Leaving winter behind
Tourists flock to south China's warmer climes
While the frigid wind and icy roads in northern China may keep people from taking a short road trip, the warm seaside cities in the country’s south are embracing tourists with open arms. The easiest way is set out from Guangzhou, Guangdong province, and drive to tourist spots in neighbouring Fujian and Hainan provinces. There are two suggested routes, one exposing you to Hakka culture and the tranquillity of lakes and mountains, while the other includes lots of sunshine and a tropical sea.
Explore Hakka culture in the eastern suburbs of Meizhou, Guangdong province and appreciate the stone carving art on the Thousand-Buddha Pagoda. Stroll through the former residence of Huang Zunxian, a poet during the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Lingnan-style garden.
Spend the night at the Yearning Tea Plantation Tourist Attraction or Yanming Lake Holiday Resort. It will be refreshing to wake up to the sight of green tea fields or a mirror-like lake.
Get some exercise by climbing Yinna Mountain nearby, and then drive to Fujian to spend the night at a tulou, one of the circular communal buildings built by local Hakka people.
Yongding and Nanjing counties are two must-see places to explore tulou. The local people’s knowledge of building environmentally friendly houses that keep residents in close communication will amaze you.
Drive to Xiamen to embrace the sea. Park your car and take the ferry to the car-free Gulangyu island.
There are so many attractions on the island that it’s worth spending two days here. You can climb to the top of Sunlight Rock and catch the view over Xiamen. You can also visit China's only and the world’s first-class treasure house of pianos, with more than 40 precious ancient pianos on display.
The piano museum is located in Shuzhuang Garden and has an intriguing layout. The sea view is hidden by a high wall until you pass through a gate.
Before you return to Guangzhou, spend some time walking across Xiamen University, one of the most beautiful universities in China.
Soak up some sunlight and dive into the tropical sea.
The plantain, sugar cane and eucalyptus in Leizhou Peninsula of Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, will ease your fatigue during the six-hour ride to the wharf in Hai’an town, where you will be shipped to the provincial capital Haikou by ferry.
Drive to Bo’ao to see the Yudai Beach, the world’s narrowest and longest stretch of beach that separates the sea from fresh water. It looks like a white ribbon floating on the tumbling waves.
Head for Sanya after lunch. Besides a walk on the beach, you can also venture into Yalongwan Tropical Forest Park for a look at an eco-system that you can't find anywhere else in China, except for Xishuangbanna in Yunnan province.
Take a boat to Wuzhizhou island for water activities. Here you can explore the sea by snorkelling or diving. Adventure seekers can try water-skiing or parasailing.
Those who prefer relaxing can take a yacht out to sea to fish.
Spend a night at a seaside villa, where you can fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing against the shore.
Go to Nantian Hot Spring Resort nearby to wind down. There are 34 pools of different shapes and medical functions. You can also order spa services.
Head back to Sanya and go west for a tour of Hainan. Stop at Shihua Water Tunnel in Danzhou city and take a boat into the long, narrow caves to see nature’s craftsmanship. The stones have been shaped by water drops, and some look like flowers, waterfalls and elephants.
The Yangpu Ancient Salt Field is another site you should not miss. You can learn about the amazing methods invented hundreds of years ago that people still use today to evaporate seawater and produce salt.
If you spend the night in Haikou, stop at Chengmai Fushan Coffee Culture Gallery and try a local blend from Fushan town, whose coffee plantation has the longest history in Hainan. Then embark on the journey back to Guangzhou.
If you go
Guangzhou or Canton, the capital of Guangdong Province, is the third biggest city in China after Beijing and Shanghai. Thai AirAsia flies between Bangkok (Don Mueang) and Guangzhou. Visit www.AirAsia.com.