Sanya is a stretch of resort coastline with a small urban center along the southern edge of Hainan Island off the southern shores of China. When describing the charms of this tropical playground, Chinese tourist authorities start at paradise and work up the scale from there. In fact, Sanya is a fun place to stay and a blessed relief from the cold urban canyons of the north, but remember to take the most extravagant claims about the place with a pinch of salt.
Certainly, there"s no arguing with success: Sanya is booming. Driven by its twin strategic industries of tourism and real estate, the city experienced a formidable 14.1% economic growth rate in 2006, attracting a total of 4.6 million vacationers that year. The city authorities are just getting started with their plans to place Sanya firmly on the international resort map.
Swimming and water sports are the main attractions of Sanya: swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding and jet-skiing are among the activities on offer, all of which can be organized through the city"s many hotels. Sanya Bay, Yalong Bay, Wuzhizhou Island and West Island are some of the beaches in Sanya where visitors can sunbathe and enjoy the ocean. The fresh seafood in Sanya is also famous, served in a variety of Chinese and western culinary styles.
Sanya is no longer as remote as it once was, thanks to the airport which lies close to the city and the recently opened railway station which can whisk visitors to cities across China via a train ferry across the Qiongzhou Strait that separates Hainan from Guangdong province. The city is not known for its shopping, but is a great place to buy coral, shells and saltwater pearls which can be picked up in small shops and boutiques across the city and at the Seashell Museum. Traditional Li handicrafts are also popular mementos of time spent in Sanya: the distinctive hand-woven colorful cloth can also be found across the city.
Sanya is popular with Chinese visitors during times of celebration and is particularly busy during the city"s various festivals throughout the year. The city is probably most famous for the Tianyahaijiao International Wedding Festival and the Sanyuesan Festival, which are both very romantic and popular times for couples to come to the city.