Haikou Travel Guide: Top 20 Things to Do in Haikou, China

Welcome to Haikou! Where the warmth of the tropics meets the pulse of city life. Nestled at the northern tip of Hainan Island, this city isn’t just a destination. It’s an invitation to explore a world where ancient history and modern vibrancy converge under the canopy of endless blue skies. With its streets lined by whispering palms, Haikou serves as both a serene getaway and a bustling urban playground. Let’s embark on a journey through Haikou, a city that promises the charm of island life with a twist of urban exploration.

Haikou night views with a high vantage point in China

The Best of Both Worlds

City Life, Island Style: Imagine waking up to a gentle sea breeze, spending your day lounging on sun-kissed beaches like Holiday Beach, and then diving into the vibrant city life as the sun sets. Haikou offers this unique blend, making every moment spent here an exploration of contrast and harmony.

Stepping Back in Time

Where History Breathes: Wander the cobbled streets of Qilou Old Street, where every brick seems to tell a tale, blending stories of East and West. Or stroll down Haikou Arcade Street, where the pastel hues of historic buildings reflect a bygone era of prosperity and intrigue.

Culinary Adventure Awaits

Taste the Island: Haikou’s streets buzz with the energy of night markets and the aromas of delectable local cuisine. Whether it’s savoring the iconic Hainanese chicken rice or diving fork-first into the freshest seafood, the city’s culinary landscape is a mosaic of flavors waiting to be explored.

Nature’s Call

Urban Oasis: Amidst the city’s hustle, Haikou is dotted with tranquil spots like the verdant expanse of Evergreen Park. Venture a little further to the Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark, where nature tells the story of the island’s fiery birth.

Forward-Thinking Haikou

A Glimpse Into Tomorrow: The skyline of Haikou, speckled with modern marvels like the Hainan International Convention and Exhibition Center, speaks to the city’s aspirations. It’s a place where leisure meets luxury, from the greens of the Mission Hills Golf Club to the cinematic streets of Movie Town.

So, as you pack your bags and set your sights on Haikou, remember: here, the journey is just as beautiful as the destination. Ready to uncover the stories and experiences that await in Haikou? Let’s dive in.

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Haikou City Guide: A Brief History Of Haikou, China

From its roots as a simple fishing village to its stature as a bustling port city, Haikou has seen it all. Let’s peel back the layers of time and discover the rich tapestry of Haikou’s history.

Ancient Foundations

A Humble Beginning: Imagine a time when Haikou was but a quiet fishing village, its shores kissed by the gentle South China Sea. Fast forward through the dynasties, and you’ll find Haikou evolving, its strategic location turning it into a thriving port by the Ming and Qing dynasties. This was a place where ships whispered secrets of distant lands, and the air buzzed with the potential of trade and prosperity.

A Port of Call

Trade Winds: With its harbors bustling with activity, Haikou became a beacon for traders from across Asia. The city’s role as a crucial trade port isn’t just a chapter in history books; it’s a legacy that shaped its cultural and architectural landscape, giving birth to the unique Qilou architecture that lines its streets today.

The War Years

Resilience Amidst Turmoil: Like much of China, Haikou wasn’t spared the scars of war. Through pirate invasions, colonial ambitions, and the ripples of the Opium Wars, the city stood resilient, its spirit unbroken. These years of turmoil weren’t just times of strife but of resilience and unity, shaping the indomitable spirit of Haikou’s people.

Modern Metamorphosis

A New Era: The 20th century heralded new changes for Haikou, as it embraced modernity while holding tightly to its rich heritage. The establishment of Hainan as a province in 1988 with Haikou as its capital marked the beginning of a new chapter, one where the city would grow into a dynamic hub of economy, culture, and tourism.

Haikou Today

A City Reborn: Walking through Haikou today, you’ll see a city that wears its history with pride. From the historic streets of Qilou Old Street to the modern vibrancy of its urban centers, Haikou stands as a testament to the journey of transformation. It’s a place where the past is always present, inviting visitors to explore, learn, and be part of its continuing story.

Five Ministers Temple That Is Red In Haikou, China

Haikou Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in China

Hainan is known for its beaches and tropical climate, but few linger long in Haikou, as it is a capital city rather than a beach destination.

Before you head off to Sanya, though, take a day or two to visit this city’s museums, parks, and other attractions.

Begin your time in Haikou by learning about the history of China’s tropical isle by exploring the halls of the Hainan Museum. With over 20,000 artifacts in its collection, you’ll learn about this island’s history as a place of exile for failed government officials and political prisoners.

