Weddings in China’s Hainan Island: I think I’m in Paradise, gazing at a palm-fringed, white sand beach. In the distance, there’s the gentle buzzing of water skiers and the like bobbing up and down on the pure, turquoise waters, while nearer to shore, rainbow-coloured marine creatures dart in and out of a coral reef, just dodging the snorkelers.
A butler has brought me a fruit cocktail, and I have just experienced the best massage of my life. And to think, I thought China was all about busy city centres, the Great Wall, and prawn crackers.
Known as “China’s Hawaii”, Hainan Island is the southernmost of China’s provinces and sits just across the Gulf of Tonkin from Vietnam. Originally a place of exile for disgraced Chinese officials, Hainan developed an air of mystery and frontier spirit, which attracted poets and artists to the island. (Source: http://wikitravel.org/en/Hainan) Today, it is fast becoming a luxurious travel destination that is justifiably compared to Thailand because of its stunning coastline and tropical climate.
I am here courtesy of the Hainan Island Tourism Board, other wedding industry professionals, and ten ecstatic engaged couples who won a lifetime trip in a Facebook competition.
We are based in Sanya, the most desirable tourist destination on Hainan, for five days and four nights – our itinerary is busy while we’re here to experience the best of what the region offers.
The first stop was to attend the Sanya Destination Wedding Expo, where the winners of the honeymoon competition were given a warm welcome on stage.
See what the Facebook honeymoon competition winner got up to on Hainan Island – Sanya.
Sanya is deservedly becoming one of the hottest spots to visit in Asia. Its two central bays, Yalong and Sanya Bay, provide the best of both worlds for holiday-goers and destination weddings and honeymooners alike.
The busier, bustling Yalong Bay is a crescent shape which provides a perfect home for a kaleidoscopic array of marine life within the beautifully preserved coral reefs. Yalong is a hub of world-class hotels, stylish bars, shops, markets, and water sports. Alternatively, its neighbour Sanya Bay is a quiet, stunning 14-mile stretch of beach renowned for its tangible atmosphere of romance.
Sanya Bay is famous for the ‘Long Corridor’, where the coconut trees stretching along the beach are illuminated at night, creating a corridor effect. If strolling hand-in-hand down the long corridor in the moonlight isn’t enough romance for some couples, then there’s the remarkable Guojianglong Rope Bridge, which traverses a valley 40 metres below and stretches 100 metres from shore to shore. Known as “Lovers Bridge”, it is thought that when lovers walk over the bridge holding hands, they will be together forever…
Mother Nature and a brilliant tourism board have combined to fantastic effect in Hainan. The unbelievable landscape has been perfectly complemented by a thriving tourism industry, with activities to suit all tastes, ranging from the adventurous (think vertiginous rope bridges, monkey island, and water sports) to the relaxing (think golf, shopping and a trip to the spa).
Then there are the world-class 5 star hotels. We had the chance to experience three of Hainan’s 5 Star Luxury Hotels, Banyan Tree Sanya, where we stayed for two nights. Intercontinental Sanya and The Sheraton in Haikou Resort,
Wedding ceremonies are offered in a large proportion of the hotels along Sanya’s gorgeous coastline. Given the increasing popularity of the island as a wedding and honeymoon destination, many hotels are now offering bespoke bride and groom packages featuring beach view rooms, private pools, butler services, and massage and spa facilities.
Whether for a full-blown destination wedding, heavenly honeymoon, or quiet elopement (although good luck sneaking off to Sanya, once your nearest and dearest find out where you’re going, try stopping them from joining you) the bays of this beautiful island seamlessly offer something for everyone, in the sorts of hotels where everything you need is provided, before you know you need it.
Look through our hot list of the hows, whens, whys, and whos of planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the jewel of China’s many provinces.
How to get there:
Travel from London Heathrow International Airport to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, then to Sanya Fenghuang International Airport. Go First Class with China Southern, and seize the opportunity to spend some time in the Sky Priority Lounge; the perfect way to start a luxury holiday as you mean to go on.
When to go:
Sanya has a tropical climate, and the sun shines virtually every day of the year. The hottest month is June, although the weather can be somewhat unsettled at this time. There is a risk of typhoons between May and September, so the best time to visit Sanya is between November and March, as the weather is warm and settled, ideal for weddings and honeymooners.
