The original island inhabitants of Hainan are the Li, people who settled the Island as long as 3000 years ago and developed it until they were conquered by the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) who included it into their Empire. The Li are still firmly represented on the Island, although a recent mass influx of migrants from countries across South-East Asia (returning Chinese Citizens and Pensioners) and from mainland China.
Today the dominant ethnic group on the Island and in Haikou City are the Han who now make up 83% of the Population. In the past other Ethnic Groups shared living space on the Island. These were the Li, the Miao and the Zhuang. Today the Li make up a considerable 16%, the share Miao ethnic group on the island has dwindled to a marginal 0.8%, similar to that of the Zhuang - 0.7%. Hardly mentioned there is also a considerable Hui presence on the Island due to its Maritime History.
A very small minority is exclusive to Hainan Island and are not even offciially classified as among the 56 (recognized) Ethnic Groups within the Peoples of China. These are the Danjia (or Tanha) and the Utsul.
Danjia can also be found living in Haikou City, although their native village and strongest ethnic community is the village of Xincun on the south-eastern coast of Hainan Island, near Sanya.
Another minority group, in this case almost exclusive to Sanya City are the Utsul. The Utsul People can still be found living within small communities of their own, as they prefer, in Sanya City and City Prefecture.
Ethnic Minorities in Sanya & Prefecture
Sanya Today :
History of Sanya:
Sanya Climate & Weather :
Sanya Basic Knowledge :
This page was last updated on: May 31, 2017
The Sanya Report
Introduction to Sanya (三亚)
Sanya Landmarks & Monuments
Sanya City & Area Maps
Location : 18°15′12 North, 19°30′13 East
Elevation : --No information available--
Surface Area of Sanya City Prefecture: 1,919.58 km2 (741.15 sq miles).
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Practically main locations of tourist interest in Sanya City are best defined by tourist zone or by District. That is, in the west there is Sanya Bay, then there is the Central City of Sanya and in the east there is the new development of Yalong Bay which by now is in itself a fully fledged resort city facing the Yalong Bay waters proper.
Nevertheless main shining stars of the tourist itenerary includes a visit to the Giant Buddha Statue of Sanya, a standing Guanyin which is found in the western Tianya District and at Sanya Bay. Just slightly beyond one may find the China Sanya Tropical Marine World, the local seaquarium which basicly is a must for anyone interested in the oceans and corals found beyond. Sanya Bay Beach, although often named as the least beautiful is the other star attraction of the west side of the city along Sanya Bay.
On the east side of Sanya Phoenix Airport in Fengguang Town one can find the Nankai Mosque, which is the one Mosque of the Hui (Muslim) Minority found in- and around Sanya City. It is also the only religious shrine in Sanya City Entire.
Sanya City Proper has a growing number of interesting locations and parks, however most sought after place to visit appears to be the Phoenix Island, which lies just off the coast and inside Sanya Bay. There are various parks to visit and dwell in, whereas in addition one can make a nautical excursions to one of the tiny island found springled around just off the coast west, south and south-east of the city proper.
Entertainment of an entirely different nature is found within the urban zone and includes Luhuitou Plaza Entertainment Plaza, Beauty Crown Grand Theatre (美丽之冠文化会展中心) and Cultural Exhibition Center and many others. As should be noted, the most interesting and lively parts of Sanya are not found in the Jiyang Town of Jiyang District proper but more to the south. Jiyang Town proper is in fact the least interesting part of all of Sanya to visit. Few actually go there but to pass through on their way northward in order to see some of the interior of the island.
The Yalong Bay Area in the east, now one of the four main city zones must be seen as a separate resort city. As one may view on satellite image this is exactly the case although the Yalong Resort City is still expanding westwards into the mountains. It is unlikely to fully connect with the central Jiyang District.
The main attraction at Yalong Bay is first of all the Yalong Bay with its beaches (many of them privately owned and managed by the abundance of luxury resorts) and deep blue waters. Secondly there is the entertainment at the resorts supplemented with the obligatory shopping malls and thanks for that, also smaller boutiques with a more intimate atmosphere. Fun local attractions include Yalong Bay Butterfly Valley and the Seabed World Seaquarium. In addition one can take to the mountains and explore Yalong Bay Tropic Forest Paradise Park.
Unfortunately, although more might theoretically be found beyond Yalong Bay Resort City, however the eastern half of the Yalong Bay natural harbor is taken up by the Longpo Cun Chinese Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Base, which includes among things a nuclear submarine base. As a result, most if not all of this area is restricted and practically off limits to tourists and travelers.
Don't go cruise around with camera's photographing the base and its ships because technically this still could amount to an espionage charge and serious troubles.