Fascinating Attractions

Its exhibits also shed light on the culture of the native inhabitants of Hainan, with particular attention paid to its indigenous residents. Special galleries which highlight the region’s literature, art, and economic development have also been held here over the years, so keep an eye out for these as you explore.

While some exhibits are in Chinese only, audio guides are available for rent that will tell the story of this place in English, Russian, Japanese, and other tongues.

Dive into the past of the city of Haikou by spending a few hours walking down Qilou Old Street. While this thoroughfare has existed for over 2,000 years, the architecture you’ll see along its length dates back to the mid-19th century, when this place was done up in the Arcade style commonly seen in many Chinese enclaves in Southeast Asia.

As you make your way under the overhangs built to protect locals from torrential downpours and the punishing tropical sun, make note of the European, Indian, and Arabic influence in the buildings you see. As an important trading port in those days, it played host to many foreigners from those nations, you helped inform many of the structures you’ll see as you walk through here.

If you’re more into natural sights and attractions, book a day trip to Huoshankou National Geopark. Centred around a dormant volcano, this geological reserve is recognized by UNESCO for the ease of access it allows visitors to a former volcanic site.

More Attractions

A delightful hike that will take you through tropical rainforest, up the slopes of a formerly active volcano, and down into its crater, it will put you in touch with some of the best natural environments that the Haikou area has to offer.

As a Special Economic Zone in China, the island has seen the development of a number of schemes, including the building of infrastructure meant to prop up the film industry. During your trip here, check out Movie Town Haikou, a combo tourist attraction and open-air filming location.

Over 1,400 acres, you’ll find 96 buildings situated along a variety of themed streets which allow producers to shoot films based in the Republican era of China, along a Beijing street in the 1950s/60s, or in a prototypical European town square.

There are also four sound stages where indoor scenes can be done with a myriad of lighting, sound, and other physical effects, so be sure to check those out while touring the grounds of this studio.

Haikou Century Bridge In China

Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Haikou, China

The island of Hainan and the Haikou area sit in a tropical climate biome; as such, there are plenty of plant and animal species which can live in this corner of China. Check out a good cross-section of these on a visit to Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden.

Here, you’ll find the Liger, a rare cross-breed of wild feline (lion + tiger = liger), as well as other tropical animals like the Asian Elephant, hippos, and over 200 species of birds. The garden portion of this attraction contains many delicate species of orchid, lush palm trees, and many examples of flora species that are endemic to the island of Hainan.

Most of the attractive beaches on Hainan can be found around the Sanya area, but if you want to enjoy some time in the sun in a low-key place, spend a sunny afternoon on the sands of Jiari Beach.

Other Attractions

Featuring golden sands that aren’t as crowded as Sanya’s beaches (even so, make sure you visit during the week rather than on weekends). A popular gathering place for locals, you’ll find them barbequing food and enjoying the company of family and friends.

Take a break from sightseeing in Haikou by spending time in Wanlv Park. Situated along the coast near the centre of Haikou, this green space is a great place to watch fireworks, fly kites, ride a bike, or go for a jog.

Finally, satisfy any cravings you have while walking around Haikou by stopping for a meal along Qilou Snack Street. Note that hard currency isn’t accepted at the booths which serve everything from seafood to steamed pork buns – instead, you need to load money onto a prepaid card at the tourist information office, or download Wechat and put money on it.

Once you jump this hurdle, though, an evening here will be cheap and enjoyable, as there are many dishes to choose from.

source: xuxiaopang on YouTube

Top 20 Things To Do in Haikou, China For Visitors

Here are the top 20 things to do in Haikou:

Haikou urban views in China

1. Explore the Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark

The Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark showcases a unique landscape formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. Visitors can explore lava tunnels, craters, and lush vegetation within the park. It’s a great place for hiking and learning about volcanic geology. The park also offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the top of the craters.

2. Relax at Holiday Beach

Holiday Beach is a popular spot for both locals and tourists, featuring a long stretch of soft sand and clear waters. It’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and trying out water sports. The beachfront is lined with restaurants and bars, offering delicious seafood and refreshing drinks. At night, the area comes alive with live music and beach parties.

3. Visit the Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden

This expansive wildlife park and botanical garden is home to a wide variety of animals and plants from around the world. Visitors can take a safari tour to see animals roaming freely in large enclosures. The botanical garden features exotic plants and flowers, creating a peaceful environment for a leisurely walk. It’s an educational and fun outing for the whole family.

