Haikou

Haikou (海口 Hǎikǒu) is the provincial capital of Hainan Province in southern China and is at the north end of the Hainan island.

Understand

Haikou is a tropical coastal city with a population consisting mostly of immigrants from other provinces. As one of the least developed provincial capitals, Haikou has a somewhat laid-back atmosphere but many development projects are in progress.

Many streets in Haikou are quite different during the day compared to the evening. Small outdoor restaurants and stalls fill the streets in the evening and many areas are at their busiest from 9.00pm to 1.00am. Local favourites are BBQ stalls which serve cheap local beer till late. You will soon notice the abundance of coconut trees within Haikou. Most streets are lined with them. It is greener than most Chinese cities and has decent air quality.

The downtown does not have many tourist attractions and the water in its only beach area is murky but as a transport hub, it can be conveniently served as a base for traveling to some cities on the north of Hainan.

Get in

Haikou is a transport hub with flights to many cities and boats to nearby mainland cities such as Beihai and Zhanjiang.

By plane

Flight examples below with full cost economy class prices, but notice that discounts up to 50% are not unusual.

From/to 	Duration (hours)	Cost (¥) 
Beijing         3h40                    2,500
Guangzhou       1h10                      900

Local airlines Hainan Airlines and China Southern Airlines have domestic flights to many Chinese cities, as well as some international flights to neighbouring countries. In addition, Haikou is well-served by other Chinese airlines.

In addition, there are also international flights to Hong Kong on Hong Kong Airlines, Seoul on Asiana and Singapore on Tiger Airways and Jetstar.

By train

There is a train link between Haikou and Guangdong province (the trains are loaded onto ferries to cross the sea). So you can get the train from Guangzhou to Haikou. The trains actually start and finish in Sanya, but it takes about an hour by bus to get from downtown to the train station, and the train station in Sanya is also far from that city's downtown area.

Train schedules below

From    	 Train no.   Departure   Arrival   Hard seat  Soft sleeper 
Beijing West     T201/T204   6:10PM       1:46AM      ¥335     ¥930
Shanghai South   K511        9:50AM       6:27PM      ¥300     ¥835 
Guangzhou        K407        9:25PM       9:06AM      ¥145     ¥415

By high-speed train

A new high-speed Eastern Ring railway was opened in January 2011, connecting the major towns on the east coast of Hainan. It takes 1.5–2 hours from Sanya to Haikou. The trains also serve Haikou's Airport. Haikou to Sanya costs around ¥90.

The train stops at the following places in Hainan: Sanya (三亚), Tiandu (田独), Lingshui (陵水), Wanning (万宁), Boao (博鳌), Qionghai (琼海), Wenchang (文昌), Haikou Airport (美兰), Haikou East (海口东; main city stop), Haikou West Train Station (海口).

By bus

Buses connect Haikou to many cities on the Chinese mainland, including Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guilin, and Nanning. Most buses are overnight sleepers. Buses are loaded on to ferries and arrive in Haikou at either Xingang port or Xiuying port. Here's a few examples showing journey duration and price.

From/to 	Duration (hours)	Cost (¥) 
Guangzhou	10 	                290 
Guilin	        12                	258

By boat

There are frequent daily ferries between Haikou and Haian. Takes around 1.5 hours and costs about ¥42. There are bus connections from Haian to other cities, but the options are limited compared to Haikou, especially in the evening.

There are daily Haikou-Beihai ferries, taking around 12 hours and costing between ¥120-230 per person, depending on number of people sharing a cabin.

Ye Xiang Gong Zhu, capable for 800 passengers, connects Guangzhou and Haikou. One-way trip takes 18 hours. It leaves Haikou at 2PM ten times a month.

Get around

There are four main forms of public transportation in Haikou:

See

Historical sites

National Parks etc

Parks

Museums

Beaches

Do

Buy

Eat

The tropical weather of Haikou has attracted the Chinese all over the country to move to this island, along with their specialty. While most tourists don't come to Haikou for food, an impressive choice of foods is a hidden gem. The cooking style is a fusion of Cantonese, Hokkienese and certain Southeast Asian elements and seafood is impressive.

Prices have surged as the tourism industry is booming. In 2009, a dish of Chao Bing costs around ¥2 and in 2011 it became 4-6. However, prices are still generally lower than many other Chinese cities if you can avoid being overcharged. Compare to other places such as Sanya, Haikou is less touristy and a way cheaper to taste the local food.

Drink

Haikou has a vibrant night life. The city has many clubs and bars, most of which are busy on any night of the week.

Night Clubs

There are several clubs on Guomao Road in the business district of Haikou. There is a bar/club area at Haikou Bay, next to Evergreen Park.

Guo Mao District


Haikou Bay

Pubs and Bars

Hai Dian Dao (Hai Dian Island)


Cafes

Other

Sleep

Stay safe

Haikou traffic is a nightmare, said by many Chinese travelers, so expect to experience some of the worst traffic in China where traffic rule is nationally practiced half-heartedly. Cars and motorbikes can come in from any directions. Drivers will drive on anywhere as if they had right of roads. Even at some very obvious moments when a car is expected to stop, they don't necessarily.

At nights it is common to see a motorbike without a headlight lit up suddenly show up and come at a fairly fast speed. If you are not familiar with these reckless drivers, don't put your hope on them. Turn your precaution to maximum instead. Even if you are confident that you have enough experience with traffic conditions in many cities in China, expect it even worse here.

Go next

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, January 07, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.