Across the island from Haikou on Hainan's central southern coast (320km direct down the expressway),
is, sooner or later, the destination of every visitor to the island. Though relics at the westerly town of
prove that the area has been settled for close on a thousand years,
itself is entirely modern, maintained as a scruffy tourist centre, fishing port and
for monitoring events (and staking China's claims) in the South China Sea. What pulls in the crowds - including increasing numbers of Russian and Korean visitors - are the surrounding sights, especially easterly
, one of the few places in China where you can unwind in public. The Chinese also flock to associated legendary landmarks atop the
and west at
, while foreigners generally find the day trip out to a couple of tiny inhabited
off Dadonghai more interesting.
Farther afield, the coastal arc between Sanya and the western industrial port of
sees few visitors. While Dongfang alone doesn't really justify a trip, it's emphatically worth getting as far as
, the most accessible surviving fragment of Hainan's indigenous mountain rainforest. If this doesn't appeal, there's plenty of transport north from Sanya to the Li stronghold of Tongshi, and on into the central highlands.