4. Wander Around Qilou Old Street

Qilou Old Street is known for its unique arcade-style architecture, a blend of European and South Asian influences. The historic street houses shops, cafes, and art galleries in beautifully restored buildings. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs, sample local snacks, and soak in the atmosphere of old Haikou. The area is also a photographer’s delight, with its charming facades and vibrant street life.

5. Discover the Haikou Clock Tower

The Haikou Clock Tower is a historic landmark located in the heart of the city. Built in the 1920s, it has become a symbol of Haikou and offers a glimpse into the city’s colonial past. Visitors can admire the tower’s architecture and enjoy the bustling square that surrounds it. The area is particularly lively in the evening when locals gather to enjoy the cool breeze.

6. Enjoy the Scenery at Meishe River National Wetland Park

Meishe River National Wetland Park is a beautiful green space that offers a tranquil escape from the city. Visitors can walk along the boardwalks through the mangroves, spot various bird species, and enjoy the lush surroundings. The park is an excellent place for photography, picnics, and bird watching. It’s a testament to Haikou’s efforts in preserving its natural environment.

7. Experience the Culture at the Hainan Museum

The Hainan Museum showcases the island’s rich cultural heritage and history through a wide range of exhibits. Visitors can learn about Hainan’s ethnic groups, traditional crafts, and historical artifacts. The museum also features art exhibitions and cultural performances. It’s a must-visit for those interested in the cultural background of Hainan.

8. Visit the Temple of Five Lords (Wugong Temple)

The Temple of Five Lords is a historic temple complex dedicated to five famous officials from the Tang and Song dynasties. The temple is set in a beautiful park with ancient banyan trees, stone carvings, and traditional architecture. It’s a place of historical significance and offers a peaceful environment for reflection. The temple also hosts various cultural festivals and events throughout the year.

9. Take a Stroll in Evergreen Park

Evergreen Park is the largest public park in Haikou, offering scenic views of the sea and lush greenery. It’s a popular place for jogging, kite flying, and enjoying outdoor activities with family and friends. The park features several gardens, lakes, and walking paths. It’s especially beautiful at sunset when the sky is painted in vibrant colors.

10. Shop at Haikou Arcade Street

Haikou Arcade Street is a bustling shopping area where visitors can find a variety of goods, from local handicrafts to international brands. The street is characterized by its arcade-style architecture, providing shade for shoppers. It’s an excellent place to experience the local market atmosphere and try street food. The street also hosts night markets and cultural events, adding to its lively ambiance.

11. Relax at West Coast Park

West Coast Park is a modern recreational area along Haikou’s west coast, offering beautiful beaches, sports facilities, and landscaped gardens. It’s an ideal spot for cycling, beach volleyball, and picnicking. The park is known for its clean environment and family-friendly attractions. Visitors can also enjoy stunning views of the Qiongzhou Strait.

12. Explore Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove Natural Reserve Area

Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove Natural Reserve Area is one of the largest mangrove forests in China, offering unique ecosystems and biodiversity. Visitors can take boat tours to navigate through the mangroves and observe various bird species. It’s an important site for environmental education and conservation. The reserve is a serene place for nature lovers to explore the beauty of mangrove habitats.

13. Visit the Hairui Tomb

The Hairui Tomb is a well-preserved historical site dedicated to Hairui, a respected official from the Ming Dynasty known for his integrity and compassion. The tomb complex features traditional Hainanese architecture and a tranquil garden. It’s a place of historical and cultural importance, offering insights into China’s feudal past. Visitors can pay respects and learn about Hairui’s life and contributions to Hainan.

14. Taste Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken rice, a signature dish of the island, is a must-try when visiting Haikou. This simple yet flavorful dish consists of tender chicken served with fragrant rice, accompanied by chili sauce and ginger paste. Visitors can find the best Hainanese chicken rice in local eateries and restaurants throughout the city. It’s a culinary experience that embodies the essence of Hainanese cuisine.

15. Walk Along Baishamen Park

Baishamen Park is a large seaside park that offers recreational facilities, a beach, and landscaped areas. It’s a popular spot for locals and tourists to enjoy outdoor activities like swimming, kite surfing, and beach games. The park also features an amusement area for children and various food stalls. It’s a great place for a family day out, with something for everyone to enjoy.

