Hainan is a tropical island located in the far south of China. It is the smallest province of the country. Long forgotten, today it is taking advantage of the intense development of the country and gradually opening up to investors as well as tourists. Its climate, fine sandy beaches and easy access by plane or boat make it a destination in its own right, which is why the hotel industry has had its eye on this island off the coast of China for several years and has finally been able to build developments there. Hainan is now able to completely welcome all travellers who come to discover the area.
Surface area : 33920.0 km2
Population : 8700000 inhabitants
Time difference : Hainan is 8 hours ahead of the UK.
There are plenty of gift ideas on the island: silk clothing, paintings on rolls of silk, objects and seals carved out of soft stone, cloisonne, porcelain, authentic and imitation antiques, calligraphy materials, kites, confectionery, etc... You will be spoilt for choice. The Friendship shops in the large cities, which were previously reserved for 'foreign friends', are real show rooms for Chinese products. Opening hours officially vary between 8:00am or 8:30am and 8:00pm or 8:30pm (9:00am to 7:00pm in the winter), but some shops are open until 9:00pm.
In cities such as Haikou and Sanya, you will find large shopping centres like those in the UK. However, as you move away from the large cities and walk around the villages in the countryside, you will find old ladies offering all kinds of everyday objects: embroidered bags, silver bracelets and pendants, bamboo pipes, various objects made of buffalo horn, etc. In the small towns, antique dealers and second-hand goods dealers have stocked up on these objects for tourists. Bargaining is common place.
Hainan cuisine is known to be lighter and less spicy than in the rest of China. As it is an island, there are many seafood dishes. You can eat lots of crab, shrimp and all kinds of fish caught in the surrounding waters, which come served with a choice of traditional rice or noodles.
In addition to seafood, you will also find chicken on the menu. Wenchang chicken, for example, is one of the most popular dishes on the island. The chicken is boiled, cut into pieces and eaten dipped in various sauces.
As a general rule when in a restaurant, due to the diversity of the dishes and the difficulty in reading a menu in Chinese, it is better to go around the kitchen and point at the dishes you find the most appetising. Beer, or pijiu, is available everywhere, as are fizzy drinks, including Coca-Cola. Make sure you also try the strong alcoholic drinks, such as maotai.
Hainan has a tropical climate so it is best to avoid the island between June and August, the hottest months of the year. Spring and autumn are the best times to visit.
What should you take in your suitcase? Chinese people are rarely offended when it comes to clothing. The only thing to avoid is outfits that are too provocative. Ideally, pack light: t-shirts and anoraks can be bought cheaply on the island. In winter, you don't particularly need to cover up, but take a light sweater if you will be visiting high-altitude areas. In the wet season, cotton clothes are the most comfortable, as the heat is intense. Do not forget to take a raincoat and shoes that are suitable for use in the rain!
Regarding medication, the change in eating habits can cause heartburn. As an added precaution: take photocopies of your passport and ID photos with you. These will be very useful in the event that you lose these documents.
Finally, when it comes to payments, card fraud is common. Only use your card if necessary and in large establishments, and do not let it out of your sight when paying.