Last but not least one may mention the somewhat renowned "Monkey Island", a very popular day trip destination which however technically is a part of neighboring Lingshui Li Autonomous County.
For more detailed information on the landmarks and Monuments of Sanya City and Prefecture, please click below button to refer to "Landmarks, Monuments and Hotspots of Sanya City".
Public Transport in Sanya
Although up to fairly recently, Hainan Dao as an Island did not have a railway system. In the new millenium a light railway has been constructed to connect a multitude of locations found along the East Side of the Island. This railway is identified as the Hainan Eastern Ring High-Speed Railway and by now has two stations in Sanya. The first station is Sanya Station (Sanya Zhan) which is the main station of the city. Recently in 2015 a second station was opened at Sanya Phoenix International Airport enabling passengers to travel from the airport swiftly and directly to downtown Sanya.
The Hainan Eastern Ring High-Speed Railway has a length of 308 kilomters (not including the airport section) and connects Haikou, Changliu, Xiuying, Chengxi, Haikou East, Meilan International Airport, Wenchang Town of Wenchang County, Qionghai County, Bo'ao Airport of Qionghai County, Hele, Wanning County, Shenzhou, Lingshui of Lingshui Li Autonomous County, Yalong Bay (District of Sanya), Sanya Station and finally Sanya Phoenix International Airport.
Sanya has three Railroad Stations on the Hainan Eastern-Ring High-Speed Railway. Stations are Sanya Phoenix Airport, Sanya Main Station and lastly Yalong Bay (which is the north-western district of Sanya City Prefecture). In addition it has a modest but fully modern International Airport as well as a Sea Harbor.
SANYA PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT:
Phoenix International Airport is one of three International Airports on Hainan Island, the other International Airports being Haikou Meilan International Airport which is situated on the opposite northern side of the Island and Danzhou International Airport which serves the Danzhou Port and Special Economic Zone.
In total of there are five civilian airfields on Hainan Island. These are: Haikou Meilan International Airport, Sanya Phoenix International Airport, Danzhou International Airport, Qionghai Bo Ao Airport and finally a small civilian type airfield situated near Paris (Paris Airfield).
Phoenix International Airport is the main airport serving the southern half of Hainan Island and it is the main gateway for passengers traveling to and from Sanya City.
Sanya Phoenix International Airport is situated in the Tianya District due north-west of Sanya City Proper, at some 20 kilometers from Sanya Downtown City Center. As the gateway to what is considered China's number one resort town it is said to be one of the most luxury and spectacular airports to be found in the Nation today. In part, this is absolutely true. Although the Airport proper is equipped but one runway and not a very large passenger terminal, its design is truly unmatched within the Peoples Republic of China today. Arriving passengers do not find themselves into a large sized industrial type hall but instead are immersed in an atmosphere more usually found at a health spa. Natural wood, marble floors, water, greenery and even singing birds meet weary travelers who immediately find themselves reliefed and welcomed. As one may expect from an International Airport, Sanya Phoenix International Airport is able to receive the largest types of civilian aircraft, such as the Boeing 747, Airbus 340 and others. In 2015 Phoenix Airport ranked as the 18th busiest airport in China in terms of passengers and 22nd busiest in terms of movements.
As a Chinese City on an Island off the South Coast, Sanya City has quite an unusual history. It is said that some 3000 years ago, at around 1000 BC the Island of Hainan was first settled by Man. The original inhabitants then became the Li People of today, the most influential and largest ethnic minority group on the Island.
There is no information available on life in current Sanya on Hainan island..
Our pages on Sanya City Prefecture do not contain Hotel Reviews. For an overview of Hotels & Resorts to book in Sanya City and parts there of, there are two available options.
For an overview of Hotels specifically in all four districts of Sanya City including all Bay and Beach areas, please refer to below button for information on the nearest available Hotels. Basic information by Hotel, includes map of the area and overview of Hotel locations within that area.
The City of Haikou lies on the northern edge of the torrid zone and lies within the inter-tropical convergence zone. In lay-men's terms this means that the rainy season includes several tropical storms or typhoons each year and lasts from April through to October. However, by far the most typhoons occur during the period when the sea is warmest, which is in August and September.
Hainan Island is Chinas tropical getaway Island paradise. As such, it enjoys fair weather most of the year and has a subtropical climate. Winters in Hainan are never cold and instead fairly warm and with high humidity. Summers can be searing hot again with high humidity.
In principle Hainan is popular as a beach resort and Island getaway all year around. During the typhoon season of August-September things can get pretty rough with heavy rains, cloudy skies for days, possible evacuations, and incidental deaths.