16. Experience the Nightlife on Haidian Island

Haidian Island is known for its vibrant nightlife, with a wide selection of bars, clubs, and restaurants. Visitors can enjoy live music, DJ sets, and dance the night away. The island also offers a more laid-back atmosphere with beachfront bars where guests can relax with a drink and enjoy the sea breeze. It’s the perfect destination for those looking to experience Haikou’s modern urban culture.

17. Admire the View from Leiqiong Global Geopark

Leiqiong Global Geopark features stunning volcanic landscapes and geological formations. Visitors can hike through the park to see craters, lava tunnels, and unique rock structures. The geopark provides educational tours and activities that highlight the area’s geological significance. It’s an adventurous outing for those interested in nature and science.

18. Enjoy Tea Culture at Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden

While primarily known for its wildlife and exotic plants, the Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden also offers visitors the chance to experience China’s rich tea culture. The park features a tea house where guests can participate in traditional tea ceremonies and taste various local teas. It’s a tranquil experience that combines the pleasures of tea with the beauty of the surrounding nature. The garden’s lush environment makes it a serene setting for enjoying this important aspect of Chinese culture.

19. Explore Haikou People’s Park

Haikou People’s Park is a historic park in the heart of the city, offering a glimpse into the daily life of Haikou’s residents. The park features beautiful ponds, traditional pavilions, and lush landscapes. It’s a popular place for morning exercises, leisurely walks, and cultural performances. The park serves as a green lung in the city, providing a peaceful escape from the urban environment.

20. Participate in Haikou’s International Coconut Festival

The International Coconut Festival celebrates Haikou’s status as the “Coconut City” with various events, including coconut-themed competitions, cultural performances, and exhibitions. Visitors can taste a wide range of coconut products and dishes, showcasing the versatility of this tropical fruit. The festival also features parades and art installations, making it a lively and entertaining event for all ages. It’s a unique cultural experience that highlights the importance of coconuts to Haikou’s identity and economy.

source: CGTN on YouTube

What To Eat and Drink in Haikou, China

Let’s dive into the flavors of Haikou and discover the dishes and drinks that make this city a paradise for food lovers.

Hainanese chicken is a must try dish in Haikou, China

Seafood Delicacies

1. Wenchang Chicken: Though originating from Wenchang, this dish has become a staple in Haikou. Tender, flavorful chicken served with fragrant dipping sauces, it’s a simple yet profoundly satisfying dish.

2. Hainanese Mussels: Fresh from the South China Sea, these mussels are often steamed with garlic and herbs or cooked in a savory broth, highlighting their natural sweetness.

3. Dongshan Lamb: A bit of a journey inland brings you the flavors of Dongshan lamb, a dish famed for its tender meat and rich, aromatic seasoning, often enjoyed grilled or in hot pots.

Local Favorites

4. Hainanese Rice Noodles: A comforting bowl of rice noodles in a clear, flavorful broth, accompanied by an assortment of meats and fresh herbs, perfect for any meal of the day.

5. Coconut Chicken Hot Pot: A Haikou specialty, where chicken is simmered in a broth made from fresh coconut water, infusing the dish with a sweet, tropical flavor unique to Hainan.

6. Jiaji Duck: Seasoned and roasted to perfection, this duck dish is known for its crispy skin and succulent meat, often served alongside pickled vegetables.

Street Food and Snacks

7. Qingbuliang: A refreshing dessert soup made with a mix of beans, fruits, and tapioca, often enriched with coconut milk, perfect for cooling down on a hot Haikou day.

8. Hele Crab: Small, flavorful crabs that are steamed or boiled and served with a spicy dipping sauce, a must-try for seafood enthusiasts.

9. Baozao Rice Cakes: Sweet or savory, these steamed rice cakes are a popular snack, filled with everything from red bean paste to marinated meat.

Beverages to Savor

10. Coconut Water: Nothing beats the simplicity and refreshment of sipping water straight from a freshly cracked coconut, a ubiquitous delight in Haikou.

11. Sugarcane Juice: Freshly pressed sugarcane juice, often enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon, offers sweet relief from the tropical heat.

12. Tropical Fruit Smoothies: With an abundance of local fruits like mango, papaya, and pineapple, smoothies are a popular and delicious way to stay hydrated.

Haikou Bell Tower In China

Tours For Visitors To Haikou

here’s a list of tours to consider when visiting Haikou ensuring you capture the essence of this captivating city.