What to do:
Animal lovers can visit Yalong Bay’s Tropical Forest, home to many wildlife. Be sure to look out for the Asian Dragon Bay Butterfly, seen in this forest and sometimes along Yalong Bay. In addition, animal enthusiasts can visit the 1,000-hectare Nanwan Monkey Island, home to over 2000 macaque monkeys, a state-protected animal in China. This is the largest area in China used for raising and training monkeys. The reserve also has the longest transoceanic ropeway in China and is a must for thrill seekers.
For golf fans, Sanya Sun Valley Golf club has recently opened. This golf course is 7,875 yards and is becoming a must-visit course within the golf industry.
Another of Sanya’s most enticing charms is the bustling night market, where you can haggle with the market traders and feel like a Sanya local. The market sells everything from seafood to souvenirs, so you can be sure to catch a bargain or two.
What to see:
Sanya is an important part of China’s history. Visitors can widen their knowledge of Buddhism and Chinese history by visiting the Nanshan Culture Tourism Zone, located 40 kilometres southwest of Sanya City.
This tourism zone features three parks: Buddhism Culture Park, Blessing and Longevity Park and Hainan Custom Culture Park. A sight well worth seeing is the breathtaking Guanyin Statue of Hainan which stands 108 metres tall and took six years to build; it officially opened in 2005 and is the fourth tallest statue in the world.
Eat, drink and be merry:
Sanya is renowned for its high-quality seafood. Local specialities include abalone, sea cucumbers and sea urchins, which are extremely rare worldwide. There are several award-winning seafood restaurants scattered along the coastline, including Resort Golden Palm, Resort Horizon, Gloria Resort and Sheraton Resort. In addition, you can sample the beautiful Chinese cuisine and enjoy many famous dishes, including Wenchang chicken, Dongshan lamb and plenty of fresh noodles.
Alternatively, suppose you are visiting Sanya on a budget. In that case, you can buy the local specialities at a market, and the locals will only be too willing to advise you on the best method of cooking the produce.
Several bars dotted around Sanya offer local specialities, cocktails and evening entertainment. Many bars overlook the beach, making them the perfect spot for cocktails at sunset.
If you can see the world-renowned Li and Miao performers – these hypnotic dancers, whose origins are right here in Hainan, have travelled the globe with their award-winning folkloric Chinese art form, so it was a pleasure and a privilege to see them here in their home country. More proof, if needed, that Hainan is truly one of the most unique and magical places on earth.
Romantic Award Ceremony and Banquet.
The finale of our trip was to attend the Romantic Hainan Award Ceremony and Banquet, held at the Sheraton Haikou Resort with the ten winning couples from around the world. This ceremony was attended by officials and the tourism industry’s Top management. With wonderful food, drinks and music, and a Chinese wedding-themed party, some couples as seen below, wore the Yi minority costume.
Where to stay:
Banyan Tree Sanya
This gorgeous, atmospheric resort delivers first-class facilities with an Eastern charm in the most intimate of settings.
The Banyan Tree Resort comprises 49 private pool-side villas cradled in the Luhuitou Bay, which is deservedly nicknamed “Lovers Bay” by locals. With other facilities such as meeting rooms, a banquet room, a ballroom, an al fresco restaurant (offering private beach dining), wonderful massage and spa facilities, and recreational activities, this resort offers a hotel spirit with the luxury of private accommodation.
For the perfect Oriental wedding with a touch of tropical flair, look no further than the Banyan Tree Resort.
Intercontinental Sanya Resort
Whether for your wedding day, honeymoon, romantic getaway, or family holiday of a lifetime, the Intercontinental has all your needs catered for.
You can feel like royalty in the most modern and luxurious surroundings, enjoy the spa and recreation facilities, and wine and dine-in splendour, with exceptional staff attending to your every need.
Weddings at CLUB INTERCONTINENTAL
The venue is equipped for weddings, and the facilities are world-class, from the décor to the food to the staff. Suppose it’s a family holiday you’re planning or inviting guests with children to join you on your big day. In that case, the Intercontinental has activities, play areas, and childcare staff for children of different ages.
