Haikou, Capital of Hainan

China > Hainan > Haikou

August 2010


China’s southernmost province, Hainan, is so close to the Malay Peninsula that many Hainanese migrated to this region in the mid-19th to early-20th centuries to seek a better life. They normally ended up in Singapore, but worked their way northward with major concentrations in Selangor and Melaka. On a fine weekend in August 2010, we decided to travel to Haikou and take a look at their ancestral homeland.

Btw, this also my first trip armed with the new Sony NEX 5 camera, with the kit 18-55mm lens attached.


Haikou Meilan International Airport is pleasant, modern and airy.


And our first exposure to this so-called City of Coconuts. Great start!


Uncrowded international airport, which is odd for China.


Past Meilan International Airport perimeter, we are greeted by wide palm-lined roads leading into Haikou metro. Downtown Haikou is just 20km away.


Haikou prides itself as a green city, but streetlights powered by both the sun and the wind look like an overkill.


First sighting of Hainan’s own car, with a little help from Mazda (even the car logo looks a tad like Mazda’s). It’s a Haima (Hainan+Mazda), started off as a joint-venture but is now totally a Hainan concern.


The conspicuous Qiongzhou Bridge, across the Nandu River. Metro Haikou starts at the other end of the bridge.


Downtown Haikou looks modern and clean, and we are impressed. And the cars politely obey the speed limit, are we really in China?


Our hotel is in downtown and pretty easy to find. Soon we are in the elevator where the cellular providers vie to boast their coverage.


In the room, what surprises us is the bed … is that super-king size or what? We have never seen such a huge one!


A caring hotel, nevertheless, playing cards included. 🙂


Truly a green city, Haikou is, …


… the humble coconut trees abound.


Yes, there are coconuts everywhere. I guess maintenance must be a handful.


I’ve never thought they’d look this elegant in a city setting.


A major junction, and Haikou has made it look very pleasing. And this is for a city of 800,000+ people.


At the nearby South Asia Plaza, odd translations never fail to bemuse me.


At least they almost manage to get the French supermarket name right. 🙂


A tropical island indeed, and we almost feel at home … if only we know Mandarin.


At the corner of Wuzhishan Rd and Yelin Rd, an important discovery – a halal restaurant! Seems to serve Xinjiang and local cuisines, but since it’s fasting month, we’ll return tonight for a feast. [Location at crosshair HERE.]


We duly return at dusk, and the place looks lively as opposed to its drab daytime appearance. Note Chairman Mao next to the Prophet’s Mosque … how quaint.


As usual in China, they have huge photo-menu, and we just select our dishes according to the pictures. It works most of the time, and soon we have mouth-watering Uighur-style lamb rack and local-style spicy fried fresh prawns. Excellent tasty halal chow, just a tad oily.


The wide streets of Haikou is a pleasure to stroll.


It has a laid-back ambience not found in other Chinese cities, and the drivers are more disciplined too. They even stop for pedestrian to cross! If only they can get rid of the irritable honking, and Haikou could’ve been the best city in China.


Clear, wide, shady footpath, uncluttered with goods for sale or bikes. It feels a bit odd to be in a Chinese city with so much personal space, you hardly bump into people.


Across the street I spot a number some people would die for.


Ladies are still the hardworking ones in Haikou (some say in the whole of Hainan).


While the men take things very easy, sometimes too easy!


I notice a crowd on the pavement, thinking it is a medicine man or something (who is always entertaining), but I find something else.


Of course I find this more interesting. I’d love to drive it in Malaysia and swipe those red-light beaters, yellow-box idiots and queue jumpers.


A signpost shows virtually all the attractions around Haikou, nothing truly interesting really. People come to Haikou to go to Sanya, the seaside resort on the south coast, some 3.5hrs drive away. Or the hordes of Malaysians/Singaporeans of Hainanese descent who come to visit their ancestral villages on the east coast, especially around Wenchang.