1. Haikou Historic City Tour

Dive into Haikou’s past with a guided walk through its historic streets, including the famous Qilou Old Street. Learn about the city’s unique architecture, influenced by a mix of European and South Asian styles, and hear stories of Haikou’s development from a small fishing village to the bustling capital of Hainan.

2. Hainanese Cuisine Culinary Tour

Embark on a culinary journey through Haikou’s bustling markets and street food stalls. Sample local delicacies like Hainanese chicken rice, Wenchang chicken, and coconut water, while learning about the ingredients and cooking methods that make Hainanese cuisine unique.

3. Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark Tour

Explore the natural wonders of the Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark with a guided tour. Discover ancient lava tunnels, craters, and the unique volcanic rock formations. This tour offers not only breathtaking landscapes but also insights into the geological history that shaped the island.

4. Haikou River Night Cruise

Experience Haikou from a different perspective with a night cruise along the Nandu River. Enjoy the city lights and serene waterways, a perfect way to unwind after a day of exploration. Some tours offer dinner options, combining sightseeing with a taste of local cuisine.

5. Tea Plantation and Factory Visit

Take a tour to a local tea plantation where you can learn about the cultivation and processing of tea, a vital part of Hainan’s agricultural heritage. Enjoy a tea tasting session, where you can savor different varieties of local teas and learn about the art of tea-making.

6. Mangrove Forest Kayak Adventure

Paddle through the serene waters of Haikou’s mangrove forests, an eco-tour that combines adventure with nature conservation. Learn about the importance of mangroves to the local ecosystem and spot a variety of bird species that call these forests home.

7. Coconut Plantation Tour

Discover the significance of the coconut to Haikou’s culture and economy with a visit to a local coconut plantation. Learn about the various uses of coconuts, from food to crafts, and enjoy fresh coconut products straight from the source.

8. Haikou Art and Culture Walk

Immerse yourself in Haikou’s vibrant art scene with a tour that takes you through galleries, art installations, and cultural centers. Discover local artists and their works, and learn about the city’s efforts to promote arts and culture.

9. Traditional Hainanese Home Cooking Class

For those looking to bring a taste of Haikou back home, a cooking class offers the perfect opportunity. Learn how to prepare traditional Hainanese dishes with the guidance of local chefs, a hands-on experience that’s both educational and delicious.

10. Haikou Bike Tour

Cycle through Haikou’s scenic spots, including its beautiful beaches, historic sites, and lush parks. It’s a healthy and eco-friendly way to see the city, offering a closer look at daily life in Haikou and the chance to discover hidden gems.

Haikou panoramic views in China

Haikou Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels

Here’s a travel guide to some of the best places to stay in Haikou, ensuring you find the right fit for your travel style and budget.

Luxury Resorts and Hotels

1. Mission Hills Resort Haikou: Nestled amidst volcanic landscapes, this sprawling resort offers world-class golf courses, a fully-equipped spa, and several dining options, making it an oasis of relaxation and luxury.

2. Shangri-La Haikou: With stunning sea views, elegant rooms, and exceptional service, the Shangri-La is perfect for those looking to indulge. The hotel boasts a private beach area, a state-of-the-art health club, and gourmet dining experiences.

3. The Ritz-Carlton, Haikou: Situated within the impressive Mission Hills Haikou resort complex, The Ritz-Carlton offers a blend of luxury and adventure. Guests can enjoy sophisticated accommodations, fine dining, and access to world-renowned golf courses.

Mid-Range Hotels

4. Holiday Inn Express Haikou West Coast: Ideal for travelers seeking comfort and convenience, this hotel offers modern rooms, an outdoor pool, and easy access to Haikou’s main attractions.

5. Hainan Guest House: Combining comfort with a touch of Hainanese culture, this guest house provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere, complete with spacious rooms and local cuisine.

Budget Accommodations

6. Haikou Banana Hostel: A favorite among backpackers, the Banana Hostel offers a friendly environment, with both dormitory-style and private rooms, communal spaces, and plenty of travel advice.

7. 7 Days Inn: With several locations across Haikou, 7 Days Inn is a reliable option for budget-conscious travelers, offering clean, comfortable rooms at an affordable price.

Boutique and Unique Stays

8. Qilou Boutique Hotel: Set in a beautifully restored Qilou building, this boutique hotel offers a unique stay in the heart of Haikou’s historic district. Each room is decorated with a blend of traditional and contemporary designs.

9. Art Inn: Located near the bustling Haidian River, Art Inn combines cozy accommodations with a creative flair, featuring local artwork and design elements that reflect Haikou’s vibrant art scene.

