Who the heck wants to pay full price while in Haikou, China?
This is the Capital City of Hainan Island and the prices reflect that. You can also see the capital city of Hainan Island on a budget with the help of some budget travel secrets.
The city originally grew from a small Sea Port Town during the Sino-Japanese War of 1937 – 1945.
The Japanese used Hainan Island to launch raids and continue supply lines into China starting as early as 1939 and continuing late into 1945.
Hainan island is lush with greenery at its interior with long sandy beaches along its shores and palm tree-lined roads through the center of its cities.
Local people kept telling me it is the Hawaii of China ... over and over and even when I didn't ask. They seemed proud of the comparison but they might be selling themselves short.
I felt safe during all the Hakou travel that I did. Maybe I didn't sample anything but the safest places for tourists but I felt safe and the statistics back me up.
I can't say the same for the big Island of Hawaii.
Is this really China?
The city of Harbin, China is located in the Far North of China. If you've ever been there in the middle of the winter, then you'll not believe that Hainan Island could possibly be in the same country.
Harbin City can reach -30 degrees while it is +27 on the same day in Haikou City.
There is a relaxed, laid-back feel to this place and yet Haikou China has all the amenities for a good day at the beach, a trek through the jungle and then dinner and drinks before a jiggle at a great dance club.
At night, many small outdoor restaurants and stalls flood onto the streets and are busiest from 9pm to 1am. You must dine at one of the many stalls serving BBQ pork and wash it down with some of the cheap but good local beer.
There aren't many other reasons to stick around Haikou city, Though. Like many capital cities it is crowded, polluted and noisy when compared to the smaller cities such as Sanya City or pretty much any other place on Hainan Island.
Where is Haikou China?
Haikou city is located on the Northern coast of Hainan Island. The city faces the Leizhou Peninsula, which is directly across the Hainan (Qiongzhou) Strait some 9.5 miles or 15 km away.
Where To Stay
Haikou is actually a difficult place to find a good room. It's easy as heck to find a non-functioning dump but to find good value for the money is tough.
It took us a long time to compile a list of what we think are the best hotels. Some of them are as cheap as $6USD a night and then the mid-range rooms can be $25USD and up from there.
Have a look at our list of the best budget hotels in Haikou China.
What To Do
You can take one of many frequent daily ferries between Haikou and Hai'an. It takes around 1.5 hours and costs about ¥35RMB ($5.12USD).
There is also a daily ferry that runs between Haikou and Beihai.
It will take you about 12 hours to make the crossing and will cost you between ¥120RMB ($17.57USD) and ¥230RMB ($33.68USD) per person, depending on how many people are sharing a cabin.
So, stuff 'em in there!
Wugong Temple is usually the first thing people mention if you ask them what to see.
It's just a two-storied wooden building surrounded by a peaceful Chinese garden. The entire garden is lined with palm trees and littered with traditional Chinese wooden bridges that cross ponds filled with water lilies.
They built Wugong Temple in the 13th Century AD in honor of 5 government officials who were banished to Hainan Island after speaking out against their government.
Hainan Island and especially Haikou city was considered the end of the world by the Chinese. Many Chinese believed that the Chinese coastline was the exact line that separated Order from Chaos.
So Hainan Island and Haikou China was where they sent anyone who spoke out against them. Now they just make them disappear.
Wugong temple is a beautiful, quiet, peaceful place that is worth the visit as long as you have nothing important to do.
It only costs ¥20RMB ($2.92USD) to enter Wugong Temple. It is located about 10 -15 minutes away from the town center by both bus #11 or bus #1. Keep your eyes open for Wugong Temple because the bus drivers seem to consider it a burden to point it out to you.
The Tomb of Hairui was originally built in 1589 to honor a man named Hai Rui, who was considered an incorruptible government official (Oxymoron?).
Tomb of Hairui is worth seeing only for the stone statues shaped like sheep, horses, lions, tortures, and human beings. The garden is beautiful and tranquil, filled with well-groomed Evergreen trees, coconut palms and sweet lotus.
There is an incense burner at the entrance to the tomb which has four 4-meter-high (13-feet-high) monuments of Hai Rui's disciples and colleagues standing on either side.
It will cost you ¥10RMB ($1.46USD) to get in to the Tomb of Hairui and it makes for a short jaunt at only 5km from the city center.
Bus #2, #16 and #19 will get you there without incident.
What is the Best Way to Get Around Haikou City?
I hate the closed up car window - air-conditioning flooding the metal box. No, I always opt for the open wheel transport of a motorbike taxi. Some people might call me a careless cheapo (Or Worse) but it really is more than that.
The Haikou Travel the City Options
This is by far the most expensive option. The taxi cab is easily hailed almost anywhere in the city and at any time of day or night.
The meter starts at CNY¥10 ($1.46USD), but it is customary to bargain before you pull away from the curb (Or dirt pile). Most people use the Taxi Cab just once when arriving at the airport.
The taxi takes a half hour to get from the airport to the city center. The average cost to foreigners is around CNY¥100 ($14.64 USD). If you ask, the taxi driver will often gather other people up to share the cab ride (And Cost) with you.
Faster, noisier and more expensive than the Three-Wheeled Bicycle Taxi.
If you get on a Three-Wheeled Bicycle, expect to pay ¥2CNY just to go around the block. You'll smile the whole time.
Taking the public bus is very inexpensive, but you need to know the routes. Very few people seem able to give directions, including the bus driver. Talk to the people at your guesthouse and get a bus map while you're there.
Or just buy the Travel Asia Guidebook and keep all 8lbs of it with you at all times.
A Great way to see the city is to just hop on the first bus you see and get lost!
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