Billed as "China's Hawaii", Sanya has 20-km stretches of beach. As the only tropical city across the coastline, it is definitely booming and packed with a lot of water sports such as snorkeling and jet-skiing, rainforest hiking, and innumerable hotels ranging from zero to five stars.
With sunshine all year around, temperatures hover around 25°C even in January and 30°C in the summer time. Its islands and beaches are beautiful and the water in Yalong Bay and Dadonghai are clean enough to have a good swim, but you may also want to head to Wuzhizhou Island or further north to visit unspoiled and natural scenery.
While tourists come in every season, the peak season starts from 1 October to the end of winter. During the winter, Sanya is a popular escape for Russians who primarily stay at Dadong Hai (大东海 Dàdōng hǎi) and Northern Chinese to escape freezing weather. In the Chinese New Year, the city will be flooded with tourists and expect everything to be extremely expensive.
As the southernmost city in China, Sanya along with Yangshuo often serves as the last stop for backpackers who wish to spend the remaining days of their visa in China.
- Sanya Bay Beach - stretches for around 25 kilometers, but is rather polluted and devoid of swimmers. It is lined with seafood restaurants and hotels costing ¥50-5,000.
- Sanya city - filled with souvenir shops and street grills at night. You will see locals dancing along the beach in the evenings, and a range of people selling souvenirs, street food and fairground games. Try the outdoor public karaoke if you dare! Cross the Sanya River (三亚河 Sānyà hé) to reach a less touristy, cheaper, and more fun part of town.
- Dadong Hai (大东海 Dàdōng hǎi) - has Sanya's best balance between development and natural beauty. The town behind Dadong Hai is more expensive than Sanya, but has better restaurants and a gorgeous beach. The shopping, however, is not as good as Sanya city's. The dominant languages in this area, both spoken and written, are Chinese and Russian.
- Yalong Bay (亚龙湾 Yàlóng wān) - is farther from Sanya city than Dadong Hai and is 45 minutes away from Phoenix Airport. The destination has been developed into an international holiday center with several 5-star resorts, golf, etc. The long beach is well taken care of by the various hotels. You will find many restaurants in the new shopping area. Definitely worth a visit, but be prepared for higher prices with respect to Sanya.
- Haitang Bay - Not as crowded as Yalong Bay. 35 minutes away from Phoenix International airport by G98 Highway. Future home of the largest Duty Free Shopping Mall in China. Several luxurious resorts of note already operating as well as a multiplex and show center.
- Yacheng Town (崖城镇) - Formerly known as Yazhou (崖州), this is the oldest town in the Sanya region with a history dating back to the Song Dynasty. It's about 46 km west of Sanya City and accessible by bus (Bus Route 58) and high speed rail (alight at Yazhou Station). While in no way comparable to any of the more famous ancient towns on the Mainland, it may be worth a visit if you happen to be in Sanya and have a day to spare. The main points of interest are the restored Wenming Gate (文明门) and the Yacheng Confucian Temple (崖城学宫). There are also a number of interesting villages in the area, most notably Baoping Village (保平村), which contains many examples of Ming and Qing-style residential buildings.
Sanya has an airport with flights to most major Chinese cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Fares vary significantly, depending on season and the particular tour. You may be able to save money by first taking a bullet train to Haikou and flying out of the provincial capital's larger airport. The Meilan high-speed rail station is in the same building complex with Haikou's international airport. For intercity bus, ticket and overnight lodging can exceed the difference and you should account for travelling 3-4 hours each direction. In addition to the bus, you will easily be able to find "heiche" (黑车 hēichē) taxis that will take you between the two cities, for ¥350-500 per car. Although it's illegal, you can find drivers that are courteous, safe and reliable, although this is much more difficult without being able to speak at least basic Chinese. Take bus number 8 from the airport to the city (and back), which stops here in both directions.
The 3½-hour bus ride from Haikou will cost about ¥80. Buses between Haikou and Sanya depart about every 30 minutes; the last bus from Sanya to Haikou departs around 23:00. Sanya's bus station is along Jie Fang Lu (解放路 jiěfàng lù), a few steps south (away from McDonalds) of the east end of "Shopping Street" (步行街 bùxíng jiē).
Sanya can be reached directly by train from Beijing (35 hours), Shanghai (36 hours) and Guangzhou (15 hours). The whole train is loaded on to a ferry for the journey from mainland China to the Island, then continues its journey around the west coast as far as Sanya. As trains leaving the island originate in Sanya, tickets from this smaller town are easier to obtain than if leaving from Haikou.
High-speed train connect all major cities and towns on the eastern coast. It takes 1½-2 hours from Haikou, travels up to 250 km/h.
The new train station in Sanya is far from downtown, approximately as far as the airport. A taxi to Dadong Bay (大东海), the most popular tourist area) is approximately ¥25-30. A public bus will cost ¥1. Lines 2 and 4 lead through Sanya city proper and continue through (and past) Dadong Bay. Since January 2019, it has also been possible to take a tram to the city. However, the trams are only operating on a trial basis with very limited frequency and travellers wishing to use the trams are required to make an appointment by calling 17889798302 (see the Get around section for further details).
Many people stay in beach areas with more-or-less everything within walking distance.
Darting in, around, and between Sanya city and Dadong Hai is best done by the city bus lines 2 (fastest) or 4 (adds some stops around Sanya River) for ¥1. The buses run along Sanya city's Jiefang Road (解放路), which is the street McDonald's is on, and hit Dadong Bay at Luling Road (鹿岭路), just one stop past the Deer Turns Head Square (鹿回头广场)
For trips farther out of town, you can buy bus tickets at Sanya city's bus station or just hail buses on the road that runs along Sanya's beach. Tickets to most destinations will be ¥1-30. You could also hire a van with (or without) an English speaking guide from hotels or people with white and blue displays on the streets of Sanya City or Dadong Bay. If choosing to go with a Chinese tour group, beware that there may likely be several hours of scheduled stops at "infomercial" centers, complete with microphone delivered advertisements.
