Hawaii of the East
Haikou, provides a seaside sanctuary complete with golf, volcanic parks and one-of-a-kind show.
The natural wonders of the Hainan Volcanic Crater Park, is just a mere stone’s throw at less than 15km from the heart of town.
For an alternative to the buzz of popular tropical destination Sanya, tropical coastal city Haikou makes for a laidback sojourn. The provincial capital of Hainan Province in Southern China is one the country’s least developed, though with plenty of development projects in the pipeline , it may be a good idea to take advantage of this temporary lull while you can.
One of the most exciting additions to the city is Shangri-La Hotel, Haikou which opened in November 2012 providing an opulent sanctuary with 337 spacious well appointed rooms and suites overlooking the sea. However, the breathtaking panoramas are not the only thing to look forward to with the extensive Cantonese and Hainan gastronomic delights of Shang Palace available including steamed fish and braised beef short ribs.
One of the most unique features is the Hall of Splendour, set in a 30,000 square-metre garden with floor-to-ceiling windows that can be transformed into a wedding chapel for the ultimate seaside nuptial. The property’s 986 square-metre pillar-free Grand Ballroom is among the city’s largest, making this the natural choice for momentous occasions.
Surf and Turf
Situated on the coastline, Haikou is famous for its inviting water, lush greenery and scenic beaches. Merely five minutes from the hotel is Holiday Beach, which is lined with coconut stands and is a popular day out for families making the most of the balmy climate. The 136km strip is dotted with hot springs, casual eateries and offers windsurfing, sailing and volleyball, in addition to performances along the boardwalk.
A popular ways to blow off steam is with a round of golf at one of Haikou’s world-class courses. Perhaps the most famous is Mission Hills, situated on 10 hectares of manicured fairways. Haikou Moonbay Golf Club provides a picturesque setting with flowers, trees and lakes, while Haikou Meishi Mayflower International Golf Club offers unparalleled views of the South China Sea and Haikou Tai Da Golf Club’s challenging course suits advance players best.
There’s no need to venture far even to uncover the natural wonders of the Hainan Volcanic Crater Park, a mere stone’s throw at less than 15km from the heart of town. As a result of the eruption of Qiongbei Volcano more than 10,000 years ago, the famous Chinese geological site comprises more than 40 volcanoes and 30 lava tunnels which are among the country’s best preserved.
The most rewarding aspect of the experience is standing at the bottom of the crater after a considerable trek and looking up at the sky from the yawning cavern with the rock surface cloaked in spectacular monsoon rainforest. The park also provides valuable insight into ancient village life with displays of local handicrafts and customs.
The trek may call for a little R&R at the hotel before heading out to experience another highlight of the trip. The Impression Hainan theatre is only 10 minutes away and an absolute must-see. The first and only ocean-staged live performance in China is directed by acclaimed Zhang Yimou, architect of the 2008 Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies and award-winning films House of Flying Daggers and Hero.
The show is an artistic representation of Hainan life featuring more than 250 young local entertainers performing against a stunning open-air backdrop with the sea merely 50 metres away; a stage that eventually transforms into a swimming pool; and mesmerising light displays for an amazing aquatic effect complete with fireworks. From the sun, sand and coconut trees, to the happy-go-lucky attitude of the people, the dreamy display encapsulates the very best of Haikou. The uplifting enthusiasm of the locals is as much a highlight as the destination’s sublime natural beauty.
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I love to visit Haikou and at the same time Benjing and Shanghai thru my agent but before i do so i am still waiting for an answer on my last e-mail in regard to my level of membership that was from jade to gold???