Sanya – a heavenly place on earth


Sanya is a resort city in the southernmost part of China, in Hainan Province. By the standards of this densely populated state, it is rather a small town: in the built-up high-rise city center and one-storey suburbs are less than 700 thousand people. Rest in the vicinity of Sanya, the seaside, will be able and athletic young people, and families with children.

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Video: Sanya


Sanya lies in a narrow valley between low mountains, up to 400 m, and the South China Sea at the same latitude as Hawaii. The uplands closest to the city are cultivated, planted with mango, tea, banana, and coffee plantations. The climate in this part of China is mild, with slight seasonal differences. It’s hot at the resort from April to October, especially in June, and from November to March it’s just warm. As befits a tropical region, Sanya has a distinct rainy season. From May to October it rains every second day, but tourists are not afraid of this fact: the rain quickly gives way to clear weather, because the sunny days a year in the south of the island at least 300. In the winter, it rains much less often, 3-4 times a month. The water temperature at any time of year is above +20 ° C.

The city is divided into 40 islands by the homonymous river and straits, but because of the proximity of the port is not accepted to swim in its boundaries. Drowning in the greenery Sanya embankments are used only for walking. There are sandy beaches along the coast of five bays, the most popular of which is Yalunwan. Tourists can settle right on the coast, in any of the hundreds of comfortable hotels, and come to the city only for shows, nightclubs and shopping.

Yalunwang Cove Beach in Sanya

Resort History

Sanya is an ancient settlement known since the 3rd century B.C., but it hasn’t gained much fame. The people of China always considered Sanya to be located in an eerie wilderness, hence its second name, Tianya Haijao, or “The End of Heaven and Earth”. This part of the coast played the same role as Sakhalin did for the Russian Empire: officials who had fallen into disgrace were exiled here. Tragic events shook the south of Hainan out of its centuries-long slumber: in the first half of the twentieth century, the Japanese army invaded the island. The invaders appreciated its convenient geographical location and turned it into a base port for communication with the coastal cities of Southeast Asia. After the withdrawal of the enemy’s army, the port continued to operate successfully.

It was not until 1987, when it merged with a neighboring village, that Sanya acquired the right to be called a city. Soon after that, the authorities decided that the status of a developed port was not enough to prosper, threw everything on the development of tourism and let foreign investors into the region. Already in the early 21st century the bays were filled with hotels representing the world’s largest chains, entertainment venues and shopping malls were opened. Although the infrastructure in the south of Hainan is still a little behind world standards, the Chinese are doing everything to make the resort attractive to foreigners.

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Population of Sanya and the surrounding area

Most of the city’s inhabitants belong to the Han people, the most numerous in China. On the outskirts of Baotjing, a 1.5-hour drive from the city, the folkloric villages of the Li, the native islanders, and the Miao, who once came to Hainan from the continent, are preserved and carefully maintained to attract tourists.

City Parks

Although Sanya is not yet a feast for the eyes of visitors with its architectural diversity, the situation is saved by the parks and squares that enliven the cityscape. Among the popular recreational spots is Bailiu Park, which consists of lawns surrounded by sparse small shrubs and palm trees. For the islanders green area is a way to forget about the boring typical high-rise buildings in the bosom of nature, so there are few attractions, as usual for the Europeans.

Sanya’s Handmade Sights

The lack of historical architecture is one of the disadvantages of this newly minted resort. This problem is being solved by means of unusual projects of ultra-modern hotels, scattered along the coast. However, one landmark 40 km to the west of the city still appeared. On a special platform, right in the sea, a 108-meter-high statue of the goddess Guanyin, the savior from misfortune, was erected in 2005. A reliable footbridge leads to the island where the giant figure stands.

Natural attractions of the resort

The lack of developed industry in the south has played into the hands of Hainan’s tourism industry. Pristine jungle with endemic species of plants and animals, clear sea and mountain rivers, mineral springs – this is what the city authorities rely on. Popular natural sites include the Region of Light Park located 25 kilometers west of Sanya, with its bizarrely-shaped rocks right in the middle of the coastal dunes.

Thermal Springs

Nantian Springs is reputed to be the most curative in all of China. They are located 30 minutes away from Sanya, right under the open sky. There are a total of 36 pools of various shapes, and one of them has small “beautician” fish that gently nibble on tourists’ skin and cleanse it. It’s a 1.5-hour drive from the sea to the hottest, almost boiling springs of the Seven Fairies. For the convenience of travelers who would have a hard time every time to overcome such a distance, a 5-star Narada Resort hotel with European and Chinese cuisine was built here.

Activities in Sanya

The warm, vibrant waters of the South China Sea are appreciated by divers. There’s no need to bring all the necessary equipment for diving: amateur equipment of decent quality can be bought inexpensively right in the city. For diving it’s better to take a boat to Pirates Island. Fans of fishing go to the sea or go to the mountain rivers. You can also go rafting on them. Windsurfers love the coast: the wind rose in the bays is favorable to riding on the waves. The West Island attracts fans of active entertainment – diving, water skiing.