By light rail
A light rail network is under construction. The first section of Line 1 has already been completed. It runs from Sanya Railway Station to Jiefang Road in the city centre. Services began in January 2019, albeit only on a trial basis with limited frequency. Travellers wishing to take part in the trials should make an appointment by calling 17889798302. There is no charge for taking part in the trials. Services operate only between 09:00 and 11:00 in the morning and from 15:00 to 17:00 in the afternoon. There are no services on the weekends.
Taxi fare starts from ¥8 for the first 2 km, and ¥2 for each additional kilometer. Due to the cheap fare, taxi drivers like to hover around anywhere outside the downtown to avoid short-ride passengers. This makes getting a taxi in the downtown a bit difficult. Taxis are quite well regulated and they are mostly okay with using a meter, but drivers are mainly immigrant workers who may not be familiar with every place. Some of them also try to fool tourists that the place they want to go is closed, and try to take you farther. Another problem is that since Sanya is only crowded during winter, there are enough taxis to go around. And the government doesn't hire more taxis because during the summer, there would be too many taxis and the drivers would not make any money. To help with this problem, the government has commissioned another class of yellow taxis that can hailed by phone. Dial 96789 tell them your location and they will pick you up if there is a car nearby you and the rates are the same as regular taxis.
There are also numerous motorcycle and sidecar taxis. You must negotiate the price before leaving. Prices are slightly lower than regulated taxis but it depends on your negotiating skills and knowing what the locals pay for the same trip distance.
By car or motorcycle
You can also rent a motorbike or a car of your own. There are several places to do this, with prices per hour (¥60), 4 hours (¥150), 8 hours (¥350) or by week (¥1,500). Discounts are available outside peak times. However, any driver who is not familiar with the traffic norms in Sanya should think twice about renting a motorbike. Traffic rules are practiced half-heartedly and road condition can be dangerous even if you are a good disciplined driver. When you crash into a pedestrian, you as a driver are likely the one to pay the compensation.
When renting a car or motorcycle, you need a valid Chinese driving license (International Licenses are not valid). There is no exemption to this rule and you can be jailed for up to 15 days by driving without a license. In most cases, you will be fine without it, but in the event of an accident, this will be a major issue.
- 1 DaDongHai (BigEastSea) (大东海; Dadonghai) (From the airport, take bus nr. 8.). The main "foreigner area" (especially Russian -- in visitors and signage, there is little English here!) Dadonghai is an easily accessible, beautiful beach -- and tourist/laowai haven. It has a good balance between development and natural beauty. The water is decently clean; the ocean bed is mostly just sand with a rare school of fish or eel. The beach is lined with expensive (and generally not very tasty) restaurants, but the beach is free (although cordoned into "zones" for swimming and boating). The beach is closed at night, but there is a section to the far east (the "military zone") that is just beyond a big fence (with a big hole in it) which is always open. It is not policed or seemingly controlled. The town behind Dadong Bay is more expensive than Sanya, but has foreign restaurants. The shopping, however, may not be as good as Sanya city's. See the beach both in the morning, at sunset (sets gorgeously over the hills), and at night (when people are more scarce). There're beach parties here on weekends, especially, starting early but picking up later (usually after hours) at the "Beach Bar", located in the middle of the beachhead. Just look for music, foreigners, fire torches, and dancing after midnight.
- 2 Luhuitou Park (鹿回头公园), 鹿回头公园 (pronounced Loo Hway Toe Park, or Deer Looks Back Park, on top of the mountain in Sanya where all the green lasers are shooting out from, take the road toward Da Dong Hai, turn make a right on Li Ling Road, then go up the hill until you get to the ticket booth; from there you can either walk up the rest of the way or pay for a shuttle.), ☏ . close 23:30. This is one of the tourist attractions in Sanya. On top of one of the tallest mountains in Sanya stands a statue of a deer looking back, flanked by a Li boy and a Li Girl. The legend goes that the boy was hunting the deer until the deer approaches a cliff, looks back, and magically turns into a beautiful girl and they fall in love. This place symbolizes young couples falling in love. At night you will see green lasers shooting out from near the statue that is visible from all over Sanya. Beneath the statue is an outdoor barbecue seating area that closes at 23:30. You will see wild monkeys that take food from humans as well. On the back of your ticket, you will see a map of the park so you can guide yourself. There is an abandoned roller coast up here as well. You will see the rusting tracks and closed off entrance area. There is also a wall with chains on it where you can buy a padlock with your names written on it and have your padlocked locked to the chain to symbolize that your love is forever. Or until the lock breaks. ¥45 entrance, ¥15 option shuttle.
- 3 Nanshan Temple (南山寺). Built as a tourist site in 1998 with a gigantic statue of Guanyin (a Goddess of Mercy) on a sea-top platform. The park has few interesting spots (save a monastery bells that you can "gong") but demands an entrance fee of ¥150. A trolley car can shuttle you around the park for extra cash, but it is best enjoyed without the trolley as it really is not that big. Nanshan is about an hour outside of Sanya city by city bus, which can be grabbed at the bus station or along the city's beach-side roadway (三亚弯路). The surrounding countryside is much more interesting than the park itself, which is a must-miss.
- 4 Sanya Museum of Imperial Edicts (三亚圣旨博物馆), Located at Tianya Haijiao (Take Bus Nos. 6, 16, 24, 25, 26, or 29 and get off at the Tianya Haijiao bus stop). 08:30-17:30.
- Sea Turtles 911. The only non-profit organization promoting sea turtle conservation in China, Sea Turtles 911's primary facility is a floating sea turtle hospital in Lingshui near Nanwan Monkey Island, as well as programs in Sanya and Haikou. While on Hainan Island visitors are welcome to volunteer with the sea turtles and the organization's educational programs. Recommended donation.
- 5 Tianya Haijiao (天涯海角; Tianya Haijiao - Edges of the heaven, corners of the sea) (30 minutes from Sanya by bus number 25 (see the bus station, tickets ¥4 per person, one way)). One of the most famous beaches in China, and a traditionally popular spot for romantic couples. The beach is often too overrun by tourists for visitors to be able to appreciate its natural beauty, but has been famously alluded to by various ancient Chinese writers and in modern Chinese pop culture. ¥70 and ¥35 for students.
