Sanya Travel Guide

Surrounded by mountains and rainforests, Sanya is the southernmost city on Hainan Island,and its warm weather and miles of pristine beaches make it perfect for sun-chasers.

Its history dates back thousands of years, but today it's frequented by cruise ships that grace the port and deliver tourists to a superb, tropical-island paradise.

With almost 30 miles (50km) of coastline, there are multiple beaches to choose from. Dadonghai Beach is located an easy 1.5 miles (3km) from the centre of Sanya. Good facilities, warm waters and many water sports activities make this beach popular with locals and tourists alike. Visitors must look out for the endangered Chinese White Dolphins, which have appeared more and more in the area since conservation began in 1993.

Beaches along Yalong Bay are packed with luxury hotels and resorts, while travellers with tighter budgets generally stay further inland. While the city's coasts are worth visiting, they're not quite as good as the beaches found on nearby islands. The butterfly shaped island of Wuzhizhou is known for its incredible coral reefs, and is a fine choice for scuba divers

Alternatively, nature lovers may enjoy Nanwan Monkey Island: a reserve for macaque monkeys. It can be reached by China's longest oversea ropeway, affording incredible views over the bay and the surrounding archipelagos.

Nanshan Temple is a must-see. Built to commemorate 2,000 years of Buddhism in China, it's situated on the southernmost mountain in the country, and comprises a series of Buddhist structures meant to create a quiet atmosphere for reverence and contemplation. Built on an artificial island 500m into the sea, the statue of the Bodhisattva Guanyin is over 350ft (108m) tall and is undoubtedly the highlight.

Rainforests surrounding Sanya are easily accessible from just outside the city. The Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park offers hikes, tours and mountaineering expeditions to beautiful waterfalls and caves. Adrenaline junkies can also enjoy zip-lining and abseiling down some of the mountains.

Sanya's food is historically made using simple seafood and vegetables flavoured with yellow chillies and ginger. Travellers must be sure to try the Dongshan Lamb, Jiaji Duck and Hele Crab at one of the many top restaurants. For a truly immersive experience, visitors should explore some of Sanya's food markets, such as the First Market next to Hexi Road. Shoppers will find weird and wonderful delicacies, including dried seahorses and snakehead fish.

Ultimately, Sanya is great for an island getaway with a Chinese flavour. Visitors tend to come for the gorgeous beaches, but often extend their stay owing to the glorious food and surrounding natural beauty.