Ready to trade in your usual haunts for something off-the-beaten-track when deciding on where to go for a short trip? With China offering visa-free travel to Singaporeans, why not consider a trip to Haikou, where a combination of natural splendours and cultural wonders awaits you.
A port city sited at the north coast of China's island province Hainan, the city is known for its intermix of Chinese and colonial European architecture. Imagine watching history unfold through the intricately designed buildings as you stroll along Qilou Old Street, or letting the tropical breeze caress your face at Holiday Beach. Whether you're a culture vulture hungry for Hainan's rich heritage, showcased brilliantly at places like the Hainan Museum, or an outdoor enthusiast eager to explore the lush landscapes of Evergreen Park, Haikou offers an adventure for every type of traveller. So, what are you waiting for? Dive into our definitive guide and uncover the best things to do in Haikou that'll make your first visit absolutely unforgettable.
Discover the must-visit attractions in Haikou
1. Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark
Tucked away in the picturesque Shishan Town, west of Haikou city, the Haikou Volcanic Cluster Global Geopark serves as a stunning gateway to Haikou's fiery past. This must-see Haikou attraction unveils a variety of extinct volcanic craters and intricate lava landscapes that look like they're straight out of a fantasy world.
Whether you're an avid geologist or a casual nature lover, the park's hiking trails offer a hands-on opportunity to explore these geological wonders up close. Immerse yourself in the marvels of the Earth's dynamic crust, all while taking in breathtaking vistas.
A key attraction not to be missed is the Mt. Maanling (Saddle) Crater Scenic Area that consists of two major volcanoes - Mount Fengluling and Mount Baoziling. When seen from afar, the protruding peaks between the two volcanoes resemble a saddle. There’s also a trail circling the Fengluling crater which will lead you to the top of the crater. Here, you’ll arrive at the highest point in Haikou and be greeted with panoramic views of Haikou city. For visitors keen to learn more about volcanoes, there are also exhibits of volcanic landscapes and lava structures at the park.
Address: Shishan Village, Xiuying District of Haikou City, Hainan Province
Entrance Fee: 60RMB (S$11.40), free entry for children under 1.2 metres.
Opening Hours: 8:00am to 6:00pm.
2. Qilou Old Street
Step back in time as you wander along Qilou Old Street, a historic gem located in the bustling Zhongshan Road area. Qilou, translated to Chinese arcade houses, are similar to the shophouses in olden Singapore where the ground floor is used as a shop, with living quarters on the upper floors. This charming avenue is much more than just a street — it's a living museum and a central part of what to do in Haikou.
Feast your eyes on the well-preserved arcade-style buildings that line the street. These architectural marvels serve as the backdrop for quaint tea houses and shops selling traditional Chinese items, elevating it from a mere roadway to a must-visit Haikou attraction.
Be sure to pop into one of the traditional teahouses for a sip of authentic Chinese tea. It's a perfect opportunity to catch a breather and immerse yourself in local culture. And don't forget to sample some Hainan cuisine from the local vendors that dot the area, this is a food lover's paradise. A popular spot is the Haikou Qilou Snack Street where you’ll find a variety of street food from seafood, barbequed meat on sticks and even fried insects.
For those interested in arts and crafts, the street also offers several stores where you can buy unique trinkets, handicrafts, and souvenirs to remember your Haikou adventure by.
3. Hainan Museum
Nestled in the scenic Guoxing Avenue area, the Hainan Museum is a treasure trove that offers a captivating and detailed look at Hainan's rich history and culture. If you're wondering what to do in Haikou to get a truly local experience, this is your spot.
The museum is a perfect Haikou attraction for history buffs and culture vultures alike. It provides a comprehensive understanding of Haikou, China, and its unique heritage, serving as a window into the island's past.
Don't miss the fascinating exhibits that cover a wide range of topics. With a focus on the history of the South China Sea, the Maritime Silk Road, minority nationalities in Hainan, marine life and even the mineral resources of Hainan, the museum offers a comprehensive exploration of Hainan's unique identity. Each gallery is a chapter in the story of Haikou, waiting to be uncovered. Furthermore, the museum's thematic exhibitions showcasing Hainan Huanghuali and Hainan agilawoo, two of the world's most precious woods found on the island, provide an exceptional opportunity to appreciate Hainan's natural treasures.
With its dedication to preserving and presenting Hainan's diverse cultural mosaic, the Hainan Museum stands as a top attraction for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the island's rich and storied past.
Address: Guoxing Avenue, Qiongshan District of Haikou City, Hainan Province
Entrance Fee: Free entry
Opening Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm. Closed on Monday.
4. Holiday Beach
Situated in the western part of Haikou, China, Holiday Beach is a coastal haven that offers visitors clear waters and pristine sandy shores, making it one of the premier Haikou attractions.