I have to see the sea, and find it in the newer part of Haikou. Guangdong on mainland China is still 23km to the right. They are deciding whether to build a bridge or a tunnel to the other side, across the Qiongzhou Straits. Must be a kickass bridge if it happens.


Behind me, Binhai Park is actually a little forest.


Deshengsha Rd in the old part of Haikou is interesting. Wealthy Hainanese who made it in Nanyang (Southeast Asia) returned in the 1920s and 30s to build these structures, with architectures they brought from their adopted lands.


Therefore we have here replicas of pre-war buildings still found in Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam, among others.


Deshengsha Rd is now a pedestrian street, with the ever hardworking Hainanese womenfolk keeping the place spick and span.


The authorities have found it important to restore and preserve these old buildings for tourism.  Good on them.


Yes, strolling along Deshengsha Rd is never boring.


Two nights in Haikou, and we leave on a beautiful fine morning. So Haikou, been there, done that! 😀



14 Responses to “Haikou, Capital of Hainan”

  1. jam says:

    Nice city. I like the greenery in the city. Is that condom included in the room?

  2. naim says:

    Yes, the basket of goodies is in the bathroom. But I think you pay extra just like the bar.

  3. nitzus says:

    they’re playing xiangqi, commonly known as chinese checkers….

  4. linustw says:

    Naim, great photos and narrations. Truly enjoyed my brief virtual tour around haikou.
    More modern and organised that I would have thought. Definitely more room to breath than Hanoi. Even the streetscapes are well maintained.

    I guess Hainan is still a relatively poor province.

    Too bad you don’t have time to cover Sanya and Wencheng. Hopefully next time.

  5. ITPek88 says:

    Hi, NAIM, I had been following your travelogues and they are trully amazing, keep up the good work. Are there any famous place you have not visited yet? Thank you.

  6. naim says:

    still aplenty, but slowly and surely … 🙂

  7. Hasnain says:

    Hi Naim,
    Your travel photos are excellent and after seeing these I too wish and hope to see some of these places. Please keep the good work on.

  8. naim says:

    Thanks, Hasnain. I try to get out once a month. 🙂

  9. Suhaina says:

    En. Naim I really appreciate if you could provide me info ’bout the mosque in Haikou. Im arranging a group of men who’s travelling soon. Your prompt reply is highly appreciated

  10. naim says:

    Salam … sorry, but we did not seek the mosque in Haikou because it was a bit far from downtown. Location is here:

    But if you are traveling south to Sanya, I hear there are many mosques there.

  11. Ida Jonit says:

    Salam Encik Naim, really appreciate if you could give us details of the hotel u stayed? Do they serve halal food too? Planning to visit husband’s uncle in Wenchang but this will be our first trip to Hainan. Any tour guide that u can recomend? Thanks.

  12. naim says:

    We stayed at the Hai Kou Hotel — good location and room: http://www.agoda.com/asia/china/haikou/hai_kou_hotel.html
    As for halal food, you have to search for it. The halal restaurant we visited was pretty good, walking distance from hotel (for location see story above). As for other halal eateries pls google, but I know not that many. Fast food also at shopping centre nearby hotel.
    We did not use any guide — we just do our own outings. But the hotel can always recommend the good ones, esp. going to Wenchang or Sanya.

  13. ruhaizat ooi says:

    Salam Naim,

    Hope you can tell me how far (? km) Meilan Airport is from Haikou Hotel, and how far to Wenchang town centre? Is the bus or taxi service reliable? Bus fare or perhaps taxi fare? Where is the nearest halal food restaurant from your hotel?

    Appreciate if you could provide me all these answers.
    Thanks & best regards,

  14. naim says:

    Airport very close to downtown, just 20km, clear wide roads. Wenchang is, I think, about 80km to the southeast of Haikou — never been there, but transport is easy, just enquire at hotel. Take a car with driver for convenience. Nearest halal eatery to hotel is the one I mentioned in the blog — location also given, just 10min walk.


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