- 6 Wuzhizhou Island (蜈支洲岛). The waters surrounding this island are the most beautiful in Sanya. A popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, this island has fallen victim to it is popularity. Water is less clear and fish less plentiful than before, so choose dates and times to maximize visibility when visiting. Scuba diving will cost ¥400-500. Also see Sunrise Rock,观日岩。It is located on the cliff in the southeast of the island. Standing on the rock, you can get a bird's view of the whole island and the South China Sea. The Guanri Rock is like a natural stone Buddha facing to the sea. It is also like a huge turtle crawling to the vast ocean. The rock is an ideal place for you to enjoy the sunrise. You can get onto the island by ferry as early as 08:30. The last ferry back from the island is 17:30. The hotel rates are outrageous so unless you have lots of money, staying the night is not recommended.
- 7 Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park (亚龙湾热带天堂森林公园) (take Bus Nos. 15, 25 or 27 and get off at the Yalong Bay Petrol Station).
- Beauty Crown Theater (美丽之冠). At the construction site of a 7-star hotel. This show includes dancers, singers, and tigers, from 20:30 nightly. ¥280.
Sanya is home to numerous practice range, suitable for beginner and several demanding golf courses for more challenges. Some international tournament take regularly place in different Sanya golfing venues. Hotels offer weekly package where you can golf every day on a different course.
- 1 Mystic Springs Golf Club (神泉国际高尔夫俱乐部), Nantian Hot Springs Tourist City, Haitang Bay (海棠湾南田温泉旅游城), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 06:00-19:00.
Hainan has pretty consistent surf most of the year. In the summer, the south winds bring waves to Sanya's south-facing beaches. In the fall through winter, the peak surf season, Hainan's east coast is the place to go. Hainan does not offer world-class waves, but it offers fairly consistent tropical surf, which is almost completely empty. If you a breaking in to surfing, there are a number of companies to contact.
- Insight Adventures (鹿回头村第四組２０３號), LuHuiTou Village (best use email or phone), ☏ . Insight Adventures are the largest operator in Sanya and offer surfing and many other activities such as kayaking, biking, snorkelling and stand up paddle boards. Insight offers a large staff of foreign and Chinese guides.
Sanya is a popular destination for pro-amateur bikers who are eager to hover around the whole island. However, almost all bikers take their own bike. Bike rental service is not as omnipresent as other touristy places such as Yangshuo or Lijiang. Most bike shops are located at Sanya Hexi Lu (Sanya River East Road), you need to pay ¥1000 for deposit and prices start from ¥40 for 1 day hiring. Several hostels also have a bike rental service. A route from Dadonghai to Yalong bay, then to Haitong Bay has a well-constructed, -lit and smooth road which stretches over 30 km and make it ideal to ride. However, the urban area of Sanya has some of the worst traffic in China and the local police are notorious for being impotent on cracking down traffic violations.
Yalong Bay, Dadong Bay, Haitang Bay and Sanya Bay all have a collection of jet skiing, parasailing, paragliding, snorkeling, scuba diving, glass-bottomed boat, and beach ATV enterprises. Prices aren't generally very negotiable (save for scuba and snorkeling), but duration of the ride, however, can. Do not go too cheap on scuba, for obvious safety reasons.
In Sanya, you may more likely do more walking than hiking. With its pretty flat landscape and well-developed roads, hiking is not particular popular among tourists. Hikers often take a bus in the Sanya Bus Station at Jiefang Road and head to Wuzhishan (五指山）to start their hiking tour. The 90-minute bus is available every hour from 07:00 to 16:00 and fare is around ¥16.
With such a beautiful environment, relaxing on the beach and studying Mandarin Chinese is a fun and productive activity for those with more time. It's also easier to focus on the studying without the distractions of the big cities.
An English Corner is an informal regular gathering where locals meet to practice their English. If you show up and are visibly foreign, people will be eager to talk to you. This gives you a chance to meet some locals and socialize even if you don't speak much Chinese.
- English Corner, Jie Fang Lu (near Mingzhu Square, opposite the shopping center, it's on the 3rd floor on a police station, once you are on Jie Fang Lu, you will see an Arch with about 5 or 6 flags on top, go through the arch and you will see a police station on your right. Go to the 3rd floor. After you arrive on the 3rd floor, make a left, you will find the English Corner in a kindergarten room on your left. If you see any white guys in the room, then you are in the right place. There are no signs.), ☏ (Jelly). Wednesday 20:00-22:00. Locals meet here to practice English with each other, expats occasionally visit as well. The level of English varies but is generally good enough for conversation. Good to get inside information on Sanya, many of them will be happy to show you around for a chance to speak some English.
- English Corner, at YoungBar (DaDongHai - beside Dolphin Bar). Every Sunday at 15:00.
Paintball & gun games
Crystalball Gun Games (水弹枪), Da Dong Hai (BanShanBanDao), ☏ . Weekends, 2pm till sunset. There is a small group of foreigners and a large group of Chinese that play gun games (水弹枪) in Sanya. The guns are "water ball" or "crystal ball" guns (水弹枪). They shoot a small "crystal" or "water" ball, similar to a paintball (but smaller, at lower velocity, and with no mess), and the guns look like their real-steel counterparts (they are modified airsoft guns). Two locations: one is an "official" Chinese field (maze) outside at GuoXing Sports Area (near the train station) (cost 70 RMB); the other is an abandoned hospital that we have set up with wood and tire cover / bunkers specifically for gun games (cost is by donation). Come shoot! Call or text "Reyn" for more information, pictures, and pricing at +86 150 2431 0072, or on WeChat: adamreyn 20 RMB (Abandoned Hospital) or 70 RMB (Guoxing Field).
The area produces pearls in abundance and they are sold everywhere. Prices are highly negotiable; overcharging tourists is common. Tour guides get a fat (often 50%!) commission for bringing tourists to pearl shops; try to go without one and beat the price down.
Coconut powders and teas are also popular Chinese buys, but for Westerners looking for something less commercially produced... the cone-shaped hats that women wear here with pictures inscribed are only ¥5 at The First Market (第一市场 dìyī shìchǎng) in Sanya city. Lines 2 and 4 have a stop there. Don't head into the department store; instead, stick to the side of it and walk down the road filled with small shops and street vendors.
