“Hainan looks like Hawaii. China’s largest island surprises, inspires and creates a real holiday feeling on a business trip to China”. Kai Böcking

After a business trip in Hong Kong or Guangzhou, change to the island paradise within two hours by plane? You don’t even have to leave the country for that. Hainan is regarded as the Hawaii of China – and the comparison fits: Fantastic sandy beaches and a tropical climate meet picturesque mountains, rain forests and lush vegetation.

Hawaii, Mallorca, Hainan

No wonder: China’s largest island is also the most popular for the Chinese. And for the Chinese the trip to the island is like for the Germans a weekend on Mallorca. For me, that doesn’t mean a ballerina of Asia – even if the variety of hotels and the water park gigantism on Hainan is great.

Bleisure hotels as far as the eye can see

The journey is fast and uncomplicated. The airport in Sanya, Hainan’s large city on the southern tip, is modern, small and Chinese-efficient. And countless, really countless hotels are available in Sanya alone. The large luxury chains alone are noticeably represented along Sanya’s Yalong Bay. Whether it’s Sofitel, St. Regis, Mandarin Oriental or The Ritz-Carlton – almost everywhere you can enjoy lush pools, fine sandy beaches and tasty everyday cuisine to a modern, international five-star standard.

Swimming trunks instead of business outfit

The Neptune Underwater Suite at Atlantis Sanya, China.

The Atlantis Hotel is one of the newest in the luxury circuit. In its dimensions it is in no way inferior to its counterpart in Dubai. The two-day Neptune Underwater Suite, for example, features aquarium windows with yellow and blue ocean fish, sharks and rays swimming past. In addition, Atlantis Sanya has its own brewery with a master brewer from Germany. And a huge water park in general: If you want to swap your business outfit for swimming trunks and super slide adventures, you’ll get your money’s worth here with all the luxury!

Discover Sanya

And so the stressed business traveler could balance body and soul in the resort of his choice before he leans back into professional life. But that would be a pity, because Hainan is an island to discover. A stroll alone through Sanya in the evening is a must. At the night market with all kinds of junk, cookshops and bars, foreigners are greeted in a friendly way and eyed curiously. At the still quite new beach promenade the fish restaurants and bars line up like on a string of pearls under lantern garlands. And if there is one thing that is difficult for non-Chinese visitors in this place, it is the lack of people who can understand English. My tip: A translation app on your mobile phone is worth its weight in gold here.

Dan and Miao on Hainan

The island is home to minorities who have been able to maintain their lifestyle for centuries. The Dan-People, for example.

They traditionally live in a bay on their own houseboats and make their living from fishing. Guests can see their catch in the aquariums of the many floating restaurants before it is prepared. The whole fish fried in oil is a delicacy.

In contrast, the Miao live in the mountains on Hainan. A guide I booked at the hotel takes me through the Miao villages. I can watch the women here making traditional (rice) wine from wild red rice, and learn right away how to do it. And pay attention! Don’t try too much of it, this stuff is really good

Kai Böcking …

will surely drive back to Hainan soon for hiking in the rainforest. On his last visit there was no time for it because of the abundance of resorts and restaurants. And anyway, the Dan and Miao were a highlight in themselves.

Photos: © iStock.com/Юлия Моисеенко, Kai Böcking