In partnership with: Department of Tourism, Culture, Radio, Television and Sports of Hainan Province

5 great family-friendly holiday attractions on Chinese tropical island of Hainan

China’s tropical island resort of Hainan is the perfect place for families – offering a wide array of attractions and luxury resorts that will please both parents and children.

November 15, 2019
By Maggie Hiufu Wong

Choices range from a trip to a vast, cinema-themed town, a dinosaur-focused study park, an ecologically protected rainforest – or a stay at one of the stunning hotel resorts with offerings tailored specially to your needs.

Check out 5 holiday attractions that should suit the needs of any family.

Explore the great outdoors and rainforests


Yanoda Rainforest, which means “hello” in Hainanese, is an ecologically protected jungle offering both rainforest hikes and action-packed trekking adventures for those who love nature. Photo: Shutterstock

With more than 60 per cent of Hainan covered in green forest, the island resort is never short of adventurous outdoor holiday pursuits that will appeal to budding Tarzans and Indiana Jones. 

If you have time to visit only one of the many rainforests in Hainan, then you must visit Yanoda Rainforest Cultural Tourism Zone in Baoting Li and Miao Autonomous County.

Love Gate, located along the hiking trail in the picturesque Yanoda Rainforest, features a wooden pendant bridge with an arch that symbolises love. Photo: Valery Bocman / Shutterstock

Yanoda – spanning 45 square km (17 square miles), and surrounded by another ecologically protected area covering 123 square km – is literally translated as “one, two, three”, which means “hello” in the local dialect. It comprises two main areas – Rainforest Valley and Dream Valley. Rainforest Valley features easier rainforest hikes, routes and family-friendly activities, while Dream Valley offers a two-hour action-packed guided trekking adventure for the physically fit.

“Hainan has great natural scenery and clean air, so we think it is a good destination for families to visit,” says Angie Qi from Wuhan, who travelled to Yanoda with her husband, their two-year-old son and her husband’s parents. 

“Yanoda is great for older children, but Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park also has easier scenic trails if you’re travelling with toddlers and elderly people,” Qi, who visited both parks during her trip, says.

Yalong Bay Tropical Paradise Forest Park became widely known in China after being featured in the hit Chinese film, If You Are The One 2, starring Ge You and Shu Qi.

Yalong Bay, in Sanya, which rose to national prominence after being featured in a hit feature film, offers stunning views along the coast of Hainan. Photo: Shutterstock

Some of the park’s attractions include a suspension rope bridge and a pagoda, offering panoramic views of Sanya’s sea shore. Attractions that were featured in the film include a hillside chapel and the Yalong Bay Earthly Paradise Bird’s Nest Resort. 

For families staying in the north of the island, Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark is only 15km (9 miles) from Haikou, the island’s capital. 

Qiong Bei, a dormant volcano located only 30 minutes away from Hainan’s capital, Haikou, is recognised by Unesco as a Global Geopark for its unique rock formations and geological landscape.

Listed by Unesco as a Global Geological Park in 2006, its main tourist attraction is its dormant volcano, Qiong Bei – believed to have last erupted 13,000 years ago. But the park also offers a further 36 volcano craters, a geological-themed museum, a 200-year-old temple and the Volcano Restaurant, which serves rustic local offerings, such as mountain goat meat.


Let’s head to the Jurassic world!


China Dinosaur Park, located outside Sanya, features more than 300 life-size dinosaur models of species that once roamed China. Photo: Tropicalhainan.com

Driving along the road outside the Yuan Longping R&D Center, you would never guess that it is a world-renowned scientific research centre.

The Yuan Longping R&D Center is carrying out important research into new sustainable and productive rice crops to feed China’s growing population. Photo: Tropicalhainan.com

Named after Chinese agronomist Yuan Longping, the “father of hybrid rice”, scientists at the park are working on developing sustainable, high-yield and disease-resistant strains of Asia’s staple food, which can feed larger populations while taking up less land. 

Outside the R&D centre is a China Dinosaur Park with more than 300 life-sized dinosaur models (of species once excavated from China), a vast flower-viewing park and a restaurant. 

Some of China Dinosaur Park’s life-size dinosaur models are up to 38 metres tall, providing a vivid introduction to the giant reptiles that once lived on Earth. Photo: Tropicalhainan.com

Guests at Sanya’s five-star Mangrove Tree Resort World Sanya Bay – comprising more than 3,000 rooms and 71 restaurants and outdoor attractions including the Amazon Jungle Water Park and Adventure Zone – can also enjoy some great indoor activities, away from the hot summer sun.

Mangrove Tree Resort World Sanya Bay, a luxury child-friendly hotel, features both an outdoor water park and an adventure zone. Photo: Zhudifeng / Getty Images

Today X Bookstore, inside the resort, has been dubbed Hainan’s most beautiful bookstore. The 4,800-square-metre premises offer many more facilities than most other bookshops, including a spacious children’s playroom with a treehouse-like reading room. 

Bookstores may not always be an ideal tourist destination, but the Today X Bookstore, at Mangrove Tree Resort World Sanya Bay, includes a spacious area that features a treehouse-like reading room. Photo: Alex [email protected]

Staff also host educational activities for youngsters, while parents can also sign up their children for local handicraft workshops.