- 1 Corner's Deli (每一角落), 三亚市愉亚大道夏日百货五楼，5/F, Summer Mall, Yuya Avenue, Dadong Sea (At Summer Mall, fifth floor of south end, in Dadonghai), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. until 22:00. Offers a wide range of imported food and drinks. For anyone living in China and wanting to take back a few western groceries that can't normally be found, this small deli is worth the trip.
- 2 China Duty Free Sanya Mall (CDF Sanya Mall, 三亚国际免税城), 118 Haitang Road North, Haitang District (海棠区海棠北路118号) (free shuttle buses are available from several of Sanya's five-star hotels; you can also take public bus routes 33, 34, 35 and Haitang Bay 1), toll-free: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-22:00. A government-run duty free shopping center for luxury goods. Here you can buy all the Gucci, LV, etc. to your heart's content. You would need proof of a plane ticket leaving Hainan and you must pick up your goods at the airport when you leave.
There are plenty of good Chinese regional-food restaurants, including many Sichuan, Cantonese, and DongBei places. There are also a few foreign / Western food restaurants, especially Dolphin and Young Bar, and of course the ubiquitous McDonald's (DaDongHai  and Jiefang Lu), Starbucks (in Summer Mall) and KFC (105 Jiefang Lu; Duojialian; 63 Guoxing Dadao; Renmin Lu). Seafood is of course also a mainstay in the cuisine of Sanya, and DaDongHai is filled with overpriced seafood restaurants. Inspect the tanks for freshness before eating and beware of the different charges that are often handled by different people at the restaurant (fishery, cooking fee, and sitting fee can be separate). Shellfish go for ¥10-25 per jin (half kilo).
- 1 No. 1 Agricultural Products Market (第一市场), Xinjian Street # 155. close midnight. This is not a restaurant, but a live seafood supermarket, and it's worth mentioning because of its popularity. You buy seafood here, take it across the street around the corner and all the restaurants will cook the food for you. They have seafood, poultry, lamb, pork - almost anything you can think of besides beef. As you are shopping for food, you will get approached by touts that give you a business card with their price list for cooking your food for you. If you agree, after you finish buying, they will take you to their restaurant around the corner and prepare the food for you. If you want to eat seafood but don't want to pay the outrageous prices at seafood restaurants, this is a great option. Varies.
- 2 Bohemian (波西米亚), 三亚市凤凰路三永凤凰城3号 (Phoenix Road (凤凰路 fènghuáng lù)), ☏ . Newly-opened restaurant with an international menu. Very well decorated and furnished and the service by waitresses wearing faux-Bavarian uniforms is exceptional. As soon as you walk in, you have to go up a winding staircase. Very high class feel. You can tell they spent a lot of money to renovate the place. They have private rooms where you can eat as well. Prices range from very expensive (for things like Japanese beef or caviare) to very reasonable for more conventional Chinese dishes.
- 3 Casamia Italian Restaurant (卡萨米亚意大利餐厅), 三亚湾路蓝色海岸门面旁B211号,2nd Floor (By the entrance of Lan Se Hai An Complex), ☏ . A really upscale restaurant with two locations in Sanya with excellent service with authentic Italian dishes. Prices are fair, the presentation is good as is the taste, as is the quality of food. Clean and well run. Recommended for western foods that will delight the palate. All wines and beer served. English speaking staff. Italian owner who is the Maitre D aided by his Chinese wife.
- 4 Coffee World (考菲乌), Herton Hotel at Dadonghai Beach-1st floor (东海旅游区荷泰海景酒店1楼) (opposite Resort and Time Hotel), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 10:30-23:30. Offers pizza, pastas, salads, soups and the tastiest BBQ chicken wings in Hainan. Dining on a lovely balcony which overlooks Dadonghai Beach. Tel: 0898-88677995. The restaurant delivers to customers within a 5 mile radius of Dadonghai Beach. English is spoken. Moderate price.
- 5 The Dolphin Sports Bar & Grill, 99 Yuya Road, Dadonghai (tell the cab driver to drop you off 100 metres before Summer Mall in dadonghai, and look across the main road, you will see us between a couple of Russian shops), ☏ . Western restaurant and sports bar with a wide selection of Western favorites such as hamburgers, soups, salads, pasta, Tex-Mex and sandwiches. There are usually good specials on imported beers and international cocktails. Check with the manager and he can probably make something off the menu for a reasonable price. A local mecca for foreigners (along with YoungBar next door), it's usually a loud environment with countless big screen TV's showing major sporting events. Also has typical bar games: pool, darts, foosball, and eating competitions. Live band every night after 9pm. It can get quite rowdy here late at night. Meals ¥60-150.
- Young Bar (Yang's Bar), 97 YuYa Lu, DaDongHai (beside Dolphin Bar). Young Bar is a Chinese-owned foreign food pub. Yang, the owner, often creates community English events (including running an English Corner). The food is Western and Russian, and decent (it and Dolphin Bar often battle for #1 spot in Western food). The staff are often Kazakh or from other central Asian cultures. The customers are often Russian. ~70 - 100 RMB for a meal and drink.
- 6 Hot Pot Fashion, 时代海岸西区2楼.
- 7 Jing Fu Gong (景福宫), 三亚市凤凰路三永凤凰城4号 (Phoenix Road, right next door to the Bohemian), ☏ . Korean restaurant run by South Koreans. Part of a chain, there is one in Haikou too. Very authentic, to the extent that it is a favourite for Korean tour groups who want a taste of home. Attentive service. They have an upper level where you can take off your shoes and sit on the floor and private rooms. Reasonable prices.
- 8 Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant (柠檬草泰式餐厅), 三亚湾蓝色海岸餐饮街二楼 (Next to Casamia in Sanya Bay), ☏ .
- 9 Marco Polo (Italian restaurant), 海韵路8号 (look for the big Marco Polo sign), ☏ . Offers a slightly more upscale take on Italian. There is a large, outdoor seating area and the pizzas are highly recommended. Offers pizzas, pastas, soups, meats and more! The food and the service are great. As of May 2013, they don't have adequate wait staff, so the only way to get a meal there is to show up around 18:00 and maybe the owner is in and can cook a meal for you. Expect ¥80-100 for a meal.
