Some 320km across the island from Haikou on Hainan’s southern coast, SANYA is, sooner or later, the destination of every visitor to the island. Sanya City itself is a rather pleasant, once-scruffy fishing port, surrounded by concrete high-rise holiday resorts, that has twice hosted the Miss World contest, but what pulls in the crowds – a huge number of whom are Russian – are surrounding beaches at Dadonghai and Yalong. Chinese tourists also flock to overcrowded and overpriced scenic spots such as Tianya Haijiao, all of which are of little interest to foreigners.

It must be said that though the beaches here are good, a trip to Sanya can involve a few irritations, especially for those on a budget: at peak times – from October to February and especially Chinese New Year – room rates soar and the usual tourist hassles intensify. Off-season, however, beaches are uncrowded and the atmosphere is pretty mellow.

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