Sanya is perhaps the only beach resort destination in China, almost unheard of in many countries. Whilst everyone is well aware of the 1st tier cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, several other interesting cites are sometimes neglected.
Nestled in the southernmost part of Hainan island, Sanya is one such exotic locale fondly termed as the “Hawaii of China“.
While looking for things to do in Sanya, China, during my week-long beach getaway with Sanya tourism board, I zeroed in on the beautiful Yanoda rainforest cultural tourism zone. As a nature lover, hiking around Hainan and enjoying scenic views was high on the charts for me – and Yanoda happened to be the perfect choice.
Luckily, I met a fun travel mate – Anouchka (who was also traveling with the board) and we decided to go on some adventures together… apart from our daily trips to the beach, pool and restaurants.
Since weather in Sanya can be extremely hot, we were advised to start early and we reluctantly decided to head out at 0900 hrs. The hotel arranged our round trip cab which set us back by CNY 300 (Yes, Sanya is slightly expensive for an Asian destination) and we were all set to go.
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Experiencing Yanoda Rainforest – A Happy Place
Spread across a whooping 45 square kilometers, Yanoda is the ultimate happy place and promises to bring a smile to your face. With their cheerful staff dancing to “Aye aye aye I’m your little butterfly” and saying “Ya-no-da” making bunny ears with their fingers (their patent greeting inside the park), you are bound to be peppy all day long.
As soon as you enter, you are ushered to a shuttle bus and you are free to get off at any of their designated stops. It’s like a hop on hop off bus tour and the fees are included in your entry ticket. You can take the shuttle anytime , anywhere at no additional cost.
You will also be provided with a funky audio guide/map. The map is in 4 languages – Korean, English, Russian and Japanese. It is GPS enabled and starts playing automatically as soon as you arrive at a spot. The audio guide details the history/background of the location you are at and also marks the areas you have covered with little red lights.
Still, it is not entirely easy to navigate around the park with lack of signs and English speaking guides. However, it was fun exploring and we even enjoyed getting lost in the scenic Yanoda forest.
Exploring Yanoda Rainforest
The two main areas of the park are dream valley and rainforest valley, however, we wandered off into valleys and gorges where there was not even a single person. There are plenty of activities in Yanoda like zip – lining, camping, stream trekking and CS play. These are perfect for kids and Yanoda makes for an excellent family day tour in Sanya.
It is not just great for kids as even we had an amazing time there.
Here are few of the attractions and reasons we absolutely loved Yanoda rainforest –
Shooting point of “Holding Love”
This was our first stop when we got to the park. A beautiful ring like structure stood tall above a viewpoint. Wondering what the fuss was all about, we soon found out that a popular Chinese rom com was filmed there.
At Yanoda rainforest, they have several waterfalls and an interesting route one can follow to chase them all. The audio map guides you to the starting point and its an easy downhill walk from there on. You can gawk at lovely small waterfalls and “trek” on well paved steps throughout.
Going Ga-Ga over the “Peacock Throne”
While walking around, we came across two magnificent peacocks sitting on either side of a swing. It was so well decorated and stunning and the peacocks were beyond beautiful. I checked to see if they were tied to the sides, but they were absolutely free to wander as they pleased. Once I was sure that they were not mistreated or tied down as “exhibits”, I decided to get clicked at what I call the “Peacock throne”.
Sky of Happiness
When we were about to exit, we suddenly realized there was a whole part of the park which we had skipped. We hopped right on to another shuttle bus and went up north to see the famous sky of happiness. This is a bridge filled with Chinese good luck charms and showcases the different gates towards happiness – friendship, family, love, kinship and the likes. Its a wobbly bridge which is fun to “jump” on.
Jumping on Pebbles at Lotus Pond
An awe inspiring lotus pond popped up in front of us as we were casually strolling along. We could hear the frogs croaking in the background and saw that big round pebbles marked our path. We crossed the pond by jumping on them. The setting seemed right out of a fairy tale.
Getting lost in the Park
Yes, believe it or not – this was one of the fun parts. We got lost in valleys and found epic landscapes like these, so who could complain –
Traversing in Mini carts and Shuttle buses
Modes of transport inside the park were excellent..and free. Well, the price was included in our tickets so we could move around on the designated routes as and when we pleased.
Opening Hours – 0730 – 1800 hrs daily
Entry & Activity fees – CNY 170 per person. Other activities are charged extra – zip-line and stream trekking at CNY 100 each.
You can easily spend the entire day at Yanoda but we could only last for 4.5 hours in the scorching heat – though, the trees provided ample shade and breeze for an enjoyable hike.
Have you been to Yanoda rainforest cultural tourism zone or visited Sanya yet? If not, you need to check out this beach locale fondly termed as the “Hawaii of China” and bask in its beauty and pristine beaches.