Things to Do in Sanya
Built in 1988 to commemorate two thousand years of Buddhist history in China, Nanshan Temple and the surrounding Buddhism Cultural Zone serve as a window into China’s rich Buddhist heritage. Situated at the foot of Nanshan Mountain, the temple architecture was heavily influenced by the Tang Dynasty.
Located on Hainan island, the Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone is a popular eco theme park. Spanning 17.4 square miles (45 square kilometers, and surrounded by a 47.5 square miles (123 square kilometers protected forest, Yanoda allows visitors to experience Hainan’s five tropical rainforests and offers numerous outdoor activities.
Wuzhizhou Coral Island, a former fishing village, ranks among Sanya’s most scenic beach destinations. The tiny butterfly-shaped island, ringed by soft, white sand beaches, gets its name from the colorful coral reefs just off the beach, where divers and snorkelers head to spot conch, sea urchins, and a host of tropical fish.
Covered by lush tropical evergreen rainforest, Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park protects a huge swath of coastal land, home to more than 130 plant and 190 animal species. The park is also home to one of the biggest trail networks in the province. A small pagoda at the top of the highest peak affords superb views of Hainan Island.
Situated on a hill above the seashore just south of Sanya, Luhuitou Park is a favorite place on the island to watch the sunset, especially from the observation station atop Luhuitou Mountain. Several walking paths crisscross the park, shaded by red coconut trees where monkeys can sometimes be spotted. Kiosks throughout sell red coconut, a local specialty.
A statue of a deer looking back over its shoulder stands at the top of the park — a tribute to the local legend that gave the park its name. As the story goes, a tyrannical emperor asked a young man to bring him back a pair of deer antlers. While the young man was hunting, he spotted a deer being chased by a panther, but instead of taking aim at the deer, he shot the panther with his arrow. After chasing the deer for nine days and nine nights, they arrived at a cliff’s edge (the current location of the park), and as the boy took aim at the deer, it turned its head and transformed into a young woman. The pair fell in love and were married, and the young woman’s family helped defeat the tyrant.
Located at the foot of Mt. Maling, Tianya Haijiao, which means “edge of the sky and the corner of the sea” is commonly referred to as the End of the Earth. Considered for a long time to be the southernmost point of China, today it’s a cultural and scenic spot, and one of the most popular attractions on Hainan Island.
At this cultural park on Hainan Island, visitors can learn about the traditional lifestyle of the region’s rural Li and Miao communities. Craftspeople demonstrate their skills in recreated old-style huts, while local villagers stage an outdoor dance production. Two on-site museums display traditional Li and Miao clothing, arts and crafts.
Located on the southeast coast of Hainan Island, Haitang Bay is one of the new hotspots on the Chinese resort island. Stretching for around 27 miles (43 kilometers, Haitang Bay is home to a wide range of high-end, luxury hotels and resorts. Enjoy wonderful views, a pretty beach, and the biggest duty-free shopping center in the world.
The most convenient beach to Sanya, coconut palm-lined Sanya Bay—one of three major beaches on Hainan Island—enjoys superb views across the water to the Western, Eastern, and Phoenix Islands. Since it’s not as heavily commercialized as Yalong and Haitang Bays, it’s often a much quieter option for enjoying a day of sun, sea, and sand.