Haikou is the capital of Hainan Province in southern China, located at the northern end of Hainan Island. This tropical coastal city has a distinctive historical charm and picturesque scenery. Famous for the abundant coconut trees that line its streets, Haikou is not known for many tourist attractions but functions as a transport hub for travellers going to other cities.
Opened to replace the old Haikou Dayingshan Airport in 1999, Meilan International Airport serves 9,300,000 passengers a year, as one of the top ten busiest civil airports in China. Decked in greenery, this garden-like airport evokes the local Li culture with unique ornaments, carvings and brocades. It became the 4th airport in to be awarded "International Sanitary Airport" by World Health Organization (WHO) in April 2005.
How to get around
There are airport shuttle bus and city bus services that cater to the needs travellers heading to many cities on the Chinese mainland, such as Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Nanning and Guilin. Local bus networks operate from 6.30 a.m. to 10.40 a.m. while shuttle services are available every 35 minutes. The Meilan Airport Railway Station is just ten minutes away from the airport. From here, you can hop on a bullet train to Haikou East Railway Station, where there are 13 departures a day to locations like Sanya, Tiandu, Lingshui, Wanning, Boao, Qionghai, Wenchang, Haikou East and Haikou West Train Station. Should you opt to take a taxi, Meilan International Airport is a 30-minute drive away from the city and a 40-minute drive away from the South Bus Station.
Haikou has a long coastline with excellent beaches, including the popular Holiday Beach along Qingling Road, which is lined with the ubiquitous coconut trees. Sunbathe, engage in water sports and snack to your heart’s content at the food stalls. Just 6km from Haikou’s city centre, Xixiu Beach Park is another seaside destination that’s not to be missed. Take in a view of ships at the Qiongzhou Channel, enjoy an amazing seafood dinner and even pick up windsurfing.
Haikou Mangrove Forest, which has been shortlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a major tourist attraction. Spanning an irregular coastline with bays and tidewater gullies, it includes six rivers and covers approximately 4,000 square kilometres. The Mangrove Forest holds great value to the local and international scientific community as a place of research.
For close encounters with nature, visit Hainan Tropical Wildlife Garden at the Dongshan lakefront and see various tropical animals in naturalistic environments. Diverse marine life awaits at Tropical Ocean World, an ocean-themed amusement park. You could also travel out to Volcano Crater Park in Shishan Town. Besides a geology museum, it has numerous gardens with intact volcanic craters left from the eruption of the ancient Qiongbei Volcano. Experience the locals’ rustic way of life and purchase some handicrafts during your trip.
There are some important historical sites in Haikou. Hairui Tomb in Binya Village is one of them. It is a state-protected relic that was built in memory of a just, respected minister from the Ming Dynasty. Comprising of a temple, pavilion and tomb, Hairui Tomb is a majestic sight to behold. The Wugong Temples, or Five Ministers’ Temples, are located at Guoxing Street or Qiongshan in Haikou, Hainan. They are a myriad of ancient architecture and gardens, which honour the contributions of five renowned officials of the Tang and Song dynasties: Li Deyu, Li Gang, Li Guang, Zhao Ding and Hu Quan.
Did you know…?
Haikou Meilan International Airport has one of the highest air traffic control towers in Asia, at 70.34m/231ft.
One of the airport’s terminals was designed to resemble the houses of the local Li people.
How to get there
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