At The Mouth Of The Sea: 12 Best Things To Do In And Around Haikou, China

things to do in haikou china
Andrea
Andrea 
Updated

On the north coast of Hainan Island, its capital city, Haikou ( 海口), glistens with history, modernity, and coconut trees. Haikou, whose name means “mouth of the sea”, used to be a port for the ancient Qiongshan capital and the Sino-Japanese War. Also called a “garden city”, Haikou is known to have cleaner air than most areas in China. It is also known as “China’s Hawaii” and aims to further its place as a tourist destination.

Despite constant renovations, the port city’s colorful past will always remain a striking feature, that deserves to be preserved. Its rich culture showcases a blend of ancient, colonial, and modern China. While beach activities are at the top of the list for every Haikou holiday-goer, there are plenty of things to do, for wanderers of the coconut city.


Read on for the 12 best things to do in Haikou, China.

1. Walk the streets of years gone by on Qilou Old Street


One of Haikou’s most charming areas can be found on Qilou Old Street, at Zhongshan Road. Stepping onto it feels like stepping back into the days of China’s colonial past, with cobblestone streets and buildings which incorporate European and Asian styles. Sightseers and photography enthusiasts can enjoy the area’s architectural gems, as well as its narrow, winding alleyways, which let visitors catch a glimpse of everyday life.

While Qilou Old Street is considered a shopping and dining destination, with its cafes, bookshops and markets, some of its dilapidated buildings have their own charm, in their state of disrepair. Visitors looking to bring something home can browse its shops that sell almost everything from handicrafts to spices and herbal medicine. When you’re not dining, shopping or simply admiring the architecture, you can also have your portrait done by the local artists.

Qilou Old Street

Location: Zhongshan Road, Longhua District, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: Whole day

Entrance fee: None

Getting there: Take Bus 3, 5, 6, 7, or 14 and get off at Zhonglou Station.

2. See Hai Rui's Tomb

Hai Rui tomb 01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pavel Kromer's Wh... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The tomb of Haikou’s celebrated Hai Rui is a nice, quiet refuge, amidst the bustle of the city. The tomb, abundant with evergreen trees and stone statues, was built in 1589 to honor the Ming Dynasty official Hai Rui. Unlike most of the court officials, Hai Rui was known to be simple and uncorrupt. Locals say that when the people were carrying Hai Rui’s coffin, the rope broke and they decided that the current site of the tomb was where Hai Rui chose to rest.

Tomb of Hai Rui

Location: 39 Qiuhai Ave, Longhua District, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Entrance fee: CNY 10 (1.50 USD)

Getting there: Take Buses A, 2, 16 or 19 to Hairui Tomb.

3. Live out your Hollywood dreams at Movie Town

Movie Town Haikou in 2016 11 - 01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Anna Frodesiak used under CC0

Stepping into Old Town may feel like stepping into a period piece, but more so in Movie Town. Located beside Mission Hills, Movie Town is a fairly recent attraction, which was still not quite finished as of summer 2015. Visitors can dress up in period costumes and take photos in movie sets, straight out of the 1940’s. The movie theme park has restaurants, shops, and theaters. It also provides performances to visitors.

Movie Town Haikou

Location: No.1 Mission Hills Boulevard, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: 9:00 AM to 10:00 PM

Entrance fee: RMB 138 (20 USD)

Contact: +86 (898) 6868 3888 Ext. 62500

Getting there: A shuttle bus to Mission Hills and Movie Town is situated in Guamao Rt-Mart.

Website: Movie Town Haikou

4. Visit Qiong Tai Academy


The buildings of Qiong Tai Academy (琼台书院) boast of the splendor of Chinese architecture. It is also a nice, secluded area for when you’re looking for somewhere peaceful, away from the city. Located on Wenzhuang Road, in the Qiongshang District, the academy was constructed in 1705, to commemorate the scholar Qiu Jin.

Qiong Tai Academy is also famous for being the setting of the well-known Cantonese and Qiong drama “Search the Academy”. The story is about a student of the academy, who falls in love with a local governor’s maid. Seeking refuge, the maid goes to the academy for help. She is sent away to the city, during the night, to evade capture and eventual punishment. Needless to say, they all lived happily ever after.

Qiong Tai Academy

Location: Wenzhuang Road, Fucheng Town, Qiongshan District, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening Hours: 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM

Entrance fee: RMB 5 (0.70 USD)

Getting there: Take Bus 1, 4, 42, or 49 to Teachers Training College Station (琼台师范站).

5. Unleash your inner explorer at the Mei She Lava Village

Posted by China Daily on Monday, 15 June 2015

Aside from man-made architectural wonders, Haikou boasts the wonders of nature, as well. Within the Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark (also known as Hainan Crater Park), which also has one of the best-preserved extinct volcanoes in the world, there is a village with houses made of lava. Yes, you read that right: lava. Newer homes made out of volcanic rock are inhabited by the descendants of the founders of Mei She. The village also has a five-storey gun tower, built in 1927, to keep out bandits. It may take some 20 minutes of traversing through nature to get here, but the sights, both natural and man-made, are worth it.

Haikou Volcanic Cluster Geopark

Location: Shishan Town, Xiuying District, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM

Entrance fee: CNY 60 (87 USD)

Getting there: Take the minibus from Kaikou West Station to Dunchang and get off at the Volcano Crater Park.

