Haikou is the capital and most populous city of the Hainan province. It is located on the northern coast of Hainan by Haikou Bay and the mouth of the Nandu River, and faces the Leizhou Peninsula across the Qiongzhou Strait. Most of the city is almost completely flat, and only a few feet (about 0.6 metres) above sea level. Haikou has an area of approximately 880 square miles (about 880 square miles). The northern part of Haikou City, the Haidian Island district, is separated from the main part of Haikou by the Haidian River, a tributary of the Nandu River. The district is accessible via the Haikou Century Bridge, which connects the Guomao district with Haidian Island at the estuary of the Haidian River; additional road connections are provided by the Renmin, Heping and Xinbu Bridges.
Haikou originally served as the port for Qiongshan, the ancient administrative capital of Hainan Island, and was a part of Guangdong province. In the 13th century, it was fortified and became a military post under the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The port is located west of the mouth of the Nandu River, Hainan's principal river. When Qiongshan was opened to foreign trade under the Treaty of Tianjin in 1858, Haikou began to rival the old administrative city. In 1926, Haikou overtook Qiongshan in population and was declared an independent city. It was developed as a port during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45) when the Japanese invaded and occupied Hainan Island from early-1939 to 1945. Since 1949, Haikou has maintained its position as Hainan's main port, and has replaced Qiongshan as the island's capital. In 1988, Haikou was made a prefecture-level city as well as the capital of the newly-created Hainan Province.
In recent years, the exotic natural beauty of Hainan Island and its warm, Hawaiian-like climate have made tourism an important part of Haikou's local economy. A visit to this scenic and inviting port city offers a unique opportunity to explore its many natural attractions. Included are: Evergreen Park, Haikou's largest park, the Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden, Five Finger Mountain with its waterfalls, Haikou Mangrove Forest, Golden Bull Mountain Ridge Park, and the Dongjiao Coconut Plantation. Haikou's inviting coastal waterways include Dongzhai Harbour's Mangrove Natural Reserve Area, Hongcheng and Nanli Lakes, Holiday Beach, Haikou Harbour, and the bays of Shimei and Yalong. Geological formations can be observed at the Shishan Volcanic and Huoshankou National geoparks, Rock Hill Volcano, Volcano Rock Hot Spring, Xinglong Mineral Springs, and Ma'an Ling Volcanic Vent at Saddle Mountain, among others.
The culture and national heritage of Hainan continue to flourish in historic sites throughout Haikou City. Learn about the city's past at the Hainan and Haikou Museums, or take a stroll along the streets of the Old Town. Along the way, pass by the city's oldest buildings, and homes built with classic Portuguese, French and southeast Asian architectural styles. The Haikou Arcade Street, and other arcade streets around the city, are wonderful testaments to the classic Chinese culture of a bygone era. You can also see Haikou's past come alive whilst exploring the fascinating ruins at the Zhichan Guanyin, Xiuying Fort and Xifuren Temple, and visiting the Tomb of Hai Rui, Temple of Five Lords and Qiongtai Academy, established in 1705. Traditional lifestyles can be observed during excursions to local homes and villages that dot the city and its environs.
The exquisite natural and coastal splendour of Haikou include a host of incredibly scenic and memorable sightseeing venues to explore. Land-based excursions include picturesque nature and mountain hiking, walking trails, bicycling, bird-watching, and golfing at the Hainan West Golf Course and Hainan Delta Golf Club. Haikou's waterways are equally as inviting, and feature idyllic beaches, bays, mangrove forests, harbours and lakes teeming with exotic flora and fauna, and diverse bird species, marine life and wildlife. Scenic and exciting water-based excursions include canoeing, sea-kayaking, wind- and kitesurfing, fishing, boating, sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving at Jiajing Island, and more.
Due to its compact size, Dalian can be easily explored in just a single day.
Going Ashore in Haikou
The ship is scheduled to dock at Xiuying Pier. Haikou's city centre can be reached via a six-mile (10-kilometre) taxi-ride. Complimentary shuttle bus service to a convenient location in town is offered in the morning and afternoon. If needed, taxis are available at the pier. All taxis are metered; however, drivers may not speak English.