Beachfront Stays

10. Hilton Haikou Meilan: Offering direct access to a serene beach, the Hilton Haikou Meilan is perfect for those looking to combine city exploration with beach relaxation. Guests can enjoy ocean-view rooms, multiple dining options, and an array of leisure facilities.

Eco-friendly and Sustainable Options

11. Haikou Marriott Hotel: Situated on the beautiful Haikou Bay, the Marriott is committed to sustainability, offering eco-friendly amenities, locally sourced dining, and beautiful rooms that blend luxury with responsibility towards the environment.

Yanoda rainforest park in China

Day Trips From Haikou

Here’s a curated list of day trips from Haikou, offering everything from serene beaches to lush mountains and cultural experiences that deepen your connection to this unique region of China.

1. Sanya

Just a high-speed train ride away, Sanya is renowned for its pristine beaches, tropical climate, and luxury resorts. Visit Yalong Bay for its crystal-clear waters and white sand, or explore the Nanshan Temple for a touch of spiritual serenity. Don’t miss the opportunity to climb the Luhuitou Peak for panoramic views of the city and the sea. Sanya offers a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

2. Qionghai and Bo’ao

Discover the tranquil charm of Qionghai, home to the beautiful Wanquan River, ideal for river cruises offering picturesque views. Continue to Bo’ao, known for the Bo’ao Forum for Asia. The town’s peaceful beaches and the unique meeting point of three rivers at Bo’ao Jade Belt Beach offer a serene escape. This area is perfect for those interested in both natural beauty and contemporary Asian politics.

3. Wuzhishan

Venture into the heart of Hainan to explore Wuzhishan, a region known for its towering mountains, ethnic Li and Miao cultures, and thrilling outdoor activities. Trek through the dense rainforests, visit traditional Li villages to learn about local handicrafts, and navigate the rapids of the Hainan’s longest river for an adrenaline rush. Wuzhishan’s stunning landscape provides a stark contrast to Haikou’s urban environment.

4. Dongzhai Harbor Mangrove Natural Reserve Area

A short drive from Haikou, this mangrove reserve is a paradise for nature lovers and bird watchers, home to numerous species of birds and aquatic life. Kayak through the tranquil waterways, immerse yourself in the lush greenery, and learn about the importance of mangrove ecosystems. The reserve’s peaceful atmosphere is a refreshing break from the city. It’s also an excellent spot for photography enthusiasts.

5. Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden

Just outside Haikou, this expansive park offers a chance to see a wide range of animals and plant species. Take a safari ride to see animals roaming freely, explore the botanical gardens, and enjoy interactive experiences like feeding giraffes or riding elephants. It’s a great day out for families or anyone looking to connect with nature. The park combines education, conservation, and entertainment.

6. Leiqiong Global Geopark

Explore the volcanic landscapes of Leiqiong Global Geopark, where you can walk through ancient lava tubes, climb volcanic craters, and learn about the geological history of Hainan. The park’s unique geology makes it a fascinating destination for both geology buffs and those seeking adventure. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Volcano Museum within the park. It’s a rare chance to explore one of the few volcanic field geoparks in the world.

7. Xinglong Tropical Botanical Garden

A day trip to Xinglong will introduce you to its famous Tropical Botanical Garden, a showcase of Hainan’s rich biodiversity, including exotic plants, flowers, and trees from around the world. Learn about the cultivation of coffee and tropical spices, sample fresh tropical fruits, and relax in the beautifully landscaped gardens. Xinglong is also known for its hot springs, offering a perfect end to a day of exploration. This area highlights the agricultural and ecological diversity of Hainan.

8. Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone

Dive into the heart of Hainan’s rainforest at Yanoda, where you can experience the lush landscape through hiking trails, zip lines, and scenic walkways. The park’s name, Yanoda, comes from local expressions of friendship and welcome, reflecting the warm hospitality visitors receive. Explore waterfalls, streams, and the dense canopy of this tropical paradise. It’s an immersive experience that combines adventure with the tranquility of nature.

9. Lingshui Ethnic Li Village

Experience the rich cultural heritage of Hainan by visiting Lingshui Ethnic Li Village, where you can learn about the traditions, crafts, and way of life of the Li ethnic group. Watch live demonstrations of traditional weaving and bamboo crafting, participate in cultural performances, and enjoy authentic Li cuisine. The village offers a glimpse into the lives of one of China’s ethnic minorities, preserved amidst the island’s modernization. It’s a culturally enriching experience that showcases the diversity of Hainan’s people.

