Snap your new profile pic from high above the azure South China Sea at the foot of a towering statue of the Bodhisattva Guanyin (“Goddess of Mercy”) at the Nanshan Temple. The serene, powder-white goddess stands taller than the Statue of Liberty within a sprawling park pocketed with shrines, pavilions with roofs upturned in slight smiles, and a traditional Nepalese-style temple. Arrive early in the morning to get a jump on crowds (and the heat). Give yourself a couple of hours to cover the sights on your own or on one of the free, guided tours. Stop for lunch at the Buddhist restaurant for vegetarian dishes made with a mix of local mountain herbs, vegetables, and wild mushrooms. Afterward, continue on to Yazhou Ancient Town. Once the political hub of Hainan, this sleepy 1,000-year-old village at the southernmost edge of the Chinese Empire was where disgraced officials were exiled. The town’s edifices and the ancient city walls are eerily alluring in their crumbling glory. For a more in-depth tour, hire a guide from Caddie of Sunny Sanya—they’ll take care of transportation and arrange lunch with a local family.
It’s an hour’s drive westward on the G98 highway to reach Nanshan. A chartered car would be ideal, especially if you want to visit Yazhou afterwards.
NANSHAN BUDDHIST CULTURAL ZONE: Nanshancun, Yacheng Town; +86 898 8883 7888; www.nanshan.com; ¥150 entrance fee
YAZHOU: Yacheng Town
CADDIE OF SUNNY SANYA GUIDES: +86-1380-7535-200; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.sunnysanya.com; ¥600 per day