Hainan, touted as the Hawaii of China, isn’t as bad as I had expected. I had visions of Phuket, overcrowded beaches, ugly beach developments, basically mass tourism at its worst. It wasn’t and I’m happy for it.
Hainan Yalong Bay
Yalong Bay is one of the better parts of Hainan. There are only 4 star and above hotels plus beach. A lot of soft sanded, very white beach. The roads are clean and new and there is an abundance of flowers, palm trees and lawns on the side. 40 minutes from the airport which should set you back between 60 and 80 Rmb if you take a taxi.
All the big names are represented here, Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton etc plus a score of local 4 & 5 star hotels. We’re not yet in the 5 star range so we settled for the Golden Palm Resort, a 4 star Chinese hotel. It’s decent, spacious, has a great pool and is 58 seconds from the beach, according the advertisement in the elevator. I didn’t time it but it’s pretty close.
The only thing you shouldn’t do here is eat. I have read before restaurant reviews about rubber tasting tuna and I now know what it is. The food is horrible, both their breakfast and their BBQ seafood buffet. Processed factory food with no taste. Even the three dotted crabs had lost any meat they may have had.
Which brings us to the food and as there are only Hotels finding decent local and affordable food nearby is not easy.
A 10 minute taxi ride takes you to Tiandu, a 2 street village that has several fish restaurants, not great quality but decent enough and a good alternative. To splash out go to one of the western buffets. We went to the Hilton that has a buffet in the weekend. Their lamb chops were delectable (first and last time I use this word ever) and the price was 195 + 15 % service tax. Drinks are not included.
Things to do in Hainan
When we bought our travel package we had the option to go cheaper if we would join some day trips to tourist traps. We didn’t. If you do sign up for the cheaper option and decide later you won’t join you’ll have to pay a penalty. What would China be without penalties anyway, financial penalties in the work place, penalties when you travel.
We spend our 4 days mostly on the beach. Why else go to Hainan, culture? The beaches are perfect, the water is warm and the sun mostly behind the clouds this time of the year but it still beats the Shanghai winter.