Numerous department stores, shops, boutiques and stalls offer everything from pearls, crystals, li brocade cloth, seashells, coconut shell sculptures, local handicrafts, and accessories to food, pepper, and cosmetics. Popular shopping locations include the Seaview International Plaza, Sheng Sheng Department Store, No. 1 Department Store of Hainan, DC Department Store, Le Pu Sheng Emporium, Tailong Department Store, and Tourist Street. Most of the shops are open from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The local currency is the Yuan or Renminbi (RMB).
Haikou cuisine is highlighted by Hunan, Sichuan and other regional flavours, seafood, coconut juice, hotpot cooking, Hainan rice noodles, fried dumplings, and specialities such as Wenchang chicken, Dongshan lamb, Jiaji duck, and Hele crab. Menus ranging from western food to Chinese dishes are also available. Popular restaurants in-and-around Haikou also include the Jade Palace in the Sheraton Resort, NO.1 Mansion, Dongjiao Yelin, Hotpot, and the Lounge.
Haikou's city centre is easily accessible via a six-mile (10-kilometre) taxi-ride. Many of the streets of Haikou City are lined with coconut trees, and its picturesque seafront features charming shops, boutiques, restaurants and cafés overlooking graceful yachts, and fishing and junk boats in Haikou Harbour. Haikou's Old Town boasts the city's oldest buildings, market areas and homes.
Located on Binhai Road just west of the southern foot of Haikou Century Bridge, Evergreen Park is Haikou's largest park. Although home to 10,000 coconut trees and several hundred species of South Asian ornamental plants, most of the park consists of grassy fields. At the west side of the park is the Haikou Great Hall of the People, a concert hall, Hainan Exhibition & Convention Centre, and a large centre for trade shows and other commercial events. At the southeast corner of the park is Haikou City Stadium, the main venue for sports events here.
Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden
This splendid park offers both drive-thru and traditional zoos, with opportunities to feed some of the park's many wildlife species.
Baishamen Park (White Sand Gate Park)
Located on the north shore of Haidian Island, Baishamen Park features a small amusement park amidst grassy fields, with little tree cover.
Beautiful landscaping and tropical garden spaces give this lovely public park the look and feel of a lush botanical garden.
Jinniuling Park (Golden Bull Mountain Ridge Park)
Jinniuling Park boasts a small zoo, a lake, diverse flora and vast forest areas, including a large bamboo forest.
Located in the middle of Haikou City, this expansive green park is ideal for relaxing, bicycling, kite-flying and other sports.
Haikou People's Park
Located in the downtown area on Haixiu Road next to East Lake, the park draws large numbers of people each morning who engage in exercises, predominantly tai-chi, fitness dancing and aerobics.
Huoshankou National Geopark
Located in an inactive volcano, the Huoshankou National Geopark blends the park's stunning natural beauty with traditional Chinese culture and modern architecture. The view from the top of the caldera is breath-taking.
Haikou Harbour 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 tranquil beach resort is home to stunningly beautiful and remarkably uncrowded beach and small village; an ideal locale to experience the beauty of Haikou in a peaceful environment.
One of the largest bodies of water in Haikou City, Hongcheng Lake has three islands, the largest of which contains a defunct hotel. The lake is a popular location for fishermen, and roadside stalls to drink and dine at night.
Another scenic and renowned site in Haikou, Nanli Lake is perfect for a scenic and relaxing boat cruise. The lake features 13 islands of varied shapes, and five peninsulas covered by lush foliage and beautiful flowers.
Exquisite beach located west of Haikou City, this exquisite beach is home to verdant flora and fauna, autumnal breezes, pure sand, sparkling seawater, and bright sunshine. The beach is divided into four functional regions: the Sports District, Ocean Dining District, Beach Sunbathing District, and the Relaxation & Holiday District.
Located near 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.
Mangrove Nature Reserve Area
Located in the Qiongshan District's Dongzhai Harbour, the Mangrove Nature Reserve Area represents the first protected mangrove forest zone in China, and remains an aviary haven. About 159 species of birds inhabit the reserve, including many rare migratory species.