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Cultural Entertainment in Sanya

Especially for tourists in Sanya organize traditional tea ceremonies. You can and should taste the tea made especially for travelers, but do not buy it. Gullible foreigners will be charged several times more than the actual price. It is better to buy it in places frequented by the Chinese themselves. Young people prefer a more dynamic spectacle. Of unusual shows that combine elements of ethnic and Western European art, popular are the Transvestite Show and “Las Vegas”. Fans of Oriental martial arts will enjoy the show “Kung Fu”.

Tourist Information

Sanya is a resort with little experience, so from time to time visitors have problems with service. Car traffic stalls in traffic jams – this should be taken into account when planning excursions, as the high-speed rail is not yet in full operation. The local authorities monitor the quality of products in supermarkets, but their efforts are not enough for small cafes. Sanya is oriented to the Russian-speaking audience: many signs and names in Chinese and English are duplicated in Russian as well.

Where to Stay

All of the 4 and 5-star hotels in Sanya are designed so that tourists do not have to leave the grounds to have a good rest. Each has its own swimming pool and equipped section of the beach. All the world’s leading chains are represented at the resort: Mandarin Oriental, Ritz, Carlton, and many others, you can rent a separate villa. All hotels, in addition to the national, provide a standard European menu, but experienced tourists strongly recommend trying Chinese seafood dishes.

Medical services at the resort

Each hotel offers its own specialists in traditional massage and Oriental medicine. There is a separate Traditional Chinese Medicine Center with a store where you can buy all kinds of ointments and potions. Experienced travelers warn that often the same product in the usual city pharmacy is several times cheaper. This is also true for snake shows: all the preparations based on venom are freely available in pharmacies at lower prices.

Safety rules

With street crime in southern China all is quite calm, tourists are not offended. All the horrors of the southern seas: sharks, jellyfish, sea and land snakes, flying cockroaches – are present rather in the reports of biologists. Over the years the resort has not recorded any disturbing incidents with tourists. The island of Hainan is famous for its monkeys, who are not afraid of man: small cheeky can take food from a passerby. Mass accumulations of these animals can be found only 70 km from the city, on the so-called “Island of Monkeys.

Shopping in Sanya

Sanya and its suburbs produce natural silk, grow pearls, tea, and make crystal and coral jewelry. Tourists who have already been burned by the collusion of guides and shopkeepers advise them to go shopping on their own, not as part of a tour group. At the factory, laymen can be lied to not only too expensive, but also low-quality goods – synthetics instead of silk, for example. There are many boutiques selling world brand goods in the many shops that may not look like much but are packed to the brim with boutiques. On Jefang Road there are such shopping monstrosities every 500 meters.

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Transport in Sanya

All parts of the city and bays are connected by bus, and a ride within Sanya costs 1 yuan. The route to Yalunwang Bay is already at higher commuter fares. Cabs charge 8 yuan for pickup and the first 2 km, then the meter charges 2 yuan per km. On holidays the fare is increased by 20%. Exotic rickshaw and bicycle rickshaw rides cost considerably more. Regular sea routes link Sanya with Hong Kong and Vietnam’s Halong Bay. Haikou, the capital of Hainan Province, is 1.5 hours by high-speed train.

How to get to Sanya

An international airport was built near the city, which receives charter flights from Russia. Until recently, Transaero had weekly scheduled flights to Sanya from Moscow’s Domodedovo, but due to the carrier’s bankruptcy the fate of the route is questionable. Charter flights are organized from different parts of the country during the season. Tourists can fly to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Hong Kong, and from there arrive in Sanya by local airlines or train. The flight from Beijing takes four hours and from Hong Kong only an hour. The airport can be reached by cab or bus #8.



In the south of Hainan Island in China is the city district of Sanya. This tropical seaside resort is positioned as an international tourism center in China. It is set in a picturesque area and many foreign tourists and locals come here every year for vacation.

Г. Sanya is often referred to as Eastern Hawaii, as it is the same latitude as the island on the world map. It lies in a valley, protected by low mountains on one side and washed by the South China Sea on the other. Sanya has a mild tropical climate with a strong rainy season.

There is an average annual rainfall of 1500mm. Typhoons come with the rains. During the winter, precipitation occurs 3-4 times a month. The minimum water temperature in winter is +25 ° C and reaches a maximum of +30 ° C in summer. The air in the heat is heated to +33 ° C, and in the coldest season – to a comfortable +20 ° C.

Sanya city on a map

The ancient settlement with such a name in China was known in the III century BC. In those days, it was thought to be in the middle of nowhere, so they called it Tianya Haijao, which means “the end of heaven and earth” in Chinese. It was the place to which the officials who did not please the authorities were exiled. In the late twentieth century, the Japanese army conquered Sanya and established its base port here, through which communication with cities in Southeast Asia went.

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In 1987 Sanya was granted city status. Later the local authorities, with the help of foreign investors, decided to develop tourism in the area. Gradually the city of Sanya in China turned into a popular resort: numerous hotels, entertainment facilities, shopping centers were built. Today the population of Sanya is about 700 thousand people.