10. Haikou Clock Tower and Marina

While not far from the city center, a visit to the Haikou Clock Tower and the nearby marina offers a leisurely day exploring Haikou’s colonial history and modern developments along the seafront. The clock tower, a remnant of the colonial era, stands as a historic landmark, while the marina reflects Haikou’s contemporary lifestyle with its yachts, upscale cafes, and restaurants. This area perfectly encapsulates Haikou’s blend of history and modernity, offering insights into its past and its aspirations for the future.

Haikou historic buildings in China

Haikou Transportation Guide

Here’s a complete travel guide to transportation in and around Haikou, designed to help you explore with ease.

Air Travel

Meilan International Airport (HAK): Located about 25 kilometers from downtown Haikou, Meilan Airport is well-connected domestically and internationally. Regular shuttle buses, taxis, and the Haikou Metro line 1 provide convenient access to the city center.


High-Speed Rail: Hainan’s high-speed rail loop makes traveling around the island a breeze, including quick trips to Sanya. Haikou East Railway Station is the main hub for these services, offering a scenic route along the coastline.

Conventional Trains: For journeys to the mainland, Haikou Railway Station serves as the departure point. Trains here use the ferry service across the Qiongzhou Strait to connect with the national rail network.


Buses: Haikou boasts an extensive network of public buses that cover the city comprehensively, including routes to major attractions, hotels, and the airport. Bus fares are inexpensive, making this a budget-friendly option for getting around.

Taxis and Ride-Hailing: Taxis are readily available and reasonably priced. Ride-hailing apps like Didi Chuxing offer an alternative, with the convenience of booking via smartphone and the option for English language service.


Haikou Metro: Currently, Haikou is expanding its metro system. Line 1 connects the East Railway Station to the Meilan Airport, passing through key areas of the city. It’s a fast, reliable way to navigate Haikou, with more lines planned for the future.

Bicycle and Electric Scooters

Bike Sharing: With its relatively flat terrain and scenic routes, Haikou is great for cycling. Bike-sharing programs are available, with stations throughout the city, offering a green and healthful way to explore.

Electric Scooters: Available for rent, electric scooters are a fun and flexible way to get around Haikou, ideal for short distances and avoiding traffic during peak hours.


Haikou to Mainland China: For adventurous travelers, ferries connect Haikou with mainland China, offering an alternative to air and rail travel. The main ferry terminals are Xiuying Port, Haikou New Port, and South Port, with routes to Guangdong province and beyond.

Inter-City Buses

Long-Distance Buses: Haikou’s bus terminals provide services to various destinations across Hainan, including direct buses to Sanya, Bo’ao, and other towns. It’s an economical choice for exploring the island’s diverse landscapes and attractions.

Tips for Travelers

  • Plan Ahead: Check schedules and routes in advance, especially for long-distance travel, as timings and availability may vary.
  • Cash and Cards: While public transport is cash-friendly, having a local transport card can simplify travel and offer savings.
  • Language Barrier: Having destination names in Chinese can be helpful, as not all drivers or station staff may speak English.
  • Stay Informed: Keep an eye on local travel advisories, especially during holiday seasons when services might be busier than usual.

Guilin in China is a place to visit after Haikou

Where To Visit After Your Trip To Haikou?

Here’s a list of must-visit places after your Haikou journey, ensuring your travel story is filled with unforgettable chapters.

1. Sanya

Renowned for its pristine beaches and luxury resorts, Sanya is a tropical paradise at the southern tip of Hainan. Yalong Bay and Tianya Haijiao offer some of the most beautiful seascapes. The Nanshan Temple adds a spiritual dimension to Sanya’s allure, featuring a towering 108-meter Guanyin statue. Sanya’s nightlife and seafood markets provide lively evening entertainment and dining experiences.

2. Bo’ao

Famous for the Bo’ao Forum for Asia, this small town boasts serene waterways and a laid-back atmosphere. Bo’ao’s unique location where three rivers meet the sea creates stunning natural beauty, perfect for leisurely boat tours. The Bo’ao Jade Belt Beach is a picturesque spot for sunbathing and swimming. The town also offers insights into local and international dialogues on development and cooperation.

3. Wuzhishan

The heart of Hainan Island, Wuzhishan offers lush mountain landscapes and rich Li and Miao ethnic cultures. Hiking trails lead through dense tropical forests to breathtaking viewpoints. The Li and Miao villages offer cultural experiences, from traditional dances to handicrafts. Wuzhishan’s tea plantations are perfect for tasting local teas and understanding rural life.

