From the time when the ancient Chinese thought that Sanya lay at the fag end of the Earth’s surface, and hence, being too far from civilization, was unliveable, this southern most city of their Hainan Island has come a long way. Referred to as the ‘Hawaii of China’ it is today a prized holiday destination for the rich and famous and playground of beauty queens – of the Miss World contests, no less. With its clean white sands, rugged reefs and crystal-clear turquoise waters and innumerable interesting activities, Sanya or Saiyaan, as the locals call it, packs in a beautiful holiday destination, perfect for a family holiday.
Places to Stay
Sanya offers some of the best hotel chains for its visitors, starting with the Wyndham Sanya Bay that lies not too far from the airport. Spend your evenings by the pool sipping a glass of wine and gazing at the beautiful South China Sea. You can even have a leisurely tub bath in your room’s balcony. There’s a supermarket down below and a foodie’s place too, should you want to try out some local fare.
Not too far away lies the Royal Begonia offering Mediterranean elegance. There are 19 villas with private pools here too. Then, besides the Phoenix Island Resort that stuns with its designer façade and interiors, there’s the classy MGM that from the ‘butterfly dancer’ welcome sets the tone for a warm and elegant stay in Sanya.
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Diverse and eclectic is the best way to describe the Sanya experience. And it begins with the spot referred to as ‘End of the Earth’- a must for the romantics at heart. For this was the place where, back in time, two lovers are believed to have jumped into sea to escape the wrath of their respective (feuding) families who were out to separate them. The two huge boulders here signify the young lovers and the smaller rocks their family members. A number of couples come here not just for their pre-wedding shoots but also to exchange nuptial vows to pay tribute to the two who preferred to be united in death than be separated in life.
Another picturesque corner in Sanya is the Yalong Bay Forest Park that offers the splendid views of the tropical rain forest. The adventurous lot can enjoy walks on first a long wooden bridge and then a glass sky walk stretching from one mountain-top to the other.
Water-sports freaks must head out for the Wuzhizhou Island that nestles in the Haitang Bay north of Sanya. You go there by ferry and then can either walk or hop into a battery-operated cart for a round of the island. The narrow serpentine road unveils spectacular views as you go past a rocky mountainous terrain. The island also lets you partake of the many fun-filled activities on offer such as parasailing, flyboarding, jet-skiing and snorkelling.
Keep an evening aside for a date at the Romance Park that, though in the Mandarin language, engages you with its tales of love from Chinese history. Right from the time the curtains go up, you remain spellbound by spectacular sets, acrobatics, flying trapezes, water shows with even some flyboarding included and ‘mermaids’ who wave out to you from their ‘water homes’ overhead.
Walk past the Sanya Bay around evening time admiring the reflection of the setting sun on the water surface and then step into the opulence of a cruise liner. After a refreshing welcome drink, you are treated to a show that traces the journey of the maritime silk route of yore that went past countries such as Malaysia, India and South Africa. Vignettes of each port the ships touched are shown in the form of delightful acts and dances. The Indian connection is highlighted with dancers swinging to the popular Bollywood numbers.
Your Sanya experience is not complete without a visit to the sprawling Nanshan Temple complex believed to have been built on an artificially created island. Besides the temples that were built in the 1980s to commemorate 2,000 years of Buddhism in China, the piece de resistance here is the majestic, white-hued statue that seems to emerge from the South China Sea waters. Built in 2005, this 108-metre high Bodhisattva Guanyin idol has three faces- one facing inland and the other two looking out towards the sea or the world at large.
Another slice of the island’s culture and history is unveiled at the idyllic Areca Village that offers a glimpse into the world of its Li and Miao minority groups. A walk past an interesting museum and exhibits takes you to the amphitheatre for a cultural performance by these tribal artistes. From martial and fire dances to the beautiful bamboo dance– the whole atmosphere gives you a peek into the idyllic life led by these delightful minority groups in an era long gone past.