The Sheraton Haikou Resort
Sheraton Haikou Resort is a magnificent beachfront resort just 10 minutes away from the heart of the city. Forty minutes drive to Meilan International Airport. 2 international golf courses within a few minutes’ drive.
With over 1,300 square meters of meeting and celebrating. Sheraton Haikou Resort can accommodate events and special occasions from 10 to 600 guests. Including two pillarless ballrooms, five function rooms, and a VIP room offer the functionality of breakout rooms for more significant events or can be utilised for more intimate gatherings.
Hainan Island, China, is a beautiful place not just for a holiday but a place we recommend as a wedding and honeymoon destination. If you are looking for great weather, white sandy beaches, good food, and adventure or simply a romantic getting away, check out what this beautiful Island offers.
Getting Married on Hainan Island
Hainan Island is a popular destination for weddings due to its tropical climate, beautiful beaches, and natural scenery. Here is some information that may be helpful if you’re considering getting married on Hainan Island:
- Marriage requirements: To get married in Hainan Island, you must provide your passport and a certificate of marriageability. This certificate can be obtained from your home country’s embassy or consulate in China. You will also need to complete a marriage registration form and have it notarized by a Chinese notary public.
- Wedding venues: Hainan Island offers a variety of wedding venues, including beach resorts, luxury hotels, and private villas. Some popular options include the Sanya Marriott Resort & Spa, the Raffles Hainan, and the Banyan Tree Hainan.
- Wedding planners: Many wedding planners and event coordinators in Hainan Island can help you plan your dream wedding. They can assist with everything from venue selection to catering, photography, and floral arrangements.
- Wedding traditions: If you want to incorporate Chinese traditions into your wedding ceremony, you may want to consider a tea ceremony, where the bride and groom serve tea to their parents and other elders as a sign of respect and gratitude. You could also have a traditional Chinese wedding banquet with multiple courses of delicious food.
- Weather considerations: Hainan Island’s tropical climate can be hot and humid, particularly in summer. You may consider having an indoor wedding or choosing a venue with air conditioning to ensure you and your guests are comfortable.
The Top 40 5 Star Hotels on Hainan Island
- The Ritz-Carlton, Sanya
- The St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort
- The Sanya EDITION
- The Four Seasons Resort Hainan
- The Mandarin Oriental, Sanya
- The Park Hyatt Sanya Sunny Bay Resort
- The Rosewood Sanya
- The Conrad Sanya Haitang Bay
- The Banyan Tree Sanya
- The InterContinental Sanya Resort
- The Hilton Haikou Meilan
- The Raffles Hainan
- The Waldorf Astoria Sanya Haitang Bay
- The Shangri-La’s Sanya Resort & Spa, Hainan
- The Grand Hyatt Sanya Haitang Bay
- The Sofitel Sanya Leeman Resort
- The Le Meridien Shimei Bay Beach Resort & Spa
- The Renaissance Sanya Resort & Spa
- The Pullman Sanya Yalong Bay Villas & Resort
- The Sheraton Sanya Haitang Bay Resort
- The Wanda Vista Resort Sanya
- The Westin Blue Bay Resort & Spa
- The Jinling Resort Hainan
- The Kempinski Hotel Haitang Bay Sanya
- The Sanya Bay Mangrove Tree Resort
- The Anantara Sanya Resort & Spa
- The Crowne Plaza Sanya City Center
- The Howard Johnson Resort Sanya Bay
- The Mingshen Golf & Bay Resort
- The Cactus Resort Sanya by Gloria
- The Atlantis Sanya
- The DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Sanya Haitang Bay
- The Haikou Marriott Hotel
- The Novotel Haikou Xinbudao
- The Shangri-La’s Sanya Haitang Bay Resort & Spa
- The Wyndham Grand Plaza Royale Haitang Bay Sanya
- The Grand Soluxe Hotel & Resort Sanya
- The Tangla Yaxiu Hotel Haikou
- The Jiakai Crown Hotel Haikou
- The Royal Garden Resort Haikou
These are just a few of the many excellent 5-star hotels available on Hainan Island, and there are plenty of other options to choose from depending on your preferences and budget.