in the tropics. Despite its size, life in Haikou is measured and unhurried. Cars drive slowly, and locals prefer to walk around in silk pajamas.
The Chinese habit of having a “quiet hour” after dinner (even on the street) is extremely common here. See ANDYEDUCATION.COM for education and training in China.
After a refreshing sleep, the locals prefer to play cards with their friends until the night. But even with every second offers to buy something, tourists are pestered much less frequently. There is clean air, lots of coconut trees, and in the evening the streets are animated, filled with mobile kiosks, and open restaurants are filled with visitors.
How to get to Haikou
By plane of the local airlines China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines, you can fly to Haikou from Moscow and St. Petersburg, world capitals and all major Chinese cities. The road from Beijing will take four hours and will cost from 900 CNY, from Guangzhou – a little more than an hour at a price of 600 CNY. A taxi from the airport to the city center will cost from 130 CNY. Bus – about 20 CNY.
Trains that cross the sea on the last leg of the journey on the ferry depart from Beijing (departure at 18:00, arrival at 3:17; 368 CNY for a seat, or 2048 CNY for a sleeper), Shanghai (eight hours on the way, cost from 329 CNY to 1012 CNY), Guangzhou (12 hours, prices from 143 CNY to 712 CNY). Trains run to Sanya, from which an hour by bus to Haikou. You can take the train from the airport to the city.
By bus, Haikou can be reached from Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Nanjing. Most buses leave at night and take tourists to Haikou using ferries to Xingang or Xiuying.
By ferry or boat
By boat from the nearest mainland cities of Beihai and Zhanjiang. By ferry from Hainan, the journey takes an hour and a half and costs 50 CNY, from Beihai the cost of the crossing is from 120 CNY to 230 CNY.
You will be delivered to any point of the city and the immediate surroundings by bike (for 2 CNY); on a motorcycle, which costs a little more, and by taxi (a trip around the city will cost 10-20 CNY). We advise you not to ride on private traders, but to use the service of licensed taxis equipped with meters. You can also travel around the city by bus (it’s cheap) if you understand the route maps.
Cuisine and Restaurants in Haikou
The tropical climate has influenced the cuisine of the region. Even mainland Chinese cuisine takes on new flavors in Haikou. Real delicacies are sold everywhere on the street.
Try chaobin (literally “fried ice cream”). You select fruit, which the vendor mixes and freezes on a device that strongly resembles a frying pan. Fruits are covered with ice crystals in a minute – and you get the freshest dessert (for only 5-8 CNY). They sell coconuts on the street, which the seller opens for you and gives you a straw (for 3 CNY).
On Banqiao Street, in the restaurant area, you can choose the ingredients of the future meal (including live snakes), which will be cooked right in front of you, the cost is about 50 CNY per person.
In many places of the city, open-air restaurants “shaokao” are scattered, in which the food is delicious and inexpensive. The locals use them as clubs. And while waiting for the preparation of the dish, you can drink cheap and tasty local beer (rice beer is especially good). Dinner will cost you 40-60 CNY.
If you miss European food, visit the Corner pizzeria, which offers pasta, pizza, soups and traditional fried wings. And if you are attracted to gastronomic research, visit the coconut garden on Haifuyiheng Street. The meat and vegetables stew here is very tasty (huge portions cost 30 CNY) or go to the upscale fish restaurant on Xixiu Beach (the main dish here costs about 50 CNY).
You can sunbathe on Holiday Beach, where you will be taken by bus number 40 (for 5 CNY) or a taxi (for 50 CNY). A wonderful beach with many cafes, admission is free, but you will have to pay 20 CNY for a sun lounger and umbrella. To the west of the city is the free Xixiu Beach, which attracts surfers.
- Why Sanya is better than Haikou for a beach holiday
Attractions & Attractions & Haikou
- Wugong Ming Dynasty temple, surrounded by tropical greenery, palm trees and exotic lily ponds. Five officials of patriarchal China spent their time here in exile. This is the oldest building in Hainan. The temple can be reached in 10 minutes by taxi from the city center for 30 CNY or take buses number 1, 11. Museum hours are from 8:00 to 18:00, entrance 25 CNY.
- Hairui tomb built in 1589 in Yabin village near Haikou. A major official of the Ming Dynasty, famous for his incorruptibility, is buried here. The area is decorated with statues of sacred animals, the tomb itself is shaped like an ancient bell and is surrounded by evergreen trees.
- Xiuying Fort, where you can see ancient cannons, underground chambers and many banyan trees.
- Built in 1705 in memory of Qiu Jin (an eminent scholar of the Ming Dynasty), Qiongtai Academy is a remarkable example of traditional Chinese architecture.
- National Geological Park, where tourists will see the most impressive of the 40 volcanoes and 30 caves of the reserve. The park is located a 15-minute drive from Haikou and is open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.Entrance ticket costs 60 CNY.
- Dongjiao Coconut Plantation is a twenty-minute ferry ride from Qinglan Pier. The place attracts not only with 500 types of palm trees, but also with a walk along the paths of the plantation, a cozy beach, as well as excellent seafood restaurants on the shore.
- Dongzhai Nature Reserve, where a patch of tropical trees (the so-called red forest) submerges at high tide. Between the trees, tourists move in boats and reach a small island in the center of the reserve, on which pineapples grow.
You can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city in the Old City of Haikou. Most of the old buildings have been preserved here. Small shops selling sometimes very unexpected goods (cats, chickens and puppies) add to the exotic atmosphere.