Sanya is located in the very south of China, on the edge of the island of Hainan. With its long white sandy beaches, hordes of sun lovers enjoying snorkeling and jet-skiing and a growing number of high-rise five-star hotels, it's little wonder that Sanya has been nicknamed ‘Hawaii in China'.
In spite of its upmarket image, visitors to Sanya can spend as much or as little on accommodation as suits their individual pockets. From five-star luxury to guest houses and inns, there’s something for everyone on this tropical island.
Sanya produces some of the world's finest pearls. Haggling and bargaining for pearls is welcomed, even in formal shops and stores. Tourists should be aware of taxi touts who ferry the unsuspecting straight to a relative or friend's shonky jewelry store. If a visitor has a trained eye and the merchandise is quality, then great bargains can be had.
Few people run into any kind of trouble in Sanya. The worst thing that can happen is gross disappointment in some of the main city beaches. Visitors may want to do a bit of quick research to find out how to get to some of the areas truly stunning and quiet pristine waterways.
Sanya has plenty to offer outdoor activities in the day, happening bars and restaurants in the night, and enough pearls to sink several pirate ships. While Sanya is not yet an established party island along the lines of Phuket or Bali, the entertainment on offer here is increasing at a very sharp rate.
As with any international tourist resort island, the food options in Sanya are diverse and crowd-pleasing but vary quite dramatically from high quality to terrible glug. The best bet is the street food, which can be purchased from virtually any part of the city. At dusk hawkers and their carts set up shop all over town and serve treats like tofu skewers and a million different things made from coconuts.
Sanya is an odd place that veers from the beautiful to the bizarre. Purpose built holy temples that function more as amusement parks are popular tourist attractions and natural attractions like the Monkey Island nature reserve are reached via Disneyland-style cable car rides.