The bookshop also has a café, painting area, hi-fi zone and “Zen area” for those visitors who want to zone out.


Round the clock cinematic magic


Feng Xiaogang Movie Town, named after a renowned Chinese film director, offers movie-themed attractions where guests can immerse themselves in an interactive cinematic experience. Photo: Tropicalhainan.com

Hainan has its fair share of unusual theme parks that are sure to attract families. Feng Xiaogang Movie Town, in Haikou, is built on a 1,500-acre (607-hectare) site and features specially designed period streets and buildings – all created for use as film and television production locations by nearby studios – where visitors are free to walk and relive scenes from cinematic history.

Haikou’s Feng Xiaogang Movie Town, which opened in 2013, comprises many period buildings and streets for use in film and television productions, including buildings that resemble those from scenes in some of director Feng Xiaogang’s most famous films. Photo: Tropicalhainan.com

“The worlds in films seem to be out of reach for most people, [but] we’re trying to bring the movie characters and scenes [to life] here so people can be a part of those worlds,” Zhang Daobao, the park’s performance manager and director, says.

The park is named after Feng Xiaogang, a renowned Chinese film director, whose work includes If You are the One and its sequel, If You are the One 2, Back to 1942 and I Am Not Madam Bovary. It features recreated buildings from a number of Feng’s atmospheric films. Feng’s favourite art director, Shi Haiying, was the mastermind behind the design of the town, Zhang says.

“Shi has influenced everything in the town, even the typefaces for all the shop signs in the towns.”

Haikou’s Feng Xiaogang Movie Town features regular performances of short martial arts dramas. Photo: Tropicalhainan.com

There are six main attractions where guests can enjoy an immersive cinematic experience. Nanyang town, featuring architecture resembling Haikou’s qilou (old shophouses with influences from Southeast Asia), is the most photogenic attraction and 1942, which comprises mostly retro wooden architecture, offers visitors the chance to take part in martial arts scenes. There is also a street displaying the autographs of dozens of Chinese and international stars.

Short dramas are performed regularly around the different towns, but Zhang says the theme park plans to expand the performances in the near future. 

Sanya Haichang Fantasy Town – China’s first theme park that never sleeps – offers a variety of rides and shows 24 hours a day. Photo: Tropicalhainan.com

For families who still have energy to spare after sunset, Sanya Haichang Fantasy Town – China’s first 24-hour theme park – offers 13 major day-and-night attractions in a variety of different zones, including various exciting rides, theatre shows, an aquarium, observatory wheel, a multi-sensory cinema, themed restaurants, shops – and even a beer bay.


... if Mum and Dad need a break


Hainan’s city of Sanya is home to many luxurious family-friendly resorts. Photo: Shutterstock

As a family-friendly resort island, Hainan’s luxury hotels have been designed to allow parents to enjoy their holidays with their children without having to leave the properties.  Most of the hotels offer customised family services.

Crowne Plaza Sanya Haitang Bay Resort – which resembles a gigantic cruise ship sailing into Haitang Bay – has its own private beach area, four outdoor pools and an indoor rooftop pool.

Special features for youngsters including a well-equipped playroom, cooking classes and a restaurant dedicated to children, which serves inventive, colourful and nutritious meals. Guests can opt to book sea-viewing family suites, which have interiors designed for the needs of both parents and children.

The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong Bay runs special family activities at its resort each day. A noticeboard in the family corner provides up-to-date details.

Activities include poolside film screenings and a professional photoshoot at the beach with a tag-along photographer.

The Atlantis Sanya Resort, which cost US$2 billion to build, provides a panoramic view of Haitang Bay and comes with an open-air aquarium for guests to do scuba-diving. Photo: DreamArchitect / Shutterstock.com

Costing US$2 billion and four years to build, Atlantis Sanya, Haitang Bay, Sanya, has taken the city of Sanya’s luxury family resorts to another level. 

The 1,314-room hotel, which overlooks Haitang Bay, features its own full-sized Aquaventure Waterpark, and an enormous open-air aquarium where guests can go scuba diving.

Parents can relax in the resort’s Ahava Spa, while their children immerse themselves in the numerous state-of-the-art attractions offered at Club Rush, where the emphasis is on adventure, fun and exploration.


Coming soon … Hello Kitty and Legoland



New theme parks are on the way - a new Hello Kitty-themed resort is expected to hit Hainan by 2024. Photo: ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock.com

In the future, Sanya plans to open China’s second Legoland Park (Shanghai will be the first). The new Sanya Legoland Park will be water-themed and is expected to combine elements of existing Legoland Parks and Hainan’s tropical features.

While China’s first Legoland theme park is now being constructed in Shanghai, Hainan has already announced it will soon welcome a new, water-themed Legoland resort in Sanya. Photo: Dimitrios Vlassis / Shutterstock.com

Another international brand, Sanrio, will be opening a Hello Kitty Theme Park Resort, including an amusement park, rides, restaurants and accommodation, in Haitang Bay in 2024.

The new Hello Kitty theme park is expected to cost US$1.6 billion, and will feature a hotel and shopping outlets decorated with the adorable cartoon character. Photo: ARTYOORAN / Shutterstock.com


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