6. Discover natural wonders at Hainan Crater Park

Leiqiong Global Geopark - 01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Anna Frodesiak used under CC0

Haikou is also known for another natural treasure: volcanoes. The 108-square meter (1162.5-square foot) Hainan Crater Park is also known as Haikou Scenic-Shishan Volcano Cluster, Haikou Crater Park, Leiqiong Global Geopark, and Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark. The park is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from downtown Haikou and is divided into five zones, which showcase ecological wonders, such as mineral springs and more than 40 rare urban volcanoes.

The park also features Ma’anling, one of the most intact calderas (craters formed by a volcanic collapse), in the world. Visitors in the area can also try local delicacies and check out handicrafts.

Hainan Crater Park

Location: Shishan Town, Xiuying District, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: 8:00 AM to 3:30 PM

Entrance fee: CNY 60 (87 USD)

Getting there: Take the minibus from Kaikou West Station to Dunchang and get off at the Volcano Crater Park.

7. Breathe in the view at Huoshankou National Geopark

Posted by Chan Brothers Travel on Thursday, 10 January 2013

Thousands of years ago, volcanic clusters formed on the surface of Haikou. Today, this nationally protected area beckons visitors to marvel at its magnificence - after a lengthy climb, that is. Rich in breathtaking views and tropical vegetation, this 108-square kilometer (41.7 square mile) attraction has a variety of lush, natural sights to offer. The park is also the home of banyan trees, which visitors can pass through, while traversing the stone steps.

Huoshankou National Geopark

Location: Hongchenghu Road, Xiuying District, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

Entrance fee: CNY 25 (4 USD)

Contact: +86 (898) 6546 9666

Getting there: Take the minibus from Kaikou West Station to Dunchang and get off at the Volcano Crater Park.

8. Marvel at mangroves at the Mangrove Forest in Dongzhai Port

What's a beautiful sunset! This is once in a lifetime experience for you! Haikou Mangrove Forest in Dongzhai Port is...

Posted by Discover Hainan on Sunday, 4 October 2015

Stretching for about 80.5 kilometers (50 miles) and covering up to 2,500 hectares (6177.6 acres), this mangrove reserve area is one massive feat of nature. It is known as China’s largest mangrove forest nature reserve, with 41 to 81 types of mangrove and has been placed on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is one of the top 10 tourism development zones in Hainan province, and it is the first mangrove protection zone established by the Chinese government.

Visitors exploring the dense forest via boat can spot rare and endangered birds that shelter in the forest. Wild Pineapple Island, a sightseeing spot, can also be found in the reserve. As the name suggests, it offers pineapples, not of the regular kind. Visitors can also dine at Dongzhai Port to get a taste of local seafood delicacies.

Mangrove Forest in Dongzhai Port

Location: Meilan District, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: Whole day

Entrance fee: CNY 25 (4 USD)

Getting there: Take a minibus to Binfeng or Qukou and get off at Hongshulin.

9. Get wild with wildlife at the Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden

Liger, the offspring of a male lion and a female tiger. Four ligers were born in Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden in 2015.

Posted by China Daily on Thursday, 25 June 2015


With a total area of 333.3 hectares (823.6 acres), this tropical zoological garden was the first large tropical wildlife and botanical garden, in China. It is a theme garden, meaning the animals are situated in enclosures that aim to mimic their natural habitats, as closely as possible. Around 200 tropical wild animals, including rare species, call the area home. Visitors have praised its picturesque gardens and wide variety of orchids.

Hainan Tropical Wildlife Park and Botanical Garden

Location: Shishan Town, Xiuying District, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: Whole day

Entrance fee: CNY 95 (14 USD)

Getting there: Take a shuttle bus at Mingzhu Square to Hainan Tropical Wildlife Garden.

10. Soak up the sun at Holiday Beach

Holiday Beach, Haikou, Hainan

Posted by Brendan Woo on Friday, 28 August 2009

Of course, what is Haikou without a little water? Holiday Beach (假日海滩) is the ultimate spot to simply chill out. Whether it’s water sports or simply admiring the view of coconut trees swaying in the wind, Holiday Beach is the place to just relax.

Holiday Beach

Location: Binhai Road, Haikou City, Hainan Island, China

Opening hours: Whole day

Entrance fee: None

Getting there: Take a minibus or Buses No. 40, 28, 29, Y1 or Y2 to Holiday Beach.

11. Dodge the crowd at Xixiu Beach


If you would love to have a nice beach getaway, you have some option in Haikou. Holiday Beach is about six kilometers of shoreline bordering the South China Sea. People are drawn to this area due to the opportunity for multiple sports such as kitesurfing, beach volleyball, swimming sailing and more. Xixiu Beach Park is another, smaller beach that is only a few kilometers away from the city center. It is known internationally as a place for windsurfing, yachting, and water ballet. In both beaches, you can see groups of families and friends relaxing on the beach, enjoying the sea breeze, and sharing drinks, food, and laughs.

Xixiu Beach Park

Address: Binhai Ave, Xiuying Qu, Haikou Shi, Hainan Sheng, China

12. Drive to Nanli Lake

Posted by Explore Hainan on Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Nanli Lake is a popular destination near Haikou. One look at at the lake is all you will need to find out why. Between the sparkling blue waters, small islands, and lush forests, the lake will amaze you. It is a manmade lake created about 60 years ago, and it is surrounded by restaurants, golf courses, and boating. Not only is the lake absolutely stunning, but there is also no shortage of activities.

Of coconuts and more...

Haikou is a city infused with wonders from both nature and man. As the port city constantly tries to prove itself a top tourist destination, one needs only to take a look at all its attractions and hope it continues to progress and preserve. With all its cultural and ecological vibrancy, Haikou will definitely continue to shine at the mouth of the sea.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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