- 10 Russian Restaurant & Bar (俄式西餐酒吧), 大东海愉亚大道66号华豫苑首层俄式西餐酒吧 (in between City Plaza Hotel and Hawaii Hotel), ☏ .
- 11 Wanjunlong (旺君隆餐馆), Yuejin Street #86 (Corner of Shengli Road and Yuejin Street), ☏ . close when sun comes up. Popular place for late night barbecue and beer. Not as big as Shangping Road, but a good alternative if you get sick of shangping road. various.
- 12 Xinya Seafood Restaurant (新亞海鲜餐厅), 海南省三亚市三亚湾路19号 (Corner of Sanya Bay Road and Xin Feng Jie), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Very popular Xinjiang restaurant next to Sanya Beach. Has typical Xinjiang dishes such as Dapanji, a wide range of seafood that can be cooked as you wish and Indian Roti. Along the coastal road from the restaurant are a number of very popular seafood restaurants. Two restaurants in one.
Hainan grows a great variety of tropical fruits. Mango, apple, pineapples, durian, jackfruit, mangosteen, lycee are very popular and their breeds are colorfully diverse. Hainan is famous throughout China for its coconuts and they are worth trying, especially the red coconuts (红椰 hóng yē). Away from the beach, expect to pay about ¥8-10 for a coconut. Prices increase as you get closer and you may end up paying about ¥15 for a coconut on the beach. Note that fruit price is fluctuating and cheating on its weight is common. Visit any big and well-established chained supermarkets in the downtown of Sanya along Jiefang Road to check the current market price.
A bit after sunset and well in to the midnight, Sanya city's streets are filled with small barbecue stands, noodle stands, and other snack vendors. There is a well-known seafood supermarket called The No. 1 Agricultural Products Market(第一市场)(See address below). You buy live seafood and then take it around the corner to a crowded street where all the restaurants will cook(Jia Gong,加工） the seafood for you for a small fee per dish. It's the most crowded night market in Sanya. You will find a constant assortment of musicians and kids that sell flowers to proposition you while you are eating. It's a great way to save money on eating seafood because there is no markup for the seafood because you purchased the seafood yourself. It's quite a lively environment with guitarists playing, saxophonists playing, customers singing, beer flowing all night long, garbage trucks to come by to pick up the garbage, and the occasional fight. This street starts dying down around the midnight and the crowds head to bar street.
After Bar Street closes, the crowds head to the night food market located at the 1st Lane of Shangping Road (商品街一巷) which is close to Jiefang Road (解放路). Most foods are at the fixed price but try to negotiate a bit for the seafood barbecue. The food and beer flows until the sun comes up.
Another popular after-hours barbecue place is at Wan Jun Long. Not as popular as Shangping Road, but if you are sick of seeing the same people all the time, this is another alternative.(address below)
Drink & Drunk
The vast majority of coffee shops here open around 10:00 or 11:00. There is a Starbucks in the Summer Mall (in DaDongHai). The Jiefang Lu (解放路) McDonald's has thus become a morning pilgrimage for many Westerners (debatable).
Times Coast (Shi Dai Hai An) Bar Street
This is where all the hottest clubs in Sanya are; it's one big circle with about 10-11 clubs. The big three first tier clubs with all the tourists are Soho, MJ, and 88. The rest of the clubs are second tier clubs that have mostly locals and are less expensive. To get here, hop in a cab and say "Jiu Ba Jie". The most popular local brew is Anchor (actually Singaporean but produced in Hainan). Ask for the 'red label' or 'old' brew, which is the original. It is very hoppy and can be a great escape from Yanjing (燕京) or Qingdao (青岛) beer. Those are available, of course, as well. There are also local pineapple-based beers. Odd, but worth a try.
Most of these bars will ask you to buy many bottles at a time (standard practice in China). They are loud, flashy, often bland EDM-anthem places filled with FuErDai and Russians. Mostly tables with people just sitting and drinking, the dance floors are often small and shaped like a model-runway, and often have shows that take place and so everyone just goes and sits at their tables. Foreigners will not get free drinks at these Chinese clubs; you have to go to smaller cities for that (too many Russian tourists in Sanya for that white privilege).
- Soho Bar (苏荷酒吧), 三亚市河东路36号 (First bar you will see on Bar Street, across the bridge from Pizza Hut), ☏ . close 03:00. The most popular bar for mainland tourists. More attractive people here than other bars. ¥180 for 6 beers.
- MJ BAR (三亚名舰国际娱乐会所), 三亚市榆亚大道时代海岸酒吧街 (exit Soho, make a right, walk half a block), ☏ . close 03:00. This is the club with the most foreigners. The bar counter is a Russian hangout. Every Wednesday night is ladies night where all girls drink for free. Managed by an Anerican-born Chinese from New York City named Eddie. ¥180 6 beers.
- Gold Baidu (金百度), 时代海岸酒吧街愉亚大道2号附近 (next to Golden Club), ☏ . close 02:00. Second tier club on the ground level around the corner from Allen Story
- 8090 Bar (8090后酒吧三亚店), 榆亚大道2号鸿洲时代海岸内 (next to Gold Baidu), ☏ . close 02:00. Second tier club, they have KTV rooms on the second floor, and a lounge section on the 3rd floor
- 123 Bar (123酒吧), 三亚旅游区榆亚路时代海岸酒吧街(近名舰酒吧) (Before you reach MJ walking from Soho, there is an alleyway, First bar in the alleyway), ☏ . close 02:00. Second tier club, but full of people always. mostly locals.
- Wang Jiao (旺角酒吧), 三亚市时代海岸酒吧一条街 (Exit Soho and make a left, walk past rainbow and Eadry Hotel,), ☏ . close 02:00. Second tier club, mostly locals, have KTV rooms on the second floor ¥100 dozen beers.
- No. 88 Bar (88酒吧), 海南省三亚市愉亚大道时代海岸1号楼101号商铺 (exit Soho, make a left and keep on walking until you see it), ☏ . close 03:00. Franchise club, always packed and they have balcony levels for more private partying. Less foreigners here, but more foreigners than Soho. Russians who live in Sanya can apply for a free drink card. ¥180 6 beers.