This beautiful tropical bay faces the wide open sea, and boasts an expansive, white-sand beach, lush flora and fauna, and crystal-clear seawater. Just offshore, colourful reefs, fish and marine life abound.
Just off Shimei Bay is Jiajing Island, awash with lush and vibrant plant-life. The undersea beauty surrounding the island features a rainbow of colourful coral, tropical fish and marine life, and the area is a paradise for scuba diving enthusiasts. Farmhouse villages dot the island; here, the Li people can be observed practising their traditional daily life.
Dongjiao Coconut Plantation
Dongjiao Coconut Plantation boasts an elegant and scenic plantation filled with an abundance of coconut trees. The plantation has its own beach, amenities that include sand and water sports, and shallows filled with lobster, prawn, grouper and abalone. Dongjiao's unique combination of coconuts, lovely seascapes, local cuisine and fresh seafood make it a popular destination for visitors to Haikou.
Tomb of Hai Rui
The tomb of Hai Rui was erected in memory of an honourable and highly-revered official from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
This settlement on the south coast is Hainan's second-largest city, but is nonetheless a laid-back locale where casual clothes are worn for almost every occasion and life proceeds at an unhurried pace.
This impeccably-maintained town is a fishing port and resort; restaurants here have their daily pick of the ocean's freshest bounty, and serve some of the best seafood on the island.
Haikou Arcade Street
One of China's finest arcade streets, the Haikou Arcade Street is a wonderful testament to the classic Chinese culture and architectural styles of a bygone era.
Ma'an Ridge Volcanic Crater
The Ma'an Ridge Volcanic Crater is among the world's best-preserved extinct volcanic craters. The south and north peaks rise highly while the area between them sinks down deeply, resulting in a shape from which the nickname, 'Saddle Mountain' originated. The crater is said to be one of the best-preserved inactive volcanic craters.
Five Finger Mountain
Located in nearby Wuzhishan City, the Five Finger Mountain rewards visitors with spectacular vistas of its high peak, impressive waterfalls, and customs of the local Miao and Li people.
Five Officials Memorial Temple
Located on the edge of Haikou City and Qiongshan municipality, this complex of ancient buildings includes the Five Officials Memorial Temple and Su Dongpo's Memorial Temple. The Five Officials Memorial Temple is the principal building in the complex, and regarded as a cultural treasure on Hainan.
Temple of Five Lords
Built in memory of five historical celebrities of the Tang and Song dynasties who lived within Hainan Province, the Temple of Five Lords is actually a more like a building complex and praised as 'the No. 1 Building in Hainan'.
Housed in a beautiful, modern building, the Hainan Museum offers a unique look inside the culture, architecture, art, and history of the island and its people.
Located on Hainan's east coast, Xinglong has been renowned for centuries for its natural mineral springs. Coffee is also grown in this area, and provides an interesting change of taste in the world's largest tea-consuming country.
Once the highest institute of learning in Hainan, the Qiongtai Academy was built in 1705 in memory of Qiu Jun, a famous scholar during the Ming Dynasty. Its main building is a two-storey structure of typical Chinese brick-and-wood construction.
Best reached by means of a 25-mile (40-kilometre) 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
Believed by ancient settlers to be the limit of civilisation, this small resort features a relatively uncrowded beach with food, soft drinks and a few guest accommodations.
Several large public buildings now occupy Guoxing Road, the new area for arts and culture. Included are the Hainan Provincial Museum, Hainan Provincial Library and Hainan Centre for the Performing Arts. These are all located near to one another on the south side of the road, west of the Haikou College of Economics.
Haikou offers a splendid array of outdoor activities, including nature-watching, hiking on Five Finger Mountain or the Ma'an Ridge Volcanic Crater, off-road exploring, parks, zoos, aquariums, a scenic cruise along Nanli Lake, and/or a relaxing round of golf at the spectacular Meishi May International Golf Club, Mission Hills Golf Club, Hainan West Golf Course or Hainan Delta Golf Club. The idyllic, sandy beaches, bays and teeming coastal waters along Haikou are ideally-suited for virtually all water sports, including fishing, sailing, boating, sea-kayaking, swimming, snorkelling, scuba diving, and more.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Shore Concierge Office on board the ship.