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Hainan Island, at the southern tip of China, was known in ancient times as 'The End of the Earth', and was used a as place of exile. Today, as a busy Special Economic Zone, one of China's most unspoiled natural regions and the centre of a fast-growing tourist trade, it's better known as the Chinese Riviera.
Haikou has been a strategic port of call since time immemorial, and is now once again a major trading centre. Much of the old city remains unchanged. Hainan is one of China's least crowded places and the country's warmest area, with a climate like Hawaii. There are miles of sandy beaches, verdant mountains, agricultural land and even unspoiled wilderness.
Despite development, Hainan remains a languid tropical island where the pace of life is relatively slow and easy, and visitors are encouraged to relax.
This is arguably the best place in all of China to see sailing junks, which have sadly disappeared from most other parts of the country; shipyards here welcome visitors interested in traditional boat-building methods.
This settlement on the south coast is Hainan's second-largest city, but is nonetheless a laid-back location where casual clothes are worn for almost every occasion and life proceeds at an unhurried pace.
Located just 2 km from Sanya city, Dadonghai is a small-but-bustling beach resort with such unexpected amenities as western-style cocktail bars with blues music on the sound system.
This neatly-kept town is a fishing port as well as a resort, so restaurants here have their daily pick of the ocean's freshest bounty, and serve some of the best seafood on the island.
This tranquil beach resort is where you would go to get away from everything, including organized tourist attractions. What you will find here instead is a stunningly beautiful and remarkably uncrowded beach, a small village - and peace and quiet.
Located on Hainan's east coast, this area has been famous for centuries for its natural mineral springs, water form which is nowadays piped directly into hotel rooms at a regulated temperature. Coffee is also grown in this area, and provides an interesting change of taste in the world's largest tea-consuming country.
Best reached by means of a 40-km bus trip from Sanya, this settlement is the centre of Hainan's largest autonomous areas, home to the Li and Miao ethnic minority peoples, and an excellent place to purchase beautiful handicrafts.
The End of The Earth
Located at the extreme southern tip of Hainan (and the limit of civilization, according to ancient belief), and this small resort features a relatively uncrowded beach with food soft drinks and a few guest accommodations.