What can I see in Sanya City?

In the resort town of Sanya there are no ancient sights, but there are other places that will be interesting for travelers to visit:

  1. Statue of the Goddess Guanyin . The statue was erected in 2005 40 km west of the city. A special platform was created for its installation in the sea. The snow-white statue of the Buddhist savior reaches 108 m in height. The small island with a huge figure can be accessed by a footbridge.
  2. Nanshan Temple (Sanya) . This huge temple complex covers an area of 40 square kilometers. The center of Buddhism was erected in the style of the Tang dynasty. There are many temple buildings and beautiful parks with ponds, pavilions, and bridges. There are also active monasteries, which are visited by many pilgrims from all over the world.
  3. Taoist Park Heavenly Grottoes . It is located at the foot of the South Mountain, 50 km from Sanya. It was founded during the Song Dynasty in 1187, so it is considered the oldest on the island of Hainan. Here grow true long-livers of the Earth – the dracenas. Some of them are six thousand years old.
  4. Nantian Hot Springs (Sanya). They are considered the most healing in China. Under the open sky built 36 pools of different shapes, the water in which has different temperatures, from warm comfortable to very hot. One of them has special fish that gently nibble the skin of the bathers, thereby purifying it. Both the Chinese and citizens of other countries come to Sanya for treatment.
  5. Monkey Island (Sanya). This tropical reserve, built in 1965, is located on Nanwan Island. It is home to about 2 thousand state-protected macaques. In addition to communicating with monkeys, you can go fishing on rafts, sunbathe on the beach and relax in the shade of coconut palms.
  6. Sanya Glass Bridge. This modern attraction was built in 2019. It is located at a height of 400 m. The transparent path is equipped with a 5D effect: under the feet of those walking suddenly spread quite natural cracks and there is a frightening crack of glass. In the evening the glass bridge on the island of Hainan in Sanya reacts to footsteps and glows in different shades, depending on how hard they press on its surface.
  7. Drunken Bridge (Sanya). Because of its unusual wavy shape, this pedestrian bridge has other names: crooked, dragon bridge. It looks especially beautiful in the evening, illuminated by bright lights.
  8. Atlantis Water Park in Sanya. Its area is 200,000 square meters. It is the most popular and beautiful water amusement park in the city of Sanya. It has something for both adults and children to frolic in.
  9. The Deer Turned its Head Park (Sanya). This picturesque place is located on Sanya’s highest mountain, Luheitou. From here you can enjoy beautiful views of the city spreading out below and the surrounding bays. At the very top is a statue of a girl with a deer. At the foot of the mountain is a deer nursery where you can pet and even feed the animals.
  10. Phoenix Park (Sanya). This is a nature park with stunning romantic views of Sanya City from the top of the mountain. You can climb to the observation deck by a cable car that starts at the park entrance.
  11. Zoo (Sanya) . This zoo is located in the Romantic theme park. Here you can see animals in their natural habitat: zebras, giraffes, kangaroos, raccoons, flamingos, giant tortoises, etc.
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Sanya – Best Beaches

Sanya Bay is located near the city and is considered one of the most popular sandy beaches in Hainan Island. Another beach with well-developed infrastructure is located in Dadunhai Bay. Yalong Bay or Yalunwan is the most expensive and respectable beach vacation spot in the resort.


Activities in Sanya

Divers love the waters of the South China Sea. Equipment that is necessary for swimming, you can buy quite inexpensive at the local store. Pirate Island in Sanya is one of the most popular diving spots. Fans of fishing can go to the mountain streams or go to sea. The coastal waters are a paradise for windsurfers, helped by a favorable wind rose in the local bays.


Hotels in Sanya

The hotels in this town are all designed so that vacationers do not have to leave their territory. Each hotel has an equipped beach and swimming pool. There are many places for tourists to stay, here are some of them:

Many restaurants, cafes, bars are open in Sanya, where they treat you to European and, of course, Chinese cuisine:

Experienced travelers recommend going to Sanya outlets and shopping centers for global brand goods:

  • Gou Jun;
  • Mingzhu Plaza;
  • Summer Mall;
  • Corner Deli.

You can go to the duty-free stores:

  • Sanya International Shopping Center;
  • China Duty Free.

When you come to Sanya, it is definitely worth visiting the city markets, where you will find many interesting and useful products:

  1. The first market – here you can buy absolutely everything from small things to large appliances. After 6:00 pm, it turns into the Sanya Night Market, which sells souvenirs, shells, pearls, etc.
  2. The Sanya Fish Market is a feast for lovers of seafood delicacies. At the seafood market in Sanya you can not only buy, but also try the dishes of the sea inhabitants you have just bought.
  3. Hungan fruit market – it sells fresh exotic fruits at fairly low prices: mangoes, pitaya, durian, rambutan, guava, etc.

How to get there?

Not so long ago an airport was built near Sanya. It receives charters from Russia and Chinese cities: Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai. From the airport travelers will be taken to the city by bus number 8 or a local cab.

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