Whether you're into water sports or just want to relax, you'll find that spending a day here is one of the most popular things to do in Haikou. From sail-boarding to kayaking, the range of water activities available has something for everyone.
As the sun sets, don't miss the chance to stroll along the beach as it offers stunning views, especially during the golden hour.
Treat yourself to some local Hainan cuisine at one of the many beachside restaurants and bars. Savour delicious food while listening to the calming sounds of the waves, making your Haikou experience truly unforgettable.
The beach's tranquil ambiance, stunning vistas, and vibrant atmosphere make it a popular destination for travellers seeking sun, sea, and a taste of Hainan's laid-back charm.
5. Haikou Clock Tower
Situated at the bustling intersection of Changdi Road and Jiefang Road, the Haikou Clock Tower is more than just a timekeeper — it's a symbol of Haikou, China's rich past and bright future. This makes it a must-see on your list of things to do in Haikou.
Standing tall in the heart of Haikou, this iconic clock tower serves as a historical timepiece that harks back to the colonial era when Hainan was a British concession. Erected in 1929 during British rule, the tower has become a symbol of the city's enduring legacy and its multicultural past. Its distinctive blend of European and Chinese architectural elements is a testament to the island's unique history of cultural exchange. Today, the clock tower continues to charm visitors with its timeless elegance and serves as a central gathering point for locals and tourists alike.
At night, the tower is beautifully illuminated, transforming it into a visual spectacle. It's a popular spot for evening strolls, where you can capture some stunning photographs.
With its historical relevance and charming ambiance, the Haikou Clock Tower offers more than just a quick photo op. It invites you to delve deeper into the heart of the city, making it a noteworthy addition to your Haikou experience.
6. Donghu Market
Venture into the Meilan District to visit Donghu Market, a bustling hub that showcases the essence of Hainan cuisine. If you're wondering what to eat in Haikou for a true taste of local flavour, this market should be high on your list.
As evening falls, the market comes alive with vendors serving up local delicacies such as coconut rice and Wenchang chicken, making it a must-visit for foodies and one of the most authentic attractions in Haikou.
If you're a fan of sweet treats, don't miss out on the local desserts like coconut pudding and Hainanese sticky rice cake. They provide a sweet ending to your market expedition.
If you’re looking to explore more night markets in Haikou, consider hopping over to Haikou Garden Night Market, Fudi Night Market, or Wentan Night Market. Each market has its own unique offerings and atmosphere, giving you a broader view of Haikou's vibrant nighttime culture.
Remember to bring some cash as some stalls may not accept cards. Also, get ready to haggle a little; it’s part of the market experience!
7. Evergreen Park
Nestled on Binhai Road, Evergreen Park is the largest park in Haikou, complete with picturesque gardens, serene lakes, and meandering walking paths. If you're searching for things to do in Haikou that offer both tranquillity and natural beauty, this is your go-to spot.
Whether you're keen on spending a leisurely day outdoors or looking for active ways to spend your day, Evergreen Park stands as an essential attraction, offering something for everyone. For those who enjoy outdoor activities, the park features a golf driving range, offering a unique perspective of the park's beautiful landscape.
Additionally, Evergreen Park frequently hosts cultural events, art exhibitions, and music performances, providing a dynamic and enriching experience for all.
Extend your adventures beyond Haikou
Once you've fully explored what to do in Haikou and soaked in all its attractions, you may find yourself yearning to explore more of China. Thankfully, Haikou serves as a convenient gateway for further adventures.
One popular destination is Sanya, another gem in Hainan Province known for its luxurious resorts and beautiful beaches. But if you're looking to switch from the laid-back island vibe, domestic flights to various Chinese cities are readily available.
For a cultural change of scenery, why not take a high-speed train or a quick flight to cities like Beijing, Shanghai, or Xi'an? These cities offer a rich tapestry of history, modernity, and diverse cuisine, making them a great contrast to your Haikou experience. If nature is what you crave, you can also consider heading to scenic destinations like Zhangjiajie, known for its towering sandstone pillars, or Jiuzhaigou with its multi-level waterfalls and colourful lakes.
Embrace the diverse experiences in Haikou
Your trip to Haikou promises a unique blend of cultural landmarks, natural beauty, and scrumptious food. Plus, it's perfectly doable to plan a short 4D3N trip there over a weekend!
From lounging at Holiday Beach to exploring the rich past at the Hainan Museum, there’s no end to the variety of activities available in this vibrant city. So, if you've secured your flights to Haikou and are pondering what to do, rest assured that this city offers a treasure trove of experiences just waiting to be discovered. Don't miss this opportunity to explore all the unique attractions and flavours on your first visit.
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