4. Xinglong

Known for its coffee plantations, Xinglong introduces visitors to the coffee production process and offers tastings of locally grown coffee. The Xinglong Tropical Botanical Garden is a haven for plant lovers, showcasing a vast array of tropical flora. Hot springs in the area provide a relaxing retreat, blending health and relaxation. Xinglong also offers a glimpse into Hainan’s diverse agriculture beyond its famous beaches.

5. Lingshui

Lingshui appeals to those seeking both adventure and relaxation, with its crystal-clear waters ideal for snorkeling and diving. The Nanwan Monkey Island, accessible by China’s longest oversea ropeway, is home to hundreds of macaques. Perfume Bay and Clearwater Bay are notable for their luxury resorts and stunning beachfronts. Lingshui’s cultural experiences include visiting Li ethnic minority villages.

6. Danzhou

Explore the historical and cultural depth of Danzhou, a city with a rich history dating back to the Han dynasty. The Songtao Reservoir offers picturesque landscapes, ideal for nature walks and picnics. Danzhou’s ancient villages and poetry culture, linked to Su Dongpo, offer a deep dive into China’s literary heritage. The city’s unique dialect and culinary traditions add another layer to your Hainan exploration.

7. Qionghai

Qionghai is best known for Bo’ao and its beautiful beaches, but the city itself offers charming countryside and cultural sites. The Red Detachment of Women Memorial Hall provides insights into the role of Hainan in modern Chinese history. Wanquan River, one of the cleanest in China, is perfect for river cruises offering scenic views. Qionghai’s markets are bustling with local life, offering fresh seafood and tropical fruits.

8. Chengmai

Chengmai, one of Hainan’s oldest counties, offers a slower pace of life with historical sites and natural beauty. The Fushan Coffee Cultural Village celebrates the area’s coffee-growing tradition. Ancient banyan trees in the old town of Fushan and the serene Yongqing Temple provide peaceful retreats. Chengmai’s hot springs are among the best in Hainan for relaxation.

9. Tunchang

Experience rural Hainan in Tunchang, where green hills and clear waters paint a tranquil countryside scene. The Tunchang Hot Springs offer a natural spa experience amidst lush landscapes. The area is also known for its rice terraces, which create stunning patterns in the hillsides. Tunchang’s cultural festivals, celebrating local customs and harvests, provide a glimpse into the agricultural heart of Hainan.

10. Guilin

While not in Hainan, Guilin is a must-visit for those exploring southern China, known for its dramatic karst landscapes along the Li River. A cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo unveils some of China’s most iconic scenery. The Reed Flute Cave and Elephant Trunk Hill are natural wonders that captivate visitors. Guilin’s cuisine, distinct from Hainan’s, offers new flavors to discover, including Guilin rice noodles.

Haikou city views in China overlooking modern buildings from a high vantage point

Haikou Travel Guide: Final Thoughts

And just like that our journey through Haikou comes to a close. But as we reflect on the experiences gathered, it’s clear that Haikou is more than just a city; it’s a gateway to a world where history whispers in the bustling streets, where culinary adventures await in every corner, and where the harmony of urban life and nature’s tranquility coexist beautifully. Haikou invites you to immerse yourself in its unique rhythm, and leaving, you carry a piece of its spirit with you.

A Melting Pot of Flavors

Culinary Delights: If there’s one memory that lingers long after you’ve left, it’s the incredible array of flavors that Haikou offers. From the simplicity of Hainanese chicken rice to the exotic tang of tropical fruits, every meal is a celebration of the island’s bounty. Night markets buzzing with energy offer a taste of local life that’s as authentic as it gets.

Historical Echoes

Living History: Wandering through the Qilou Old Street or standing by the imposing Haikou Clock Tower, you’re transported to a bygone era, where every brick and beam tells a tale. Haikou’s history isn’t just preserved in its architecture; it’s a living part of the city, inviting you to explore and learn.

Natural Wonders

An Oasis of Green and Blue: Beyond the urban landscape, Haikou opens up into a world of volcanic parks, lush gardens, and inviting beaches. Places like the Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark and Evergreen Park show the diverse natural beauty that frames this city, offering peaceful retreats and adventure in equal measure.

A Farewell, For Now

As we bid goodbye to Haikou, we’re reminded that every visit is just the beginning of a deeper exploration.

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