- Rainbow Bar & Grill (三亚云波西餐酒吧), 三亚市榆亚路时代海岸鸿洲埃德瑞首层（游艇码头旁） (Exit Soho, make a left, first bar you see), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. close 02:00. They have both and indoors and outdoors section. The outdoors section is more popular. They have a pool table and a live band. Indoors, they have a foosball table. The burgers here are pretty good.
- Take (台客), 愉亚大道时代海岸酒吧街9号 (exit MJ, make a left, go into alley and it's the first bar on the right), ☏ . close 02:00. New bar with a live band. long bar counter stocked with alcohol and girls.
- The Dolphin Sports Bar & Grill (海豚吧), No 99 Yu Ya Rd, ☏ . close 02:00. This is the foreigner hangout in Sanya. Live band and western food. You will find mostly Russians sitting outside and a mix of people sitting inside. More description of this bar in the restaurant section.
- Sanya Surf Circus, Dadonghai Beach (In the middle of Da Dong Beach), ☏ . close 02:00. During the day, they sell and rent surf boards, have surf lessons. Almost every Saturday or Friday, they have a beach party. During these parties, you will see all the foreigners in Sanya. About 25 percent of the crowd will be Russian, another 25 percent black, and the rest a mix of Americans, Europeans, and Chinese. Run by some Italian guys. They send a mass text message out the day before there's a party. To get on the list, send an SMS to Darci, phone number listed here above. The owners' names are Lillo, Darci, Paolo, and Luca ¥10 a beer.
- Heroes Valley Bar (英雄谷酒吧), 三亚市港务局码头开发区 (Go to Gang Wu Ju and look for Heroes Valley Bar), ☏ . close 02:00. They have a big lounge area, but this bar is a "high" bar, most people come here to go to the private KTV rooms on the second floor to do their preferred drug of choice.
- Rings Lounge (年轮音乐酒吧), 文明路100号 (Near the 123 Food Garden), ☏ . close 02:00. They have two floors. On the second floor you can sing karaoke where all the customers can hear and see you - not a common thing in China. They also sell Pizza. This is a relatively new bar and they don't have a lot of customers yet. They do have one problem though - because residents live upstairs, they have to turn down the music after 23:00. ¥100 6 beers.
- 阳光地带 (Yang Guang Di Dai), 520 解放路，4th Floor (across the street from McDonald's, in the building that says New York Studio or something like that, take the elevator to the 4th floor), ☏ . close 02:00. This is where all the gay and lesbian people in Sanya hang out. You will find the men in one corner and all the women in another corner. Most of the women have short hair. They sell Anchor beer. There is a wireless microphone and you can sing karaoke. You can pick the songs yourself from the computer. If you are a good-looking male, you will get hit on. ¥120 12 beers.
- Street Dancers, 河西路双龙大夏 basement (It's in the building called Shuang Long Da Xia, located across the street from the 123 Garden Bar). all night. By day this is a Hip Hop Dance Studio, by night it's an underground private Hip Hop Club. Many professional dancers from the clubs come here after the bars close. It's got mirrors on the walls so you can watch yourself dance. They have a DJ Booth. Once a month they have a huge party here. To get in, you would need to know someone who can bring you or just wander in and knock on the door to see if they are friendly.
- Beer Factory, Intercontinental Hotel. They have their own brewery with German beer. Chinese owners brought German brewmasters over from Europe, had them set up the brewery, and then kicked them out (thinking they could run the place without them). As a result, the beer is not very good. You can see all the big canisters and pipes where the beer is brewed and served to you. There's outdoor and indoor seating. Indoor seating has a live band from the Philippines, sometimes. If you come here on Wednesdays, all the beer is half price. ¥36, ¥50, ¥80 for small, medium, big draft beer.
- Mos Blues. at the Mandarin Oriental Resort. A beautiful sunset bar with usually very tasty cocktails, however it's very expensive. Go at happy hour to make it reasonable.
- Ajiya (Haitang Bay Gloria Sanya), No. 9 Haitang Bay, 301 Road, Haitang Bay (Highway G98), ☏ . French Teppanyakki.
- Left Bank Coffee Bar, Guang Ming Lu #8 (near the roundabout to the entrance to Phoenix Island).
- 123 Garden (呀喏达), 三亚市河西路金河公寓一楼 (金宝菜后面), ☏ . This pub had live entertainment. Wooden tables are scattered through the place. They serve food and drinks. The DJ girl wears a hot bikini! They will open the second floor for KTV rooms.
- Hao Shi Ya Yu (豪士雅娱乐城), 三亚市河西区文明路金河公寓一楼 (Near 123 Garden), ☏ . A run down local club. The second floor is the main lounge. They have a dance floor with live entertainment. They also have KTV rooms. The crowd is a more local young crowd. Not as sophisticated as the crowd on bar street.
- 1 Top 10 Pub, 三亚迎宾路山水天城平安保险旁 (Approximately on 73 Yingbin Road), ☏ . This bar has a stage ready for a live band performance. They have miniature motorcycles and ATVs locate throughout for their motif. In addition to the general lounge area, they also have more private bungalows. On the second floor, you will find a pool table.
- Xun Mi (寻宓海景音乐吧), 三亚湾路8-1（凤凰岛公交站） (Across from Phoenix Island, 2nd Floor), ☏ . close 02:00. They have live music on the second floor, and a quieter section on the rooftop level.
- Monte Carlo Lounge European Dining Local Bar (蒙兰圣罗酒廊), 三亚市河西路长顺三香1号门牌 (It's in an alleyway.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This place is surprisingly well renovated inside. The surrounding alleyway is not much of a feast for the eyes, but inside has a European motif going on. They serve food and drinks and have three floors. It's a nice place to take a date if you've already seen all the places in town.
