Haikou is the capital and largest city of the Hainan Island province in China. It is separated into two distinct cities by the Nandu River; the northern half of the city is on the small Haidian Island. Haikou was originally a port city for Qiongshan, the ancient port city on the island; later it was a fortified city under the Ming dynasty. It developed into its modern day port during the Japanese occupation of the island during World War II.
The historical district is Bo’ai Road in the northern part of the main island. The western half of the road is the shopping district as well as the former French, Arabic, and Indian neighbourhood. Many of the slightly run-down buildings are painted white, but the street markets here are colourful and loud.
There are very few hostels in Haikou, but plenty of hotels. The few hostels that there are can be found on the Haidian Island, north of the Nandu River, off Renmin Avenue, about ten minutes travel time from Bo’ai Road. Ask for a “su-she” (“宿舍”), which is the Chinese word for “hostel.” Instead of a hostel, you might consider an inexpensive hotel, of which there are a lot of especially in the University area on Hadian Island.
Some of the most popular attractions in Haikou include the Temple of the Five Lords, a building complex dedicated to five “officials” in the Tang and Song dynasties. The city is also well known for its gardens and lush parks. There isn’t too much to do here outside of exploring a few nature parks/zoo, the bay and the old city. One of the best attractions is the Crater geopark, home to a large volcanic crater and excellent hiking trails. If you can, get out to the beaches of Shimei and across to Jiajing Island to snorkel or scuba dive the pristine reef.
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