The main Harbor of Sanya is named Yulin Harbor after the town that lay on its western side. The current Yulin Harbor however makes up the eastern side of Yalong Bay, which is the wide bay that lies on the south side of Sanya City facing the South China Sea. Apart of the fishing harbor and other civilian facilities Yulin Harbor is occupied by various facilities of the Chinese Navy (PLAN) and its south-eastern extenses are more or less reserved for the military.
Airport : Sanya Phoenix International Airport
There are no specific Maps available on Sanya City and Prefecture at this Time.
Population: In 2007 the population of 490 thousand, however since, the population has reportedly risen considerably. The population of Sanya City prefecture was counted as 685,408 in the year 2010 census. Latest official report by the City Government in 2017 estimates population at around 750 thousand.
Sanya is a city of Hainan Island Province, which is the southernmost Province of all of the Peoples Republic of China (P.R.C.). Situated on the extreme southern end of the Hainan Island (Hainan Dao) it is also the southernmost city in the Peoples Republic of China. Endowed with tropical beaches and according climate Sanya is a natural tropical tourist destination and from traditionally
and historically poor fishing towns has arisen a resort destination and tropical island getaway which very significantly also doubles as the main harbor and Chinese gateway to the South China Sea, which today again is a hotly contested territory with important Chinese military and Naval activities going on
Large parts of the newly arisen and expanded modern city revolve around tourism and leisure, other parts - mainly situated on the east side of the Inner Bay that forms the natural harbor provided at Sanya -are entirely reserved for the Chinese Navy and other military units with their bases. Notably, Sanya serves as an important submarine base and is a main harbor for Chinese nuclear and conventional submarines.
Sanya is also a major Naval Port for the Peoples Republic of China and also is a regionally important fishing harbor where an extensive fleet of fishing vessels, big and small originate.
Originally, as partially described in our pages on the history of Hainan Island, Sanya was but a small settlement, more a town than a city, which was the westernmost of several settlements clustered around a major bay, protected by mountains, a natural harbor from which a fishing fleet could safely operate. As the local cuisine still reveals, for most of history this was what Sanya was about. Fishing sea food, tropical fruits and a life at the ocean front.
Notably, springled around Sanya there are and were several important shoals, small island and also a few coral reefs, not only marvelous fishing grounds but also the source of revenue for the pearl fishing industry - which was an important local speciality industry throughout the centuries. Not by chance, among the first ever tourist attractions of the city was a visit to the pearl divers camp- and of course according shop. The traditional ultra-remote palm trees waving poverty stricken romantic beach area and surfers dream scenery has however disappeared making way for the new Sanya, an ultra modern resort city among things known as the hosting location of various international modeling contests.
From its earlier hinted primitive romantic beauties, in the recent decades Sanya has grown rapidly, not only in size but also in National and International reputation.
Sanya not only developed as a tourist bonanza, equally, with the rise of income and development exploding in mainland China, Sanya developed very rapidly as one of the main fishing habors of the Nation, especially for ships
bringing in, often illegal, tropical catch from the South China Sea, Philippines and Indonesian Coast and other oceanic zones much farther away.
In addition to its civilian harbor, Sanya also further developed as a Naval Harbor, as a military base and complex, although this is not usually much advertised to tourist passers through. In modern times it is however also no longer a secret. On the contrary, in todays political world Sanya's strength and Naval prowess are often highlighted in National News reels.
Today′s Sanya there for has grown to be the second largest and most important city on Hainan Island today. As one may find, its crucial importance for not only the island but the entire nation is reflected in its administrative status. Although at a maximum counting 650 inhabitants, it ranks as the 2nd of three city prefectures to be found on the Island, whereas all other population centers are marked as county (level) cities. The City Prefecture of Sanya is divided into four districts. These are from west to east; Yazhou Fistrict, Tianya District, Jiyang District - which is the main city part, and finally Haitang District in the east. Thus, the westernmost district is Yazhou District, which is based on the nearby town of Yacheng - by chance one of the ancient towns of the city prefecture - an interesting tourist destination as at times in the past it served as the Capital City of the Island an Province. Up to as late as 1984, the adjacent Tianya District historically only consisted of the tiny settlement of Tianya, a small fishing town facing the giant arc of a white sandy beach. Today it serves as a beach area but also contains the Sanya Phoenix International Airport and a surrounding industrial zone for the city of Sanya. Today Sanya City is roughly the same things as the Jiyang District, however as one will find originally there was no city but a collection of fishersmens settlements partially facing the beach of Sanya Bay to the west and others more to the east occupying the shore of its inner bay and natural port. Originally Sanya was the fishing town on Sanya Bay in the west. To the east there were among things the town of Yulin. The inner bay, which now serves a fully developed harbor therefor today is still known as Yulin Harbor. Moving further eastward, which in reality leads across mountains, one reaches the Haitang District. Due to the considerable geographic challenges the Haitang District is in fact the latest area of city developed and as one may find, in reality the district is not an urban city district but a seperate city zone developing from the fishing villages, surfing beaches and tourist getaways of the Yalong Bay. The Yalong Bay is a second even larger natural bay which is the part of the ocean on the east side of the southern tip of the island. Originally a bunch of villages today it is hailed as a the Yalong Bay Tourist Resort and sits surrounded by various mountainous green zones for Chinese city dwellers to get some fresh air in.