- Bud Cafe (早苗咖啡厅), 海南省三亚市吉祥路盛世新第大夏10层 (Next to Night Coffee), ☏ . close 01:30. Relaxed Coffeeshop (Taiwanese owned) with a variety of coffee drinks and some food (didn't try the food), Reggae music etc. Nice balcony with great view. Good internet connection, good to hang out and surf. Very unique feel to the place. Looks like you can write notes on the coasts and leave them underneath the glass at your table as a memento of your presence here. If nothing on the menu suits your fancy, you can get take out from the BBQ on the street level.
- JRH (佳仁仁), 三亚时代海岸东区金壁辉煌左侧 (Next to the Golden Club), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. They sell red wine here. Looks like a wine cellar inside.
- Night Coffee (三亚夜色咖啡屋), 三亚吉祥街盛世第大夏12楼阳台 (Rooftop of the building, next to Bud Cafe), ☏ . close 01:30. They occupy the 11th and 12th floor. The 11th floor has a home theater set up, and 12th floor rooftop is an open air setting over looking the ocean.
- In Time. Hostess Club ¥1000+ for room and alcohol. ¥500 for DJ,¥300 for Prince and Princess, ¥500 for girl.
- Ke Bao KTV (科宝KTV), 解放路316号, ☏ . close 02:00. Local KTV place. Tips for girls ¥100-300.
- Jia Li Lai KTV, 解放一路148号路宏湾宾馆2楼（嘉利莱KTV) (148 Jie Fang Road, 2nd Floor of the hotel), ☏ . close 02:00. ¥100-¥300 tip for the girls. From ¥250 for small room including drinks.
- Royal New International Chamber (新皇家国际会所), 中国三亚市海南三亚大东海旅游区海韵路18号新皇家国际会所 (not too far from the beach), ☏ , fax: . Another glamorous hostess club. The tip for the girls are ¥500 and up. ¥680 for small room.
- Golden Club (金壁辉煌俱乐部), 三亚市愉亚大道时代海岸（市委对面） (Around the corner from Allen Club), ☏ . close 02:00. This is a KTV Hostess club. You have to get a room that has a minimum charge of more than ¥1000. Then you pay for girls to drink with you. The girls charge ¥500 tip. From ¥1000 for a room.
As a general rule, accommodation prices in Sanya are very expensive, particularly during the winter months due to the huge influx of wealthy tourists from northern China.
In Sanya city and Dadonghai there are many small, clean moderately priced inns and hotels (¥50-100, even in high season, for 1-3 beds). Some may be located in alley ways just off Sanya's beach street, sometimes several floors up without an elevator (but the view is worth it!).
- 1 Blue Sky International Youth Hostel (三亚蓝天国际青年旅舍), 1 Lanhai Alley, Haiyun Rd, Dadonghai, Jiyang District (吉阳区大东海海韵路蓝海巷1号) (Take bus 4 to Xia Ri Bai Huo (夏日百货), walk down Haiyun Road and into the alley), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. One of the oldest hostels in Dadonghai area. The staff is friendly and some can speak English. The hostel can organize trips to all over Hainan. It has internet access, towels, laundry service, mats and hats for the beach. Scooters and motorcycles can be hired. Dorm ¥50, double from ¥160.
- 2 Sanya Backpackers Hostel (三亚背包客国际青年旅舍), 8 Haihua Road, Dadonghai (大东海海花路8号) (take bus 8 from Phoenix Airport 凤凰国际机场 to Dadonghai Bay 大东海 alight at Luling Lukou 鹿岭路口 bus stop junction Yuya Road 榆亚路 and Haihua Road 海花路), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A resort hostel run by a Singaporean couple. 3 minutes away from the beach in a private palm-tree-covered alleyway. The hostel is very clean (no shoes inside). It has a nice garden around a skate-ramp and pool table and bar. Free internet. The owner can speak some English. Great live music from resident musician and very nice vibe. Also offer PADI scuba diving courses and outdoor adventures. Has an outdoor pool table, bar, and small skateboard ramp. Used to be excellent, now it's only good for the atmosphere of the bar -- which, sadly, closes very early. Dorm ¥75, double from ¥200.
- 3 Sanya Lama Temple International Hostel (三亚雍和国际青年旅舍), 7 Dazhenling alley (大真岭巷) (Take a bus to Luhuitou square (鹿回头广场), head up the road onto the hill next to the duty free store.), ☏ . Small and quiet hostel about 10 minutes walk from Dadonghai beach. Clean, friendly and dorms far cheaper than anywhere in Dadonghai proper. There is no temple here, the name comes from its affiliation with Beijing's Lama Temple hostel. Dorms ¥25-30, rooms from ¥130.
- 4 Guoxi Hotel (果喜大酒店), 13 Jiefang Si Road, Jiyang District (吉阳区解放四路13号), ☏ . Four-star hotel with rooms with views of the mountain and sea along Sanya's coastline, cable TV, and free internet and breakfast. Shopping mall, night club, outdoor pool, sauna, and Chinese and Western food. Rooms start at ¥418.
- 5 Tianze Beach Resort Sanya (三亚天泽海韵度假酒店), 28 Sanya Bay Road, Jiyang District (吉阳区三亚湾路28号) (Along the ocean, next to the coffee shop. Has a pool facing the ocean. 28 Binhai Road), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. The hotel is right along Sanya Bay, surrounded by a magnificent shoreline and a stretch of coconut palm trees. ¥299.
- 6 Sanya Royal Garden Resort (三亚半山锦江海景度假酒店), 21 Luling Road, Dadonghai (大东海鹿岭路21号), ☏ . Offers 239 air-conditioned rooms, all of which have mini-bar, color TV, DVD/ CD player, and high-speed Internet access. Some of its amenities include outdoor swimming pool, sauna, and health/fitness center and massage service. Best rates on official website start at ¥388+.
- 7 Sanya Emerging Seaview Hotel (三亚新兴海景大酒店), 2 Jiefang Yi Road, Jiyang District (吉阳区解放一路2号), ☏ . This hotel offers various pretty rooms. Dining options include an authentic Chinese restaurant in addition to a lobby bar. In terms of recreation, the hotel offers 18 KTV rooms, massage services, a beauty salon.
- 8 Yin Yun Seaview Resort (三亚银韵海景度假酒店), 215 Sanyawan Road (三亚湾路215号) (West of the Airport), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The resort is a charming 80-room hotel that evokes Hawaii more than China. Online booking available on the official website. This place is far from the city center. Even farther than the airport. ¥168.
