Cerebral Shangrila

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sanya, China - Travel Diary (Travelogue)

They call it the " Hawaii of the Orient" and its for a reason. This beautiful town is blessed with sun-kissed beaches, sunshine all around the year and a pollution free environment. Sanya is located in Hainan, the smallest province in China and lies in the Southernmost tip of China.

The Sanya Airport doesn't serve international flights. So most passengers need to take a domestic flight from Guangzhou ( the closest international airport), Shenzen, Shanghai or Beijing. Sanya is 1 hr flight from Guangzhou. Sanya airport has excellent connectivity to most domestic destinations and what Chinese term as "international destinations" - Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau.

VISA DETAILS : Most nationalities need a visa to enter China. Tourist visas are fairly easy to obtain and can be obtained through an agent.

Tourists flock year-round to Sanya. Sanya has sunny weather year round with upper 20's (c) in Spring, Winter and lower 30's in autumn, summer.
Be prepared to come with plenty of Sunscreen lotion.

The Currency of China is Yuan (renmimbi). There are foreign exchange counters all over.

Of course, they speak Chinese in China. Most taxi drivers, shop owners, tourist operators do not know English. Luckily, all road signs are in English, aiding tourists . Make sure that you carry maps that can guide you. Also carry a translation guide or get the names of attractions written in Mandarin. Sign language is universal and always helps !

Sanya is in Hainan province in the southern most tip of China.


Buses: There are hardly any public buses in Sanya and hence its not a preferred mode of transport ( unless you are relying on tour operators).

Taxis : Taxis are the most relied form of transport . Make sure that you agree on the price before embarking on the trip.
Do remember that most drivers do not know English.

Cars / Bikes : Can be rented and is a good option if you know the island well.

Sanya is GMT + 8 hours.

Since I went to speak at a conference, I stayed at the Hilton resort & spa in Yalong Bay, China. It was a lovely property with its private beach. Can't dream of staying there on a personal trip.

Sanya has a great choice of restaurants. Being a vegetarian, I was lucky since the event organizers took care of my special dietary needs. The Nanshan complex ( which is the biggest tourist attraction) is completely meat free due to its Buddhist roots and is a great place to gorge on oriental veg food.



The Yalong Bay has some of the best ( expensive) hotels and beaches.

Nanshan Complex

This complex is located 40 kms from Sanya and attracts lots of tourists. The highlight of the complex is the 350 feet tall bronze statue of Buddha, perched majestically on the ocean. It is supposed to be the second largest Buddha statue in the world and is truly amazing.

Other highlights in the complex include the Gold & Jade Buddha statue which is 3.8 meters high, costing over 100kg of gold, 120 carat of South African diamond, thousands of pieces of rubies, sapphires, emeralds, corals, boulders, pearls and more than 100kg of jade. You gotta see it to believe it !

The Dharma door of non-duality has some spectacular flower displays, landscaping and provides for some good photo-ops.

The entrance to the complex is Yuan 150. The whole complex might take 3-4 hrs to see on foot. There are battery operated vehicle (fee payable) if you want to do a quick tour.

FINAL WORD : Sanya was spectacular, very different from the other beach towns I have seen in south east Asia. I just wish I had more time to spend but that is asking for too much in a business trip.

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