As described, Sanya mainly consists of three seperate Bay Areas situated next to one another. Beyond, the Sanya City Prefecture is bordered by Ledong Li Autonomous County in the west and north-west, by Baoting Li and Miao Autonomous County to the north and by Lingshui Li Autonomous County in the east. Finally, to the south Sanya meets the South China Sea, which in the eyes of the Chinese Government must be claimed as the Sansha City Prefecture (also South China Sea Prefecture) of the Hainan Island Province. Although this is internationally disputed ocean territory much of which is also regarded as International Waters, this part of the earth has been administratively divided into Sansha City Prefecture based on Sansha Island with subdivisions for the Paracel Islands and the Spratley Islands.
As visiting travelers and tourist will find, life in Sanya mostly revolves around International Luxury high end tourism and to get the full experience of that one needs to pay up. That is, preferably, book your stay at a luxury resort in order to get all kinds of fringe benefits. That said, with around 40 kilometers of beaches available in the three zones that do not compose the urban zone that is Sanya proper, more free wheeling types do have the space to select and also explore. Mind you, resorts have private beaches to which one has to pay for access. Various protected natural zones surround the city.
There are no real historic tourism attractions in the city or near except for the Town of Yancheng, which was once the main city of the southern tip of the Island and also a historic Capital of the Province.
Near the western end of Sanya Bay well beyond the Phoenix International Airport - at the end of the poorest looking and thus most public sandy beach - stands a giant Buddha Statue which symbolically overlooks the ocean (i.e. South China Sea). A modern construction it is one of the easiest to find and also spectacular sights of town.
Beyond Sanya the City and Sanya the Prefecture interesting exhibitions can be made to the various neighboring Li Autonomous Counties.
For more details and a full overview of all landmarks, monuments and tourist hot-spots of Sanya City and Prefecture, please refer to:
"Landmarks, Monuments and Hotspots of Sanya City Prefecture".
Overview Map of the Qin Dynasty Empire that would become known as China. At its very highpoint the Qin realm extended upstream along the Yellow River in Inner-Mongolia where parts of its Great Wall can be found. The Ningxia Plain was 1st settled and the main body of China from Gansu to the Liaodong Peninsula was protected by the Great Wall of Qin.
Sanya first appears in Chinese History in documents which describe it as Yazhou (also in old romanization: Aichow (崖州), literally meaning "cliff state or prefecture" which however refers to the old town of Yacheng (center of Yazhou District) which is found in the west of the current day Sanya Prefecture and is one of the interesting tourist destinations. It is unknown if the beach side fishing village along the east side of Sanya Bay even existed at the time but after it appeared it remained a modest settlement right up to the ending decade of the 20th century.
Thus, Yacheng (Yazhou) Cities history (later Sanya's history) is dated by Chinese Historians at least as early as the Qin Dynasty (221–206 BCE), the very short lived Dynasty which according to todays standardized and Sinicised history was the very first Dynasty to unite all Chinese States and Kingdoms to go building a first continuous version of the Great Wall of China. This view of history is however questionable.
Whichever the case is on the original first historic origins of the current day city, what is known is that for most of the subsequent history of the Chinese Nation and its feudal Dynasties, Hainan Island was regarded the uttermost southern territory of the Empire, which due to its lack of communications as well as significance was one of the realms that exiled officials were usually sent away to.
In these times, due to its added remoteness over the Haikou Region on the north side of the Island, Sanya (or Yacheng) was a place of no significance whatsoever.
For this reason, at the imperial court and center of decision, Sanya was not infrequently refered to as Tianya Haijiao (天涯海角), which translates as "the end of the sky and ocean" or "the end of the earth". This expression was not meant as a positive poetic refelection of a romantic place by rather served to signify it as the place of nothing at the end of the realm where nothing is. As one may find, the island of Hainan and sometimes the city of
Yacheng served as a place of exile for officials who found themselves out of favor with the country's rulers. That is, officials who's lives were to be spared sometimes nevertheless needed to be removed from any influence within the channels of power within the large Empire. There were lesser punishment as well as harsher punishments, but one effective way of getting rid of unwanted voices was to ship the people who owned them off to this far away island. The island and its towns retained this dubious status throughout the many centuries.