- 9 Barry Boutique Hotel (柏瑞精品海景酒店), 三亚市大东海旅游度假区 (walking distance from the beach), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Near the beach. ¥2000.
- 10 Banyan Tree Resort. This is a five-star resort with its own private beach. You can have a romantic dinner right on the beach.
- 11 Mandarin Oriental. 5 star resort
- 12 Haitang Bay Gloria Sanya (三亚海棠湾9号温泉度假酒店), No. 9 Haitang Bay, Road 301, Haitang Bay, Haitang District (海棠区海棠湾301路海棠湾9号), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 5-star luxury resort.
As a newly developed tourist destination, Sanya exists solely for tourism which is accompanied by annoyances including pickpocketeting and overcharging.
Before arrival, travelers should be wary of getting the right address and most up to date telephone number for their hostels/hotels. Some hostels are located in a new district whose roads have just been laid out. Not many people, including the police, know where specific locations are in new districts. When you get lost, always ask drivers to call the staff.
Para-sailing, diving, snorkeling and boating are popular but operators may not be trained or certified. If you go for diving, always check air tank pressures before. Some Wikitravelers have reported that they received half-empty scuba tanks and found it difficult to inhale smoothly.
Sanya has a lot of local tour packages. Some tours to outlying islands may look cheap, but once you arrive on the spot, operators may charge you extra money for using their equipment. Masks, snorkels and fishing rods can be shabby and expensive to rent. Other tours are shopping traps, complete with ridiculous commissions for the tour guide. Before you join any tour, ask specifically what is included in the fee (beach chair, drinks, boat, fishing rod, snorkel, mask, transportation, admission fees, return transportation, etc.), and what is not (shopping).
Thanks to a heavy crackdown on gangsters, Sanya has become much safer than in the early 2000s. While violent crimes against tourists are rare in Sanya, be wary of pickpocketing, bicycle theft and bag snatching. There are occasional reports of professional drivers zooming alongside a tourist and grabbing their bag. Pickpocketing is common on buses. You should avoid bringing any valuables to the beach as theft is occasionally reported. Lockers on the beach, along their showers and beach chairs, are not free. They will charge ¥20-50, or more, per use.
Sanya is also notorious for overcharging. Scams in seafood restaurants were heavily reported in the Chinese media in 2011. To avoid very unpleasant sticker shock, make sure you know the price of what you are ordering.
That being said, as a tourist area, everything sold close to the beach will be 30%-100% more expensive than in downtown Sanya due to high rents and the law of supply and demand (lots of tourists, limited prime real estate for restaurants). Furthermore, market prices anywhere in Sanya are slightly higher than Haikou due to the cost of transportation. For seafood lovers who just traveled from inexpensive Haikou, do not expect to pay ¥10 for 4 scallops or 6 oysters.
Traffic rules apparently do not exist. Cars and motorcycles drive on both sides of the road and careen down sidewalks as if they had right of way. Irritating honking is ever-present, even when driving on sidewalks. Tourists should not trust the green traffic light and zebra crossings, because changing lights sometimes encourage drivers to speed up. As elsewhere, do not trust drivers to avoid you; you should always avoid them.
Cars will only stop at red lights. Bikes will only stop at red traffic lights if they are managed by police, otherwise you will watch them zip and weave though all directions of oncoming traffic.
The road dividers on main arterial roads are not there to stop people from running across; they are in place to stop cars from going down the wrong side of the road. Watch a road without these installed and you will see this in practice.
The tap water, even in nice hotels, should not be considered safe to drink as the tap water in Sanya is generally not potable. Bring or buy bottled water if you plan to be outside of your accommodations for long periods of time. If you have access to a kettle in your hotel room or rented apartment, boiled water is fine to drink.
Hainan is considered an active malaria and dengue fever region. Note that while there are pills to prevent malaria, there is no way to grow antibodies against dengue fever. If you plan to visit tropical forest zones, bring your own strong mosquito repellent and coil incense.
While most tourists visit Hainan for the increasingly vibrant city of Sanya, the island is large and has many other more remote locations to see.
Baoting (保亭), a county just north of Sanya, is a popular destination for its scenic and cultural attractions, including the Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone (呀诺达雨林文化旅游区), the Betel Nut Valley Li & Miao Cultural Heritage Park (槟榔谷黎苗文化旅游区), and the Mount Qixian Hot Springs National Forest Park (七仙岭温泉国家森林公园).
A little further on from Baoting, about 70 km northeast of Sanya, is the county of Lingshui. About 15 km south of Lingshui's main town is Nanwan Monkey Island (南湾猴岛), actually a peninsula, which is home to about 2500 endangered Macaque monkeys whose habitat you get to roam freely through. Lingshui is also the location of Perfume Bay (Xiangshui Bay, 香水湾), a relatively quiet and peaceful coastal area, and the scenic island of Boundary Island (Fenjiezhou Island, 分界洲岛).
The eastern city of Wanning (万宁), between Sanya and Haikou is home to Shimei Bay (石梅湾 shí méi wān) and Riyuewan (日月湾 rìyuè wān), the former which hosts the large and very secluded-feeling Le Meridien, and the latter which has become a popular spot for surfers on a budget. The cheaper hotel is ¥480 a night, so not super budget. Take the slow (non-express) bus to Haikou from the bus station and ask to be dropped off at the respective highway turnoff (¥30, 90 min, pay on the bus). Make sure you show them your ticket first or they will take you to another town where a taxi ride back 5 km they charge ¥100. To get back, walk up to the highway and flag down a bus. Express buses won't stop to pick you up. A taxi to either location will cost around ¥300.
The Paracel Islands, known in China as the Xisha Archipelago (西沙群岛) are gorgeous, remote, and brimming with tropical life. One of this chain of islands reportedly used to be an exotic vacation spot but is now off-limits to foreign travelers due to territorial disputes. If you happen to be a Chinese national, however, you can take a cruise boat there from the Phoenix Island International Cruise Terminal (凤凰岛国际邮轮港). A round-trip takes around 64 hours and costs about ¥4000.