As one may find, during the Tang Dynasty (618 AD-907 AD) Hainan already served as a colony of exiles. Much later during the Ming Dynasty (1368 AD-1644 AD) this was still one of the islands important functions and as one may find the northern city and Provincial Capital of Haikou still has its Ming Dynasty Era tomb dedicated to the much hailed and lauded sacked and exiled official Hai Rui. Sanya however has no such tomb, temple or memorial to any exiled official stuck away there.
Sanya again is mentioned furing the Tang Dynasty, when the Buddhist monk Jianzhen (Life: 688 AD - 768 AD) on his 5th consecutive attempt to reach the Japanese Empire, saw his ship blown off course and so ended up landing at the current day Sanya / Yulin Port of Hainan Island. Having failed his mission to reach the Japan and teach Buddhism there, instead the wise and by now historically famous monk tought Buddhism at several Temples on Hainan before returning to his starting point, the port of Yangzhou in current day Jiangsu Province.
Interestingly, upon his 6th attempt the monk Jiangzhen finally did reach Japan and during his stay in the city of Nara, Jiangzhen he eventually founded the Tōshōdai-ji Temple in Nara. Today, this is Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site and a A Level National Cultural Heritage from the Nara Period in Japanese History. Altogether the appearance of Sanya and southern Hainan Island in the history of the Buddhist Monk Jianzhen is of the few times in history that the area of Sanya gains any significance other than as the Nations last resort, its southernmost point, the end of the Chinese world as people knew it.
MODERN HISTORY OF SANYA:
In 1912 with the fall of the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD-1911 AD) and the subsequent emergence of the first Republic of China, Yazhou became Yaxian (崖县; postal: Aihsien).
During the Second Sino-Japanese War (1941–1945) Hainan Island was occupied by Japan and Yacheng was renamed Sanya as Samah. In 1941 the city then became a naval port for the Second Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the main embarkation point for the Japanese Invasion of Malaya and Thailand. This was the beginning of Sanya as an important Naval Base. Subsequently, the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN)'s Second Fleet was able to support the Japanese occupation of Vichy French Indochina (Vietnam, Laos) and Sanyas Yulin Harbor also served the main embarkation point for Operation “E” - the Invasions of Malaya and Thailand.
In April 1950, the People's Liberation Army took over Yaxian County and established a People's Government. In October 1954, the administration of the CPC Yaxian Committee relocated from Yacheng to Sanya then in 1958, administration of Yaxian relocated from Yacheng to Sanya and Yaxian merged with Baoting, Lingshui, Niulou, and Xinglong, Wanning, to become a large county. In 1959 and 1961 these areas were separated to establish Baoting and Lingshui while Yaxian County remained in its current prefecture.
Approved by the State Council of China, Yaxian was upgraded to Sanya City on September 26, 1987 and on December 30, Sanya City was officially established.
In 2007 the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee announced that the city of Sanya would become the first leg of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay in China.
In the 21st century Sanya's strategic importance has grown for the Chinese military and is home to several navy bases that help develop and protect the internationally disputed shoals and islands in the South China Sea (claimed by China as Sansha Prefecture of Hainan Island).
Asia Report - Map of Hainan Island Province including South China Sea Prefecture
This Google supported Satellite Map provides a clear overview of Hainan Island Province of the Peoples Republic of China, including its South China Sea Prefecture. Map of the South China Sea further includes parts of Taiwan and coastline, Gulf of Tonkin, coastline of Vietnam, Brunei, Borneo (Malaysia), and western Philippines.
Marked on the map for orientation are the names of major National Capitals, locally relevant cities, several towns and villages, names of oceans, islands in the South China Sea, as well as locations of interest such as naval bases, artificial island, airfields, tourism locations, etc.
Browse the map and follow the links to more information, maps and photos of each location.
Asia Report - Map of Taiwan; Island of Formosa incl. parts of South China Sea
This Google supported Satellite Map provides a clear overview of the Island Nation of Taiwan, factually independent but also claimed as a Province of the Peoples Republic of China. Map includes National territorial limits,main administrative divisions, main cities, mountains, historic locations, scenic spots and tourism locations. Taiwan territory de facto includes parts of the South China Sea, larger part of which is also claimed by Taiwan as Republic of China (ROC).
Browse the map and follow the links to more information, maps and photos of each location.